Snowbirds cross-Canada flight postponed following death of member

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds fly over Kamloops, May 16, 2020.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Nathan Ritchie

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds cross-Canada tour has been postponed until further notice following the death of a member when one of the planes crashed in a Kamloops neighbourhood yesterday.

The snowbirds were originally going to fly over the Okanagan yesterday, May 17, but rainy weather dampened their efforts. Instead, they rerouted from Kamloops to Comox, but during take-off, one of the snowbird planes crashed in Brocklehurst, killing one member and seriously injuring another. The team was in the middle of conducting Operation INSPIRATION, flying across Canada to boost morale during the COVID-19 pandemic and to show support for frontline workers.

READ MORE: 'It’s surreal and sad:' Kamloops neighbourhood bands together after snowbird plane crashes into home

Captain Jennifer Casey, the team’s public affairs officer, originally from Halifax, Nova Scotia, was killed in the crash and Captain Richard MacDougall, one of the team’s coordinators and pilot of the aircraft, was injured and is currently in the hospital.

"At approximately 11:45 a.m. on May 17, shortly after take-off from Kamloops Airport, Snowbird 11, a Canadian Forces Snowbirds CT-114 Tutor, crashed into a nearby neighbourhood. Prior to the crash, the two person crew of the aircraft ejected. Tragically, Captain Jenn Casey, the team’s public affairs officer, did not survive. The aircraft’s pilot, Captain Rich MacDougall survived with non-life threatening injuries," according to a media release issued by the Canadian Forces this afternoon.

"The team is devastated by the loss of Jenn. She was the quintessential public affairs officer. A tireless and energetic officer with a network of media contacts from her previous media career and savvy with social media which endeared her to the public. She absolutely loved what she did; she was one of the main reasons Operation INSPIRATION has been so well received by the public. She had just received a 1 Canadian Air Division Commander’s coin in recognition of her stellar efforts and a nomination was being drafted for a Chief of the Defence Staff commendation," according to the release.

READ MORE: Snowbird crash: Video shows ejections from plane before crash in Kamloops neighbourhood

The cause of the crash is currently unknown and an investigation team is currently in Kamloops to determine the cause, according to the release.

"As of now, Operation INSPIRATION is postponed until further notice, and the entire Snowbird fleet is on an operational pause. Over the coming days the team will re-group, and come together to mourn the loss of our colleague. When appropriate to do so, we will return to 15 Wing Moose Jaw to plan our next steps," according to the release.

The Department of National Defense wants to thank Canadians for their support, as well as Kamloops fire responders and members of the public who helped after the plane crashed in Brocklehurst.


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