Pilot from Stevens Point Airshow crash remembered - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Pilot from Stevens Point Airshow crash remembered


The Stevens Point Airshow took a tragic turn Sunday, when a plane crashed, killing the pilot on board.

William Cowden, 47, of Menomonie died while performing aerial acrobatic stunts at the show at the Stevens Point Municipal Airport.

Newsline 9 was covering the event before the crash. A reporter spoke with the pilot only minutes before take-off.

Cowden flew a red and blue YAK-55M. It was a plane he said he'd performed stunts in for the past four years.

"It's a great airshow airplane and I feel privileged to fly it," said Cowden. "We call it the 'Harley of the Sky.'"

Airshow Manager Jeff Overby was there when his friend's plane went down.

"It was just a tragic loss for a great personal friend as well as an extremely capable pilot," said Overby,

Overby says Cowden had more than 24 years of flight experience, both as a military F-16 and a commercial pilot.

But Overby says the high-flying stunts were what Cowden truly loved.

"We had a lot of fun doing a lot of air shows, which is kind of a dangerous game we play, but the reward has been extremely great on the other side of that," said Overby.

Cowden told Newsline 9 that the reward was seeing the smiles on people's faces.

"That's really why we do it," Cowden said. "We're not making a ton of money doing this. We do it for the love of aviation and to pass it on to the younger generations and hopefully they get inspired by us."

Cowden was scheduled to perform at the Menomonie Airfest in June.

Overby says the organizers are planning a memorial in his honor.

"It will be very difficult without Bill with us, but I think Bill would have wanted the show to go on," said Overby. "Starting today we're going to pick up the pieces and move forward."

But not without a heavy heart.

Friends say Cowden was also a family man. He leaves behind a wife and a son.

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