LETHBRIDGE, Alta. — The Canadian Forces’ pilot who ejected from a CF-18 jet on Friday in Lethbridge, Alta., suffered back injuries but is expected to eventually resume flying.

Capt. Brian Bews’ parachute barely had time to deploy before the aircraft exploded in flames.

Bews credits the Martin Baker ejection seat used in CF-18s with saving his life.

``I feel extremely lucky considering the magnitude of the accident; Martin Baker is my new best friend!,’’ Bews said in a statement Monday.

``I would like to thank the Canadian Forces SkyHawks and the other first responders for their quick reaction to the accident, as well as the staff at the Lethbridge hospital who have taken such great care of me.’’

Capt. Holly Brown, a military spokeswoman, says Bews suffered fractures to three vertebrae and will be wearing a back brace for a few months.

Such injuries are common with ejection seats, which literally blast a pilot through the canopy with enough force to give the parachute time to fully open.

Bews was making a low-speed pass at low altitude during a practise for an air show when witnesses say the plane appeared to stall and then plunged to the ground, erupting in a gigantic fireball.

The CF-18 that Bews was flying is a plane specifically used for air shows and is only flown in that capacity.

Bews, who grew up in Eatonia, Sask., is with 425 Tactical Fighter Squadron based at 3 Wing in Bagotville, Que. He was chosen to fly the demonstration jet earlier this year.

The cause of the crash is under investigation.