Snowbirds pilot dies in Montana crash

Canadian Forces Snowbirds pilot Capt. Shawn McCaughey of Quebec was killed after his jet crashed Friday afternoon in Montana while preparing for a weekend air show.

Canadian Forces Snowbirds pilot Capt. Shawn McCaughey of Quebec was killed afterhis jetcrashed Fridayafternoon in Montanawhile preparing for a weekend air show.

No one ejected from the jet afterit broke formation and crashed.

McCaughey, 31, of Candiac, Que., "was a very professional pilot" and his deathisa big loss to the team, Col. Richard Foster, commander of 15 Wing, told a media conference at the wing's base inMoose Jaw, Sask., onFriday evening.

Foster saidthe pilotwas an instructor with 1,400 hours of flying experience. Hewas in his secondyear with the team.

"The team will take an operational pause to remember Shawn McCaughey like we need to, and then we will go back and do the rest of the show season."

The flyers will wait until investigators from Ottawa have cleared the rest of the Canadair CT-114 Tutors to fly again.

The flyers from 431 Air Demonstration Squadron who were planning to perform at Malmstrom Air Force Base in northern Montana were veteran pilots.

A youngwoman whosaw the planessaid fiveof them made a heart with smoke, and then one pulled out of formation "and he went right on top of everybody else and right when he did, he went down."

A photo of the formation shows one plane veering far out of formation.

Another eyewitness said"it went down fast… about 20, 10 seconds later, a cloud of smoke just came into air."

The pilot did not eject.

The Snowbirds perform aerobatics in the single-jet Tutors. Six Snowbirds pilots have died since 1972.

The show team includes 24 of the 85 squadron members.

With files from the Canadian Press