DAYTON — An award-winning stunt pilot who performed in air shows across the country was killed Saturday when his biplane crashed in front of thousands of people.
Jim LeRoy, 46, was in one of two planes making loop-to-loops with smoke trailing as part of the annual air show at Dayton International Airport. His Pitts aircraft slammed into the runway across a field from spectators and caught fire.
The crowd stood stunned as the show was shut down.
“It came down and didn’t have enough room,” said Aaron Smith, who was watching the exhibition with his 5-year-old son, Weston. “I could hear it crunch, hard. Some pieces came off.”
Airport fire chief Mark Carpenter said it took less than a minute for fire trucks to arrive and start putting out the fire.
He said LeRoy’s plane struck the ground at an angle and slid about 300 yards after impact, bursting into flames and spewing black smoke.
“We cut Mr. LeRoy out of the aircraft,” Carpenter said.
LeRoy died en route to Miami Valley Hospital, Carpenter said. He was pronounced dead at the hospital, said Cheryl Page, a nursing supervisor.
A performance by the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds was canceled.
But officials said people who had ticket stubs from Saturday would be admitted to today’s performance.