On May 17, Captain Jenn Casey died after she ejected from the Canadian Forces Snowbirds jet in Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada. The incident occurred as two Snowbirds were taking off from the airport in Kamloops, a city around 200 miles northeast of Vancouver. A video of the incident shows that shortly after takeoff, one of the jets appeared to veer off and rise steeply before turning into a roll and starting a nosedive toward the ground. At that point, two people were seen ejecting from the jet before it crashed into a house.
The Canadian Forces (CF) Snowbirds have been on a cross-Canada tour to “salute Canadians doing their part to fight the spread of COVID-19,” as a part of Operation Inspiration. The team flies in a nine-jet formation, and Casey was in one of the aircraft, piloted by Captain Richard MacDougall.
The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) tweeted shortly after the incident, confirming that one of the CF Snowbirds members had died and the other sustained serious, but not life-threatening injuries. It then confirmed the identity of the deceased member as Captain Jenn Casey:
The post reads: “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.”
Tributes to Casey Have Been Pouring in Since the RCAF Released Her Name
Many have been posting tributes to Casey since the RCAF revealed the identity of the deceased Snowbirds member. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau posted:
He wrote: “Tonight, I join all Canadians in mourning the loss of a member of the CF Snowbirds Operation Inspiration team, Captain Jennifer Casey. I’m sending my deepest condolences to her loved ones, and wishing Captain Richard MacDougall a full recovery.”
The Canadian Forces in the U.S. Twitter account posted a moving tribute:
Their post reads: “A Nova Scotian storyteller, she was a journalist before joining as a Public Affairs Officer. Across Canada and the United States, she brought stories and smiles. She was one of us, our sister. Captain Jenn Casey died today. Please say her name. Remember Jenn. -30-”
Aviation photographer and journalist Tom Podolec posted about the Snowbirds team’s visit to Toronto during Operation Inspiration:
He wrote: “RIP Captain Jennifer Casey. The team was so happy when they visited Toronto Pearson Airport last weekend. They brought joy, smiles, hope and inspiration to many Canadians across Canada during this very difficult time. Blue skies Jenn.”
Olympic Gold Medalist Heather Moyse posted:
She wrote: “Almost 2 years ago, I met Capt Jenn Casey when I had the privilege of flying in one of the CF Snowbirds. She was a light & a positive ball of energy, & I am so heart-broken to know that more people will not be as lucky as I was to have met her. #Snowbirds #OpInspiration #RIP.”
The fence around the Kamloops airport where the incident occurred is now serving as a memorial to Casey, as this video shows:
Casey Was a Native of Halifax, Nova Scotia & Worked as a Reporter Before Joining the Armed Forces as a Public Affairs Officer
Casey was from Halifax, Nova Scotia, on the east coast of Canada, and worked for many years as a reporter, producer and anchor in Halifax and Belleville, Ontario. She obtained a bachelor of arts from Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, a bachelor of journalism from the University of King’s College in Nova Scotia and a master’s degree of interdisciplinary studies from Royal Roads University in British Columbia.
She joined the CF in August 2014 and her first assignment was as a public affairs officer in Trenton, Ontario, with the Royal Canadian Air Force. According to her biography, she spent the 2018 season with a CF demo team traveling with a NORAD jet across North America and the U.K. She joined the Snowbirds in November 2018.