Helicopter Carrying Kobe Bryant Received Special Approval to Fly in Foggy Conditions

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The helicopter that crashed and killed Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others received special approval to fly in severe fog on Sunday morning.

The helicopter flew north from Orange County, Calif., and later circled near Burbank while waiting for clearance to continue. Audio records released on Monday included communications between the helicopter's pilot and and air traffic control at Burbank Airport. The helicopter received Special Visual Flight Rules clearance to continue through the fog.

Before losing radio contact, the pilot asked for "flight following" for the controllers to track the flight and stay in contact.

According to The New York Times, Sergeant Yvette Tuning, who was working as the Los Angeles Police Department’s Air Support Division watch commander on Sunday, said flights could be conducted only under instrument rules that morning due to cloudiness in the L.A. basin. 

LAPD spokesperson Josh Rubenstein said the fog was severe enough that the department's Air Support Division grounded its helicopters in the morning and did not fly until later in the afternoon.

The helicopter left Orange County to head to a youth basketball game at Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, Calif. It crashed about 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles, and all nine passengers–including the pilot–were killed. 

Sheriff Alex Villanueva of Los Angeles County said emergency crews found it dangerous to reach the site of the crash. He called the area where the helicopter went down as "very rough terrain," per the Times.

Jonathan R. Lucas, the chief medical examiner for Los Angeles County, said it could take several days to recover the bodies from the crash site.

After the crash, many people around the NBA and sports world paid tribute to Bryant on social media. Newspapers around the world also honored Bryant on their front pages on Monday and reflected on his legacy as an NBA icon and hero to young players.

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For the Bryant Family, an Unimaginable Loss

The Game Will Miss Kobe Bryant Dearly

Remembering Kobe Bryant: Sports Illustrated Covers Through the Years 

The Crossover Staff's Favorite Memories of the Lakers Legend

Kobe Bryant Left His Mark as a Generational Hero