Canada

Snowbirds crash: A timeline of incidents involving Canada's aerobatic flying team

Before Sunday's Snowbirds jet crash in Kamloops, B.C., seven pilots and one passenger had been killed and several aircraft had been lost over the course of the squadron's history.

Before Sunday's crash, Snowbirds had lost 7 pilots and 1 passenger since 1972

The Snowbirds pass over the Formula One Grand Prix of Canada in Montreal in 2008. Before Sunday's crash in Kamloops, B.C., Canada's aerobatic team had been involved with eight deaths since 1972. (David Boily/AFP via Getty Images)

A Canadian Armed Forces Snowbirds jet has crashed in Kamloops, B.C., the latest incident involving Canada's famed aerobatic team in less than a year.

Sunday's crash occurred the same day the Snowbirds were scheduled to complete a flyover of the Okanagan as part of Operation Inspiration, a salute to Canadians and front-line workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Video from the area appears to show at least one person ejecting from the plane before it disappears behind a stand of trees and an explosion is heard.

The Snowbirds have performed at air shows across Canada and the U.S. for decades and are considered a key tool for raising awareness about — and recruiting for — the air force. Eleven aircraft are used during shows, with nine flying and two kept as spares.

The air force obtained its Tutor jets in 1963 and has used them in air demonstrations since 1971, when a new team was formed and the name Snowbirds was adopted. Before Sunday's crash, seven pilots and one passenger had been killed and several aircraft had been lost over the course of the Snowbirds' history.

Here is a timeline of some of the crashes and other incidents involving the Snowbirds:

Oct. 13, 2019: Capt. Kevin Domon-Grenier safely ejected from his plane just before an aerobatics show in the U.S. His jet crashed into an unpopulated area near Hampton, Ga. No one on the ground was injured.

Oct. 9, 2008: A Snowbird jet carrying pilot Capt. Bryan (Mav) Mitchell and the photographer Sgt. Charles (Chuck) Senecal crashes in a farmer's field near 15 Wing Moose Jaw, an airbase in southwest Saskatchewan. Senecal was photographing three other planes flying in formation at the time of the crash. An Armed Forces report on the fatal crash said there were no mechanical problems and the pilot may have lost awareness of how low he was flying.

Crash investigators look through the crash site in 2008 after a pilot and military photographer on a routine training mission were killed when their Snowbird aircraft crashed in southern Saskatchewan. (Troy Fleece/Canadian Press)

May 18, 2007: Capt. Shawn McCaughey of Quebec is killed when his jet crashed while he was practising for an air show at the Malmstrom Air Force Base in northern Montana. A military report later concluded that McCaughey's seatbelt came unfastened as he was steering his plane through a roll, causing him to fall out of his seat and lose control of the plane.

United States Air Force personnel and others look over the wreckage at the crash site of a Canadian Forces Snowbird plane in 2007 at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. (Robin Loznak/Great Falls Tribune/Associated Press)

Aug. 24, 2005: Capt. Andrew Mackay ejects from his aircraft over Thunder Bay, Ont., after losing thrust. The jet crashed in a vacant field. Mackay is treated in hospital and released.

December 10, 2004: Two Snowbirds jets crash in mid-air during a practice near Mossbank, Sask. One pilot, Capt. Miles Selby, 31, was killed, and the other, Capt. Chuck Mallett, sustained minor injuries. Selby was too inexperienced and lacked the training to complete the complex manoeuvre he was attempting, according to an Air Force report.

June 21, 2001: Two jets flying in a nine-jet formation collide over Lake Erie, sending one of the jets into the water. The pilot, Maj. Robert Painchaud, ejected from his aircraft and landed in Lake Erie without injury.

Members of the Ontario Provincial Police confer while assisting the Department of National Defence in securing the shoreline area near the crash site of a Canadian Forces Snowbird plane carrying a pilot and one passenger near Port Burwell, Ont., in 2001. (J.P. Moczulski/Canadian Press)

Sept. 4, 2000: On Labour Day weekend, two of the Snowbirds' Tutor jets sustain minor damage when the wing of one craft grazes the tail of another as they are on the way to the Canadian International Air Show in Toronto. The pilots were not injured and both planes landed safely.

Dec. 10, 1998: Capt. Michael VandenBos, 29, dies following a mid-air collision with another Snowbird aircraft during a training flight near Moose Jaw, Sask.

Members of the Snowbirds carry the coffin of Capt. Michael VandenBos at his funeral in Whitby, Ont., in 1998. (Kevin Frayer/Canadian Press)

1997: Two Snowbirds touch wingtips in mid-air in Glen Falls, N.Y. There are no injuries.

1994: Two pilots eject from their aircraft near Moose Jaw, sustaining minor injuries.

1992: Two pilots eject safely from their jets near Bagotville, Que.

1992: A crash near Moose Jaw is blamed on a failed engine bearing. There are no injuries.

1991: A Snowbirds jet crashes during a routine training flight near Moose Jaw. The two pilots are not seriously injured.

1989: Capt. Shane Antaya, 26, is killed during an air show at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto, when his plane crashed into Lake Ontario.

1978: Capt. Gordon de Jong, 32, is killed during an air show in Grande Prairie, Alta.

1972: Capt. Lloyd Waterer, 24, is killed during an air show in Trenton, Ont.

With files from The Associated Press and The Canadian Press

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