Coroner: Stunt Pilot Was Killed Instantly In Ohio Air Show Crash

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) - The stunt pilot who crashed his biplane in front of thousands of people died upon impact when the plane hit the ground at about 200 mph, the coroner's office said Sunday.

Jim LeRoy, 46, was in one of two planes on Saturday 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 at 2:42 p.m, said Ken Betz, director of the Montgomery County coroner's office. No one else was injured.

The air show resumed Sunday morning, with a tribute to LeRoy planned for Sunday afternoon and a 3:30 p.m. performance by the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds scheduled to follow.

The Thunderbirds had been set to fly Saturday, but were canceled along with the rest of the show after the crash. People with ticket stubs from Saturday were admitted to Sunday's show.

LeRoy, who performed in air shows across the country, was a Marine veteran who had a degree in aeronautical engineering. He was a design engineer with GE Aircraft Engines until he became a full-time stunt pilot in 1997.

Because of the fatality, the National Transportation Safety Board has taken over from the Federal Aviation Administration an investigation into what caused the crash.

LeRoy died of injuries to the cervical spine and torso, Betz said. Although there are no indications of alcohol or drug use, the coroner's office will conduct routine toxicology tests, Betz said.

LeRoy's plane struck the ground at an angle and slid about 300 yards after impact, bursting into flames and spewing black smoke, airport fire chief Mark Carpenter said.

Emergency personnel had to put out the fire before they could extricate LeRoy from the wreckage, Betz said. He was officially pronounced dead aboard an Army Black Hawk helicopter to Miami Valley Hospital.

The helicopter was on hand for any accidents involving military personnel.