Canadian Forces Snowbirds jet crashes in Kamloops, B.C.

A Canadian Forces Snowbirds jet crashed in Kamloops, B.C., on Sunday, the Department of National Defence confirmed to CBC News.

“This is a developing situation. Our number one priority at this time is determining the status of our personnel, the community and supporting emergency personnel,” the department said in an email. 

Emergency crews from the Kamloops Airport are responding to the incident, the department said.

No other information was provided.

Witness Annette Schonewille said she saw the jet fall from the sky. 

Schonewille was parked with friends having coffee at McArthur Island Park in Kamloops.

She said she watched one Snowbirds plane fly up and when the second one went after it, it appeared to catch on fire.

“The one plane continued and the other one, there was two puffs, it looked like puffs of smoke and one … was a ball of fire,” she said.

“No noise, it was strange, and then the plane just did a cartwheel and fell right out of the sky. Just boom, straight down, and then a burst of black, black smoke.”

Elwood Delaney said he watched two jets take off from the airport near his house.

“The other one didn’t quite bank up high enough and it kind of got it behind the trees and [I] saw a parachute come out of it and then smoke there,” he said. 

“I saw one parachuter who landed on a house close by.”

Photos provided to CBC News by Delaney show the remains of a jet in the front yard of a house.

A Snowbirds plane crashes near a house in Kamloops, B.C. Witnesses say the plane came down near the house and a pilot landed on a roof nearby. (Elwood Delaney)

The Snowbirds aerobatics team was scheduled to do a flyover of the Okanagan area Sunday as part of Operation Inspiration, a salute to Canadians and front-line workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Sunday morning the Snowbirds tweeted some mountain passes had low cloud cover, which would be unsafe to fly through. 

In an Instagram story post on Saturday, a Snowbirds pilot said the team was in Kamloops and was dealing with some “electrical malfunctions.”

The jets had arrived in Kamloops on Saturday after flyovers in Alberta. 

More to come.