JACKSON, MISS – Authorities continue to investigate the cause of fiery airplane crash that killed all three people aboard the aircraft and injured a resident of a house it struck.
Investigators said the single-engine Piper PA-32 Cherokee 6 began to sputter almost immediately after it took off from Jackson, Mississippi’s Hawkins Field Airport Tuesday, November 13. Witnesses reported that the airplane’s engine made sporadic sounds as if it were running out of fuel. The airplane then descended, they said, striking several trees before colliding with the home of Loretta and Roosevelt Jamison just a few blocks from the airport.
Family members of the pilot told the Jackson Clarion Ledger that John Tilton of Ridgeland, Miss., was flying the airplane. Mr. Tilton, an experienced flight instructor, was among the three men confirmed dead.
The identities of the other men killed in the crash were confirmed as W.C. Young and David Williams. All three men were experienced pilots involved with the Civil Air Patrol (CAP).
Loretta Jamison was at home at the time of the crash and escaped by jumping out of a window. Residents nearby reported the blast of flame and smoke sounded like a bomb had dropped on the neighborhood.
Roger and Michele Latham, the owners of the airplane, told the Associated Press that the men were flying to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) conference on flight safety in Raymond, Miss., about 25 miles away. They chose to fly the short distance because the plane had been parked in a hangar for a month and they wanted to fly it before taking it on a trip to Gulf Shores, Alabama, for the Thanksgiving holiday. The Lathams said the airplane was in excellent condition.
According to a Jackson Municipal Airport Authority news release, the pilot asked traffic control for permission to return to the airport just before it crashed.
The National Transportation Safety Board and the FAA continue to probe the cause of the crash.