Wall Street Journal aerospace editor Jeff Cole traveled to Colorado last January to interview one of the industry’s highest achievers, Michael Chowdry, founder and chairman of the world’s third largest air cargo operator, Atlas Air. Tragically, both men lost their lives when they crashed in Chowdry’s high-performance Aero Vodochody L-39 jet trainer.
The NTSB has yet to issue a final report into the accident, which occurred just after takeoff from Front Range Airport near Denver at around 11:30 a.m. in VFR conditions. A preliminary report stated that the L-39 pitched upwards by approximately 30 deg after turning crosswind for a southbound departure. It immediately dropped to the ground.
Chowdry was a seasoned pilot with ratings in a vintage Douglas DC-3, as well as the Boeing 737. He was also the proud owner of a Boeing Business Jet.
Cole had been with the WSJ for nine years, specializing in the aerospace and defense industries. In 1994 he received the Aviation/Space Writers Association award for commercial aviation reporting, followed by several other honors for business reporting over the next three years.