A pilot was able to eject at the last minute when his CF-18 Hornet fighter jet crashed during an air show practice on Friday in Calgary, Canada. Captain Brian Bews survived the jet crash when he ejected at low altitude from the jet he was piloting just seconds before it nosedived into the ground and exploded on impact. The pilot was only 30 meters from the ground when he ejected and landed just outside the flames from the explosion.
The 36-year-old Bews was practicing at a local airport to perform at the Alberta International Air Show this weekend. A spokeswoman for 1 Canadian Air Division said Bews is a demonstration pilot for the CF-18 Hornet aircraft and has vast experience.
"Captain Bews, like any of our F-18 pilots, is highly trained, highly skilled and highly capable," spokesman Holly Brown said. "It's a long journey to become an F-18 pilot, and our demo pilots are exceptionally proven. It's an honor to be selected as a demo pilot. "Unfortunately today, something happened. He was going through his practice sessions and something happened. He had to eject and the aircraft impacted the airfield."
"He came in right over us, probably only 100 to 200 feet high," said Nathaniel Lockheart, a private pilot who witnessed the crash. "It looked like he lost power out of his right engine. Only one afterburner was on and it was burning red hot. He looked very close to stalling. I knew what was going to happen: he wasn't going to make it out of this one."
Bews parachuted down and landed dangerously close to the fireball, but he stood right up and his injuries were reportedly not life threatening.
"It looked like he was in the fire. We jumped the barbed wire fence to see if we could help," Lockheart said.
Federal Defense and Transportation departments officials are investigating the crash. The president of the air show association said the event will proceed today and Sunday. Canada's fleet of CF-18 Hornet fighter jets will continue to fly even as the caused the crash is investigated since officials believe it was an isolated incident.
Statement from pilot of CF-18 Demo Hornet
WINNIPEG, MANITOBA - (July 26) - Captain Brian Bews, the Canadian Forces 2010 Demo Hornet pilot who ejected from his CF-18 Hornet in Lethbridge, Alberta Friday has authorized