Jim LeRoy dies after Airshow Crash (Video)

Famous American aerobatics pilot – Jim LeRoy – died after a crash at the Vectren Dayton Air Show on Saturday.

LeRoy died while en route to Miami Valley Hospital in a Black Hawk helicopter, according to Dayton’s Director of Aviation Iftikhar Ahmad. Mark Carpenter, fire chief at Dayton International Airport, said the pilot died before he arrived at Miami Valley Hospital.

According to Carpenter, LeRoy’s plane was performing a stunt when he hit the ground and slid about 300 yards and burst into flames. Fire trucks were at the accident within one minute and the fire was quickly extinguished, Carpenter said. But, based on the timestamp from the digital camera of a Dayon Daily News photographer, it took two-and a-half minutes.

“We cut Mr. LeRoy out of the aircraft,” Carpenter said. The crash occurred around 2:30 p.m.

Eye witnesses said: “It came down and didn’t have enough room. The ground came up,” – “I heard it crunch, hard. Some pieces came off.” – “It slid a long way, it skidded,” – “There was a fire. The fire trucks put it out … he must have been burned pretty bad.”

The air show was canceled for the rest of Saturday. The air show will continue as scheduled on Sunday, said Michael Emoff, chairman of the board of trustees of the United States Air & Trade Show.

Tickets and wristbands from Saturday’s air show will be honored on Sunday.

Black smoke and flames could be seen by the crowd across the field from the crash site at Dayton International Airport. LeRoy was in a Bulldog Pitts plane that was part of an aerobatics show called Code Name Mary’s Lamb. The crash was during LeRoy’s second performance on Saturday.

There were two stunt planes flying, doing loops and flying upside down. One plane swooped toward the ground and crashed.

The crowd fell silent. The announcer asked the crowd to turn in any video that may have recorded the crash to make it available for an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.

LeRoy, a former US Marine Corps Scout/Sniper, held a B.S. degree in Aeronautical/Aerospace engineering as well as an Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) license.

LeRoy was one of only eleven pilots ever to be awarded both the Art Sholl Showmanship Award (2002) and the Bill Barber Award for Showmanship (2003). He was also one of only a handful of full time air show pilots in the world who actually made his living by performing for air show audiences.

Initially flying solo performances, he gained a reputation with his highly energetic aerobatic displays. In 2003, LeRoy joined a daring and successful airshow troupe, the X-team, that referred to themselves as the Masters of Disaster. Their performance generally consisted of three pilots flying a simultaneous, chaotic, interweaving aerobatic display through clouds of smoke generated by circling jet powered trucks below. After two seasons of successful airshows, an accident occured on July 10, 2005 during a routine performance when Jimmy Franklin and Bobby Younkin collided in mid-air. Jim LeRoy was not involved in the collision and landed safely.

LeRoy also held the following pilot ratings: single-engine, multi-engine, airplane instructor, helicopter, helicopter instructor, instrument instructor and aerobatic competency evaluator.

Diagram how this crash happened:
Pictures of the crash:
Video of the crash:

Source: http://www.daytondailynews.com/

31 thoughts on “Jim LeRoy dies after Airshow Crash (Video)”

  1. I do not mean to sound cruel, but I must be frank with my comments. As a solo performer, Jim LeRoy was, no doubt, one of the best. However, LeRoy would still be alive today if he had put a end to his Masters of Disaster routine.

    When I first saw MOD at a Tennessee air show back in May 2005, I said to myself, “Somebody is bound to get killed doing this!” Two months later in Canada, Jimmy Franklin and Bobby Younkin were both killed in a mid-air collision.

    I was there at Dayton. But just as MOD was about to start, I said to myself, “I am not watching this again!” Less than five minutes after turning my back, it was over. This was their second crash, and the third fatality, for the Masters of Disaster. It was a shameless waste of life–and sheer stupidity on his part.

  2. The only sheer stupidity is someone never doing what they love to do.

    Jim was an outstanding pilot and just to infrom the readers The new MOD was a very coordinated airshow act. Unlike the orginal, every move was planed in advance. Each pilot knew where the other was suppose to be.

    This was not sheer stupidity, this was an accident! The risk that any of us take when we go faster than running. Those of us in this industry know the risk everytime someone gets into the cockpit. But it’s a risk they are willing to make for the joy and thrill of what they do. I guess we should never go to another NASCAR race or other such events. Someone might get killed.

    Jonathan, please don’t go to another airshow, it’s obvious you don’t know why they love to do it and why they will shamelessly do it again next weekend.

  3. Couldn’t agree with you more Mike.

    Jonathan, you’re obviously not a pilot, for had you been, the stupidity you typed above wouldn’t have entered your mind. Jim’s gone, and the rest of us birdmen will miss him, but we’re not sad. Jim died doing what he absolutely LOVED. If any of us knew the time and place of our deaths, I’d say that about 100% of us would want an airplane strapped to our ass.

    Also, don’t start going to NASCAR races with your mindset. You spew this stuff there, and those #3 fans might take more to you than a keyboard 🙂

  4. I first saw Jim perform at Oshkosh 2006. It was an amazing solo performance that grabs your attention as soon as he rotates on takeoff. A few days later I meet him when I grabbed lunch and we shared a table. A true gentleman and his love of flying showed on his face as we talked of flying and experiances. I had hoped to see him perform again this year…..

  5. Too bad there has to be some guy show up with an “I knew this would happen” attitude like Jonathan’s. Very petty, self-aggrandizing. Don’t take any risks.

    Jim LeRoy was super-smart, a lovely and kind person, tops at whatever he did. We mourn his passing, we miss him a lot.

  6. All this bull shit about how he loved to do this and I love that crap is just to much.. I like a lot of things myself but I’m not going to take it to the point to where I am going to kill myself doing it. I mean yes he was good at what he done but not good enough I guess… Enough is enough look at what he left behind a wife and son.. I have a wife and two young sons and I can tell you now no matter how much I loved doing something I’d give it up in a heartbeat for them…. I guess he just didnt give a crap…. Dumbass deserves what he got, I just feel bad for his wife and son..

  7. Ciao, I am writing from italy and I am really sad hearing about Jim.

    Jim, was an enthusiastic of life, this arrived to me from so far away!

    Jim was a great man, he lived his life like a great man do, completely.

  8. Jim was my Hero, And as far as I am concerned, I dont think it was his fault. I do some aerobatics myself,. but not in a wood plane, F–k off… and I know the pitts is a killer,. wooden wings you know. Ive only got so much evidence to work with here but a few things that Ive seen lead me to believe that the ailerons on the top wing came unhooked, and I know that he used three hinges on the ailerons, instead of two,and i dont think that is a good idea either as the rear spar needs to flex, it would put strain on those hinges and over time boom. as with two hinges this would not happen. going to be hard to tell from the ashes, and there must have been 100s of people shooting video, but where is it, the one video that shows the most is the one, looks like someone taking video of a video camera screen. Whats up with that? Show us the real thing. I would be more apt to blame it on the pitts with it shitty wood wings. and if it were up to me I would ground every plane with wood. Sure the Pitts is a cute little bi-plane but,It is made from wood, Would you buy a wooden car? Not, The world of aviation is over for me now, cause I lost Jim, And I blame it on You carpenter aeronautical engineers. With your chain saws and nails and glue,… You should stick to making cupboards or go cut fire wood Anyone heard of the spruce goose.there again screw it. This is not modern technology and has no place in this day and age especially in the aviation world…. Well time to light the fire place,.Oh Its gas, The wooden computer. My mac is made out of aluminum, and so is my little bi-plane that i designed my-self, From 100% calculable,Aluminum,.. thats the thing eh. how do you calculate the strength of wood? what do you do? bend it over your knee until, Yep thats good!,… thats what I thought,… Once again Go away, Get back to making furniture, cas I am done with you wood ticks.

    My kids will grow up knowing how dumb people used to be,. They will say things Like,… Daddy,Did people really used to make things out of wood? And I will say, Yes son,thats all they had to work with back then. well guess what. that was then and this is now. and they are asking and you are still making wooden airplanes. Aaaaaahhhahahahahah I cant take this ant more.

    that was not an air-show,…. that was a bon fire. lets make the wings from wood cas if your gonna go you might as well go while your having fun, this is sick.,… the world has been robbed of Jim LeRoy, Remember this saying. If it aint a pitts it aint Special. Well thats Why.

    I feel so sorry for Joanie and little Tommy, What a cool Dad Jim must have been, and I still cant believe it.

  9. Listen Billy, it’s obvious you think that you know how the Pitts was built from the ground up, you also have your own scenario of how Jim’s plane crashed. What you don’t have is any evidence backing up your conclusion that you were so quick to jump to as far as “the ailerons on the top wing comming unhooked”. YOu also stated that the video was lousy, that it looked like someone taking video of a video camera screen, however you can conclude that you believe an aileron came unhooked in the lousy footage! Let me just tell you that myself and the thousands of other airshow fans that saw it happen first hand right in front of us would love to erase that image and wish that morons like you wouldn’t jump to conclusions when you have zero factual evidence to support it! I also feel sorry for Jim’s wife and son and I hope that they never stumble accross a reply like you just left on the internet about thier hero.

  10. morons like me. a moron,. for speaking my mind. and doing my own investigation, you are right about one thing I do have my own scenario of how Jim’s plane crashed,zero factual evidence to support it, my god man look closer. two of the stills shows the two top ailerons drooped down, while the bottom ones are neutral. Have a look, those top ailerons are drooped. and it explains the Los of control, I can see the way it went down Have a look at these pics, and then watch the video again and again, you can see the top ailerons flopping around at about the third roll



  11. My prayers go out to Jim’s family. God’s love and peace be with you. Healing will take time. May the Lord watch over all of Jim’s comrads who will bravely continue to fly for the joy of it. I know Jim would want all us pilots to keep flying.

  12. Everyone has their opinion Jonathan, but you need to understand that for an aerobatic pilot, flying is life… pure and simply. I’m an Australian pilot and I’d rather do ten minutes of Aeros over ten hours of straight and level, watching the air go by. Jim was a fantastic pilot fully versed in the dangers of what it was that he was doing, and he accepted them. He performed to the very best of his ability, balancing the risks with the skills that he had. His luck ran out at the Dayton airshow… as it does eventually for ever pilot who pushes the envelope for long enough. He performed here in Aus at the Avalon airshow and shocked the crowd with his skill, daring, and pure natural talent. I, for one, will miss him. The airshow (Aerobatic) world will miss him for his flying ability as well as his personable manner. Bless you Jim Leroy… blue skies, mate.

  13. I got the pleasure of flying with Jim (he was my teacher) 2 times in 2000… He was an outstanding teacher, got warm personality and his flying skills were as good as it gets. He died doing what he loved and I agree with those saying that accidents happen…

    Warm thoughts to him and his family.


  14. I too was at Dayton when this occurred and as far as I’m concerned the cause of this crash is pure and simple – it was a low show. For the un-initiated low shows are what performers use as a n alternate routine so when the weather is bad the sponsor is not left holding the bag after 100,000 people show up. The ceilings were crap most of the day, the organizers were shuffling performers to try and fit things in, and just before Jim’s performance started the ceilings had lowered considerably. I think that the choreography changes that were made to accommodate the low ceiling is what caused this accident.

  15. Jim Leroy was by far the most amazing and entertaining aerobatic pilots I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing.I had the fortune of photographing Jims’ amazing solo display as well as the “10 sticks of dynamite” display,performed with Jurgis Kairys, at the Australian International Airshow.Both Jim and Jurgis are incredibly well versed in all facets of aviation,both being Aeronautical Engineers and more than qualified to understand the demands not only on the human but also the machine.I am thankful to have seen Jim perform and not a day goes by when I don’t appreciate his airmanship and abilities through the photos I captured.The discipline and situational awareness his displays required are truly something incredible.I am also thankful that there are passionate people such as Jim who have raised the performance envelope for those who follow in his footsteps.With all performance sports there is inherent risk involved ,and as Rob said it is Risk vs Skill. I think those who are quick to judge probably don’t really understand or bother to really pull the brain out of neutral before typing nor have much of a grasp of aviation as a whole. Accidents do happen either as a human or mechanical error-it doesn’t really matter.HE WAS AMAZING and the aviation world is sadder without him.

  16. Billy, first of all, I’m not going to get into a wood vs metal thing with you. You obviously have your mind made up on that point. Too bad too, reminds me of a closed parachute, doesn’t really function until it’s opened. Oh well.

    Ailerons…… Roll…….. Not Pitch….. If you look again at the video and look at the aircraft position on the downline of the Cuban 8, you’ll see that Jim came to full roll-stop just prior to impact. At that point, he appears to be on the 45-degree downline. Traveling at approximately 200 mph, it’s gonna take more room to pull out to level from that point. I’m not jumping ahead of the accident investigation, but it would appear to me that he just ran out of altitude.

    So, assume you’re in your little metal bi-plane, headed down at 45 degree, 200 mph, low, you gonna crank back on the stick or what? Oh wait, that stick is METAL, connected to METAL push rods, supported by METAL bearings, pulling on a METAL elevator, held in place with METAL flying wires…… you should be just fine….

    I would venture to say the closest you’ve come to aerobatics are those landings you attempt, giving you the benefit of the doubt you even have a ticket.

  17. I had the pleasure of getting to know Jim pretty well,and he was one of the smartest and most genuine people I ever met.As for the photos showing the top ailerons in the down position that was after impact.As for Mean Joe Green,I wish you could say those things to me in person about one of the finest people I ever met and we will see how damn mean you are.Keep your bullshit remarks to yourself.

  18. Maybe aerobatics is beginning to push the limits. Maybe we just run out of luck
    at times but to listen to some of these so called experts about why and how and how stupid this act was defies what aviation and aerobatics is all about.

    Metal airplane over wood airplane.? Well all I know is my Cessna 150 is made of “Metal” and it doesnt begin to come close to the G load capabilities of the Bulldog. Neither do My skills, but after flying for 26 years,having a few inflight engine failures running into zero visibility on VFR flights I thank my devotion to keeping my skills sharp thankfull for all the expert training I receive from people Like Jim Leroy every year and just thank God that my number wasnt up.

    No one puts their lives on the line like aerobatic pilots and no sport thrills more or gives people more head shaking pause at what these pilots are capable of doing.

    They put their lives on the line so people like us can enjoy a spectacular show.

    Pilots like Jim deserve a lot more credit for the talent,their guts,their knowledge then most athletes in any other sport. Aerobatic pilots do it for one reason,to thrill and entertain the crowd. Many other sports figures do it to feed their own egos.

  19. After a search throughout Google for accounts of the accident, I found three eyewitness accounts including a professional photographers, that was photographing the act.

    These eyewitness accounts all put Jim’s altitude at the top of his loop lower
    (About 100-150 ft)then Skip Stewarts loop during the routine.

    A second video that is on the internet from raw footage also shows that Jim
    had leveled his wings and was beginning to pull out of the bottom of his loop when he belly smack to the ground.

    Photos of the airplane on the ground show that the airplanes wings and upper
    fuselage remained intact along with all control surfaces and tail and rudder.

    This is a strong plane and I think it puts to rest the issues of a wooden aerobatic planes strength.

    This would suggest to me that Jim simply was at a lower altitude then he thought
    when he hit wings level

    An aircraft static system fault or an oversight on Jims part maybe to reset his altimeter or altimeters to the correct pressure from his previous flight of the day could explain this.

    His altimeter would only have to be off a few feet to have a catatrophic
    collision with the ground.

    I would think at the speeds they perform these stunts and the amount of rolls
    prior to leveling out that the pilot would be relying almost totally on his altimeter to tell him when to start pulling out of his loop and if that altimeter is wrong the results would be just as we saw.

    A wrong altimeter setting or static port or static system problem could explain why Jims loop at the top was lower then Skip’s. He would have thought he was higher then he actually was both at the top and at the roll out and leveling off at the bottom.

    It was very overcast day and outside visual references were much
    poorer then usual this day.

    What ever the final conclusion , a fellow pilot,a great entertainer,Father and Husband deserves our respect and our prayers for his eternity.

  20. i saw his accident on t.v. he was doing multiple snap rolls on a down line and hit the ground. multiple snaps should always be done while going away from the earth and not toward it. been there,done that=fearless fain-texas air circus.

  21. Reading through these comments leaves me sad for two reasons; the loss of a skilled aviator and for the garbage submitted by narrow-minded vermin.
    I too saw Jim Leroy at Avalon 2007 and wow what an incredible pilot.
    One of the reasons I decided to add my two cents worth was due to the ignorance of a number of contributors. Comments here are no different to those made by pathetic fools who comment on YouTube with disgusting and repulsive words that serve only to highlight the ignorance and lack of respect of the ‘writers’.
    Wake up to your-selves; if you want to mouth off have the guts do it in person instead of being gutless and hiding behind the anonymity of the internet. You people need your own site where you can vomit your vile rhetoric and get each other off. Better yet if you want to feel good about yourself; go and help someone needy or volunteer but don’t encroach on the lives of decent people with your shameless filth.
    Leave the sincerity to those people who are community spirited and stand-by others who need support during difficult times.
    My thoughts go to Jim’s family and friends who have lost someone special.

  22. Jim was a very good friend of mine. He taught me most of the stuff that i know about aerobatics, and i am proud to say that he is the one that taught me. Jim was an amazing aviator, husband, father, and friend. I loved him like i love my own family. To all the people that are here talking crap, you all need to find something better to do with your time than to just sit here and disrespect Jim and his family and friends.

    To all those that are trying to explain how the crash happened, you really have to look at it from a pilots stand point to know, and even then none of us were inside the plane to really know. From speaking with several FAA representatives, other full time aerobatice pilots, and watching the video several times myself, we have all come to find that when Jim was in the loop that he was about 150-200 feet lower than he was supposed to be. Skip and him were both supposed to be at the same (really close to the same) altitude, but there was a miss judgement. Throwing in another factor, when in the descending snap rolls the plane was turned directly torward the ground for too long which caused dramatic drop in altitude at a fast rate (on top of the already low altitude). Upon pulling out of the snap rolls it was too late and Jim could not avoid the inevitable crash. I have been doing aerobatics for three years now, competeing and doing small shows and fly-ins and descending snap rolls is one of the more dangerous manuevers, especially at a low altitude.

    My best regards go out to Joanie and Tommy. I love you both and will always be here for you. To all other pilots out there, keep on flying and do it in memory of Jim Leroy!

  23. I just found this, it has been a while and quite by accident I stumbled on this site.
    Lets be clear about 1 thing, Jim was the BEST Pitts pilot in the world at the time of this accident, nothing against Skip, but Jim had more experience.
    I was friends with Jim for 15 years, I built his first set of Pitts wings, I watched Jim many many times, and we worked those wings out together, so lets forget the wood vs metal statement, they are a very strong set of wings on a Pitts, in fact the best possible construction medium for what they do.
    I spoke to Jim often, we always discussed what he did vs margins, and trust me Jim had margins, always.
    I dont know what happened in dayton, who does, but bottom line the person most suprised when the airplane hit the ground was Jim.
    he was an incredibly technical pilot, he knew every detail of what he did, and he was the best Pitts Pilot I have ever known or seen.
    Jim and I went two different directions, we both flew Pitts, he went airshow, I went airlines, but we remained great friends, and I miss him, I miss our discussions on technique, and I miss our meetings wherever we managed to meet up around the world.
    Please do not minimise Jim with silly evaluations and conclusions on what happened, it did, and it was a shock.
    Jim was a great person, a great pilot, and a great dad, thats what matters.

  24. I found out about this site by accident. In the June 2008 Model Airplane News, modeller Joe McCuller that Knew Jim Built A Beautiful Scale Model of Jim’s Pitt’s, Check it out it is beautiful. Back When Hale Wallace was building Pitt’s Specials in Marion NC I drop By one day and saw how they where built. There built like a tank. I never had the pleasure of seeing Jim Preform In person, but I know that he’s talking planes in heaven with Art (The Professor) Scholl, Jimmy Franklin, and a host of other Aerobatic Pilots that Just Run out of Air. It was a Accident Pure and Simple. And for the dude who was talking trash about wooden wings, you don’t know a dammed thing about aerodynamics or physics. My 2 cents worth.

    Have A Nice Day: Johnny

  25. I just stumbled across this, and want to say, that I never saw Jim Fly, or met him, I miss him already. on the subject of leaving his family behind, don’t you think that he and his family discussed this many times and accepted the risks of doing what he loved to do?

  26. We travelled 7 hours from Canada to see the show.
    I was with my 10 year old son the day we saw Jim LeRoy die.
    We talked about it that afternoon and then for the a minute the next day.
    No one ever mentioned again.
    Yesterday my son said he’s been thinking and then said we need to go again and pay our respects to that family & their father they lost.
    I don’t know what caused the accident.
    I don’t know the pain that the Leroy family suffered – I’m sure the void is still there.
    I do know that my son is growing up and understands that respect and honor are important.

  27. I am just happy that I had the opportunity to meet Jim. He was so sweet, very nice, and was so gracious to take some pictures with me…pictures I will treasure forever.

  28. there were olny two planes up in the sky that day and I olny noticed one of them no it wasen’t jim leRoy and then there was chaos. I didn’t know what was happening but finally I heared he crashed. about 30 min. later he died I still today pray that he died by impact. He was a brave man and had balls the size of his aeroplane. I would wish but never do. Olny if I could of met him.