Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Bell 407, N150AS: Fatal accident occurred December 14, 2021 in LaPlace, St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana

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 traveled to the scene of this accident. 

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Rolls-Royce; Indianapolis, Indiana

RC Smith Aviation LLC

Location: LaPlace, Louisiana
Accident Number: CEN22FA073
Date and Time: December 14, 2021, 12:36 Local
Registration: N150AS
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

On December 14, 2021, at 1236 central standard time, a Bell 407 helicopter, N150AS, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near LaPlace, Louisiana. The pilot was fatally injured. The flight was operating as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

According to preliminary information, the helicopter departed the Gonzales, Louisiana, area and was en route to the Lakefront Airport (KNEW), New Orleans, Louisiana. Automatic Dependent Surveillance–Broadcast (ADS–B) data tracked the helicopter’s flight path as it flew along I-10 towards New Orleans. The helicopter’s altitude varied between 75-175 ft AGL. About 0.88 miles from the accident site, the helicopter descended to 50 ft AGL as the pilot continued to fly down I-10. The last ADS-B point was near the intersection of transmission lines over I-10, at 1136:26. At this point, the helicopter was traveling about 104 knots groundspeed at 75 ft AGL.

The helicopter collided with the western guy wire suspended between two tall trusses. The guy wire was estimated about 130 ft above the bridge. Several commercial vehicles dash cameras captured the helicopter’s descent and impact with terrain. Video showed that the helicopter’s main rotor blades, mast, and transmission separated from the fuselage and were located in Lake Pontchartrain. A post impact fire ensued which consumed most of the fuselage. No video showing the helicopter’s collision with the transmission line has been recovered.

Following the accident, a United States Coast Guard helicopter was launched to the scene to provide search and rescue support. The USCG pilot reported that the weather was visual flight rules (VFR) at Louis Armstrong International Airport (KMSY), New Orleans, Louisiana, but deteriorated to marginal VFR to instrument flight conditions to the west. Low level fog allowed the stanchions of the power lines to be barely visible from the east. However, from the west, the fog layer was above the power lines with high cloud layers that reached about 1,200 ft. From a top-down view, there was very dense fog from all areas with a tall column of clouds to the west of the power line intersection where the accident occurred. They were able to orbit overhead with good visibility at 500 ft over the shoreline, but at landfall to the west, a wall of clouds built to 1,200 ft.

All the major components of the helicopter were located at the accident site. The helicopter was recovered to a secure facility for further examination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Registration: N150AS
Model/Series: 407 NO SERIES
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Amateur Built:
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site:
Condition of Light:
Observation Facility, Elevation: KMSY, 4 ft msl
Observation Time: 12:20 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 8 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 23°C /19°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: 
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 8 knots / , 110°
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 1600 ft AGL
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.31 inches Hg 
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Gonzales, LA 
Destination: New Orleans, LA (KNEW)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal 
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries:
Aircraft Fire: On-ground
Ground Injuries:
Aircraft Explosion: On-ground
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 30.076082,-90.402543 (est)

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email You can also call the NTSB Response Operations Center at 844-373-9922 or 202-314-6290.

After a morning spent with his family then flying from Baton Rouge to New Orleans, Josh Hawley was involved in a fatal helicopter crash on Tuesday, December 14.

Throughout his life, Josh lived in service of others.

After graduating high school in 1997, he joined the United States Marine Corp – serving his country for 13 years. In 2012, he became a Baton Rouge Paramedic. Then, in 2016, achieved his life-long dream: Helicopter Pilot and Flight Instructor.

In between flight school and instructor status, he married his best friend, Carly Weeks. During their eight years of marriage, the family grew from a family of two to a family of five – Josh, Carly, Wyatt, Daniel and James.

Unfortunately, the family of five has faced several hardships.

In 2016, their new home flooded during the historic floods that devastated South Louisiana. After finishing repairs, the home received another blow when two trees fell on their roof during Hurricane Ida. Roof repairs are still underway.

Josh always inspired everyone he met to pursue their wildest dreams and was a strong, constant friend and a dutiful husband and father.
Now, it’s our turn to service Josh and his family.

With the loss of this stream of income, we ask that you help lessen the burden of his wife, Carly, with a personal donation to assist with funeral expenses. Even the smallest amount is appreciated.

Not able to donate? Please leave a kind note to show your support and love.

NEW ORLEANS —  For the first time, we are hearing from the brother of an experienced helicopter pilot killed this week. The crash happened Tuesday on the Bonnet Carre Spillway.

“I don't know any way else to describe it. It's just an unreal thing to believe he's not here anymore,” Josh Hawley's brother David said.

When David heard about Tuesday’s crash, he immediately thought of him and tried to send him a text message.

“I knew it wasn't coming it was a Hail Mary,” David said. “It’s been an incredibly tragic event for our family. I think a lot of people have seen the story and videos online let people know there’s a face behind this and a real good man that’s going to be missed."

"He's a marine, EMT volunteer firefighter everything if there's a hero job. Josh did it,” Josh Hawley's sister Jessica Hawley Harrison said. “I know it sounds like such a word to throw out and call somebody a hero. My brother was a hero because he didn’t do it to do attention. He did it to help people. He seemed invincible he was a very tough person very strong. I don’t think he realized how incredible he was. I don’t think he did. He was funny, helpful and clever."

"Yesterday when there was a helicopter flying low usually I would walk outside just to look I'm always wanting to look at the sky and I couldn't bring myself to do it yesterday. I couldn't bring myself to go look at the helicopter in the sky I need it wasn't him I just it will be tough it will be tough but he was doing what he loved,” David said.

Josh lived in Denham Springs, his passion was flying. His greatest love was his family.

He was married to his wife for 8 years. They have three sons ages 7, 4 and 3.

"He had a playset he was going buy for his kids for Christmas,” David said.

Josh was looking forward to celebrating Christmas as a family next week.

“The night before the crash Josh called my dad and said we need to get together on Christmas Eve even if it's just us I need to be around family,” David said.

To add to the heartbreak right before Hurricane Ida, Josh lost his mother to a rare cancer.

"This is already going to be tough with my mom gone she loved Christmas. It's going to be a tough one,” Jessica said.

"Just live in the day appreciate what you have,” David said. “I've been hugging my kids a little tighter. Calling family more, you don't know when your time is up we are on this world a short time and you don't know when your family is going to be around. Live each day to the fullest like Josh would. He left a great impact on the world. We want to make sure his life is remembered and we want to make sure his impact is heard and felt and everything that he stood for. Helping people and the community and being there for one another we want to make sure the right stories get told about him."

 Joshua Hawley

NEW ORLEANS - A deadly helicopter crash occurred on the Bonnet Carre Spillway bridge Tuesday. The helicopter hit power lines as it crashed and blocked traffic on I-10 heading toward New Orleans.

Officials said plans to close the bridge for power line repairs were delayed Wednesday. The repairs will now happen Sunday. 

Authorities issued the following information related to Wednesday's closure:

-I-10 East will be closed at US 51 in Laplace, traffic will be diverted to US 51.
- I-10 West will be closed at I-310 in Kenner, traffic will be diverted to I-310 South.
- I-55 South will be closed at US 51 in Laplace, traffic will be diverted to US 51.

The FAA said the rotorcraft went down around 12:30 p.m., Tuesday. Video posted on social media showed the wreckage burning on the interstate shortly after the crash.

The agency said only the pilot, identified as Joshua Hawley, was on board the helicopter at the time. Hawley, who is from the Greater Baton Rouge area, died in the crash. No one else was injured.

The EBR mayor-president's office released a statement Wednesday saying Hawley was a former East Baton Rouge EMS employee.

"This afternoon we learned of the tragic death of a former Emergency Medical Services employee, Joshua Hawley, in Tuesday’s helicopter crash on the Bonne CarrĂ© Spillway Bridge. Hawley served our EMS Department for four years, and was an valuable member of our City-Parish team.

Please join me in keeping his family, friends, and colleagues lifted in prayer as they navigate this loss. His memory will remain in the hearts of our residents for many years to come."

More recently, Hawley flew helicopters for a Baton Rouge-based industrial construction company.                                                   

According to a statement from Entergy, when the helicopter struck a power line this temporarily knocked out electricity for about 20,000 customers in the Kenner and Metairie areas.

Photos shared by police showed the smoking remains of the rotorcraft.                                                 
Due to the deadly incident, the Spillway on I-10 was closed all night Tuesday and reopened around 2 a.m. Wednesday. 

ST. CHARLES PARISH, Louisiana (WVUE) - Officials have identified the pilot of a helicopter that crashed onto I-10 at the Bonnet Carre Spillway Bridge.

The St. Charles Parish Coroner identified the man as 42-year-old Joshua Hawley, from Livingston Parish.

At around 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, December 14, Hawley’s Bell 407 helicopter clipped an Entergy transmission line and crashed onto the eastbound side of the spillway near mile marker 212.

Hawley was the only person on board the flight from Baton Rouge to New Orleans Lakefront Airport, officials say.

Hawley is a father of three children, all under eight years old.

Hawley became a pilot in 2014, according to his social media accounts, after working on planes for 14 years. He started his own flight school, Airspeed Flight Services, in Baton Rouge in 2016.

In 2019, WAFB-TV in Baton Rouge caught one of Hawley’s helicopters flying over Healing Place Church dropping eggs for the annual Easter Egg Drop.

Hawley also briefly worked as a paramedic for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) in Baton Rouge for just over four years.

Witnesses say the helicopter was flying low and fast before a fiery explosion engulfed the interstate.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate.

The Bonnet Carre Spillway will be closed in both directions for a period of time on Sunday for Entergy crews to make repairs to the damaged infrastructure.


  1. It looks like he was following the highway due to low visibility.
    Weather information:
    KMSY 141228Z 08003KT 1/8SM BR VV003 17/17 A3033 RMK AO2 SFC VIS 3/4 T01720167 RVRNO

    1. 1/8 of a mile visibility while following a road? Yikes! As my CFI often repeated "ALL ROADS HAVE WIRES" and "WIRES ALWAYS WIN"

    2. It happened at noon. That's not a valid METAR for the time (MSY is GMT -6)

    3. Good catch. Let's hope Edgar starts training his students about the difference between UTC and local time.
      Here are the correct METARs:
      KMSY 141953Z COR 05006KT 9SM SCT045 23/19 A3028
      KMSY 141853Z 14005KT 10SM SCT020 BKN250 23/18 A3029
      KMSY 141840Z 12007KT 10SM SCT020 BKN250 24/19 A3030
      KMSY 141820Z 11008KT 10SM BKN016 BKN250 23/19 A3031
      KMSY 141800Z 14007KT 10SM BKN011 BKN016 BKN250 22/19 A3032

    4. N150AS ADS-B track recording ends at the transmission line:

      Presumably, those METARS from 10 miles away at MSY associated with the correct 12:36 CDT/18:36Z time of wire contact represent similar conditions at the transmission line. Transmission line towers flanking both sides of the flight track should have been clearly visible.

      Steet View images show the transmission towers and power line:
      View looking SE, first toward the left, then right:

      View looking NW, in the direction the helo came from:

      Listening to the LiveAtc 1830Z KMSY2 archive did not turn up any comm from the accident aircraft on that combined three-channel scanner recording.

    5. Looking at how the smoke column disappears into the mist on the first seconds of the video in the news link below, KMSY METARs from the time period do not reflect conditions at the crash location.

  2. A truck dashcam footage is being circled around Facebook dms, heavy fog and it shows the helicopter clipping the powerline and descending out of control after the main rotor separated. He crashed nose first and I think one of the trucks struck the wreck during the accident sequence.

    1. Here is one of the dashcam videos of the crash:

  3. Replies
    1. A Gofundme for funeral expenses and family support set up by pilot's brother is linked below.

      (A second gofundme was set up a day later by a person not describing their relationship to the family which says it is for funeral expenses, hard to tell if the second one is legit, so did not link it).

    2. Don't pilots with dependents have adequate life and disability insurances and a reminder as the first item on the "before take off" checklist?

    3. "Don't pilots with dependents have adequate life and disability insurances and a reminder as the first item on the "before take off" checklist?"

      To your first question, what makes you think "pilots" as in a generic term, means they all earn Delta captain $220K+ salaries and are set for life with company life insurance?

      To your second question in the same sentence, let the NTSB do the investigation. Until then, sit down and drink a tall glass of STFU.

    4. Looks like I did hit a nerve.

      Pilots as those we read here on KR. Stuff happens, and one can actually purchase a life insurance in the country of the free, so your dependents, as in "depending you and your income", have money to go on without you.
      I know, crazy concept for those tough invincibles, but what goes up must come down, as KR shows us every day.
      Man up.

      I don't think you understood the second part.

    5. It is okay for people to want to donate, regardless of the level of insurance coverage that a pilot has or the choices that were made in determining that coverage.

      You two should try to understand that slinging snark such as "drink a tall glass...", "invincibles" & "man up" at each other did not sell your points of view better than if you had left that out.

    6. The GoFundMe and Life Insurance imbroglio is very childish and immature. Apologies are in order. Regardless of your view, this was sad all around and the survivors who love him are badly affected. Take it off line, huh?