Months after fatal crash, the Snowbirds take flight in Kamloops

  • Sep. 1, 2020 2:55 p.m.
A pair of Canadian Forces Snowbirds CT-114 Tutor jets take off from Kamloops Airport on Tuesday morning. It marked the first time the iconic red ad white jets have been airborne since the May 17 crash in Kamloops that claimed the life of Capt. Jennifer Casey and injured the pilot, Capt. Richard MacDougall. The rest of the squadron’s planes will be flown to home base in Moose Jaw later this month. (Dave Eagles/KTW)
A Snowbirds avionics crew member inspects one of the two Snowbirds jets, which departed Kamloops Airport on Sept. 1, 2020. (Dave Eagles/KTW)
A Snowbirds jet gets ready for takeoff at the Kamloops Airport on Sept. 1, 2020. (431 Air Demonstration Squadron – Canadian Forces Snowbirds)

Kamloops This Week

The first two of 10 Canadian Forces Snowbirds CT-114 Tutor jets grounded at Kamloops Airport were flown home to Moose Jaw on Tuesday morning.

Once back at base, the jets will be used to train other pilots in order to retrieve the remaining eight planes in about two weeks.

The jets have been grounded since a May 17 crash in Kamloops claimed the life of Capt. Jennifer Casey and injured the pilot, Capt. Richard MacDougall.

Speaking to reporters on the tarmac of Kamloops Airport before takeoff on Tuesday, Lt.-Col. Denis Bandet, the Snowbirds’ commanding officer, said the departure marked the beginning of the squadron moving forward with pilot and technician training for 2021.

READ MORE: One dead in Canadian Forces Snowbirds plane crash in Kamloops

The Royal Canadian Air Force has had a team of engineers examine the planes in preparation for their return home, Bandet said.

“We took the time to sit back and look at everything through a microscope,” he said.

“We went through every bit of systems on the airplanes, from the motors to the avionics to the structures, to make sure that everything we’re doing with the airplane is proper and ready to go ahead.”

Bandet said that process took time, which is why the jets have remained at the airport for the past three months.

“We’re happy at this point we’ve assessed the risk and that we have every confidence in the Tutor moving forward. I wouldn’t be standing here today if I didn’t have the confidence in the airplane to get in,” Bandet said.

Bandet and Capt. Logan Reid flew the two jets out of Kamloops on Tuesday.

Capt. Alexandra Hejduk, public affairs officer with 19 Wing Comox, said the two jets will be used to train other pilots who require more flying time.

As the jets have sat for more than 90 days, additional flying time amongst the pilots is needed to get their currencies up, so permission was granted from Second Canadian Air Division commander Brig.-Gen. Denis O’Reilly to fly a minimal number of the jets to home base in Moose Jaw for training, Hejduk said.

She said those eight pilots will be in Kamloops within two weeks to fly the other eight jets to Saskatchewan .There will be a public service announcement issued at that time for their departure, but the RCAF has asked that members of the public refrain from visiting the airport to see the jets leave due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Bandet said they are excited to get back in the air and he hopes for an eventual return to normalcy reminiscent of the demonstration squadron’s operations in the past.

“On behalf of the Royal Canadian Air Force, the Canadian Armed Forces, 431 Air Demonstration Squadron and 15 Wing Moose Jaw, I want to extend my thanks to the community of Kamloops, the residents of Brocklehurst and the First Nations community,” Bandet said. “The outpouring of support has been outstanding and we felt it resonate all the way back to Moose Jaw — and it’s helped us get through this difficult period.”

READ MORE: Snowbirds can take to the skies again, three months after fatal B.C. crash

On May 17, a CT-114 Tutor Snowbirds jet leaving Kamloops Airport en route to its next stop on the cross-Canada Operation Inspiration tour crashed into a Brocklehurst neighbourhood, killing military public affairs officer Casey and injuring pilot MacDougall.

The entire fleet was then grounded pending a probe into the crash.

In June, the RCAF released a preliminary report, confirming it is exploring a bird strike as the possible cause of the crash. Video footage of the accident showed a bird in very close proximity to the plane’s right engine as it was taking off.

“The investigation is focusing on environmental factors [birdstrike] as well as the performance of the escape system,” the report stated.

In August, the fleet’s operational pause was lifted, with some flying restrictions, clearing the way for the planes to be flown back to base, though the investigation into the crash continues.

In the past few weeks, maintenance crews have been in Kamloops, ensuring the Snowbirds jets are ready to fly when the decision to take them back to Saskatchewan was made. Members of that crew recently spent a day of team bonding at the disc golf course on McArthur Island (that story is online at kamloopsthisweek.com).

Canadian Armed Forces

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

View Royal Coun. John Rogers stands next to an unearthed home heating oil tank. As a way to prevent environmental disasters, he is lobbying for a provincial registration system and mandatory inspection for all above-ground tanks, as well as a requirement to remove any underground tanks not used for a prescribed period of time. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
Efforts to regulate Greater Victoria home heating oil tanks continues

View Royal councillor part of movement to identify old tanks, prevent catastrophic leaks

Bruce McLean, 91, has published his first novel, The Manana Treehouse, which is inspired by his wife’s experience with Alzheimer’s. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
91-year-old Saanich man publishes first novel based on wife’s Alzheimer’s experience

Former journalist Bruce McLean ‘on cloud nine’ after making fiction debut

Residents enjoy the annual Halloween Trick or Treat on Oak Bay Avenue. (Robert Harwood Photo)
Oak Bay to host series of Winter Markets

No Halloween, Christmas events in Oak Bay Village

Polls close at 8 p.m. in the Esquimalt-Metchosin riding. (Katherine Engqvist/News Staff)
VIDEO: Esquimalt-Metchosin candidates reflect on campaign as polls close

An estimated 12,000 mail-in ballots were requested in the Esquimalt-Metchosin riding

Barb Wright and Cynthia Vance at the District Electoral Office for the Langford-Juan de Fuca (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
Polls now closed in Langford-Juan de Fuca

An estimated 12,120 mail-in ballots were requested in the Langford-Juan de Fuca riding

(Image by Ulrike Leone from Pixabay)
QUIZ: A celebration of colour

Fall in British Columbia is a time to enjoy a spectrum of vivid colours

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Oct. 20

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Parksville’s Jared Huggan won $75,000 playing BC/49. (BCLC/Photo submitted)
Vancouver Island man $75K richer after purchasing winning lottery ticket at Nanaimo Walmart

Parksville’s Huggan plans to purchase electric bike for partner

Most Read