Three Civil Air Patrol members on their way to an FAA safety seminar took off from Hawkins Field Airport in Jackson, Miss., on Tuesday afternoon in a Piper PA-32, and moments later all three died when the airplane crashed into a house and caught fire. Killed in the crash were Col. John E. Tilton Jr., former member of Civil Air Patrol's Board of Governors and Alabama Wing and Southeast Region commander; the Mississippi Wing's standardization/evaluation officer, Lt. Col. David Williams; and Capt. William C. Young, finance officer for the Maj. James McKinnie Composite Squadron, CAP said in a press release, Wednesday.
One of the aviators on board called the tower for a clearance to return, but within minutes the airplane was down. The owner of the aircraft, a student pilot, was not on board, but one of the men in the airplane was his flight instructor. One person in the house suffered minor injuries, the AP said, but it wasn't clear if anyone else was in the house. The pilots were en route to a safety seminar in Raymond, Miss., just 30 miles away. Roger Latham, the airplane's owner, said he had owned the airplane for about two and a half years and it was in mint condition. According to the AP, Latham had planned to join the others on the flight but decided to go hunting instead. An FAA safety seminar scheduled for Tuesday evening at the John Bell Williams Airport in Raymond featured a fish fry and talks about downlink weather and airman medical topics. Col. Carlton Sumner, Mississippi Wing commander said of the crash, "The CAP family is deeply saddened by this tremendous loss. These fine men served selflessly in the military and/or in CAP. Their legacy will be marked by tireless service, devotion to duty and with great personal integrity and character. They touched innumerable lives as friends, business associates, mentors, instructors and leaders."