An Ontario junior hockey team honoured a member of the Canadian Forces Snowbirds with a Comox Valley connection last week.
The Trenton Golden Hawks changed their name and uniform for one game on Nov. 27 as they became the Trenton Snowbirds to honour Capt. Jennifer Casey who died in May in a fatal Canadian Forces Snowbirds crash in Kamloops.
Casey, who lived in Trenton from 2012 to 2018, was in a CT-114 Tutor piloted by Capt. Richard MacDougall when it veered skyward before nose-diving to the ground en route to Comox as part of Operation Inspiration – a salute to Canadians who are doing their part to fight the spread of COVID-19.
MacDougall and Casey ejected from the plane just before impact. MacDougall suffered serious injuries but survived. A preliminary report released by the Canadian Forces noted in reviewing video footage, a bird was in close proximity to the aircraft’s right engine intake during the post-take-off phase.
As the public affairs officer for the Snowbirds, it was Casey’s duty to arrange all pilot interviews, suggest features, and keep the public informed on important dates regarding the aerobatics team and narrate their shows over the public address system.
She was a regular fixture the past few years at CFB Comox as the Snowbirds regularly returned to the Comox Valley in the spring for their annual training. Prior to the Snowbirds, Casey spent time in a similar role with the CF-18 Demo Team which also trained in the Valley.
At the time of her death, Col. Dany Poitras, Wing Commander at 19 Wing Comox noted there is a special relationship with the Comox Valley and the 431 Air Demonstration Squadron (Snowbirds).
“Every year the members of our community look forward to the Snowbirds training at Comox. Each spring the team takes up residence here, and the distinctive red and white jets can be seen in the skies near 19 Wing. Those who attended the final practice last year enjoyed Captain Casey’s energetic and professional voice calling the aerobatic manoeuvres,” he said.
The Trenton ‘Snowbirds’ wore a special red, white and blue jersey for the Nov. 27 game, reflective of the squadron’s colours. Each jersey had the name Casey on the back, along with the player’s designated number. After the game, the jerseys were auctioned off, with proceeds going to charity.