Canadian military investigators say it’s possible a bird strike preceded the crash of a CT-114 Tutor aircraft that resulted in the death of a member of the support team for the Snowbirds air demonstration team. The Royal Canadian Air Force released a still image from a video of the takeoff showing what appears to be a bird near the right engine inlet of the former jet training aircraft. Capt. Jennifer Casey, the Snowbirds’ public affairs officer, did not survive ejecting from the aircraft just before it crashed in a residential area of Kamloops, British Columbia, near the airport there. The pilot, Capt. Richard MacDougall, was seriously injured but released from the hospital a week after the crash. He’s expected to make a full recovery.
Casey and McDougall were in a flight of two Tutors heading out on a repositioning flight to an air force base at Comox on Vancouver Island. The team of nine show airplanes and other support personnel were to follow a short time later. Just after takeoff, the crash airplane pitched up in what might have been a maneuver to gain altitude for a safer ejection. The aircraft went into a spin after starting a left turn and the two occupants ejected with only a few hundred feet of altitude. MacDougall ended up on the roof of a house and was rescued by firefighters. The aircraft hit a house and started an intense fire so it’s unlikely that any evidence of a bird is available. The full investigation will take about a year.