Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Hughes 369D, N103SU: Fatal accident occurred December 29, 2020 in Tuckers Crossing, Jones County, Mississippi

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Jackson, Mississippi
MD Helicopters; Mesa, Arizona 
Rolls Royce; Indianapolis, Indiana 
Signature Utility Services; Mountain Brook, Alabama 

Signature Property Holdings LLC
Signature Utility Services LLC

Location: Tuckers Crossing, MS 
Accident Number: CEN21LA102
Date & Time: December 29, 2020, 08:35 Local
Registration: N103SU
Aircraft: Hughes 369D
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 133: Rotorcraft ext. load

On December 29, 2020, about 0835 central standard time, a Hughes 369D helicopter, N103SU, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Tuckers Crossing, Mississippi. The pilot was fatally injured. The helicopter was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 133 external load flight.

According to the operator, the pilot departed for the first flight of the day from a private landing zone to begin aerial tree trimming operations along a transmission line, which was about 2.7 miles from the departure location. The helicopter contained about 400 lbs. of fuel and was equipped with an external saw assembly that was about 120 ft in length. The mission’s ground support specialist (GSS), who was in communication with the pilot via radio, observed the helicopter approach the trimming zone from the south and it flew northbound to the east of the transmission line; the external saw was about 40 to 50 ft above the trees. The GSS advised the pilot on hazards located in the trimming zone. Shortly thereafter, the pilot announced via the radio that he was making an emergency landing. The GSS reported the helicopter made a quick forward descent until the saw disappeared into the tree line. The helicopter impacted trees and the terrain, and a postimpact fire ensued.

The accident site was located in wooded terrain to the east of the transmission line. The external saw was found connected to the helicopter and entangled in the trees. The main wreckage, which consisted of the fuselage, engine, main transmission, and rotor assembly, was consumed by the postimpact fire. The tail rotor assembly was separated from the tail boom near the tail rotor gearbox and found adjacent to the main wreckage.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Hughes
Registration: N103SU
Model/Series: 369D
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Amateur Built: No
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Rotorcraft external load (133)
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: VMC
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KLUL,238 ft msl
Observation Time: 08:55 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 6 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 13°C /11°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 6 knots / , 80°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.36 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Tuckers Crossing, MS
Destination: Tuckers Crossing, MS

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal 
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries:
Aircraft Fire: On-ground
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: Unknown
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal 
Latitude, Longitude: 31.611861,-89.086611 
Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email

Jason Krakowiak

The Krakowiak's are one of the most phenomenal families that you will ever meet.  They are a spiritual, fun-loving, easy-going, adventurous family, whose personalities and smiles light up people's lives.  They share their love with everyone they come across, friends, family, or strangers. 

Jason's profession was a helicopter pilot, where he was a flight instructor, performed aerial firefighting, oil and gas support, government and private charters, and most recently, he was an aerial saw pilot.  Jason tragically lost his life a week after his 40th birthday, on December 29, 2020, attempting an emergency landing while flying for work.  Jyl is a full-time mom and teacher for their two boys, Parker (6 yo) and August (4 yo).

Jyl, Parker, and August have been devastated by the loss of their husband, father, and hero.  In these poignant times, Jyl is still trying to process the loss of her soulmate, while being the anchor for her children.  She has to provide for her and her family, manage bills, finances, and plan for their altered future.

Due to the nature of this tragedy, the Nation Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are involved in an investigation of the helicopter accident, as is standard protocol for aviation disasters.  This investigation currently lasts, on average, 2+ years for a final report to be generated that could begin to provide closure to the family.

Read more here:

Jason Krakowiak

A Florida pilot died Tuesday morning in Glade after his helicopter crashed and burst into flames.

Just before 9 a.m. emergency teams lined Highway 15 South as a plume of smoke could be seen emerging from the property of pastor Dan Atkinson, at Tuckers Crossing. Ronny Cooley, the sole witness, said he heard an explosion before rescue personnel raced in. Jason Krakowiak, 40, of Ormond Beach, Florida, was pronounced dead on the scene.

At the time of the crash the Hughes 369D burst into flames, said Jones County Fire Council spokeswoman Dana Bumgardner. Krakowiak, the sole occupant, had been clearing tree limbs along power-line rights-of-way under the employ of Signature Utility Services, believed to be under contract with Mississippi Power. Krakowiak had declared an emergency landing before the helicopter crashed in a wooded area, a source close to the investigation said, and the location was difficult for vehicles to access.

Standing near a pond on his neighbor’s property, Cooley said he’d seen the helicopter in the area.

“It was loud,” he said. “I heard an explosion. I turned to my wife and said, ‘I think that helicopter just went down.’”

The fire that ensued was a magnesium fire, Bumgardner said, which is difficult to extinguish. A series of popping noises could be heard coming from the wreckage after the fire was put out, so the immediate area wasn’t safe for non-emergency personnel for a time.

Messages to those who knew Krakowiak weren’t immediately returned.

Bumgardner said the pilot was on his first flight of the day, as the company had been sawing limbs in the area the two previous days. The helicopters that do the trimming fly low and have a long series of blades protruding from under it that trim branches they come in contact with.

The Jones County Sheriff’s Department assisted Glade, Powers, Calhoun, M & M and Sandersville fire departments. The Jones County Coroner’s Office, EMServ, Mississippi Power, International Fire & Safety, MEMA and the Jones County Emergency Operations Center also responded. 

The Federal Aviation Administration is taking over the investigation, said EOC director Paul Sheffield.

Ernest Hollingsworth of the coroner’s office said Krakowiak died of blunt-force trauma.


  1. video of cutting

  2. I watched that video would think want something have more control over just swinging around hanging on that line. Rather just have someone climb the tree cut it seems safer to me. Reading the report he did issue a radio call saying he had an emergency.