Covid-19 has drastically changed life in Canada. Healthcare workers have been attending to affected Canadians, some are unfortunately no longer with us. Mirroring their counterparts in the US, the Canadian Forces Snowbirds embarked on a cross-country tour, to lift the spirits of Canadians and salute frontline medical workers and first responders.
After being locked down for three weeks and with a lot of planning in a short time, the Snowbirds left Moose Jaw and traveled east to Nova Scotia, and worked their way west. After a brief rest in Moose Jaw, the team flew up to Saskatoon.
Could not have asked for a better day, as the weather was phenominal. The team arrived on time and following a few passes over the cities hospitals, the team touched down. While many people turned out at the the airport to see the team, it was 98 year old Reg Harrison, who caught the attention of the team.
Reg "Crash" Harrison, flew the Halifax and Lancaster bombers with 431 "Iroquois" Bomber Squadron, during World War 2. In 2018, Reg was made an Honorary Snowbird, at the team's final show of the season. Some of the team pilots listened intently as Reg recounted his flying experiences. The meeting of past and present was a great sight.
As soon as they had arrived, the team took to the runway, took off and made one final pass, before heading to 4 Wing Cold Lake, their next stop. The reception of Op Inspiration has been largely positive, and it could be seen in the many thousands of comments on the team's Facebook page. The team continued on through northern and central Alberta, before stopping for the evening in Kamloops BC.
Unfortunately, the tour has taken a very tragic turn, as one of the Snowbird jets crashed shortly after takeoff. Both occupants were able to eject from the aircraft however. Pilot, Captain Richard McDougall survived the accident, however, the team's Public Affairs Officer, Captain Jenn Casey, tragically lost her life. As of writing this, the team is still in Kamloops and military safety and investigation teams have already started working to determine a cause for the accident.
Tributes and well wishes for the entire team have been pouring in from around the world, as the Canadian military and the air show community come together to support each other, during this difficult time.
In my dealings with the team, I was fortunate enough to know Jenn. While I knew her more as the team PAO, she was still very welcoming and helpful during a couple of visits, last season. It's abundantly clear how much of an impact that Jenn has had, not only in the military, but the air show community, as well as the broadcast and journalism community. While I wish I had known her on a more personal level, I will sadly not get that opportunity, but I along with many of her friends and family, will never forget her.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Snowbird 11, Captain Richard McDougall. He is currently recovering in a Kamloops hospital and is expected to make a full recovery. Thoughts are with him, and the entire Snowbird team, as they confront what has happened, grieve and plot their next steps going forward.
This gallery is dedicated to the memory of Captain Jenn Casey. May she rest in peace.
If you would like to help preserve her legacy, please consider signing this petition, to have the main road into the Kamloops airport, named in Capt. Casey's memory. Thank you. https://www.change.org/p/kamloops-city-council-memorial-for-capt-jennifer-casey?fbclid=IwAR31a1pD3CXBYm26UbTFNgDzY6QluivyOyX5UtzDHKCXJuo6P8ltlpIgIz8