Safety Team Investigating Snowbird Crash
Canadian officials say they still donít know why a Canadian Forces Snowbird suddenly broke formation and then pitched into the ground during a rehearsal for the groupís first show of the year at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls, Mont., on Friday. Capt. Shawn McCaughey of Candiac, Quebec, died instantly when the CT-114 Tutor aircraft disintegrated in a ball of flame on the south side of the base. Witnesses said the plane dropped back from a formation and then plummeted into the ground. Snowbird Commander Maj. Robert Mitchell told the Canadian Press that there was little he could tell grieving family members. "We just had to say we don't entirely know, which is tough for a family member," Maj. Mitchell said. "They want to know for closure." McCaughey, 31, was to be married in three weeks to Claudia Gaudreault, a social worker on the Snowbirds home base at Moose Jaw, Saskatewan. McCaughey was in his second year with the Snowbirds and was a former flight instructor in the CAF. His father, Hugh, told reporters that his son fulfilled a life-long dream by flying with the Snowbirds and died doing what he loved. "He always told me that. He said, 'If I'm going to die, I better die in a crash so I'll be happy.' And that's exactly what happened, unfortunately," Ken McCaughey said Saturday. The Snowbirds canceled two shows at Great Falls over the weekend, although the rest of the open-house airshow went on as scheduled. Itís not clear when the Snowbirds will resume flying. Mitchell said the team will remain at the U.S. base "indefinitely" to aid in the investigation.