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:
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Video of the crash: