A ten-year veteran of the Royal Canadian Air Force died Monday when the CF-18 Hornet fighter he was flying crashed while on a low-level attack training mission in northern Saskatchewan. Capt. Thomas McQueen was flying with another Hornet on the training run at the Canadian Forces Base Cold Lake weapons range that straddles the Alberta/Saskatchewan border. He was a combat veteran with deployments in the Middle East and Eastern Europe. "I can tell you first-hand how much of an incredible person he was and that he was dedicated to the service of Canada,'' Col. Paul Doyle, commanding officer of the base, told reporters Tuesday. It was the latest in a string of recent crashes of legacy F-18s.
Canadian CF-18s are of the same vintage as those flown by the U.S. Marines (including the Blue Angels), Navy and some other air forces. At least eight of the 30-plus-year-old jets have gone down since last June resulting in three other deaths. Most of the other crashes were Marine and Navy incidents but a Swiss Air Force pilot also died in an F-18 crash in that country. The Navy had planned for most of its F-18s to be retired by now and replaced by F-35s but delays in the Lightning II program have left them short of front-line fighters. Boeing has been contracted to take 30 old F-18s out of desert storage and get them flying again with modern avionics until the F-35s take over.
(Russ Niles - AVweb)