New Brunswick

Snowbirds pilot injured in crash is expected to recover, says mother

The mother of a Canadian Forces Snowbirds pilot says her son is expected to recover after suffering serious injuries in the crash that killed a fellow captain on Sunday.

Richard MacDougall, 34, survived the crash in Kamloops, B.C., that killed Capt. Jenn Casey

Capt. Richard MacDougall, 34, was injured in the Snowbirds jet crash that killed Capt. Jenn Casey on Sunday. (Submitted by Royal Canadian Air Force)

The mother of a Canadian Forces Snowbirds pilot says her son is expected to recover after suffering serious injuries in the crash that killed a fellow captain on Sunday.

Capt. Richard MacDougall, 34, parachuted out of the plane and landed on a roof in Kamloops, B.C., a few houses away from the crash site.

Paulette Richard of Dieppe, N.B., said she spoke to MacDougall by phone after he was hospitalized. She said his injuries are not life-threatening and he's in stable condition.

"We basically got in touch and spoke with what mother and son would say in moments like this," Richard said. "'You're okay?' And 'I'm glad you're OK.' And 'We're there for you and we will support you through this difficult time.'"

Capt Jenn Casey of Halifax, who was flying with MacDougall, was killed in the accident.

The Snowbirds have been on a cross-country tour to lift Canadians' spirits amid the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Richard was at home when she heard about the crash. 

She turned on her TV and saw video of the plane taking off from the Kamloops Airport, veering upward, circling the tarmac and then nosediving. The CT-114 Tutor aircraft burst into flames in the front yard of a house in a residential area.

Video shows Canadian Forces Snowbirds crash in Kamloops

2 years ago
Duration 0:26
A witness captured the moments before a Canadian Forces Snowbirds jet crashed in Kamloops, B.C.

Richard knew that her son always flew in one of the two planes that either fly in front or behind the others, but she didn't know for certain if his plane was the one that had crashed. 

She received a phone call from his commanding officer telling her and her husband their son was OK. 

"We're grateful that he's still with us," Richard said, adding that she's sad he lost his co-worker. 

"It is as devastating for him to have lost a co-worker as his physical injuries." 

Witnesses say the Snowbirds pilot landed with a parachute on the roof of this house in Kamloops, B.C., a few homes away from where the plane crashed. (Elwood Delaney)

MacDougall often flew with Casey, his mom said.

Casey was a public affairs officer with the Snowbirds. She joined the Canadian Armed Forces after several years working as a journalist.

Richard said her son only ever had good things to say about Casey and introduced them on May 6. Richard described her as "friendly, outgoing" and "lovely."

"She was very competent and … a very pleasant person to meet and speak to," said Richard. "She really was a gem."

Capt. Jenn Casey, a public affairs officer with the Snowbirds, died Sunday in the crash. (Submitted by Royal Canadian Air Force)

The CAF Flight Safety team is investigating the circumstances of the crash.

Dreamed of being a pilot 

Richard said her son had wanted to be a pilot since the age of 10.

MacDougall would sit at the computer playing flight simulator games with a joystick, she said. 

"He spent many hours flying that simulator all over the world and he really was passionate about flying," she said.

"He continued to be determined and work toward that goal and he did reach that goal."

MacDougall joined the cadets in Sackville, N.B. at the age of 12. After that, he learned how to fly gliders in Debert, N.S. and received his private licence at the Moncton Flight College. 

He took part in the Regular Officer Training Plan (ROTP) to become an officer in the Canadian Armed Forces and obtained his undergraduate degree in geography and physics in 2009.

He was posted to the Snowbirds in August 2019. 


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