Snowbirds pilot killed 3 weeks before wedding

The father of the Canadian Forces Snowbirds pilot who died when his plane crashed at an airbase in Montana said his son was supposed to get married next month.

The father of the Canadian Forces Snowbirds pilot who died when his plane crashed in Montana said the next time he was supposed to see his son was on his wedding day next month.

Ken McCaughey spoke to CBC Newsworld the day after the CT-114 Tutor jet of Capt. Shawn McCaughey, 31, of Candiac, Que., crashed Friday afternoon during a practice session for a weekendair show.

His plane was flying in formation when it suddenly rolled out and plunged to the ground.

A Canadian Forces flight safety team arrived Saturday afternoon to investigate the crash, but would not comment to the media.

Ken McCaugheysaid the family received news of the accident when an officialat the flying team'sbase inMoose Jaw, Sask., called him at home in Candiac aboutthree hours after the crash.

"It's pretty tough right now," he said, adding that the last timehe spoke to hisson was on the phone Thursday night.

"He told me that he was going to Montana the following day. So I said, 'OK Shawn, we'll be seeing you on your wedding day,' because he was supposed to get married on June 9."

The pilot made no radio contact and didn't indicate he was having trouble, said Maj. Robert Mitchell, the Snowbirds' commanding officer.

Ken McCaugheysaid his son knew the risks of flying, but was determined to be the best.

"Shawn always wanted to be a pilot, since he was a kid, and he told us many times, 'This is the best job in the world.'"

Shawn McCaughey was in his second year with the Snowbirds. Hejoined the Canadian Forces in 2000 as a direct entry officer, andalso held a civilian commercial pilot's licence.

Pilot 'rolling out' when he crashed

Elizabeth Mathias, a spokeswoman at the base, said nine Snowbirds were performing an inverted pass manoeuvre. McCaughey was in one of four jets that broke away from the pack and began flying upside down in formation.

"Normally when a pilot feels uncomfortable with a manoeuvre, they roll out of it. Capt. McCaughey was rolling out when he crashed," she said.

Flags at the basewere at half-mast on Saturday in his honour, she added.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, in a statement Saturday, offered condolences.

"Capt. Shawn McCaughey served our country with distinction, honour and professionalism. On behalf of the government of Canada and all Canadians, my deepest sympathy goes out to his family, friends and fellow team members during this difficult time."

McCaughey was the sixth Snowbirds pilot killed in a crash since 1972.