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Snowbirds are grounded for now but they’ll fly again says Canada’s Defence Minister

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The CF Snowbirds will fly again despite the tragic accident that claimed the life of Captain Jennifer Casey on Sunday, according to Canada’s Defence Minister.

Speaking with the Toronto Star, Minister Harjit Sajjan said that the government will support the long-term future of the aerobatics team, who have operated in some capacity since World War II.

“I am absolutely committed to making sure that the Snowbird program continues because it’s a mission that has inspired so many Canadians and not just to become pilots or join the military,”  Sajjan told the Star.

“When a kid looks up at the Snowbirds, it’s about saying ‘wow, I too can do something bigger.’ That’s the inspiration they provide.”

In Sunday’s tragedy, a Snowbird jet flown by Captain Richard MacDougall crashed into a residential neighbourhood after taking off from the airport in Kamloops, B.C.

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Captain Jennifer Casey, the team’s Public Affairs Officer, was killed in the accident. MacDougall was taken to the hospital with serious injuries, although the CF Snowbirds have confirmed that the injuries are thankfully not considered to be life-threatening.

The investigation into the cause of the crash is ongoing.

The Snowbirds have over 70 years of history; they formed in 1942 under the name No.431 (Bomber) Squadron, flying on bombing and mine-laying operations during the war.

In the 1970s, the squadron permanently became part of the Canadian Forces, reforming as an air demonstration squadron in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, where their home base remains today.

On Monday, Lieutenant-Colonel Mike French, commanding officer of the Snowbirds, also expressed his hope that the squadron will continue to fly in future.

“It’s a mission that I can get behind, it’s a mission I believe in and it’s a mission that I believe is important,” he said. “So I certainly hope our mission will continue.”

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