On Sunday, May 17, a Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) CT-114 Tutor aircraft crashed in the vicinity of Kamloops, British Columbia killing one member of the Canadian Armed Forces and injuring the pilot. 

Capt. Jennifer Casey, who was the team’s Public Affairs Officer was killed when her plane crashed on take-off and injuring the pilot Capt. Richard MacDougal. The Canadian Forces Snowbirds were deployed on Operation INSPIRATION, a flyover Canada to lift the spirits of Canadians and salute front-line workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The CT-114 Tutor fleet has been placed on an operational pause and Operation INSPIRATION has been delayed indefinitely.

“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,” said Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence. “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.”

This accident comes on the heels of another CT-114 Tutor aircraft crash in October 2019, when the Snowbirds were on their way to the Atlanta Air Show. Luckily, the pilot Capt. Kevin Domon-Grenier ejected successfully and escaped with minor injuries. 

“Today, the RCAF has suffered another tragic loss of a dedicated member of the RCAF team,” said LGe Al Meinzinger, Commander of the RCAF. “We grieve alongside Jenn’s family, friends and colleagues and are deeply saddened. Our thoughts also go out to the loved ones of Captain Richard MacDougall. We hope for a swift recovery from his injuries.”

Capt. Casey, originally from Halifax, Nova Scotia, joined the CAF in August 2014 as a direct entry officer. She became a part of the CF Snowbirds team in November 2018.