The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Two military pilots safely eject from training plane before Saskatchewan crash

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MOOSE JAW, Sask. - Two Royal Canadian Air Force officers suffered minor injuries Friday when they ejected from their plane before it crashed into a field near the 15 Wing base near Moose Jaw, Sask.

Military officials said an instructor and a student pilot were on a routine training mission in a CT-156 Harvard II when they ran into trouble with their landing gear.

"Once they got airborne and retracted their gear, they noticed they had an unsafe `up' indication so they would have tried to cycle the gear back down to get in a position to be able to land," said base commander Capt. Paul Goddard.

"They could have tried to land; maybe it would have all went well, but the safety of the pilots is our primary concern. In this case, the pilot had to make a very tough decision. It was the right decision and a pretty brave decision."

The crew was able to fly to a safe area and then bailed out of the plane while it was still under control — what the military calls a "controlled ejection."

Capt. Thomas Edelson said the two crew members parachuted to the ground and were able to walk to emergency response crews, who took them to hospital for treatment of minor injuries.

"As far as ejections go I don't think you could ask for a better scenario," Edelson said.

"If you have to eject from an aircraft, this one went about as well as you could ask for. It certainly could have been worse."

Goddard said the decision to eject would have been made by the senior office on the plane.

“Once any kind of real emergency situation happens, the instructor will take control of the airplane," he said. "The instructor has all the decisions and the student, of course, will help and be directed by the instructor."

The Harvard is a single-engine turboprop plane used to train pilots in the early stages of the NATO Flying Training in Canada program.

“We have put over 200,000 hours on these airplanes," said Goddard. "We lead the world in the number of hours and how much we fly this fleet. In all that time, we have not had any crashes with that airplane.”

The plane was from 2 Canadian Forces Flying Training School based at 15 Wing.

The names, ranks and medical condition of the two crew members were not released.

The cause of the crash is under investigation and training at 15 Wing has been shut down until further review.

(CJME, The Canadian Press)

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