Dayton Air Show Crash Kills Pilot

Published: Saturday, July 28, 2007 @ 3:18 PM
Updated: Sunday, July 29, 2007 @ 9:48 AM

Veteran stunt pilot Jim LeRoy was killed Saturday afternoon, when his stunt plane crashed and burned at the 2007 Vectren Dayton Air Show as tens of thousands of spectators watched in shock.

The pilot, known for his skilled low-level flying, was performing a spin and a dive and apparently pulled out too late. The plane struck the ground on its belly and slid across the airfield. "It came down and didn't have enough room," said Aaron Smith, who was watching with his 5-year-old son. "I could hear it crunch, hard. Some pieces came off."

The plane slid about 300 yards, bursting into flames and spewing smoke. Airport fire chief Mark Carpenter said it took less than a minute for firetrucks to arrive and start putting out the fire. A medical black hawk helicopter transported the LeRoy to Miami Valley Hospital, but he died en-route.

On his website, LeRoy is quoted as saying "People want to see low, wild, and seemingly out of control, but at the same time they want discipline, precision, and complete control. You've got to take all of those elements and fuse them together in just the right way."

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Investigators will now try to determine whether a mechanical problem led to the crash.

Air Show officials cancelled the remaining performances for the day, including the Air Force Thunderbirds. Saturday's tickets will be honored for Sunday's air show as general admission.

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