The Royal Canadian Air Force is mourning the loss of one of its pilots, Captain Jennifer Casey, after a tragic plane over the weekend. The death happened during an exhibition fly over by the Canadian Snowbirds, the RCAF’s aerobatic stunt team, similar to the U.S.A.’s Blue Angels.
The crash happened shortly after takeoff and was witnessed by many with videos and images flooding social media in the moments afterward.
The Royal Canadian Air Force later tweeted, “The RCAF has suffered another tragic loss of a dedicated member of the RCAF team. We are deeply saddened and grieve alongside Jenn’s family and friends. Our thoughts are also with the loved ones of Captain MacDougall. We hope for a swift recovery from his injuries. – Comd. RCAF”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was also “deeply saddened” by the crash which occurred at time when the elite flying squad was conducting flyovers across the nation to lift the spirits of Canadians during the coronavirus shutdowns.
The plane fell in a residential area, striking a home before bursting into flames. Stunned locals rushed from their houses and desperately tried to extinguish the burning aircraft using garden hoses.
“I just started running down the street. And I got there maybe a minute after it crashed and there was a couple of residents that had their hoses out and they were trying to put the flames out because it hit a house,” a neighbor told the Associated Press.
Captain Casey served as the public affairs officer for the Canadian Snowbirds, and had worked in various journalism and media roles prior to joining the military.
The Royal Canadian Air Force has already dispatched a flight safety team from Ottowa to conduct an investigation into the crash. In the meantime, the flyover mission, dubbed “Operation Inspiration” has been suspended indefinitely.