The Public Affairs Officer of the Canadian Forces Snowbirds team was killed in the crash of a CT-114 Tutor aircraft on Sunday, May 17, in the vicinity of Kamloops, British Columbia.
The deceased was identified as Captain Jennifer Casey, originally from Halifax, Nova Scotia. She joined the Canadian Armed Forces in August 2014 as a direct entry officer.
One other military member was injured in the crash and was identified as Captain Richard MacDougall, one of the team’s coordinators and pilot of the aircraft. He is being treated for his injuries. He joined the Canadian Forces Snowbirds in November 2018.
The RCAF has suffered another tragic loss of a dedicated member of the RCAF team. We are deeply saddened and grieve alongside Jenn’s family and friends. Our thoughts are also with the loved ones of Captain MacDougall. We hope for a swift recovery from his injuries. – Comd RCAF pic.twitter.com/8U41bdVqcU
— Royal Canadian Air Force (@RCAF_ARC) May 18, 2020
“I was deeply saddened to learn of the loss of one of our Canadian Armed Forces members in a tragic incident involving one of our Snowbirds’ aircraft in Kamloops, British Columbia. I am sending my sincerest condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Captain Jenn Casey. I am also wishing a rapid and complete recovery for Captain Richard MacDougall. Canadians look at the Snowbirds as a source of joy and an exhibition of the incredible feats that our people in uniform are capable of. Operation INSPIRATION was intended to lift the spirit of Canadians at this difficult time and the Snowbirds accomplished their mission. I know that all Canadians grieve this tragic loss”, said Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence.
The Canadian Forces Snowbirds team was deployed on Operation INSPIRATION, a cross-Canada tour to lift the spirits of Canadians and salute front-line workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time of the accident, the CF Snowbirds were taking off from the airport in Kamloops, British Columbia.
The CT-114 Tutor fleet has now been placed on an operational pause and Op INSPIRATION has been delayed indefinitely, according to a statement from the Department of National Defence. A Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Flight Safety team will depart from Ottawa shortly to investigate the circumstances of the accident and will begin their work immediately upon arrival.
“The CAF are providing our members and their families with as much support as possible to help them through this difficult time,” said the DND statement.
Second RCAF aircraft crash in past month:
This is the second crash involving an RCAF aircraft in the past month. On April 29, an RCAF CH-148 Cyclone helicopter crashed into the Ionian Sea off the Greek island of Kefalonia killing all six abroad.
The crashed helicopter was based on the RCN Halifax-class frigate HMCS Fredericton (FFH 337) participating in NATO’s SNMG2 (Standing NATO Maritime Group 2) naval task force in the Mediterranean Sea under CAF’s Operation REASSURANCE.
The Snowbirds, officially known as 431 Air Demonstration Squadron (French: 431e escadron de démonstration aérienne), are the military aerobatics or air show flight demonstration team of the RCAF. The team is based at 15 Wing Moose Jaw near Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.
The show team flies 11 Canadair CT-114 Tutor jet trainer—nine for aerobatic performances, including two solo aircraft, and two as spares, flown by the team coordinators.
This is the second crash of a Snowbirds CT-114 Tutor jet in the past eight months.
On October 13, 2019, a Snowbirds Tutor aircraft crashed into a pasture near Brooks, Georgia in USA while participating in the Atlanta Air Show. The pilot, identified as Snowbird 5 Capt. Kevin Domon-Grenier, ejected from the aircraft before the crash and was unharmed.