Canada air force aerobatics plane crashes in west of country

Toronto (Canada) (AFP) –


A plane from Canada's Snowbirds, an elite air force aerobatics team, crashed on Sunday in British Columbia during a performance to salute public efforts against the coronavirus, the military said.

According to local media, the plane crashed into the front yard of a house shortly after taking off from Kamloops Airport late Sunday morning along with one other plane.

Provincial Health Minister Adrian Dix tweeted that one person had been taken to hospital.

"The #RCAF has been made aware that a Canadian Forces Snowbirds aircraft crashed in the vicinity of Kamloops, BC," the Royal Canadian Air Force tweeted, without giving further details.

"Our priority at this time is determining the status of our personnel and supporting emergency personnel," it added.

Witnesses said the pilot managed to eject from the plane with a parachute before the crash. The pilot landed on the roof of a house and appeared to have suffered back and neck injuries.

Photos from the crash scene appeared to show debris burning in front of a house, part of which was also on fire.

Public broadcaster the CBC quoted a witness, Nolyn Mcleod, as saying the plane passed about three meters (yards) over his roof.

"We saw the pilot eject like maybe two storeys high, and then the plane with no pilot in it went right between me and my neighbor's house," before finally hitting the neighbor's bedroom window, he said.

"It was complete chaos. People were yelling and screaming. We thought we were getting bombed or something. That's how hectic it was."

The two planes were scheduled to fly over British Columbia as part of a tour dubbed "Operation Inspiration," launched earlier this month to pay tribute to Canadians' efforts to battle the coronavirus pandemic.

The Snowbirds' signature nine-jet formation, with trailing white smoke, began its tour in Nova Scotia and was to perform aerial displays over cities from the Atlantic to the Pacific oceans, at elevations as low as 500 feet (150 meters).