A 30-year member of the Ohio Wing Civil Air Patrol, Major Curtis J. Rowe, 64, died Saturday while performing an aerial demonstration at the Wings Over Dallas air show at the Dallas Executive Airport, according to a statement from CAP Commander Peter K. Bowden on Sunday. Rowe was from Hilliard, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus.
“Curt touched the lives of thousands of his fellow Civil Air Patrol members, especially when flying cadets during hundreds of orientation flights over the course of his service,” Bowden said. “Please take a moment to reflect on the service of Major Curt Rowe as we celebrate his life and contributions to his community, state, and nation.”
Rowe’s family and friends said he loved planes, flying, and teaching others.
“There’s not very many like him around,” said his cousin Tom Rowe. “It’s a chip off the old block, as the old saying goes, and people like him are kind of a rarity.”
Tom Rowe said most people called his cousin Curt.
“He was a funny, very funny guy,” Tom Rowe said. “He loved his family. He had great pride in his country and in serving his country.”
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which is investigating the crash, offered an update on the investigation into the crash, saying it was still in its early stages.
“We’re here to basically recover all the evidence at the scene, said NTSB member Michael Graham. “We’re currently starting the removal process of the aircraft, where we will take it to a secure location, the airframe itself, and the engines and everything to determine that.”
The Associated Press reported that two historic military aircraft, a B-17 Flying Fortress bomber and a P-63 Kingcobra fighter plane, crashed into each other around 1:20 p.m., sending black smoke and debris into the sky.
Six people were killed in the crash, the AP reported.
Rowe volunteered to fly on a vintage Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress as part of the Commemorative Air Force, according to Bowden.
With over three decades of service to the Ohio Wing of CAP, Rowe served in a number of roles, including safety officer, operations officer, and most recently an Ohio Wing Maintenance Officer. Rowe also volunteered at the Johnson Flight Academy in Mattoon, Illinois, Bowden said.
Linda Masdea Brunetto and Rick Brunetto first met Rowe through Columbus’ music scene, calling him the most loving, giving person they’ve known.
“He really became our guardian angel,” they said. “He was the kind of person when he was around, you knew everything was OK. And it was like that for everyone. It wasn’t just us and it wasn’t just the Valley Dale (Ballroom).”
Rowe’s ability to teach young flying cadets was something his cousin said made him special.
“Just his ability to communicate and really be able to reach those young people, I think, is a testament to the kind of person he was and how special he was,” Tom Rowe said.
Graham said the preliminary investigation is expected to take between four and six weeks.
“Basically, we will look at everything we can and we’ll let the evidence basically lead us to the appropriate conclusions, but at this point, we will not speculate on what happened,” he said.
The full NTSB report, Graham said, could take between a year to a year and a half.
Tom Rowe said it brings the family a little bit of solace knowing there are likely pilots and others out there today who learned from Maj. Rowe.