Snowbirds are a Canadian armed forces aerobatic stunt team. CNE stands for “Canadian National Exhibition” which is an annual event held at Exhibition Place in Toronto, in the province of Ontario, Canada and it’s the country’s largest fair attended by more than a Million people each year. The Canadian International Air Show is held at the conclusion of the CNE each year in September, as it has since 1949. During three days of the exhibition, aircrafts perform stunts over Lake Ontario – one of the five Great Lakes of North America.
On September 3, 1989 Canadian Forces Snowbird pilot Captain Shane Antaya of Stratford died after a midair collision. His Canadair CT-114 Tutor touched wingtips with a plane piloted by team commander Major Dan Dempsey of Edmonton. The latter safely ejected from his aircraft, the former plunged and crashed into Lake Ontario. Wife, mother and other family members of Captain Shane Antaya were in the crowd that watched him plummet to his death.
Captain Shane Antaya was an experienced pilot that had logged over 1,800 flying hours without a mishap. I guess when you’re a pilot, it only takes that one mishap to end your life in a tragedy. Some speculate that Captain Antaya gave his life to avoid an even greater tragedy when he realized that his aircraft may crash into scores of pleasure boats docked in the harbor.
The video below is a compilation of reports by CBLT, CHCH 11 and CFTO each of which covered the airshow disaster when it happened. It also contains amateur videos of the crash. Best Gore member Jamesie who hooked me up with the video says:
I was there when it happened. I will never forget the look of horror on people’s faces. Amazingly the show still went on.
Thanks a lot, Jamesie: