Not any more

Military pilot recalls harrowing crash escape

In Canada on August 17, 2010 at 21:08

Capt. Brian Bews, the pilot who escaped a spectacular CF-18 crash in southern Alberta, had just seconds to eject safely from the jet before it hit the ground and exploded.

In his first public appearance since the July crash, Bews said he was practising an “alpha pass” in Lethbridge for an air show when he knew something was wrong.

“It was obvious to me the jet wasn’t acting like it normally acts,” he told reporters in Calgary on Tuesday.

“It was two seconds worth of me trying to fight the jet. It looked like it was spiralling into the ground. It started to slide to one side and the nose started to drop.

“I knew where the jet was going and I didn’t want to be there with it, so I knew my only chance of survival was to pull the ejection handle.”

‘I got out of the jet two seconds before impact and I know that and I don’t take that for granted.’—Capt. Brian Bews

In four seconds, the ejection seat — powered by a rocket motor — catapulted Bews through the jet’s canopy, deployed his parachute, and carried him away from the CF-18 Hornet.

“I remember in disbelief watching the canopy blow. I watched the jet turn onto its back and crash into the ground and explode … and then I hit the ground fairly hard after that.

“I was fortunate that the winds were fairly strong. It pulled the parachute away from the ring of fire.”

Bews suffered compression fractures in three vertebrae, for which he is wearing a back brace.

The demo CF-18 Hornet was scheduled to perform at the Lethbridge air show.The demo CF-18 Hornet was scheduled to perform at the Lethbridge air show. (Ian Martens/Lethbridge Herald/Canadian Press)

“I got out of the jet two seconds before impact and I know that and I don’t take that for granted,” he said in an interview with CBC News.

Doctors told the pilot it will take up to 12 weeks for him to recover, but Bews said he’s looking forward to getting back into the air.

An investigation into the exact cause of the crash is underway but Bews said he believes it was likely a problem with the right engine.

Bews credited the ejection seat, made by U.S. company Martin Baker, with helping to save his life.

Mike Santoro, a former U.S. air force pilot who now works for Martin Baker, said every pilot who safely ejects from the company’s seats is given a tie and pin to commemorate the feat.

Santoro said a tie and pin set will be sent to Bews soon.

Capt. Brian Bews successfully ejects from a CF-18 Hornet before it crashes and explodes at the Lethbridge airport on July 23.Capt. Brian Bews successfully ejects from a CF-18 Hornet before it crashes and explodes at the Lethbridge airport on July 23. (Ian Martens/Lethbridge Herald/Canadian Press)

via cbc.ca

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