Pilot killed in Wisconsin air show crash had 'impeccable' record - KMSP-TV

Pilot killed in Wisconsin air show crash had 'impeccable' record

Posted: Updated:
MENOMONIE, Wis. (KMSP) -

He spent decades piloting everything from F-16s to commercial jets for Delta Airlines. Through it all, he maintained an spotless safety record until a maneuver at a Wisconsin air show went terribly wrong.

Bill Cowden, 47, of Menomonie, Wis., began flying in 1986. He started with F-16s in the U.S. Air Force and eventually flew aerobatic planes to tap into that thrill of flying military jets. Now, his friends are mourning his death after he died in the cockpit of a stunt plane.

"Only a day after the accident -- it's hard to think about why we would want to continue to perform at airshows," announcer Jeff Overby admitted.

Overby told Fox 9 News he couldn't believe his eyes on Sunday afternoon. He was watching his friend of 7 years perform aerial maneuvers in his YAK-55M Russian one-seater when things suddenly took a tragic turn.

"It appeared from the ground that Bill took several turns coming down, which was typical of his move -- but then there was some period of recovery -- but it looked like the ground was much closer than what he'd normally anticipated."

Cowden's plane crashed near the Green Circle Trail in a wooded area 1,000 feet east of the Stevens Point Municipal Airport runway. It's still a shock to the man who knew Cowden as an extremely capable pilot.

"He's been performing airshows for near 10 years," Overby said. "He's a very capable pilot with over 10,000 commercial flight hours."

As a retired Air Force pilot, Cowden also had 15,000 hours of F-16 time under his belt. He leaves behind a wife and an 8-year-old son, Gunner.

Although Overby and others are aware of the risks of flying, he says the loss may make some think twice about returning.

"Right now, there would be some reluctance to get back in the cockpit immediately," he acknowledged. "I'm certain with all pilots, there's a certain characteristic or attitude that allows us to handle these things."

Cowden was a first officer with Delta Airlines and served as an MSP-based pilot for 14 years -- but even his 25 years couldn't keep him clear of the dangers that come with taking to the skies.

"It looked like things were performing and engines were running smoothly," Overby said. "Ran out of altitude."

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • IN CUSTODY: Officer shooting suspect Brian George Fitch Sr.

    IN CUSTODY: Officer shooting suspect Brian George Fitch Sr.

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 10:07 PM EDT2014-07-31 02:07:28 GMT
    Fox 9 News is learning more about the suspect wanted in connection with the fatal shooting of Mendota Heights Police Officer Scott Patrick, 47, during a traffic stop, and it turns out he was already a wanted man when that traffic stop began.

    Fox 9 News is learning more about the suspect wanted in connection with the fatal shooting of Mendota Heights Police Officer Scott Patrick, 47, during a traffic stop, and it turns out he was already a wanted man when that traffic stop began.
  • SWAT team arrests suspected cop killer in St. Paul

    SWAT team arrests suspected cop killer in St. Paul

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 10:42 PM EDT2014-07-31 02:42:24 GMT
    On Wednesday night, dozens of officers -- including a SWAT team -- descended on Sycamore and Rice streets in St. Paul after a suspected cop killer apparently opened fire on officers and was shot multiple times.
    On Wednesday night, dozens of officers -- including a SWAT team -- descended on Sycamore and Rice streets in St. Paul after a suspected cop killer apparently opened fire on officers after escaping a neighborhood near the intersection of Baker and Livingston, where the car used in the crime was found.
  • Mendota Heights police officer shot in West St. Paul; suspect shot

    Mendota Heights police officer shot in West St. Paul; suspect shot

    Thursday, July 31 2014 12:36 AM EDT2014-07-31 04:36:05 GMT

    A Mendota Heights police officer was shot and killed Wednesday afternoon during a traffic stop near Dodd Road and Smith Avenue in West St. Paul, Fox 9 sources confirmed. Police arrested the suspect later Wednesday night.


    A Mendota Heights police officer was shot and killed Wednesday afternoon during a traffic stop near Dodd Road and Smith Avenue in West St. Paul, Fox 9 sources confirmed. Police arrested the suspect later Wednesday night.


Widgets Magazine
Powered by WorldNow

KMSP-TV
11358 Viking Drive
Eden Prairie, MN 55344

Phone: (952) 944-9999
Fax: (952) 942-0455

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices