Pilot dies in Snowbird crash over Saskatchewan
Last Updated Fri, 10 Dec 2004 14:01:34 EST
MOSSBANK, SASK. - Two Canadian Forces Snowbirds crashed in mid-air Friday morning while on a routine practice flight over Saskatchewan, killing one pilot.
The Defence Department confirmed the death Friday afternoon, but has not yet released the pilot's identity.
Canadian Air Force Snowbirds fly over Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton. (CP file photo)
The two jets crashed while the famed jets were flying near Mossbank, about 112 kilometres from Regina.
Defence Department spokesperson Heather Bruner said both pilots were able to eject after the 10 a.m. local crash.
Captain Jay Walker of 15 Wing Moose Jaw, home base to the aerobatic team, said there was one pilot on each aircraft.
Lt. Andrea Collins said a ground search and rescue team is at the site, about 65 kilometres south of Moose Jaw.
The Canadian Forces is scheduled to hold a news conference at CFB Moose Jaw later Friday.
All flying training missions at the base have been suspended during the investigation into the crash.
The Snowbirds fly 11 Canadair Tutor aircraft: nine perform as a team in air shows and two other spare jets fill in when the others are down for maintenance or repairs. The planes were used as training aircraft by the air force until 2000.
In May, two pilots from 15 Wing escaped from a Hawk training jet before it crashed into a field northwest of the base.
It was Capt Miles Selby, the opposing solo. The other was Chuck Mallett, lead solo, and he's in hospital right now.
Ejecting isn't guarantee of anything ladies and gents, it gives you a chance to survive. Look at that Hawk crash back in May, the Hawks have Martin Baker Mk16 seats, one of the best seats on the market and the Cdn instructor ended up with a broken pelvis and femur.
A sad day in Moose Jaw and the rest of Canada without a doubt. My thoughts go out to his family in this difficult time.
Pulling the 'loud handle' isn't something you take lightly. You're sitting on a rocket, folks, and it doesn't give a nice, smooth ride. The ride 'up the rail' on some models can cause injuries on its own, most commonly compacted vertebrae. (The training isn't all that pleasant either. The simulator once used by the CF frequently caused minor neck and back injuries...enough to get grounded for a month.)
Better hope that *all* the components will work properly. It would suck if the stirrups didn't pull back and hold your legs on the way out...or you're going to be shorter when you land.
Now you meet the air, which, if you're not in the ideal ejection window, will feel like hitting a brick wall. All those carefully packed survival staples? Hope that your vest is well made...since it's not uncommon to lose pockets & contents, or your helmet, or boots, as the air rips them off. Better hope you're flying like you're supposed to...with the visor *down*. If you're doing something, oh, like posing for your wingman's camera, and you're wearing shades...well..."ouch" is the word that comes to mind.
The separation sequence can cause problems; the seat, designed to fall away, sometimes doesn't, or snags on some strap. (Chuck Yeager once punched out of a modified F-104, and the seat conveniently fell at the same rate he did...with the rocket burning his face & hands.) Or the raft & seat pan jerks at your body like a pitbull after a snack. (A crewman - can't remember if he was the pilot or B/N - of an A-6 used in the Lebanon strikes survived bailing out...only to die of blood loss when the seat pan, containing survival supplies, amputated his leg on landing.)
The chute isn't a sport parachute, or even the ones you guys crazy enough to jump out of planes use. It's a smaller 'life saver' with a higher rate of descent. Broken legs are not uncommon.
More advanced models, like those on the Russian Mig-29's & Su-27 family are 'smart', modifying the ejection process based on speed, altitude, and attitude to provide the best survival rate. Those on the US F/A-22 incorporate arm guards, as well as leg stirrups, to minimize flail injury.
However, there are still many in service which are basic bang seats...not even zero/zero models (which allow ejection even at zero altitude & airspeed). If you're not within the acceptable parameters for ejection, better pray that the Force is with you...
My prayers go out to the family & friends of those involved in this mishap.