(A de Havilland Canada DHC-1 Chipmunk piloted by former RCAF trainer Paul Hansen on the runway at Windsor International Airport moments before taking off as part of the Inspiration Flight & Tribute flight over Windsor Essex County organized by the Canadian Historical Aircraft Association, Windsor Flying Club and Journey Air Pilot Training as a salute to COVID-19 frontline workers, essential workers and Canadian Forces Snowbirds Pilots, Captain Jennifer Casey and Captain Richard McDougall, on May 21, 2020. Photo above by Eric Bonnici / Eyes On Windsor.)
A dozen local pilots flew over Windsor Essex County on Thursday evening (May 21, 2020) to commemorate Canadian Forces Snowbirds crash victims Capt. Jennifer Casey and Capt. Richard MacDougall, COVID-19 frontline and essential workers and citizens who have had to make sacrifices to help protect one another during the pandemic. The tribute was dubbed “Inspiration Flight” and flew over Windsor Essex County towns and hospitals including Windsor Regional Hospital’s Ouellette and Met Campuses, and Erie Shores Health Care in Leamington. The flight was organized in partnership with the Canadian Historical Aircraft Association (CH2A), Windsor Flying Club and Journey Air Pilot Training at Windsor International Airport.
The Canadian Forces Snowbirds were on a cross country tour to salute Canadians doing their part to fight the spread of COVID-19. This unique mission, the brainchild of Capt. Jennifer Casey, was called “Operation Inspiration”. Sadly, last Sunday while the Snowbirds were flying over the Kamloops B.C. area, one of the planes crashed killing Casey and seriously injuring MacDougall who is still recovering but was just released from hospital. The B.C. General Aviation Association decided to pick up where the Snowbirds left off to honour the crash victims. Thirty five pilots signed up for the flyover called “Operation Backup Inspiration” taking off from Abbotsford International Airport last Monday soaring over communities in lower mainland B.C.
In Windsor, Ontario, on Thursday evening, a similar tribute took place. CH2A Acting President, Don Christopher, told Eyes On Windsor the idea for the flight came up in a discussion with pilot Russ Airey of the Windsor Flight Club. “Originally there was a group in British Columbia with 35 aircraft that came up with the idea to finish the route that Operation Inspiration was going to finish until the tragic incident happened in Kamloops B.C.,” explained Christopher. “One of our Pilots here, Russ Airey, thought well let’s do something here as well. You know the Snowbirds didn’t make it to Windsor this time, so let’s do something to honour everyone. First we want to honour all the healthcare workers and frontline people that have put their lives on the line during this COVID-19 pandemic. And second to honour Capt. Jenn Casey who lost her life and Capt. Richard MacDougall who’s in hospital recovering.” As a nod to the Snowbirds the event was called “Inspiration Flight.”
On behalf of Eyes On Windsor, we offer our gratitude to all those in the tight-knit aviation community from the Snowbirds to local pilots and those from around our nation who are taking the time to honour not only frontline and essential workers but the members of our armed forces too. We also would like to wish a speedy recovery to Capt. Richard MacDougall and offer condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Capt.Jennifer Casey.
Ad Astra (to the stars) Captain Jennifer Casey you will always be remembered.
More photos of Inspiration Flight can be seen on the Eyes On Windsor Facebook page.