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Leonard Root, 66, was one of six airmen to perish in airshow crash in Dallas, TX

COURTESY PHOTO - Leonard 'Len' Root was in the B-17 that crashed at the Wings of Dallas Air Show

"Our dad was the coolest." Those are the words of Rebekah Lowery, the daughter of pilot Leonard Root, 66, in a Facebook post after her father passed away in a tragic crash at the Dallas Air Show Nov. 12.

"He lived for flying, for going fast," added Lowery. "He was the most friendly, talkative, charming guy. He never met a stranger."

Root lived in Texas at the time of his death but spent his childhood in Central Oregon. Root grew up in Madras on his family's farm and afterward moved to Bend where he graduated high school and got his pilots license.

Root was a pilot for the Commemorative Air Force, which flew historic planes at airshows across the country. Root was one of few pilots trained to fly the B-17 Flying Fortress.

During the performance at the Wings Over Dallas WWII Air Show, tragedy struck as a B-17, which Root and five others were inside, and a P-63 fighter collided in mid-air, exploding and crashing to the ground.

All six occupants were killed in the crash. The details of what caused the crash are still unknown.

Root's love for flying is apparent in his life-long interest and involvement in aviation. Root first got his pilot's license at 16. After high school, he became a commercial pilot, working for American Airlines for 30 years. Root had retired almost exactly a year ago.

He joined the commemorative air force shortly after retiring. The pilots of these historic planes in the shows are volunteers but require countless training hours.

His daughter, Lowery, shared about her father's love of aviation, "Us girls grew up with the B17. We sold shirts and gave people tours through the plane and cheered him on during the shows. We are so proud. He loved that plane. He loved his family. He loved the Lord. He is leaving behind a huge legacy. We are not ready to say goodbye. Dad, we love you with all our hearts. We are shattered."


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