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Canadian Forces Snowbird acrobatic jet crashes before US air show; pilot walks away

The Royal Canadian Air Force says one of its pilots is safe after he had to eject from his plane just before an aerobatics show in the United States.

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds, the 431st Air Demonstration Squadron, said the jet Capt. Kevin Domon-Grenier, Snowbird 5, crashed into an unpopulated area Sunday near Hampton, Georgia, and no one on the ground was injured.

The Snowbirds, Canada’s version of the U.S. Thunderbirds, were set to perform at the Atlanta Air Show. Event organizers said they canceled the rest of Sunday’s show after the crash.

The Snowbirds fly the CT-114 Tutor, which was added to the Canadian fleet in the mid-1960s to train student pilots, a role it served in til the early 2000s. The 32-foot-long jets, with a wing span of 36.5 feet, are powered by a single General Electric J85-CAN-40 turbo jet.

The Tutors flown by the Snowbirds are slightly modified from the training version, according to the Snowbirds’ web site. In addition to show features, the modified version has a more highly tuned engine to enhance performance during low-level aerobatic flying.

The Snowbirds said in a statement on Twitter that it is too early to speculate on what caused the crash.

Social media video from the air show held at the Atlanta Motor Speedway south of the city showed smoke rising from the downed jet well off in the distance.