Rocky Mountain House aerobatic pilot Ken Fowler had just flown low over a go-kart track where friends were waiting when he hit an unmarked power line as he pulled up, says a report from the Transportation Safety Board about last year’s fatal crash.
Fowler, 59, and a passenger Hannelei Eder, 42, left Rocky Mountain House at 1:17 p.m. Sept. 26 to meet with friends at a go-kart track next to the Hugget/Goodwood Field Aerodrome, which is about 45 km west of Leduc.
Arriving at the airfield about 20 minutes after taking off, Fowler made a couple of circuits around the unfamiliar field.
After his second circuit, Fowler’s plane descended to about 7.5 metres (25 feet) and flew over the go-kart track’s straightaway from north to south.
Based on videos recorded by observers on the ground, at the south end of the straightaway the aircraft initiated a climb and struck the upper two wires of an unmarked power line on the north side of Township Road 504 between 9.6 to 10.5 metres (32 and 35 feet) above ground level, says the safety board’s report released earlier this month.
The wires hit the nose of the plane and tore off the canopy.
Fowler’s Harmon Rocket II aerobtic plane pitched up steeply and climbed to about 210 metres (700 feet) rolled almost upside down as it headed west. As it continued flying, the wings levelled out but the plane hit the ground at about a 40-degree angle around 600 metres (2,000 feet) southwest of where it hit the power lines.
Both passengers were fatally injured and a fire consumed most of the plane.
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, was a father of three sons who had more than 6,000 hours of flying experience, and had managed Rocky Mountain House Airport for 22 years.
Eder, who had a son, 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.
Canadian Aviation Regulations require that power lines be marked if they are within six km of an aerodrome and the lines are higher than 90 metres above the ground. The highest points of the power lines in this case were only 10.6 metres and did not require marking.