Glen Towler, EAA 1112536, a beloved member of the online aviation community, passed away after a brief battle with cancer. According to his good friend Hillel Glazer, EAA Lifetime 1108948, Glen would save up all year to make the journey from New Zealand to Oshkosh each summer.
“He was just this all-around avid aviation geek, warbirds especially,” Hillel said. “He really loved the genre, he was a man of modest means, and he saved up pretty much all year to come to AirVenture every year, which also happened to coincide with his birthday. He was just super, super humble, and that made him so friendly that you can’t help but enjoy being around him.”
Using his online presence, Glen made friends all around the world, including EAA’s own managing editor.
“As is more common than not these days, Glen and I first met virtually via social media,” said Hal Bryan, EAA’s managing editor. “When we finally shook hands in person, it felt like we were already old friends. Glen’s passion for aviation was unabashed and infectious, and I always looked forward to seeing him at AirVenture. Our convention will be a little darker and a little quieter for me this year — I miss him already.”
Glen was passionate about a lot of things, such as aviation photography, his service in both the British and New Zealand armies, and, of course, finding free food.
“He knew every which way possible to get free food and drink at AirVenture,” Hillel explained.
In fact, according to an article on the EAA blog written by Glen, free food is what first got him to AirVenture in 2012.
“I was following a blog called AirPigz that is run by my now good friend Martt Clupper,” Glen wrote in 2019. “He had a photo caption contest for a photo of Cessna 152 with large four-bladed propeller. My caption was ‘Does this prop make my plane look small?’ I won the caption contest and my prize was a bacon sandwich at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. So I thought why not? I’ve never been and it looks interesting. So I booked my flights and bought tickets for three days.”
Ten years after his first AirVenture, friends of Glen have come together to raise money in his memory. With the initial plan of raising enough money for a brick at the Brown Arch, donations quickly surpassed that goal.
“We collected over $6,000 to buy Glen a brick at the Brown Arch, where Glen endeavored to arrange a group photo each year of all his online friends that he could only see in person that one time a year,” Hillel said. “We also purchased a memorial plaque at the Memorial Wall and donated the rest to other EAA programs.”
In his honor, these friends got together again, meeting at the Brown Arch on Thursday for one final group photo.
“We knew his love for aviation and his love for warbirds, his photography and his pride in the work that he’d done for the countries he served,” Hillel said. “It was just bizarrely tragic in how quickly he left.”