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One pilot dead after crash of two snowbird jets

CTV.ca News Staff

The Department of National Defence is now confirming that one pilot has died after the mid-air crash of two Snowbirds jets over Saskatchewan on Friday.

The report comes as an urgent ground search continues near Mossbank, about 65 kilometres south of Moose Jaw.

No information is available yet on the identity of either the pilot who died or the one still missing.

Airforce officials say the planes crashed in mid-air during a routine practice exercise Friday morning.

Capt. Jay Walker of 15 Wing, the Snowbirds' Saskatchewan home base, reported search and rescue crews had been dispatched to the site.

Earlier reports had said that both the pilots were able to eject safely.

In an interview from her home in Mossbank, Jackie Geis told CTV Newsnet that she was outside doing chores when she heard a "loud boom."

Her dogs started to bark and she looked up.

"I looked up and there were two big puffs of smoke. One to the left of me and one to the right. And I watched the stuff fall to the ground."

Geis, who was on top of a haystack when she saw the crash, said that, from her vantage point east of the crash site, she saw what appeared to be one pilot parachuting to the ground.

"To be honest with you, I saw one pilot come out."

Although she was too far to discern the condition the pilot's condition, "From what I know about parachuting he looked like he was landing how he should have been landing."

The search and rescue team was being assisted by two search aircraft.

All operations have been temporarily suspended while investigators try to determine what caused the crash.

The latest incident comes exactly six years to the day after Captain Michael VandenBos lost his life in an accident that happened on Dec. 10, 1998.

The accident occurred December 10, 1998, 26 kilometres south of 15 Wing Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. Captain Michael VandenBos lost his life in the crash.

On that morning a formation of six aircraft were conducting training manoeuvres south of CFB Moose Jaw when the wing of one plan came in to contact with another.

VandenBos' plane stalled and fell to the ground. While he was able to eject, VandenBos died from injuries sustained when he hit the ground.

The Snowbirds fly the Canadair CT-114 Tutor, a Canadian built jet used by the Canadian Forces as its basic pilot training aircraft until 2000.

The unit has been flying together for 35 years. To date they have performed for more than 116 million spectators across North America.

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The latest off Canoe:

Snowbird pilot killed in crash

By TIM COOK

Aerobatic Snowbird team makes a fly pass over the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill during Canada celebrations in Ottawa Sunday. (CP) 1990 (stf-Ron Poling)

MOOSE JAW, Sask. (CP) — One pilot from the Canadian Forces’ famed Snowbirds team was killed Friday and a second suffered minor injuries in a mid-air collision between two jets during a routine training flight in Saskatchewan.

The dead pilot, Capt. Miles Selby, 31, of Tsawwassen, B.C., was a two-year veteran of the Snowbirds and had a background flying CF-18 fighter jets, said Col. Alain Boyer.

“We will regroup and spend some time thinking about our loss,” said Boyer. “That’s our focus right now.”

Injured in the collision was Capt. Chuck Mallett, 35, of Edmonton.

The crash occurred near Mossbank, about 65 kilometres south of 15 Wing, the Snowbirds’ home base in Moose Jaw.

Jackie Geis was atop a haystack in her farmyard throwing down bales for her cattle around 10 a.m. when she heard a loud boom “like a shotgun going off in the distance — just make it a lot louder.”

Her dogs started to bark and she looked up.

“As soon as I looked up to the sky, I knew exactly what happened. There was the two puffs of smoke — the big, black one to the left and not quite as big a one on the right.

“But the one on the right — you could see it was a plane. It was coming down.

“I saw the pilot ejecting, coming down with his parachute open.

“They weren’t real high. When he came out with the parachute I could see him sitting in (his seat).

“It was terrible.”

She didn’t see the other pilot eject.

Geis said skies were clear at the time of the accident.

All flying-training operations have been temporarily suspended at 15 Wing while investigators try to determine the cause of the crash.

It was the second crash this year involving pilots from 15 Wing. In May two pilots escaped from a Hawk training jet before it crashed in a private field about two kilometres northwest of the base.

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Events like this accident remind us of how small our aviation community is in Canada. I went to Jr. and High School with Chuck Mallet, the injured pilot. We played in the same Junior High School Band back home in Edmonton. I wish you a speedy recouvery Chuck.

My thoughts to the family of the pilot who was lost.

Regards,

Matthew Jackson

Air Transat Pilot

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