They have been grounded since a May 17 crash in Kamloops claimed the life of Capt. Jennifer Casey and injured Capt. Richard MacDougall, but two of the Canadian Forces Snowbirds CT-114 Tutor jets will be flying out of Kamloops Airport on Tuesday morning (Sept. 1).
The scheduled departure of the two Snowbirds jets will be followed by more Tutor jets taking flight later this week.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Royal Canadian Air Force is asking that members of the public refrain from coming to the airport to see the jets leave.
“The Snowbirds are deeply appreciative of the support received from Kamloops and local First Nations in the wake of the tragic accident on May 17, but to ensure the health and safety of community members, we ask that people not gather at the airport,” reads a statement from the Department of National Defence.
Prior to the departure, Lt.-Col. Denis Bandet, the Snowbirds’ commanding officer, will speak at a press conference.
On May 17, a CT-114 Tutor Snowbirds jet leaving Kamloops Airport en route to its next stop on the cross-Canada Operation Inspiration tour crashed into a Brocklehurst neighbourhood, killing military public affairs officer Capt. Jennifer Casey and injuring the pilot of the aircraft, Capt. Richard MacDougall.
The entire fleet was then grounded pending a probe into the crash.
In June, the Royal Canadian Airforce released a preliminary report, confirming it is exploring a bird strike as the possible cause of the crash. Footage of the accident showed a bird in very close proximity to the plane’s right engine as it was taking off.
“The investigation is focusing on environmental factors (birdstrike) as well as the performance of the escape system,” the report stated.
In the past few weeks, maintenance crews have been in Kamloops, ensuring the Snowbirds jets are ready to fly when the decision to take them back to Saskatchewan is made. Members of that crew recently spent a day of team bonding at the disc golf course on McArthur Island. That story can be read by clicking here.