The veteran aerobatic pilot killed in a plane crash Sunday during the Stevens Point air show has been identified by Stevens Point police Monday as William M. Cowden.
Cowden, 47, of Menomonie was flying a Russian-built Yak-55M Sunday – a single-seat, single-engine plane designed for aerobatics competitions – when it collapsed to into trees Sunday at 12:20 p.m. in a wooded area about 1,000 feet east of the airport runway, Police Sgt. Tony Babl said.
Cowden is a pilot for Delta Airlines and was a former Air Force officer, the Eau Claire Leader Telegram reports.
In a 2013 interview with the newspaper, Cosden said his plan travels as fast as 220 mph during precision maneuvers involved in aerobatics – an exhilarating feat for even the most advanced.
Cowden was performing aerial maneuvers at the biennial air sow when witnesses said the plan spiraled down towards the grown, looped up, then crashed into the trees.
The aerobatic pilot wasn’t shy to acknowledge the dangers of aerobatic flying in a June 2013 interview with WEAU-TV in Eau Claire.
If you’re in the industry long enough, you’re going to see something bad happen and I have.” Cowden said, commenting on the death of a pilot and wing-walker when their biplane crashed at a Dayton, Ohio.
Cowden cited focus and years of experience as to how he keeps safe when performing such death-defying stunts.
“Complacency is a big thing,” he said. “That’s why it’s so important to leave yourself an out, to be high enough to have an option to get out of something.”
Cowden’s Facebook page features a photo of him flying the Yak-55M, further displaying his love for flying.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause of the crash.
Cowden had been scheduled to fly at this year’s Menomonie Airfest June 21 and 22.
Veteran Aerobatic Pilot Killed in Air Show Plane Crash Identified