Ruling Cites Air Show Smoke As Contributing Factor
The National Transportation Safety
Board presented its findings this week on the tragic fatal crash of
airshow performer Jim LeRoy at the Dayton Vectren Airshow on July
The NTSB concluded that LeRoy's failure to maintain ground
clearance during maneuvers as the primary cause. Restricted
visibility from the smoke in the air from the performance was cited
as a contributing factor. Since winds were reported as light during
the time of the crash, much of the smoke had not cleared from
previous passes during the two-aircraft routine paired with pilot
A news reporter quoted in the NTSB report stated witnessing
LeRoy perform several low level rolls at the conclusion of a loop
then impact the ground. The aircraft skidded to a stop in an
upright attitude and became enveloped in flames shortly after.
An examination of LeRoy's 400-horsepower, single-seat biplane,
modified from a stock Pitts S2S aircraft, found no indication of
problems that would have affected its operation, the NTSB said
through the Dayton Daily News.
An autopsy showed that LeRoy, 46, succumbed immediately from
injuries resulting from the 200 mph impact. Toxicology examination
showed only Ibuprofen, a common pain reliever, present in his blood
system at the time of the accident.
As ANN reported, Jim Leroy
(shown below) awed air show crowds in his "Bulldog" Pitts biplane,
in high-energy routines. A former marine scout sniper, Leroy toured
the country in a motor home between air shows, hauling his airplane
on a trailer. He won the 2002 Art Scholl Showmanship Award and the
2003 Bill Barber Award for Showmanship -- one of 11 performers
to receive both honors.
Leroy was the last surviving pilot of the "Masters of Disaster,"
an airshow act that combined three performers, two jet trucks and
pyrotechnics. Team members Bobby Younkin and Jimmy Franklin were
killed two years prior in a midair collision during an airshow
performance in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.