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A member of the Canadian Forces Snowbirds aerobatic team was forced to eject from his CT-114 Tutor aircraft on Sunday, Oct. 13, just before the team’s scheduled appearance at the Atlanta Air Show.
Fortunately, Capt. Kevin Domon-Grenier, who flies as Snowbird 5 in the second line astern position, was unhurt. He was taken to hospital as a precaution and later released that same day. The aircraft went down in a field near Hampton, Ga., and there were no injuries on the ground.
“At this time the precise circumstances leading up to the ejection are not known,” said an Oct. 13 statement issues by LCol Mike French, the commanding officer of 431 (Air Demonstration) Squadron. “The crash site has been secured by local law enforcement and the immediate Flight Safety response is being co-ordinated on the ground by the team’s Flight Safety Officer.”
French said an investigation team from the Directorate of Flight Safety (DFS) in Ottawa was enroute to Georgia to determine the cause of the incident. They will work alongside the U.S. Air Force Safety Center and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. According to the DFS website, preliminary reports are usually issued within five weeks of an incident.
The Atlanta show was the second-to-last performance on the team’s 2019 calendar, with the final airshow being Houston, Texas, Oct. 19-20.
“It is too early to speculate whether the Snowbirds will take part in their last airshow of the 2019 season,” wrote French. “The priority right now is to provide support to the members of our squadron and their families and to investigate fully the cause of the accident.”
Domon-Grenier, who grew up in St-Raymond de Portneuf, Que., joined the Canadian Armed Forces as an infantry officer in 2007. Following a posting to Afghanistan, he transferred to the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and obtained his wings in 2013. After serving as a CT-156 Harvard II instructor at 2 Canadian Forces Flying Training School in Moose Jaw, Sask., he was posted to 431 Squadron.
With more than 1,600 hours of military flying experience, Domon-Grenier has said he transferred to the RCAF in order to chase his childhood dream of flying with the Snowbirds.
He and his wife, Capt Sarah Dallaire, made history as the first husband-and-wife team to fly with the same Snowbirds squadron. Dallaire flies as Snowbird 2 on the inner right wing.
“15 Wing Moose Jaw, the home base of the Canadian Forces Snowbirds, will provide the team, their families and the military community at 15 Wing with the support and resources they need at this time,” concluded French’s statement.
Update as of Oct. 16, 2019:
The Snowbirds will not be flying in the Houston Airshow this coming weekend, Oct. 19-20. An Oct. 16 statement from the RCAF said CT-114 Tutor operations have been “temporarily paused” following the accident in Atlanta.
“The pause on the RCAF’s CT-114 Tutor fleet will be in place as long as needed to ensure the aircraft can be operated safely,” concluded the notice.