Galen Rowell & Wife Barbara Killed in Plane Crash

August 14th, 2001 
n Sunday morning, August 11th a chartered twin engine Aero Commander carrying Galen Rowell, his wife Barbara, Carol MacAfee, and pilot Tom Reid crashed on approach to Bishop Airport in California killing all aboard. Barbara Rowell, an accomplished pilot, was not piloting the plane.

Investigators from the NTSB and FAA have been to the site. The cause of the crash is still unknown. The crash site is only two miles from Bishop Airport. There were no hazardous terrain or weather conditions that contributed to the crash.

The news is a shock to all in the photographic community whether they knew them personally or through their work. The Rowells, who were returning to their Bishop home from a circumnavigation of the Bering Sea, were passengers in the small privately owned plane. They had returned on a commercial flight to Oakland and boarded the charter flight for Bishop, about 210 miles east. Galen is survived by two children from a previous marriage, Nicole Ryan and "Tony" Edward Anthony Rowell, and two grandsons, Forrest Avery Ryan and Colby Dustin Ryan. Barbara is survived by her mother Lucile Cushman, brother Robert Cushman, and nieces Mariah and Grace Cushman.

Many of the folks I've spoken to over the last two days expressed shock that someone who had climbed glaciers, done numerous first ascents and climbed Mount Everest several times would be killed on a mundane commuter flight. 

All of us have been influenced by Galen's work and photographic style in one way or another. In many ways he was a photographic pioneer, and the beauty of his landscapes has inspired more than one person to pick up a camera. He was a periodic contributor to this magazine.

I think Moose Peterson said it best "Take a moment from your day and think of them; and next time you're out shooting, take a frame for them."

Jim McGee