A Terrible Day

Upside down world.

The rain stopped earlier then predicted.

It didn’t matter. Water was flowing from America’s eyes. It started with a brief tweet referencing TMZ that said Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash. At first, there were disbelievers. Not me. I’m not a fan of TMZ-style journalism, but when this kind of horrible news breaks they are first and they are right. It only got worse. We know that five people died, including his 13 year old daughter, Gianna. We think there are four more dead and the pilot.

The entire world reacted. Athletes from every sport tweeted both their condolences and their admiration for the man. At the NFL All Star game, which is sort of a meaningless joke, many football players were upset. When the stadium announcer asked for a moment of silence the fans did that and then started chanting Kobe, Kobe, Kobe.

I could go on and tell you about his basketball career, but you can read or listen to that anywhere. I could tell you about his failings, but you can read that just about anywhere. To me that means he was a man. A normal man who succeeded and sometimes failed.

He was also just a basketball dad taking his daughter, her friend and her friend’s mom to a game. Like any of us. I know. Most of us don’t do it in a helicopter.

I followed his career pretty closely. I’m not a basketball fan, but I grew up near Los Angeles. I followed the Lakers in good times and in bad. I watched Kobe grow from your typical punkish teenager into a man. A good man. And, I am sad, Very, very sad.

My thoughts are with his wife and three remaining children. His youngest is six months old. I have no idea what it’s like to grieve, recover and work your way through that horrible emptiness.  My prayers — our prayers — are with them.

My thoughts are also with the musicians who are attending the Grammy Awards tonight. The Grammys are held in Staples Center, the house that Kobe built. This should be a night of joy and happiness. Instead, it is muted with most musicians saying something about him. The sadness won’t stop.

There’s nothing more for me to say.

Well, one more thing. I know a thing or two about helicopters. Witnesses say it landed upside down on its rotors. They said it seemed like the pilot was looking for a place to land. That’s not human error. That’s catastrophic failure. We’ll see.

The picture. I had already learned about the sad news, but I need to run an errand. I took the dog who sees things. She jumped out of the car and lead me straight to the scene. It seems appropriate for the day so I made the picture. In case you caught that, “Tonight,” I normally write in the morning but I had to get this out of my head. So I wrote at about 8:30p Sunday might.

Peace.

RIP Mamba 1978-2020

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29 Comments

      1. She, as Kobe said, was hellbent on going to UConn (University of Connecticut). That is the dominant women’s basketball team in all of our colleges. Yesterday, as the Lobos (nickname) were getting ready to play, their coach put a jersey on the team bench with her high school number on it, but in Lobos uniform. He said that she would forever be a wolf (Lobos is Spanish for wolf.)

  1. Here in Los Angeles Kobe was such a fixture and presence, regarded as very special on so many fronts, and it’s been heartwarming to see the response from all over the world. We tend to think of athletes as associated with one team and one town, but that’s obviously not so. Nine people perished, and within those families and friends, a lot of broken hearts. You’re right about the tears.

    1. No. Luckily, most people are just passing by that point in his life. I know that life is both long and short. I think the mistakes of youth help you to grow as you get older.

  2. Helicopters. Wouldn’t go near them. I hate flying period. The thought of anyone controlling without a plan B and my transport not being on the ground at all times, is no go. It is very sad. But I wish people with great careers, futures whatever, would consider that sometimes risks can’t be taken. A slow and duller mode of transport might just provide you with a long and exciting life. RIP.

    1. Now you tell me. I was an army aviator in the last years of the war in Vietnam. I was a Medivac pilot who flew about 10,500 in mostly combat conditions. There is always a plan B. That’s how we were trained. In the case of a helicopter incident there is lots you can do.

      If you don’t fly how will you ever get to New Orleans?

      1. That’s true. To get to your town I would have to brave it. My Florida trip was via BA and no issues. It’s the cheap European flights that I avoid now. Scary. Did a few and these planes felt decidedly unmaintained. Is that a word? My Dubai flight ended very bumpy but the plane felt solid. I had to take a seat with the stewardess at the rear as too turbulent to get back to my seat!

      2. I don’t know how a passenger ever could know if a plane was maintained. The cabin condition means nothing since they are cleaned as well as they should be on turn arounds.

        As far as turbulence goes anytime you are crossing into color air flow patterns from warmer ones or the reverse, you’ll get turbulence. Entering and departing storms too. Planes are built to deal with that. Crews are trained as well. BA is a good carrier…

      3. Engine problems. That’ll happen sometimes. I once was taking an American Airline flight from Dallas which would connect to my Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong via Vancouver. The plane was still climbing. I’m pretty sure we were at only about 5,000 feet, when we heard a large bang. The forward landing gear would not come up. The pilot declared an emergency and returned to Dallas. Because the landing gear wouldn’t retract, the two pilots hand cracked it back down and locked it in place. We landed safely. The problem was repaired and off we went. I made my connecting flight because the crew saw me running toward the gate and they held it open. My luggage arrived two days later.

      4. Scary. We had a break issue and the plane actually hit the wire fence at the end of the emergency spare runway. We also an engine stop and start..large plane so had spare but all a bit worrying. But it sort of made my mind up to stop flying unless forced to.

      5. You’ve had a lot of problems. Aside from arriving late and lost baggage, the problem I mentioned was the only one that I’ve ever had. Oh yeah, and American Airlines use to give me anew suitcase every six months or so because they destroyed my bags.

        I have some serious questions. Do you have an email address that you’re willing to share?

      6. There are a number of plan” b”s. The first thing you are taught in aviator school is auto rotation, which basically means you gain air speed by letting the blades do all of the work. The second rule is air speed, not altitude. Kobe’s bird had neither air speed or altitude. Finally, if you are going down, land on your tail. If you have any air speed left, you’ll hit and bounce without hurting anybody.

        I’m living proof of this. I was shot down three times. Shot down is too dramatic. Once, I was hit in the oil pain by small arms fire. It smoked like hell and looked like a big deal. A helicopter without oil is as bad as a car without oil…

        In all three cases, none of my crew or the wounded we were retrieving were hurt.

        That’s in wartime. I have no idea what happen to Kobe’s bird except that it was flying and seemed to be hovering when it hit the ground.

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