Radar tracking shows entire ill-fated Kobe Bryant flight
Another young player, Payton Chester, was also killed in the crash along with her mother Sarah Chester.
Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley tweeted that the dead also included Christina Mauser, a girls basketball coach at a nearby private elementary school.
Her husband, Matt Mauser, founded the Tijuana Dogs, a popular Orange County band. In a Facebook post he said: 'My kids and I are devastated. We lost our beautiful wife and mom today in a helicopter crash.'
The Los Angeles County medical examiner, Dr Jonathan Lucas, said the rugged terrain complicated efforts to recover the remains. He estimated it would take at least a couple of days to complete that task before identifications can be made.
The accident unleashed an outpouring of grief from admirers around the world who mourned the sudden loss of the all-time basketball great who spent his entire 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Thousands of fans, many wearing Bryant jerseys and chanting his name, gathered outside the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, home of the Lakers and site of Sunday's Grammy Awards where Bryant was honored.
The 41-year-old Bryant, who perished with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, was one of the game's most popular players and the face of the 16-time NBA champion Lakers.
The cause of the crash is still unknown, but conditions at the time were such that the Los Angeles Police Department and the county sheriff's department grounded their helicopters.
The pilot was identified as Ara Zobayan (left). He was killed in the crash alongside Christina Mauser (right, with her husband, Matt), a girls basketball coach at a nearby private elementary school
Among those killed in the crash were John Altobelli (left), 56, longtime head coach of Southern California's Orange Coast College baseball team; his wife, Keri (left, with John); and daughter, Alyssa (right), who played on the same basketball team as Bryant's daughter, said Altobelli's brother, Tony, who is the sports information director at the school
Another young player, Payton Chester (left), was also killed in the crash along with her mother Sarah Chester (right)
Pilot of Kobe Bryant's helicopter was qualified to fly in fog and friends say he was 'not one to make mistakes'
Ara Zobayan, 50, was a licensed commercial helicopter pilot of 12 years, certified flight instructor of two years and a ground instructor of 11 years. Zobayan was friends with actor turned pilot Lorenzo Lamas (pictured together in 2013), appearing with him on an episode of Celebrity Wife Swap along with Andy Dick
By Cheyenne Roundtree For DailyMail.com
Ara Zobayan, the pilot of Kobe Bryant's helicopter, was qualified to fly in fog, as friends of the beloved instructor said he was 'not one to make mistakes' and was always 'attentive' to the NBA legend and his family.
Zobayan was flying the helicopter carrying Bryant, the star's daughter Gianna, 13, and six others when the Sikorsky S-76 crashed in Calabasas, California and caught fire, killing everyone on board on Sunday morning.
He was told he was 'too low' as he flew through thick fog and was unable to get clearance to land at Burbank Airport because the weather conditions were too poor, according to reports. Fifteen minutes later, the helicopter crashed.
The 50-year-old was a licensed commercial helicopter pilot of 12 years, certified flight instructor of two years and a ground instructor of 11 years, according to federal aviation records.
He was also instrument rated, which means he was qualified to fly in fog.
Tributes to Zobayan, of Huntington Beach, California, poured in on Sunday, as friends and colleagues said he was 'nice, talkative and especially attentive when it came to Kobe and his family'.
Zobayan's friend Jared Yochim wrote: 'Ara was an incredible pilot, instructor pilot, charter pilot and truly a great man. He was not your typical egotistical helicopter pilot like most of us honestly are.
'Ara was a man that always remained cool, calm and collected. As more people that knew Ara open up about him, you’ll only hear words like professional, calculated and loving. He was always good for a laugh.
'The loss is not mine, but a community really. Ara impacted so many people and only in a positive way. '
He added: 'He was as good as they came and not one to make mistakes.'
Although it's not clear when Zobayan started flying Bryant, the Lakers star said in a resurfaced interview that he began taking helicopters because traffic in Los Angeles was so bad it was causing him to miss family activities.
Bryant said in the 2018 interview with Alex Rodriguez and Big Cat: 'I had to figure out a way where I could still train and focus on the craft but still not compromise family time.'
Federal transportation safety investigators will look at the pilot's history, the chopper's maintenance records and the records of its owner and operator, said National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) board member Jennifer Homendy at a news conference.
Kurt Deetz, a pilot who used to fly Bryant in the chopper, said the crash was more likely caused by bad weather than engine or mechanical issues.
'The likelihood of a catastrophic twin engine failure on that aircraft — it just doesn't happen,' he told the Los Angeles Times.
Investigators say the Sikorsky S-76B helicopter had a black box which they will seek to recover.
Deetz described the helicopter as being like a 'limousine' that was in 'fantastic' condition and subject to a 'very good maintenance program'.
He said that pilots need at least a couple thousand hours flying in a twin engine to be ready to fly the complex helicopter.
Kurt Deetz, a pilot who used to fly Bryant in the chopper, said the crash was more likely caused by bad weather than engine or mechanical issues. This image shows the control system inside the aircraft
Deetz described the helicopter (interior pictured) as being like a 'limousine' that was in 'fantastic' condition and subject to a 'very good maintenance program'
Zobayan, who was flying Bryant's chopper (pictured), was 'especially attentive when it came to Kobe and his family', according to his family members and friends
'There aren’t a lot of people readily qualified to fly it,' he said.
The NTSB typically issues a preliminary report within about 10 days that will give a rough summary of what investigators have learned. A ruling on the cause can take a year or more.
Colin Storm was in his living room in Calabasas when he heard what sounded to him like a low-flying airplane or helicopter.
'It was very foggy so we couldn't see anything,' he said. 'But then we heard some sputtering and then a boom.'
The fog cleared a bit, and Storm could see smoke rising from the hillside in front of his home.
Firefighters hiked in with medical equipment and hoses, and medical personnel rappelled to the site from a helicopter, but found no survivors, Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby said.
The aircraft was built in 1991 and owned by Island Express Holding Corp., which is based in Fillmore, California. According to the website Helis.com, it was previously owned by the state of Illinois.
Shortly after the crash, a heartbreaking video of Bryant lovingly explaining the game of basketball to his daughter, Gianna, resurfaced.
On Monday, a video of Bryant explaining why he often flew in his private helicopter resurfaced. 'Traffic started getting really, really bad. And I was sitting in traffic and I wound up missing a school play because I was sitting in traffic. I had to figure out a way where I could still train and focus on the craft but still not compromise family time,' Bryant (pictured with family) said
'You have road trips and times where you don't see your kids so every chance I get to see them and spend time with them... I want that,' Bryant said in the interview. Bryant is seen with his wife, Vanessa, and three of their children