Family pays tribute to tragic pilot

A PILOT killed when his light aircraft crashed and burst into flames in a field would have “died a very happy man”, said his widow, who witnessed the tragic crash.

By David Green

A PILOT killed when his light aircraft crashed and burst into flames in a field would have “died a very happy man”, said his widow, who witnessed the tragic crash.

Steve Cowham, 40, plunged to his death at Hoxne at the weekend while staging an aerobatics display to mark the retirement of family friend Alan Smith.

The crash was witnessed by his wife, Joanne, his children, Shannon and Callum, and his parents, John and Pauline Cowham.


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The family has remained too distraught to speak to the media about the tragedy, which happened on Sunday.

However, a statement issued yesterday by his widow Joanne on behalf of the family, including sister, Dawn, paid tribute to the father-of-two, a successful businessman who obtained his pilot's licence only 18 months ago.

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The statement said: “Our lives will never be the same again. Stephen was a one-off; he was a wonderful husband, a fantastic father, son and brother. Family was very important to him.

“He did more in his 40 years than many people would do in a lifetime; he always lived life to the full.

“He died doing something he had always dreamed of doing; he died a very happy man.

“We hope that now the media will accept our wishes and leave us all to come to terms with our great loss.”

Rev David Streeter, rector of Stradbroke, who officiated at Mr Cowham's wedding and has known the family for many years, said he had been “lively, energetic, enterprising, ambitious and a loving family man”.

“He had every quality a young man should have,” he said.

Born and brought up in Hoxne, Mr Cowham worked his way up from being a 16-year-old petrol pump attendant at Stradbroke Garage to running a highly successful car and commercial vehicle firm and was a former runner-up in the East Anglian Daily Times/Barclays Bank business awards.

He lived with his family between Fressingfield and Wingfield and also had property development interests.

The Air Accident Investigation Branch is to eventually issue a public report on the crash.

Parts of the debris have been taken away from the scene of the crash, in a sugar beet field close to three residential properties, for further analysis.

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