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‘A harsh reminder’ of risk

Death is latest fatality as aerobatic fliers challenge limits.

By John Nolan - Staff Writer



The crash death of seasoned stunt pilot Jim LeRoy at Saturday’s Vectren Dayton Air Show was just the latest fatality for experienced pilots trying to challenge the limits.
 
Crashes also killed a former Swissair pilot bent on setting a flying record Monday in Switzerland and a Navy Blue Angels pilot in April at an air show in Beaufort, S.C.
 
LeRoy himself had recently described the challenge of pushing the risk envelope for spectators hungry to see daring flying routines.
 
“People want to see low, wild and seemingly out of control, but at the same time, they want discipline, precision and complete control,” he said in advertising the Oceana Air Show in Virginia, where he would have performed this September. “You’ve got to take those elements and fuse them together in just the right way.”
 
The Montana-based LeRoy, 46, died Saturday after failing to pull his plane out of an aerobatic dive. He hit the ground 500 feet from the crowd at Dayton International Airport.
 
Vectren Corp., the Indiana energy holding company that bought naming rights for the air show, expressed sorrow about LeRoy’s death and noted the hazards of his profession.
 
“Today was a very harsh reminder of just how much danger is associated with performing aerobatic maneuvers of this nature,” Vectren said in its statement.
 
Brett Hunter, a Waynesville pilot who offers aerobatic rides and flight instruction, said he hopes there isn’t an over-reaction to the crash deaths.
 
“I’m against any regulation or knee-jerk reaction to this kind of thing — especially government regulation of this,” Hunter said. “There are aspects of human nature that want to push envelopes.”
 
Dayton Daily News staff writer Thomas Gnau and The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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