Tribute to Roger Gower

Roger Gower - his last safari with Tropic Air, Suguta Valley, Northern Kenya, January 2016

Roger Gower on his last safari with Tropic Air, Suguta Valley, Northern Kenya, January 2016

On 29th January, Roger Gower, only 37 years old, was shot and killed by elephant poachers in Tanzania’s Serengeti region, whilst piloting an R44 helicopter on an anti-poaching mission. He was flying for a cause he greatly believed in, and has been called a ‘true hero’ by many.

We are devastated by the loss, and are grateful that we got to know Roger well during his 4 and half years at Tropic Air, firstly as a line pilot and then as Chief Helicopter Pilot, leaving just last August to pursue his flying career in Tanzania.

It always amazes that Roger started his working life as an accountant in the UK, a far cry from being a bush pilot in the African wilderness! However his accounting background was never amiss – he often stepped into our accounts office to lend a hand, or cast his eye over some new accounting legislation!

Much of the flying that Roger did with Tropic Air involved locating to remote destinations (and countries) for days and weeks on end, providing much needed helicopter support for special tasks. It included anything from supporting the British Army Training Units in Kenya (BATUK)  with rangeland aerial clearance, to medical evacuations, oil and geological surveys in corners of Ethiopia that no-one has ever heard of, and pilot-guiding helicopter safaris all over East Africa. During his time with us, he personally met George Bush and Bill Gates – possibly two of the world’s most influential people at the time!

When Roger announced that he wanted to leave Tropic Air for a new flying job in Tanzania, we all knew that our paths would still cross .. and early in January this year, sure enough, Rog was back with us for a week, piloting on one of our heli safaris in northern Kenya (photo above). We will remember him for his exceptional talent as a helicopter pilot, his great sense of humour, and the tragic way he lost his life whilst making a significant impact on ivory poaching awareness.  Our thoughts are with his family, who have lost a son, a brother, an uncle and a cousin. A Just Giving page has been launched in his name to help Anti Poaching efforts in Tanzania.  #flyhighcaptainroger