Kobe Bryant Had A 'Deal' With His Wife About Flying In Helicopters

As the world mourns the death of Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna "Gigi" Bryant, who perished in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26, 2020 along with seven other passengers, details about the Lakers legend's personal life are emerging. One piece concerns Kobe's long history of flying in helicopters, a practice he picked up to spend more time with his four daughters between commuting from his home in Newport Beach to Lakers practices in Los Angeles. 

"Traffic started getting really, really bad, right? And I was sitting in traffic, and I wound up missing, like, a school play because I was sitting in traffic," he explained during a December 2018 appearance on the Barstool Sports podcast, The Corp With A-Rod 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. And so that's when I looked into helicopters, to be able to get down and back in 15 minutes. And that's when it started."

Given the amount of time Kobe would spend in helicopters, it turned out that he reportedly needed to make a "deal" with his wife, Vanessa Bryant, regarding flying in choppers. Here's everything we know about the longtime married couple's supposed pact.

Vanessa and Kobe Bryant played it safe

Vanessa and Kobe Bryant, who wed in 2001, brought four beautiful children into this world who they adored. This love might have been the reason why they reportedly decided to enforce a strict rule about flying in helicopters. A source explained to People, "He and Vanessa had a deal that they would never fly on a helicopter together." The insider also noted how Kobe would only fly with the late pilot Ara Zobayan, who was operating the chopper when it crashed. According to the New York Post, Zobayan had over 8,000 hours of flight time and had flown various celebrities, including Kylie Jenner. The makeup mogul referred to the pilot as "such a nice man" in a post shared to her Instagram Stories Monday. 

All of this information seems to imply Kobe and Vanessa took precautions to fly safely, all the way from supposedly flying separately to choosing an experienced pilot to charter their flights. The couple's reported deal is possibly why Natalia, Bianka, and Capri Bryant have a surviving parent to support them through these tough times.

Kobe Bryant's chopper was reportedly safe

Not only did Kobe and Vanessa Bryant reportedly have a deal about flying, but the NBA star also was seemingly conscientious about the type of helicopter he chartered for his family. "It's a workhorse," aviation analyst Miles O'Brien explained to CNN about the athlete's helicopter, a Sikorsky S-76B. "It's the flying Lincoln Town Car for executives. This is what corporate helicopter aviation is built on — on this Sikorsky. It's twin-engine. It's reliable. It's safe. It's capable." Additionally, Kobe's former pilot told Entertainment Tonight's Lauren Zima, "For something catastrophic to happen, I mean, it would be really rare. It's a really, really reliable aircraft."

Speaking of reliability, helicopter crashes are becoming more rare, according to MarketWatch's analysis of data from the National Transportation Safety Board. "Over the past few decades, the number of accidents involving helicopters has fallen," the outlet noted. "Last year saw the second lowest number of helicopter accidents over the past 30 years with just 125 incidents. In 1990, there were 228 helicopter accidents in the U.S."

As for the finer details about Kobe Bryant's chopper, which he leased from Island Express Helicopters whenever he wanted, it was reportedly built in 1991 and had previously belonged to "the state of Illinois for 'VIP transport' from 2007 to 2015," per CNN

Vanessa Bryant is reportedly trying to stay strong

As Kobe and Vanessa Bryant's reported deal about flying implies, the two were a team first and foremost. So now that the mom's partner is no longer here, she's supposedly trying her best to be a source of support for the couple's surviving children. "It's an extremely difficult and devastating time for Vanessa and the whole family," a source explained to People. "She can hardly keep it together. She can't finish a sentence without crying. But she is working very hard to pull it together for the other girls. She now has to be the strong one." 

Of course, we can't even begin to imagine what Vanessa might be feeling at this moment, especially since Kobe was such a devoted family man. Baseball legend Derek Jeter touched on this in an essay for The Players Tribune, writing, "I end up thinking about how, here was this guy who was beyond gifted as an athlete, who was obsessed with being a champion, who was known as an absolute assassin with a ball in his hands. And in the moments I got to spend with him? He didn't really talk about any of that. He cared much more about being a husband to Vanessa and a dad to his girls. He loved his family — he was his family."