'Pecos Bill' Owner, Vet Killed In P-51 Crash

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A well-known Texas pilot who gave numerous rides to veterans in his P-51 “Pecos Bill” was killed along with a passenger when the warbird crashed into an apartment building parking lot in Fredericksburg, Texas, on Saturday. Cowden Ward Jr. and the unidentified passenger, believed to be a Second World War B-17 pilot, were taking part in a reenactment flight organized by the National Museum of the Pacific War when the accident occurred. No one on the ground was hurt but several cars were destroyed and a parking shelter damaged.

Tributes for Ward are pouring in from the warbird community. Ward founded the Pecos Bill P-51 Freedom Flyers “with a mission and a passion to honor Veterans with flights in his beloved P-51 Pecos Bill,” according to a Facebook post from the organization. “Over the years he did just that, honoring hundreds of our nation’s veterans including a large number of WWII veterans.” Ward owned a real estate business in Austin. Both the FAA and NTSB are investigating. Local media quote witnesses as saying they heard the aircraft’s engine sputtering before the crash.

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