CF-18 Crash Pilot Speaks About Incident

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The pilot of a Canadian Forces CF-18 that crashed during an airshow rehearsal last month says he has "no reservations" about returning to the cockpit after his dramatic treetop ejection. Capt. Brian Bews appeared at a news conference Tuesday to talk about the accident, which happened July 23, the day before the Alberta International Airshow in Lethbridge, about 100 miles south of Calgary. Bews was practicing the high alpha pass in which the aircraft strikes a delicate balance between high angle of attack and engine power to fly as slowly as possible. Bews told reporters he felt turbulence and a downdraft and tried to abort the maneuver by adding power and climbing out, something he'd done dozens of times before. "It became immediately obvious to me that the jet was not acting like it normally acts," Bews said. "I was not in control of the aircraft anymore. I knew where the jet was going and I didn't want to be there with it."

At about 100 feet above the ground, Bews ejected as the jet rolled right and the resulting angle combined with strong winds carried him clear of the fireball that resulted when the aircraft exploded on the ground. The parachute canopy didn't have time to fully inflate and Bews landed hard, compressing three vertebrae. He's wearing a spinal brace but is expected to make a full recovery in eight to 12 weeks. There's no question he'll return to flying after getting medical clearance. "I wish I could fly today," he said. The Canadian Forces cancelled the remainder of the season for the CF-18 flight demonstration team but CF-18s continue to take part in airshows doing flypasts, taking part in tactical demonstrations and on static display.

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