WWII B-17 Pilot Died Saturday When P-51 'Pecos Bill' crashes


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73-year-old Cowden Ward and his passenger, 93-year-old Vincent Losada of San Antonio, who was a WWII B-17 pilot, died after the plane crashed in the parking lot of a Fredericksburg apartment complex Saturday afternoon, the Associated Press reports.

a priceless P-51 Mustang crashed into a parking lot in Texas. Investigators have confirmed that two people were killed in the crash. However, to make matters worse one of the people who lost their lives was a WWII-era B-17 pilot.

The P-51D Mustang “Pecos Bill” was no stranger to performing air shows for the joy of aviation fanatics. Pecos Bill took part in the Living History WWII reenactment in Fredricksburg, Texas. Pilot Cowden Ward traveled the country giving flights to WWII vets, but sadly this one would be his last.

“Pecos Bill provides complimentary Freedom Flights to WWII Veterans and Purple Heart Recipients to thank them for their service to our country, along with fly-over tributes at WWII Veterans’ funerals & events.”


During the WWII reenactment, Cowden Ward brought a WWII B-17 pilot along for a joyride but then things went wrong. At 3:15 PM, the P-51 malfunctioned and crashed into the parking lot of an apartment complex.
Today we mourn the loss of our dear friend Cowden Ward and his honored passenger, a WWII B-17 Pilot. Cowden established Freedom Flyers with a mission and a passion to honor Veterans with flights in his beloved P-51 Pecos Bill. Over the years he did just that, honoring hundreds of our Nations Veterans including a large number of WWII veterans. The news of this tragedy has left all of his friends and family heartbroken. We hope that everyone will remember his infectious smile.


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I wonder if this was the same P51 and Pilot I saw fly the heritage flight with the F-22 raptor earlier this month in Pensacola. Man. Condolences to the family. What a Tragedy.


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That was my first thought too, surviving the war to end like this. End then again... This gentleman was 93 years old, and he died doing something he loved, something that reminded him of when he was young. How many people of this age have this chance? I'd take it every day over ending my life in a nursing home, alone and afraid.

Blue skies to both of them.

Greg Gale

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Agreed, although it's quite ironic to survive WWII only to die in a Mustang 70+ years later, if I could sign a contract about my own death to happen in a P-51 at the age of 93 I'd sign in a heartbeat. It's quite a tragedy nonetheless, but on the bright side nobody got hurt on the ground. Do we know what that "malfunction" was?


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[QUOTE="Greg Gale, post: Do we know what that "malfunction" was?[/QUOTE]

just happened this past Saturday so the investigation is on going.
I agree about signing on to how one would like to go out and at what age! Too bad we don’t have that option! I don’t want to go out like a punk in some common car accident or heart attack. I live a dull life so it’s most likely :(
just to live to be 93 and have my wits about me enough to climb aboard an airplane will be something!


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A friend died here just a year ago in a P-51. She was a crop duster herself and no slouch and the pilot was a very respected and experienced pilot. I have friends with such vintage planes and some of them really flog them. Some airframes can take it but some cannot. I'm sure they are flown correctly but unsure if they are maintained correctly. Aluminum can survive only so many stress cycles so such old planes must have a more rigorous inspection and rebuild than any other just "cleared to fly" aircraft. My Cessna is 60yo BUT I do not stress it(much). A P-51 experiences a lot of stress just accelerating.
Sad story indeed.


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Granted we don't know the cause yet, but one thing to consider and remember is all of the pilots that were killed in WW II in non combat situations. Even when these aircraft were new, there were catastrophic failures that killed a lot of good pilots....even very experienced ones....Richard Bong and George Beurling being two great examples, with Beurling himself being killed in a P-51 after the war.


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Complex machinery is never fool proof, no matter who says so. Too many variables... Climb in any machine, accept the risk.


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Sad news.

I can only hope the fact that both men passed on while doing something they loved, will help the families deal with their loss.