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Wisconsin Stunt Plane's Unexplained Crash Kills Pilot During Air Show

By    |   Tuesday, 03 Jun 2014 10:52 AM

A stunt plane at Wisconsin's Stevens Point Air Show crashed just after noon on Sunday, killing its pilot.

USA Today reported that Bill Cowden, 47, of Menomonie, Wisconsin, had been flying a 1993 YAK-55M Russian-made aerobatics plane. The cause of the crash is still under investigation by federal officials.

"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," air show announcer Jeff Overby told Fox 9 News.

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

"I couldn't believe what I saw," said spectator Melvin Burskey. "There was a puff of smoke. Then it went down."

A retired Air Force pilot and first officer with Delta Airlines, Cowden had been flying planes since 1986, and had over 15,000 hours of flight time in an F-16. He liked flying aerobatic planes because it reminded him of the thrill the F-16 used to provide.

"[O]nce you get into this, you've usually got [a passion for aerobatics] pretty bad," Cowden said just two hours before the crash. "It's like an addiction."

William "Bill" Cowden is survived by wife Heather, and his son, Gunnar.

"He was a genuine guy, a really nice guy who loved flying," said Scott Rifleman, president of the Stevens Point Pilots Association. "He loved aerobatics and entertaining."



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A stunt plane at Wisconsin's Stevens Point Air Show crashed just after noon on Sunday, killing its pilot.
wisconsin, stunt, plane, dies
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2014-52-03
Tuesday, 03 Jun 2014 10:52 AM
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