Small plane crashes in Jackson neighborhood; 3 pilots killed

From Media Reports

JACKSON – A small plane carrying three experienced pilots crashed Tuesday evening in a residential neighborhood in west Jackson and the victims’ friends and families want to know why.

The accident occurred near Hawkins Field Airport. The Piper PA-32 single-engine plane, registered to a company in Flowood, reportedly took off just after 5 p.m. Tuesday from Hawkins and crashed a short time later after asking air traffic control for permission to return to the airport.

Killed were Col. John Tilton, and his passengers — Lt. Col. David Williams and Capt. William C. Young, WLBT reported.

Witnesses later said large flames and black smoke rose about 50 feet from a burning house that was hit.

A Jackson deputy fire chief told WJTV-TV that one person escaped the burning home with minor injuries. It was not immediately clear if anyone else was inside the house.

Tilton had even been giving flight lessons to the owner of the plane — Roger Latham, WLBT reported.

Latham originally planned to be another passenger on the plane, which was headed to a FAA safety meeting in Raymond.

“I was enjoying hunting with my brother and it just seemed that I wasn't going to be able to make it and I told the gentlemen if I wasn't there by a certain time — just go ahead and go without me,” Latham said.

Col. John Tilton (l to r) Lt. Col. David Williams and Capt. William C. Young were killed Tuesday evening when their plane crashed into a house in west Jackson.

According to the Civil Air Patrol, Tilton, 65, was a former member of the Civil Air Patrol's (CAP) Board of Governors and Alabama Wing and Southeast Region commander. He joined CAP in 1998 and had served as safety officer since June 2011.

Tilton was also a helicopter pilot in the U.S. Army and retired as a lieutenant colonel. Tilton's wife Col. Rebecca Tilton is the Mississippi Wing's government relations adviser, according to the CAP.

Williams, 69, was a standardization/evaluation officer with the Mississippi Wing. He joined the Civil Air Patrol in 1994.

Young, 78, was the finance officer for the Maj. James McKinnie Composite Squadron. He joined the civil air patrol in May 2011.

All three men held FAA qualifications as certified flight instructors.

The plane wasn't part of the Civil Air Patrol fleet and the men weren't on a CAP mission, according to the Mississippi Wing.

Civil Air Patrol officials said in a statement Wednesday they are deeply saddened by the loss and send condolences to the victims' families.