Central Alberta’s Ken Fowler saved many lives throughout the course of his piloting career and wowed crowds at airshows.
On Christmas Eve, he played Santa Claus in the sky.
The Town of Rocky Mountain House said it’s saddened by a fatal plane crash near Thorsby on Saturday that took the lives of Fowler and his passenger, who has been identified as 48-year-old Hannalei Eder.
They were killed when a Harmon Rocket plane, which had left Rocky Mountain House, crashed at 1:41 p.m. Saturday onto a field near Township Road 504 and Range Road 21.
Fowler, 59, was 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, says the town.
For Mark Miller, a friend of Fowler’s, he was a mentor who was always just a phone call away.
“He always had time for people, and he absolutely loved sharing his knowledge and helping people,” said Miller on Monday.
Miller said Fowler worked in search and rescue before he retired, and saved many lives over the course of his career.
After he retired, Fowler started flying at airshows and co-founded Team Rocket Aerobatics.
“He flew all over the world, all over North America, entertained so many people and saved lives and enriched lives,” said the Vancouver resident.
At Christmas time, Fowler took on the role of Santa, said Miller.
“He called it the Santa flight. He would fly over Rocky for sure, and sometimes over Red Deer, and kids would look up and they would see this airplane with flashing red lights and sparklers.
“Little kids would imagine that was Santa’s sleigh. Well, that was Ken, and that was Ken’s Christmas gift to everybody.”
He had a way of relating with everyone, and he was the person who always had a solution, said Miller.
“He had a special way of connecting with people, connecting with kids. He had an amazing connection with his sons and his grandkids. Everybody was inspired by Ken, both as a family man and as an aviator.”
The Town of Rocky Mountain House says it will support staff who are grieving the sudden loss of their colleague and friend.