Pilot’s family struggling to make sense of tragedy

Published: Dec. 17, 2021 at 8:53 AM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The family of Joshua Hawley, who died tragically when his chopper crash on the Bonnet Carre Spillway, is devastated by their loss, his brother David tells FOX 8.

A fellow pilot, David says his brother was an excellent pilot who always put safety first.

Hawley, a flight instructor, was flying to New Orleans in foggy conditions when his helicopter clipped a power line and plummeted to the roadway below.

“He talked about safety all the time. I mean Josh read numerous NTSB reports like the one that’s going to be written about him.... where you read about very capable pilots flying capable aircraft flying into a bad situation, into the ground, or into an obstruction,” David says. “It’s hard to understand but in aviation, you know about those risks, you know about what the human body does, you try to reduce the risks, understand those risks and mitigate those risks. Josh did that. He knew that. So that’s why it’s really hard to square. Everyone I talk to, multiple pilots, we just can’t make sense of it.”


Hawley leaves behind a wife and three sons, aged three, four and seven.

David launched a GoFundMe to help with funeral and living expenses for Hawley’s wife and children. Over $60,000 has been donated.

Photos shared exclusively with FOX 8 showed the rotor blades severed from the cabin of the aircraft, taken from a vehicle near the crash site.

Dashcam photos show the rotor blades of Joshua Hawley's chopper severed from the cabin after...
Dashcam photos show the rotor blades of Joshua Hawley's chopper severed from the cabin after clipping power lines above the Bonnet Carre Spillway.(WVUE)

After working on planes for 14 years, Hawley became a pilot in 2014, according to his social media accounts. He eventually started his own flight school, Airspeed Flight Services, in Baton Rouge in 2016. Hawley also briefly worked as a paramedic for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) in Baton Rouge for just over four years.

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