Fisherville mourns ‘hero’ pilot who was Santa’s escort
CF-18 pilot is dead after fighter jet crashed during flight. Jet crashed inside the air weapons range on the Saskatchewan side of the border. The Department of National Defence in a statement later confirmed the pilot died, cause of crash is not yet known.
Flags are flying at half-mast in Fisherville, Ontario as small community near Hamilton mourns Pilot Capt. Thomas McQueen, a Canadian Forces Pilot who was killed in a fatal fighter jet crash near Cold Lake, Alberta, yesterday.
“He was our hometown hero. He seriously is. Everyone was so proud of Thomas,” said Lyn Rayner, a neighbour who lived across the street from the McQueen home.
‘It’s a great loss. The town is feeling it.’– Lyn Rayner, neighbour
“He always wanted to be a fighter pilot. There wasn’t any doubt in his mind,” she said, adding that his eyes would light up even as a boy when talking about his dream.
McQueen’s CF-18 went down Monday during a routine training mission on the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range, which straddles the Alberta-Saskatchewan border.
McQueen had flown deployments in Eastern Europe and had combat flight time in the Middle East on Operation Impact.
- At home, McQueen was even one of “Santa’s escort pilots” for the Canadian NORAD region, filling in excited children on St. Nick’s progress on a recent Christmas eve.
The 10-year flying veteran was extremely close with his family, Rayner said.
He had a brother and two sisters, as well as an assortment of aunts and uncles. McQueen’s father is a veterinarian, while his mother raised the children on the family’s rural farmland. McQueen was engaged, and his brother had just gotten married.
His brother, Aaron, tweeted out a photo of McQueen on Tuesday morning, saying, “Will miss my big brother. Captain Thomas McQueen 1987-2016 in service of his country. So proud of him.” “Family was so important to them,” Rayner said.
Rayner said she had been talking with McQueen’s mother, Edith, just a couple of weeks ago, and she had said how happy she was with life, seeing one son just get married and the other engaged.
“They would be devastated,” she said. “It’s a great loss. The town is feeling it.”