Friday, May 18, 2007

Our Hearts are Heavy for Canada's Snowbird

Our hearts and prayers go out to the family and friends of
Captain Shawn McCaughey

On May 18th, Cpt McCaughey's Canadian Forces Snowbirds aircraft crashed during an air show practice at Malmstrom Air Force Base near Great Falls, Montana, May 18 at about 3:45 p.m. Captain Shawn McCaughey, 31, Snowbird 2, of Candiac, Quebec, died when his CT-114 Tutor jet impacted the ground during the practice flight.

“Shawn was a professional officer, talented pilot and dear friend – our team is devastated and we will miss him.” said Major Robert Mitchell, Commanding Officer, Canadian Forces Snowbirds.

Cpt McCaughey was in his second year with the Snowbirds and flew the No. 2 jet in the Inner Right Wing position. Captain McCaughey joined the Canadian Forces in 2000 as a Direct Entry Officer (DEO). Prior to joining the Canadian Forces, he earned a Bachelor's degree in Physical Geography from Concordia University in Montreal. He also held a civilian commercial pilot's license. After receiving his wings on the CT-155 Hawk in 2003, he was posted to 2 Canadian Forces Flying Training School (2CFFTS) in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, as a flying instructor on the CT-156 Harvard II, the NATO Flying Training in Canada Program's (NFTC) new training aircraft. During his tour, Captain McCaughey obtained over 500 instructional hours and earned an A2 instructional category.Being a graduate of the NFTC Program, Captain McCaughey was the first Snowbird pilot to have no previous experience on the CT-114 Tutor. Captain McCaughey brought over 1,400 hours of military flying time to the 2007 team. McCaughey flew the No. 2 jet in the Inner Right Wing position. (as shown below)

He was determined and meticulous, mother, Rose McCaughey said. "From the age of six, he would always make his bed each morning." He liked order. If she happened to sit on his bed during the day, Shawn would notice upon his return from school.

He knew the risks involved, but he was passionate about being a pilot and for him, becoming a Snowbird meant making it to the top, his parents said.

He was selected for the Snowbirds in the fall of 2005 at age 29, becoming the youngest pilot to be named to the elite Canadian Forces show team, his parents said.
McCaughey was engaged to Claudia Gaudreault of Chicoutimi, Que., who lives in Moose Jaw where the Snow Birds are stationed. The couple had planned to be married June 9th.

Shawn McCaughey's fiancee, Claudia Gaudreault of Chicoutimi, Que. said, "It's unreal to me, it's like a dream," she said. "But I have this thing inside me that I cannot describe. It's like a spiritual thing that fills me ... Shawn and I - it was love that was the basis of our relationship."

The Snowbirds were scheduled to perform at the Malmstrom Air Force Base Open House May 19 and 20. Canadian Forces Flight Safety will conduct a thorough investigation. The Canadian Forces Snowbirds’ mission is to represent the skill, professionalism and teamwork of the men and women in Canada’s military and to support recruiting initiatives.

The Honourable Gordon O'Connor, Minister of National Defence, issued the following statement today on the death of Captain Shawn McCaughey:“On behalf of the Defence family and our dedicated men and women in uniform, I extend my heartfelt sympathies to the family, friends, team members, and comrades of Captain Shawn McCaughey.This dedicated pilot and professional officer served as an ambassador of Canada by showcasing his skills and representing the best that the Canadian Forces has to offer. Captain McCaughey accumulated over 1,400 hours of military flying time before joining the 2007 Snowbirds team. Indeed he exemplified the professionalism, excellence and dedication embodied not only by our renowned Snowbirds team but also by all serving members.Canadians stand united in pride behind our Canadian Forces, and are forever grateful for their contributions and sacrifices.”

God Bless

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