Civil Air Patrol, friends mourn loss of 3 pilots - - Jackson, MS

Civil Air Patrol, friends mourn loss of 3 pilots

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Victims' families and investigators are still searching for answers about what led to Tuesday's fatal plane crash in a west Jackson neighborhood.

The small single-engine plane took off just after 5 Tuesday from Hawkins Field Airport and crashed a short time later after asking air traffic control for permission to return to the airport.

Family members and a friend said Wednesday they are still working on arrangements for the three men, and they are focusing on helping each other cope with the tragic loss.

The man piloting the plane was no stranger to the skies.

Col. John Tilton was a member of the Civil Air Patrol's Mississippi Wing along with his passengers -- Lt. Col. David Williams and Capt. William C. Young.

Tilton had even been giving flight lessons to the owner of the plane -- Roger Latham.

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.

According to the Civil Air Patrol, Tilton, 65, was a former member of the Civil Air Patrol's 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.

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