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Pilot killed in crash near Thorsby remembered as ‘skilled, beloved’ Alberta aviation industry member

Click to play video 'Thorsby plane crash victim Ken Fowler remembered as ‘skilled, beloved’ member of aviation industry' Thorsby plane crash victim Ken Fowler remembered as ‘skilled, beloved’ member of aviation industry
Rocky Mountain House man Ken Fowler, 59, is being remembered as a pilot who had been involved in the industry for over 20 years. Fowler died after the Harmon Rocket plane he was flying went down in a field northwest of Thorsby on Saturday.

Friends and family of 59-year-old Ken Fowler say he is being remembered as a pilot who had been involved in aviation for over 40 years.

“Ken is a guy who is really well-known and really beloved in the air show industry,” said his friend Mark Miller on Sunday. “He’s a great dad, good guy.

“(He) always had time for everybody and did everything he could to share the gospel of aviation through airshows with people.”

Fowler died after the Harmon Rocket plane he was piloting went down in a field northwest of Thorsby, Alta., on Saturday afternoon.

Read more: 2 dead after small plane crashes near Thorsby: Alberta RCMP

Fowler and a 48-year-old woman who was the passenger in the plane both died from their injuries. Both were from Rocky Mountain House, RCMP said.

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Global News is not yet identifying the woman as some of her family has yet to be informed of her passing, according to friends of Fowler.

Miller said Fowler had a career in search and rescue, and when he retired he became an airshow pilot who performed for millions of people.

Fowler was considered an excellent pilot and a skilled and safe instructor, according to Miller.

“He was a very modest guy, very proud of his team and his air show family — and his family back in Rocky Mountain,” Miller said.

Ken Fowler, 59, had been flying planes since 1977.
Ken Fowler, 59, had been flying planes since 1977. Supplied to Global News

Read more: Team Rocket hits the sky for Wings Over Springbank Airshow

Fowler performed as a part of Team Rocket, which travelled around the world doing aerobatic routines.

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He had been flying planes since 1977 and had helped train many other pilots, including his children.

“Kyle, his son, is now doing air shows,” said Miller. “His dad was a big part of that — coaching his sons.

“I think that’s the thing we’re going to miss most about Ken. He made us into better people.”

Click to play video 'Team Rocket hits the sky for Wings Over Springbank Airshow' Team Rocket hits the sky for Wings Over Springbank Airshow
Team Rocket hits the sky for Wings Over Springbank Airshow

Fowler also had a tradition of doing special Christmas performances through the holiday season, when he would fly a plane and launch fireworks off the back.

“People thought that was Santa’s sleigh,” Miller said. “Well, that was Ken. That was Ken giving back to the community and inspiring little kids and, you know, it makes a lot of sense that Santa picked Ken as his co-pilot.”

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Ken Fowler was known for a fireworks show he ran out of a plane in central Alberta each Christmas.
Ken Fowler was known for a fireworks show he ran out of a plane in central Alberta each Christmas. Supplied to Global News

A statement from the Town of Rocky Mountain House said Fowler was the manager of the Rocky Mountain House Airport for the past 22 years.

“He was an experienced pilot who was well-respected by the aerobatic, military and amateur flying communities alike,” the statement issued Monday read.

“The Town of Rocky Mountain House extends its deepest condolences to the families of Mr. Fowler and his passenger. Town council and administration will support staff who are grieving the sudden loss of their colleague and friend.”

The Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause of the crash.