News / Canada

Fighter pilot killed in training crash had an important job: family

Captain Thomas McQueen is shown in this undated handout image. The pilot who died in the crash of a CF-18 fighter jet near the Alberta-Saskatchewan boundary has been identified as McQueen. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Canadian Armed Forces Imagery MANDATORY CREDIT

Captain Thomas McQueen is shown in this undated handout image. The pilot who died in the crash of a CF-18 fighter jet near the Alberta-Saskatchewan boundary has been identified as McQueen. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Canadian Armed Forces Imagery MANDATORY CREDIT

COLD LAKE, Alta. — Relatives of an Air Force pilot killed when a CF-18 fighter jet crashed during a training exercise near the Alberta-Saskatchewan boundary says he died doing what he loved.

A statement from the family and fiancee of Capt. Thomas McQueen says they are devastated by his death, but know that he was doing an important job.

It says they feel that Canada is grieving with them and they are grateful.

McQueen, 29, was a member of 401 squadron at 4 Wing Cold Lake in northeastern Alberta.

He was flying the single-seat jet that went down Monday on the Saskatchewan side of the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range.

An investigation is looking into what went wrong.

"From a young age, drawing jets on his homework, through Air Cadets at 611 Squadron, he never wavered in his desire to be a fighter pilot," said the family.

McQueen grew up on a farm near Hamilton, Ont., and was proud to carry on the legacy of his grandfather, a pilot in the Second World War, they said.

He had been with the Air Force for a decade and served in missions in eastern Europe and Iraq. He was soon to be married to the love of his life, Caitlin.

"Thomas lived and loved with passion," said the family.

"Thomas loved speed, whether it was on a boat, his dirt bike, or breaking the sound barrier in his jet."

He was also a clown who made people laugh, they added.

"An extraordinary friend, he loved everyone and always took care of others before himself. Thomas touched the lives of so many people, and he will be deeply missed."