Rocky Mountain House pilot Ken Fowler’s aerobatic plane clipped power lines during a low-level flight before plummeting to the ground, says the Transportation Safety Board of Canada.
Fowler, 59, was flying an amateur-built, two-seater Harmon Rocket II with passenger Hannelei Eder, 48, when the plane crashed about 1:30 p.m. Saturday into a field near Thorsby.
Fowler and Eder were both killed. Thorsby is 142 kilometres north of Red Deer.
“There was a post-impact fire and the aircraft was destroyed,” says a brief Transportation Safety Board occurrence report on its web page.
A Transportation Safety Board team was at the crash site by 5 p.m. and spent nearly five hours collecting data.
Investigators returned the following morning to continue documenting the accident site and wreckage, said board spokesman Dean Campbell in an email.
The wreckage has now been moved to a TSB facility to be examined.
“The investigation team will continue the data collection process (weather, aircraft records, pilot records, witness interviews) in the coming days.”
Fowler was a well-known and highly skilled aerobatic pilot, who had performed shows all over North America and Central America in his long flying career. He and pilot Eric Hansen flew as Team Rocket Aerobatics, which Fowler started 16 years ago.
Fowler, who had more than 6,000 hours of flying experience, had taken off from Rocky Mountain House Airport, which he had managed for the past 22 years, to an unknown destination when the crash happened.
Fowler was a father of three sons and had a 20-year military career before retiring and taking the Rocky Mountain House job.
Eder was also a skilled pilot who had been part of the local flying community for many years, including serving as president of the Rocky Airshow Society.
The mother of a son was working on her commercial flying licence and was a former peace officer for the Town of Rocky Mountain House, and later worked in security.