Skip to comments.Canadian Jet Crash in Montana Kills Pilot
Posted on 05/19/2007 3:56:43 PM PDT by stm
GREAT FALLS, Mont. (May 19) - Gillian Scarber was watching a group of Canadian Forces Snowbirds jets practicing maneuvers at Malmstrom Air Force Base when one of them broke from formation and plummeted to the ground.
The jet crashed Friday during rehearsal for a weekend show at the base, killing the pilot. The cause of the crash was under investigation.
"It just smacked into the ground, and there was a big ball of flames," Scarber told the Great Falls Tribune. Smoke drifted across the highway as emergency crews raced to the scene, she said.
The Canadian military identified the pilot as Capt. Shawn McCaughey, 31, of Candiac, Quebec. He is the sixth Snowbirds pilot killed in a crash since 1972.
Maj. Robert Mitchell, the Snowbirds' commanding officer, said McCaughey was flying upside down about 300 feet off the ground in a "routine maneuver" when the jet went down.
The team had been in the air for about 45 minutes when the crash occurred, said Mitchell, who was flying lead plane. McCaughey made no radio contact and didn't indicate he was having trouble, he said.
McCaughey, the only person in the single-engine jet, did not eject. He had been with the Snowbirds for two years.
"Shawn was a professional officer, talented pilot and dear friend," Mitchell said. "Our team is devastated, and we will miss him."
A Canadian Forces flight safety team was to travel to Montana on Saturday to investigate the crash, and Snowbirds team members planned to remain at Malmstrom to help, he said.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the team, and our resources are at their disposal," said Malmstrom's wing commander, Col. Sandy Finan.
The Snowbirds perform high-speed, low-altitude maneuvers in nine Canadair CT-114 Tutors and are part of the Canadian Air Force.
The team had been scheduled to perform Saturday and Sunday at an open house and sport event at Malmstrom. An event organizer said the open house would continue, but the Snowbirds would not perform.
"The team will take an operational pause to remember Shawn McCaughey like we need to, and then we will go back and do the rest of the show season," said Col. Richard Foster, commander of 15 Wing Moose Jaw.
He said McCaughey was a veteran pilot.
"I knew him before he became an instructor here in Moose Jaw," Foster said at a news conference at the squadron's home base in Saskatchewan. "He was very jovial, very caring. He did his job very well. He was a very credible pilot and a good friend."
A witness to the crash, Gregg Dart, told the Tribune the planes were flying low and the jet went down quickly.
"It was less than a second before it hit the ground," said Dart, head football coach for Great Falls High School. "There was a thud, then the shock wave of it hitting. After that, there was a big black cloud and the smell of jet fuel.
"The two planes came back, circled over the top and then went on. I didn't see a chute - that was the first thing I looked for - but I didn't see anything. And they were so low that I can't imagine anyone getting out."
The Snowbirds have been compared to the Navy's Blue Angels. They fly their planes almost daily, year-round - logging 3,700 hours annually.
A Blue Angels pilot died in a crash last month in Beaufort, S.C.
God Bless Capt. Shawn McCaughey and his family.
Captain Shawn McCaughey
Blue Skies and Tailwinds!
Sorry, I’m at a show this weekend and was just able to get access to interweb.
Thought I’d repost this...
Flight is freedom in its purest form,
To dance with the clouds which follow a storm;
To roll and glide, to wheel and spin,
To feel the joy that swells within;
To leave the earth with its troubles and fly,
And know the warmth of a clear spring sky;
Then back to earth at the end of a day,
Released from the tensions which melted away.
Should my end come while I am in flight,
Whether brightest day or darkest night;
Spare me your pity and shrug off the pain,
Secure in the knowledge that I’d do it again;
For each of us is created to die,
And within me I know,
I was born to fly.
Gary Claud Stokor
RIP... Kevin and Shawn.
Thanks for your posts, Delta, they are appreciated.