One of the aircraft subsequently climbed into the sky before rolling over and plunging to the ground. The video appears to show at least one person ejecting from the plane before it disappears behind a stand of trees and an explosion is heard. Capt. Jenn Casey, a public affairs officer with the Canadian Forces, died in the incident, the Department of National Defence said Sunday night. Casey’s roots were in Nova Scotia – a province that’s been ravaged by tragedy in the past month.
“Canadians look at the Snowbirds as a source of joy and an exhibition of the incredible feats that our people in uniform are capable of, Operation Inspiration was intended to lift the spirit of Canadians at this difficult time and the Snowbirds accomplished their mission. I know that all Canadians grieve this tragic loss.” Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan said in a statement.
A preliminary report on last year’s Snowbird crash blamed engine failure, though military investigators had yet to identify the cause of the problem.
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. Prior to Sunday’s crash, seven pilots and one passenger had been killed and several aircraft had been lost over the course of the Snowbirds’ history.
The Transportation Safety Board said it is offering assistance to the Canadian Forces with its investigation into the crash. The jets had arrived in Kamloops on Saturday after flyovers in Alberta.
On Sunday morning the Snowbirds tweeted that some mountain passes had low cloud cover, which would be unsafe to fly through. In an Instagram story post on Saturday, a Snowbirds pilot said the team was in Kamloops and was dealing with some “electrical malfunctions.” This is the latest incident involving the military’s aerobatic team in less than a year.