Pilot from Stevens Point plane crash remembered at air show - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Pilot from Stevens Point plane crash remembered at air show


On Sunday, William Cowden of Menomonie would have been performing aerial stunts at the Menomonie Air Fest. Instead he was remembered by those who loved him.

Three weeks ago, 47-year-old Cowden died when his plane crashed during his routine at the Stevens Point Air Show.

It's a moment those who were close to him will never be able to forget.

"I think there's no doubt after the accident we all had to dig deep," said friend and Air Fest manager Jeff Overby. "Not only was Bill a personal friend of mine, but a coach a mentor, somebody that I spent so much time with."

A veteran pilot with more than 24 years of flight experience, Cowden was scheduled to perform in the Air Fest.

Despite the tragic crash, Overby says he knew Cowden would have wanted the show to go on.

In his honor, loved ones released red, white and blue balloons as a tribute to his plane, a YAK-55M.

The Menomonie Honor Guard also gave him a 21-gun salute.

"It was just a touching moment and I think everyone could appreciate how special it was here," said Overby.

Family and friends say it gave them a chance to reflect on the man they lost. Fellow pilot Larry Schlasinger says as he performed his routine over the weekend, he thought of his friend.

"He was a funny guy and a good pilot," said Schlasinger. "He was always encouraging to everyone else. I'm sure he's somewhere smiling at the whole deal and thinking, 'Aw that's great and thanks a lot guys and happy and proud of the fact that you did it.'"

Overby says Cowden will always be close to his heart.

"You can't let go of that, every time I fly, you certainly think about that," said Overby. "Every show that we do it's always Bill Cowden my buddy, my pilot. "

Newsline 9 spoke to Cowden's family members. They didn't want to go on camera, but they say they're thankful the community gave them this chance to say goodbye.

In a preliminary report, the National Transportation and Safety Board said Cowden's plane had no mechanical problems.

For now, officials say the cause of the crash is still unknown.

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