SNOWBIRDS 431 Air Demonstration Squadron

My heart felt condolences to the great Snowbirds Team on the loss of a fine aviator today!

I was lucky to have seen them last year. Keep 'em flying!


the news:

Pilot dies in Snowbirds crash

A pair of Snowbird jets crashed in southern Saskatchewan on Friday in an unexplained accident.

One pilot died in the crash, the Department of Defence said.

The two-seater planes were carrying a single occupant each when they went down on a routine training mission in good weather conditions, said Captain Jay Walker, an officer with 15 Wing in Moose Jaw.

“It's a perfect day for flying,” he told in a telephone interview from Alberta. “We will not fly unless it's safe to do so.”

The snowbirds are a demonstration team of pilots that appears regularly at air shows, flying their distinctive red-and-white jets through a series of risky manoeuvres. The planes, a former trainer known officially as the CT-114 Tutor, are four decades old, but fatal accidents are rare.

The previous Snowbird fatality was six years ago today, when Captain Michael Captain Michael VandenBos, 29, was killed. He ejected after his plane touched wingtips with another plane, but his parachute did not open. Two of the jets collided over Lake Erie in the summer of 2001, leaving one person injured.

Emergency beacons in both planes alerted the air force Friday to problems on the mission. These beacons can be triggered by a crash or by a pilot's ejecting, Capt. Walker said, and help lead rescue crews to the scene.

A pair of planes took to the skies over the training area, an abandoned airfield called Mossbank about 50 kilometres south of Moose Jaw, and co-ordinated the search with crews on the ground.

The Snowbirds marked their 35th anniversary this year. They have performed in front of more than 116 million spectators across North America.

Officially known as 431 Air Demonstration Squadron, the Snowbirds team includes 80 people, two dozen of whom fly the planes.


One feels that someone somewhere has something against aviaiton.


Just proves there are pitfalls to this job. When it happens, it happens in a rather large way.

Heartfelt sympathies to anyone who loses a friend or family member, ground or air.

(PS I'm truly fed up of using 'Lynx crash' as a common search on google). It's a bit of a concern when I have it as a 'favorite search'. Believe me, it isn't a favorite. My No2s have never had such a regular airing.
I'm sorry for the pilot.
Crashes with the Snowbirds are rare.
I know the Team would rather be flying real fighters, but that's Canada.
A CF pilot once told me it was hard to make a mistake flying a tutor, they were almost self correcting, but I guess that doesn't include touching wing tips.
More on:

OTTAWA (CP) - The lack of standby rescue helicopters at CFB Moose Jaw was not a factor in the fate of two Snowbird pilots after their planes crashed on Friday, says Defence Minister Bill Graham.

There is "sophisticated road access" around Moose Jaw, Sask., which allows ground vehicles to handle search and rescue operations for one of Canada's busiest air force training grounds, Graham said Monday. Graham was reacting to reports that it took 47 minutes for a truck to reach the crash site after two Canadian Forces Snowbirds collided in the air Friday.

Capt. Miles Selby of Delta, B.C., died in the accident while fellow pilot Capt. Chuck Mallett bailed out and escaped relatively unscathed.

Dave Batters, the Conservative MP over whose riding the planes collided, said there used be three helicopters on standby at CFB Moose Jaw, but they were chopped in the mid-1990s to save money.

"Why is the Liberal government placing the lives of Canadian airmen at risk just to save a few bucks?" Batters asked during question period in the House of Commons.

Outside the Commons, Graham defended the decision.

He said search and rescue choppers remain on hand at military bases in Bagotville, Que., and Cold Lake, Alta., "because these are remote places with little road access.

"But around Moose Jaw there's very sophisticated road access and the major in charge of the Snowbirds said he was very pleased with the response time - that they got there and (15 Wing) acted and responded very quickly."

Selby and Mallett were practising a head-on loop manoeuvre in clear skies when they collided near Mossbank, about 64 kilometres south of Moose Jaw.

The impact spread debris over a two-kilometre strip of open, rolling prairie.

Mallett was picked up by a local civilian ambulance company, which dispatched paramedics as soon as an eyewitness called in the accident.

Alice Wald, who operates the ambulance company, said her vehicle was about 30 kilometres closer to the crash site than Defence staff travelling from Moose Jaw.

"We're closer," Wald said. "I believe they were there in 18 minutes."

At 15 Wing Moose Jaw, a spokeswoman for the Snowbirds said everything went smoothly with the search and rescue.

"As for how much time it should take or what equipment they should have ... I can't really comment on a tactical level about those decisions," said Capt. Stephanie Walker.

In Ottawa, Batters said that in heavy snow or deep mud, speedy ground access to many areas of his riding could be nearly impossible.

"In Saskatchewan, you never know what the weather's going to be like. After a heavy snowfall, it's quite possible that rescue teams would not be able to get to a downed pilot forthwith."

Graham said the military has studied the issue "and were content that this is the way in which they could get access in the case of an injury."

In case of bad weather, said the minister, there are other search and rescue options.

"It's not restricted exclusively to (military) bases," said Graham.

"We have a network of search and rescue aircraft all across Canada for aviation and other accidents, where we put out helicopters, we put out Hercules, et cetera, immediately on somebody going down."

But MP Gordon O'Connor, a retired general and the Conservative defence critic, called the decision to get rid of base helicopters "short-sighted."

"This base has one of the highest flying rates and it has a lot of new pilots," O'Connor said of 15 Wing.

"You would think the odds are new pilots may have more problems than more experienced pilots.

"To me, in peace time, safety takes precedence over operational training."

A 14-member flight safety investigation team continued to mark pieces of the wreckage and search for clues Monday.

Capt. Jim Hutcheson, spokesman for the team, said a doctor was also on hand to examine the physical state of the pilots and the physiological effects flying would have on them.

Hutcheson said it was important to mark the debris using global positioning system technology before snow falls.

Similar threads

Latest Threads