CF-18 Airshow Demo Aircraft Crashes

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A Canadian Forces airshow demonstration pilot is in the hospital with undisclosed but non-life-threatening injuries after his CF-18 Hornet fighter crashed during preparation for an airshow in Alberta on Friday. Capt. Brian Bews, 36, ejected from the aircraft just before it dove into the ground at Lethbridge, Alberta. In advance of the weekend airshow, Bews was practicing a maneuver called the High Alpha Path when witnesses say they saw sparks coming from one of the engines and heard loud "popping noises." The High Alpha Path is a maximum angle of attack/minimum speed maneuver that relies on engine power to keep the aircraft stable. "I noticed it start to bank a little bit off to one side, which I kind of thought was unusual and I saw a couple of pops and all of a sudden this plane just banked and slowly dropped into the ground into this huge orange ball of fire," said Lethbridge Herald photographer Ian Martens, who took these jaw-dropping images.

Bews got out but at low altitude and an apparently oblique angle. "For a time there, it kind of looked like he was unconscious," Martin said. "The parachute was just pulling him off across the ground but he landed clear of the plane." A Canadian Forces spokeswoman appeared optimistic about his condition. "He is alive and we believe right now that his injuries are non-life-threatening," Canadian Forces Capt. Nicole Meszaros told CBC News.

Photos and video at right. Visit CBC.ca for more photos from The Lethbridge Herald.

UPDATE:
Captain Bews was treated for minor scrapes and has a sore back but was released from the hospital on Friday.