Pi­lot who died in Cold Lake CF-18 crash didn’t eject, call for help: DND

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL -

An in­ves­ti­ga­tion has found a pi­lot who died dur­ing a train­ing mis­sion near the Al­berta Saskatchewan bound­ary didn’t eject or call for help be­fore the crash.

A re­lease from the Depart­ment of Na­tional De­fence says Capt. Thomas Mc­Queen, who was 29 and from Fishverville, Ont., near Hamil­ton, died on im­pact in the Novem­ber crash.

The depart­ment says Mc­Queen’s sin­gle-seater plane was part of an ex­er­cise that in­volved drop­ping sim­u­lated bombs over the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range in Saskatchewan.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion has found the plane was fly­ing at an alti­tude of 137 me­tres when it dropped its sim­u­lated bomb and then tried to ma­noeu­vre away to avoid any sim­u­lated bomb frag­men­ta­tion.

The Air­wor­thi­ness In­ves­tiga­tive Au­thor­ity says Mc­Queen’s plane spun out of con­trol fol­low­ing the sim­u­lated bomb drop and crashed to the ground, ex­plod­ing on im­pact.

An­other pi­lot wit­nessed the crash and called for help.

There were no ra­dio trans­mis­sions from Mc­Queen, the au­thor­ity said.

“He did not eject and was fa­tally in­jured when the air­craft struck the ground in a de­scend­ing left turn,” the au­thor­ity said in its sum­mary Mon­day.

“The in­ves­ti­ga­tion is con­tin­u­ing to ex­am­ine all the op­er­a­tional and tech­ni­cal fac­tors that may have played a role in the ac­ci­dent.”

The air weapons range cov­ers al­most 30,000 square kilo­me­tres span­ning the two prov­inces. Cold Lake is the busiest fighter base in the coun­try and pro­vides fighter pi­lot train­ing for all Cana­dian Forces pi­lots.

At least 10 pi­lots have died in crashes of CF-18s since the mil­i­tary bought 138 of the jets for $5 bil­lion in 1980.

Mc­Queen had been with the Air Force for a decade and served in mis­sions in east­ern Europe and Iraq.

His fam­ily said he died do­ing what he loved. In a state­ment fol­low­ing his death, they said Mc­Queen grew up on a farm near Hamil­ton and was en­gaged to be mar­ried.

He used to draw jets on his home­work and “never wa­vered in his de­sire to be a fighter pi­lot,” said the fam­ily.

“Thomas loved speed, whether it was on a boat, his dirt bike, or break­ing the sound bar­rier in his jet,” the fam­ily said.

“He loved ev­ery­one and al­ways took care of oth­ers be­fore him­self. Thomas touched the lives of so many peo­ple, and he will be deeply missed.”

CANA­DIAN PRESS FILE PHOTO

Capt. Thomas Mc­Queen died in a fighter jet crash in Novem­ber.

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