Turbulent weather led to plane crash

CORINTH – The preliminary NTSB investigative report confirms weather as a primary factor in a deadly plane crash in Alcorn County on Oct. 26.
Atlanta businessman James “Jim” Judson Jr. and his wife, Elizabeth “Beth” Judson, were killed when their Beechcraft Bonanza six-passenger plane crashed soon after a 9:30 a.m. takeoff from the Olive Branch airport.
In his report, National Transportation Safety Board lead investigator Brian Rayner said the voice and radar data had been reviewed, and pilot Jim Judson had filed his flight plan from Olive Branch to Dekalb-Peachtree Airport near Atlanta at 9 a.m.
In the recorded conversation Judson had with an airport staffer, Judson said he was aware of “adverse” weather conditions in the area, which was “why we are getting out of here.”
As the plane left Olive Branch headed east, it climbed to about 14,000 feet before its climb became “erratic,” with the rate of climb more than 3,500 feet per minute, the report continued.
An NTSB meteorologist’s examination of National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration radar data showed “that a line of thunderstorms crossed the airplane’s route of flight in the vicinity of the crash site at the time of the accident,” with weather echo ratings alternating from intense to extreme.
Another aspect of the investigative report also described Judson’s piloting experience and training, noting that he held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single engine and instrument airplane.
“Jim, an experienced, instrument-rated pilot, was flying the plane, for which he continued to take lessons to keep his skills sharp,” said a statement from the couple’s online obituary with Roswell (Ga.) Funeral Home.
When receiving his most recent FAA third class medical certificate in March 2009, Judson declared 613 total hours of flight experience at that time, the preliminary NTSB report said, with an estimated 120 additional hours flown in the past year.
Jim Judson’s brother, Robert Judson, issued a statement on behalf of the family:
“The Judson family would like to thank our friends for all their kind thoughts and prayers as we try to understand this tragedy and loss. Jim and Beth were loving family members who both gave freely of their time, talents and treasure to many in our community. They will be greatly missed.”
Rayner said he will continue fact-finding until ready to submit his final report to the five-member National Transportation Safety Board, after which it will issue findings of the probable cause of the crash.
The entire process can take as long as a year, he said.
Contact Lena Mitchell at (662) 287-9822 or lena.mitchell@djournal.com.

LENA MITCHELL / NEMS Daily Journal Corinth Bureau

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