Public Affairs Officer Killed in Snowbirds Crash, Pilot Reported in Serious Condition.
The Canadian Forces have reported that Capt. Jennifer Casey died on Sunday, May 17, 2020 in the crash of a Canadair CT-114 Tutor belonging to the Snowbirds flight demonstration team.
The pilot of the two-seat aircraft, Pilot Capt. Richard MacDougall, remains in serious, but “not life-threatening” condition according to a post on Twitter from the Snowbirds. Sunday’s crash occurred in a residential area of Kamloops, British Columbia, in western Canada.
Video from the accident showed that both crewmembers onboard the aircraft ejected as the CT-114 Tutor descended almost vertically from low altitude immediately following takeoff. The cause of the crash is under investigation.
According to a report filed by Tim Petruk of Kamloops This Week, “Witnesses saw at least one pilot eject before the plane crashed. He landed on the roof of a house on nearby Schreiner Street and was rescued by Kamloops Fire Rescue. A witness told KTW a second person, a female, appeared to have succumbed to her injuries.”
Capt. Jennifer Casey, of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, joined the Canadian Forces in 2014. She worked as a public affairs officer for the Snowbirds since November, 2018. She had also worked with the Canadian CF-18 Demo Team. Capt. Casey earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Dalhousie University, a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of King’s College, and a Master’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from Royal Roads University. Prior to joining the Canadian Forces, Jennifer Casey worked as a, “Reporter, anchor, and producer with NEWS 95.7 in Halifax, a sister station of NEWS 1130” according to a report on the local citynews1130.com.
Emotional tributes to Capt. Casey appeared across social media on Sunday, praising her as a highly capable, warm, professional ambassador for the Canadian Forces. Aviation photographers from Canada and North America shared photos of Capt. Casey posing with airshow fans, aviation media and crewmembers of the Snowbirds. Numerous stories of Capt. Casey’s accommodating style and exceptional work ethic accompanied the many photos and memorials.
This latest fatal aviation accident for the Canadian Forces comes only 18 days after the crash of a CH-148 Cyclone helicopter in the Ionian Sea between Greece and Italy that killed all six crewmembers. According to Canadian Forces, the crew members killed in the Thursday morning, April 30, 2020, crash were Capt. Kevin Hagen, Sub-Lt. Abbigail Cowbrough, Capt. Brenden Ian MacDonald, Master Cpl. Matthew Cousins, Sub-Lt. Matthew Pyke and Capt. Maxime Miron-Morin.
The victim of yesterday’s crash, public affairs officer Capt. Jennifer Casey, is the ninth crewmember to die in a crash of the Canadian Forces Snowbirds since 1972. According to a report on the CBC.com, “There have also been eight occasions where Snowbird planes have crashed or collided and the pilots survived.”
As previously reported by The Aviationist, little more than 7 months ago, on October 13, 2019, Canadian Forces Captain Kevin Domon-Grenier originally of St-Raymond de Portneuf, Quebec, Canada, safely ejected before his CT-114, Snowbird 5, crashed before an airshow in Atlanta, Georgia.
In late 2008, on October 9, both crewmembers, Capt. Bryan Mitchell and photographer Sgt. Charles Senecal, were killed in the crash of a Snowbird CT-114 near Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada.
On May 18, 2007, Capt. Shawn McCaughey in Snowbird #2 was killed when his CT-114 crashed outside Great Falls, Montana near Malmstrom AFB as a result of a failed restraining strap according to the accident investigation.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the CBC, reported that 5 additional pilots have died in accidents with the Snowbirds. An October 10, 2008 article published on CBC.com listed the following fatalities for the Snowbirds up to that date:
• June 10, 1972 — Capt. Lloyd Waterer, 24, died during an air show at CFB Trenton, Ont.
• May 3, 1978 — Capt. Gordon de Jong, 32, died during air show in Grande Prairie, Alta.
• Sept. 3, 1989 — Capt. Shane Antaya, 24, died when his plane plunged into Lake Ontario during an air show in Toronto.
• Dec. 10, 1998 — Capt. Michael VandenBos, 29, died in a pre-season training collision with another Snowbird, south of Moose Jaw. The other pilot survived.
• Dec. 10, 2004 — Capt. Miles Selby, 31, died in a collision during a training session. The other pilot survived.