The pilot of the Snowbird jet that crashed in Kamloops, B.C., on Sunday, Capt. Rich MacDougall, was one of two pilots that paid a visit to Queen Elizabeth School last November, to talk about Remembrance Day and about flying in the precision team with the Canadian Armed Forces.
Capt. MacDougall and Capt. Erik Temple spoke about the team of Tutor jets that fly in formation as they represent the Canadian Armed Forces at air shows and important events like Canada Day on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.
Capt. MacDougall was the pilot of the plane which crashed, and Capt. Jennifer Casey, the public relations officer for the Snowbirds, was killed. Capt. MacDougall is reported to have suffered serious injuries and is in hospital.
During his visit to Queen Elizabeth School, Capt. MacDougall noted he has been in the air force for 14 years, and began by flying the Hercules transport planes.
Among his jobs with that squadron was doing air-to-air refueling of jets, like F-18 Hornets, he explained, showing photos of refueling taking place.
“They don’t carry a lot of gas, so we’re a sort of gas station in the air,” Capt. MacDougall told the students and staff at QE’s assembly. “We flew around in circles over a certain area and fill them up.”
He moved to the 15 Wing squadron at CFB Moose Jaw, the home base of the Snowbirds team, three years ago, and he and Erik are pilot instructors with the team.
Flying the CT 114 Tutor, the Snowbirds are painted in their distinctive red and white colours, and in 2020 there will be some gold added as it will be the 50th anniversary of the flying team, said Capt. MacDougall.
The Snowbirds train at CFB Comox in B.C. for half the year, from October to April, and then from May to October the Snowbirds appear in an average of 40 air shows and events across Canada and the U.S., such as doing flypasts at major events.
The team was doing their cross-Canada “Operation Inspiration”, as a tribute to all of the front-line essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.