Kamloops to Memorialize the Snowbirds, Operation Inspiration, and Captain Jennifer Casey

May 17, 2021

Kamloops, BC – Today marks one year since the devastating Snowbirds crash in Kamloops during Operation INSPIRATION. This event rocked our community and the entire nation. This morning, the City of Kamloops was joined by Captain Jennifer Casey’s partner, Captain Scott Boyd, to announce plans for a new, permanent memorial at the future Fulton Field Park, which will be located on Tranquille Road between Airport Road and Aviation Way.

“This was a tragedy that rocked our community to the core and an event that will remain a part of Kamloops history,” said Mayor Ken Christian. “The Brocklehurst neighbourhood was particularly affected, and we would like to honour the community, the Snowbirds, and Captain Jennifer Casey through curated memorials at Fulton Field Park. The park will be a place of observation, remembrance, and honour for the history of the Canadian military and the Snowbirds within our community.”

“It is hard to believe that it has already been one year since the tragic accident that claimed the life of my partner and best friend Jenn,” said Captain Scott Boyd. “The kindness, compassion, and support shown by the community of Brocklehurst, Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc, Shuswap Nation, and the Rocky Mountain Rangers on that day and over the past year has been absolutely incredible. The City of Kamloops will forever hold a special place in my heart, and I could not be more proud to be a Canadian and a British Columbian. “

“Once again, the City of Kamloops has shown us their unwavering support and warmth of their hearts by honouring the memory of Captain Jenn Casey and 431 Air Demonstration Squadron. We are honoured to see this park dedicated to the team and to now be an integral part of the Kamloops culture,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Denis Bandet, Commanding Officer of 431 Air Demonstration Squadron.

About the Park
Fulton Field Park will be located on Tranquille Road between Airport Road and Aviation Way and is currently in the design stage. The park vision includes flower beds, pathways, bench seating, and an artist tribute memorial to Captain Jennifer Casey and the Snowbirds as well as curated boards describing the history of Fulton Field and Kamloops’ connection to the Canadian military.

Fulton Field Park is scheduled to be constructed in 2023 in conjunction with a beautification and road project along Tranquille Road.

Background
The Snowbirds, officially known as the Canadian Forces Snowbirds 431 Air Demonstration Squadron, are the military aerobatics team of the Royal Canadian Air Force. What began as an exercise to raise morale across Canada, “Operation INSPIRATION” turned tragic when one of the jets crashed shortly after takeoff in the Brocklehurst neighbourhood and resulted in the loss of life of public affairs officer Captain Jennifer Casey and the serious injury of pilot Captain Richard MacDougall. The tragedy took place on May 17, 2020, with the cause of the crash later determined to be a bird strike, which caused a compressor to stall and ended in loss of power to the engine.

City of Kamloops unveils memorial plans for fallen Snowbird Jenn Casey

From CTV News – link to source story and video


Ben Miljure, Multi-Skilled Journalist, CTV News Vancouver | Monday, May 17, 2021

Link to CTV News video

VANCOUVER — Monday marks a solemn anniversary in Kamloops, B.C., where it has been one year since a fatal crash claimed the life of Snowbirds team member Capt. Jennifer Casey.

An investigation into the May 17, 2020, crash revealed a small bird flew into the plane’s engine shortly after takeoff from Fulton Field at the Kamloops airport, causing it to lose power.

The pilot gave the order to eject, but the plane was at too low of an altitude for Casey to safely deploy her parachute.

In Kamloops Monday morning, Capt. Scott Boyd, Casey’s partner and also a Snowbirds team member, joined Mayor Ken Christian for an announcement about a permanent memorial the city plans to create to honour Casey.

“Today is a day to remember and a day to really celebrate a great Canadian,” said Christian.

From Royal Canadian Air Force

He went on to say the City of Kamloops will create a series of curated memorials at Fulton Field Park that will pay tribute to Casey and the entire Snowbirds team.

It’s being called an interpretive park and will feature storyboards highlighting the history of Fulton Field, the Snowbirds and Casey’s life.

“This has been the longest year of my life but it also feels like just yesterday the accident took place that took the life of Jenn, my best friend,” said Boyd. “It’s been absolutely incredible, the kindness and compassion and support that Kamloops has shown us.”

At the time of the crash, the acrobatic aviation team was on a cross-country mission called Operation Inspiration, which was intended to boost morale and bring joy to Canadians amidst the uncertainty of the pandemic.

In an interview after Casey’s death, her family told CTV News she was “supporting an important mission that seemed to be designed for her.”

Casey was the team’s public affairs officer.

The Snowbirds were grounded for three months following the fatal crash but have since returned to the skies and have announced plans for another Operation Inspiration tour that will see the team perform at locations across Canada and the United States beginning in June.

One year ago, we suffered a loss that was profoundly felt across Canada, and particularly within the RCAF. Today we send our thoughts to Captain Jenn Casey’s family, colleagues and friends. Her passion to spread joy to others during difficult times will be her legacy. pic.twitter.com/ulkQAO356d— Royal Canadian Air Force (@RCAF_ARC) May 17, 2021

It’s been one year since the deadly Snowbirds crash in Kamloops

Click on pic.twitter.com above for a short video

Suspected bird strike forces Snowbirds plane to make emergency landing on Vancouver Island

From CTV News – link to source story and video – thanks to CW


Gord Kurbis Journalist, CTV Vancouver Island | 10 May 2021

A Canadian Snowbirds plane touched down for an emergency landing after a suspected bird strike during training.

COMOX, B.C. — A pilot for the Canadian Snowbirds team brought his plane in for an emergency landing Monday after a suspected bird strike.

The iconic aerobatics team is at 19 Wing Comox for their annual spring training session and are conducting flights twice each day.

According to team spokesperson Capt. Gabriel Ferris, the incident happened as the team was lifting off for their 9:30 a.m. practice.

Ferris said the pilot followed normal procedures and called an emergency for a suspected bird strike.

“We want to make sure to put the aircraft on the ground to have maintenance look at it and assess it and have flight safety also have a look at it,” Ferris said.

The pilot was able to put the aircraft safely on the ground and the remaining eight team continued on with the practice.

“As soon as the aircraft was on the ground secured, then the practice of the airshow continued,” Ferris said.

Eleven Snowbirds flew into Comox on May 3. Nine planes should be back in the air Monday afternoon, even if the affected plane is unable to fly.

A bird strike on a Snowbirds plane contributed to the fatal crash last year that claimed the life of public affairs officer Capt. Jennifer Casey, according to a Royal Canadian Air Force investigation.

A Snowbird airplane arrives at CFB Comox on Wednesday, April 17, 2019. (CTV Vancouver Island)

Nearly one year after tragic crash, Snowbird aircraft returns to Kamloops

From CFJC Today – link to source story

Image Credit: CFJC Today / Kent Simmonds

By James Peters | May 4, 2021 12:13 PM

Kamloops Airport is confirming the presence of a dear friend in Kamloops Tuesday (May 4).

A CT-114 Tutor aircraft belonging to the Canadian Forces Snowbirds touched down at Fulton Field at about 11:45 a.m. It’s believed to be a fuelling stop before heading west to Canadian Forces Base Comox.

This is believed to be the first Snowbirds visit to Kamloops since the tragic May, 2020 crash in Brocklehurst that took the life of Capt. Jennifer Casey.

The fleet remained on an operational pause for three months after the accident, which was caused by a bird strike.

The Snowbirds 2021 air demonstration schedule will begin on June 5.


‘It is hard for the team to go back’: Snowbirds return to Kamloops, heavy with emotion

By James Peters | May 4, 2021 2:39 PM – link to source story

KAMLOOPS — While residents of Kamloops were ready and eager to throw open their arms in welcome to the Canadian Forces Snowbirds Tuesday afternoon (May 4), the team itself had a difficult time returning.

The Snowbirds aerial demonstration team last touched down in Kamloops nearly one year ago, May 16, 2020, as part of its Operation Inspiration, meant to lift the spirits of Canadians in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A day later, as the team took off to its next destination, a bird strike resulted in one of the CT-114 Tutor jets plummeting into a Brocklehurst yard. Capt. Jennifer Casey, the team’s public affairs officer, was killed. The pilot, Capt. Richard MacDougall, was seriously injured.

For three months after the crash, the remaining Snowbirds aircraft sat grounded at Kamloops Airport as authorities investigated. Finally in August, the aircraft returned to their base at CFB Moose Jaw.

They did not return to Kamloops until Tuesday, performing a brief formation fly-by before a refuelling stopover en route from Calgary to CFB Comox.

The Snowbirds’ new public affairs officer, Capt. Gabriel Ferris, said the return is not altogether joyful for Casey’s surviving colleagues.

“We wanted to show our appreciation for what the city and the population did for us last year,” Ferris told CFJC Today. “It is hard for the team to go back, I’m not going to hide it. A lot of the team members are having a difficult time, but it’s important for us to show the population that we appreciate very much what they did for us last year.”

In the weeks following last May’s crash, Kamloops residents reached out to express comfort and love to the Snowbirds. Mayor Ken Christian spoke of how the demonstration team and the city will forever be bonded by the tragedy.

Ferris said ironically, that deep connection was one reason the Snowbirds chose not to publicize the visit in advance.

“That (love is) always there. We know it. We even know that it’s a little bit… I don’t want to say too much, but just be careful because there are still COVID regulations. We want to make sure that people are still following them and not gathering too much at the airport.

“Everyone here has been talking to me about how the population has a super warm welcome, every time we go there.”

CF Snowbirds 2021 Schedule

June
5 ‑ 6 To be announced
9 North Bay, Ontario
12 ‑ 13 To be announced
19 ‑ 20 Niagara Falls, New York, USA
22 Hanover, Ontario
24 To be announced
26 Bagotville, Quebec

July
1 Ottawa, Ontario
5 Thompson, Manitoba
17 Boundary Bay, British Columbia
18 White Rock, British Columbia
21 Terrace, British Columbia
24 ‑ 25 Springbank, Alberta
31‑ 1 To be announced

August
6 ‑ 8 Abbotsford, British Columbia
21 Gander, Newfoundland
22 Conception Bay South, Newfoundland
25 Lunenburg, Nova Scotia
29 ‑ 30 Debert, Nova Scotia

September
2 Brantford, Ontario
4 ‑ 6 Toronto, Ontario
8 Kingston, Ontario
11 ‑ 12 Gatineau, Quebec
15 Stratford, Ontario
18 ‑ 19 Mirabel, Quebec
25 ‑ 26 Sacramento, California, USA

October
2 ‑ 3 Huntington Beach, California, USA
9 ‑ 10 San Francisco, California, USA
16 ‑ 17 To be announced