Snowbirds pilot injured in crash ‘likes to make people happy,’ Winnipeg friend says

By | May 19, 2020

A friend who knows Snowbirds pilot Capt. Richard MacDougall from when he was stationed in Winnipeg was shocked to learn he was in the plane that crashed in Kamloops this weekend. 

The 34-year-old pilot was seriously injured in the crash near Kamloops, B.C., that killed public affairs officer Capt. Jenn Casey on Sunday. 

MacDougall parachuted out of the plane and landed on a roof a few houses down from the crash site.

Before becoming a Snowbirds pilot, MacDougall was stationed at 17 Wing Winnipeg from 2012 to 2017.

His friend Wendy Trudel, who worked with him in the air force base hangar, said she talked to him last week when he was part of the Snowbirds’ Winnipeg flyover.  

“I was in shock because they were just here, and I was taking pictures and some video and talking with them and talking with Richard,” she said.

“A mutual friend of ours is in the hospital right now, so I had contacted her to let her know when they were going to be flying over so she could watch out from the window.”

MacDougall is a gifted singer who loves to entertain, so it seemed fitting that he would join the Snowbirds, Trudel said.

“He just seems to be somebody that likes to make people happy,” she said. 

The crash has been devastating in the tight-knit military community, Trudel said, and everyone who knew him during his time in Winnipeg hopes he recovers soon.

“He’s definitely an awesome guy and I know everybody here in Winnipeg and across Canada are rooting for him and sending him positive vibes,” she said.  

Expected to recover

MacDougall’s stepfather, Jake Bell, said he believes his stepson will recover fine, but dealing with the loss of his friend and colleague who died in the crash will be hard.

His injuries are “nothing complex,” Bell said.

“The biggest thing he’s dealing with, clearly, is the loss of his friend. I mean, we’re heartbroken by Jenn’s loss. We knew her as well. She’ll be sorely missed,” he said. 

Jenn Casey, a public affairs officer with the Snowbirds, died Sunday in the crash. (Royal Canadian Air Force)

MacDougall loved his time in Winnipeg and tries to get back to the city whenever he can to visit his friends, Bell said.

He moved from Winnipeg to Moose Jaw, Sask., in 2017.

MacDougall grew up in New Brunswick, joining the cadets in Sackville, N.B., when he was 12. After that, he learned how to fly gliders in Debert, N.S., and received his private licence at the Moncton Flight College. 

He took part in the regular officer training plan to become an officer in the Canadian Armed Forces and got an undergraduate degree in geography and physics in 2009.

He was posted to the Snowbirds in August 2019.

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