Airshow Pilot Killed In Wisconsin

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Pilot Bill Cowden, 47, died on Sunday while performing in an airshow at Steven's Point, Wisc. It was the second fatal accident involving an airshow performer in North America this year, according to the International Council of Air Shows. Cowden was flying a 1993 Yakovlev YAK-55M, which he owned. After executing several maneuvers, the airplane spiraled to the ground and crashed into trees about 1,000 feet from the airport runway. Cowden had flown F-16s in the U.S. Air Force, and later flew for Delta Air Lines. He had been a pilot for 25 years. The cause of the crash is under investigation by the NTSB.

There was no fire, officials said. John Cudahy, president of ICAS, told the Stevens Point Journal there have been fewer than three airshow fatalities in most years since the council began a safety initiative in 2008. The exception was 2011, when five pilots died, Cudahy said. Aerobatic pilots must be evaluated for competency annually by ICAS, and they must document their certification and medical clearance within 45 days of performing in an airshow. According to ICAS statistics, 115 people have died while performing in North American airshows since 1988.