AeroKnow Memorial Page
Jim LeRoy Remembered
Jim LeRoy poses for Job Conger at Springfield Air Rendezvous,
Capital Airport, Springfield, Illinois, September 10, 2004.
All pictures on this page were taken by Job Conger.
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Aerobatic air show pilot Jim LeRoy died Saturday, July 28 while performing at Dayton (Ohio) Air Show. He was coming out of a loop while performing as a duo with Skip Stewart as the Mary's Lamb air show act. It was LeRoy's second performance flight of the day. My bet is that he flew solo earlier. That's the usual protocol; solo first, and later in the day, a team performance. Jimmy Franklin did it with his son, wingwalker Kyle who flew later. The Red Stars, civil pilots in former Soviet and Chinese trainers darkened the skies with their mass formations flying straight and level flew before Team Red almost touched the sun during its memorable performances. .
Jim made a big splash during his first appearance at Springfield Air Rendezvous in 1998. He was a new face in a crowd of aerobatic talent which included older solid gold stars, legends, including Jimmy Franklin and Bobby Younkin. It didn't take long for them to join forces, and soon they were flying as The X-Team: Masters of Disaster.
The name for the act caused some concern among air show fans who thought the name "dared" danger to trip them, to work its lethal fury with the team. After the loss of Franklin and Younkin at a Canadian air show in 2006, LeRoy teamed with rising Pitts master Skip Stewart to form Mary's Lamb. The name was not enough to keep further tragedy at bay.
This picture was taken during the Bloomington, Illinois Thunder on the Prairie air show in July 2001
"Bulldog" between performances, September 2004 His highly modified Pitts S2S had a 400 hp LyCon engine, remendous power for such a small airplane.
September, 2004. Notice Jimmy Franklin's Waco and the "Viper" Flight Demo Team's F-16 waiting their turn.
Jim LeRoy was a former U.S. Marine sniper, a aerobatic flight instructor and power plant manager. He graduated from Elgin High School, Elgin, Illinois in 1979 and later made his home in Ripon, California. His father and grandfather flew for major airlines. Clearly flying was in the blood.
September 2004, a knife-edge pass with the SPI control tower providing a nice background.
What made his flying so memorable was the amount of motion packed into nearly every minute in the sky. Most pilots would fly a conventional low pass, but Jim would bank slightly to the crowd and kick the rudder pedals back and forth so the airplane seemed to be shaking its head. As long as there was plenty of forward air speed, there was no danger of the wing on the inside of the skid stalling and the airplane falling. One of the truths about Jim LeRoy was that he was never short of forward air speed!
Returning to the parking area after a great performance.
September 2004. Most air show performers today understand it's important to share face time with the fans. Jim was exceptionally generous with his time in that regard. At what turned out to be his last SAR visit, he consinued to sign autographs in the middle of a throng of fans while others might have "been called away" after 10 minutes. I often thought the most used muscles in his athletic frame were those used to move the pen across acres of souvenir programs and paper when greeting his new friends!
When Jimmy Franklin and Jim LeRoy returned to their parking spaces on the ramp at "Air Show Central" they taxied in a very tight circle with full smoke on, a salute to the bedazzled air show fans.
September 2004 Often (not always, sorry to say) during Springfield Air Rendezvous, I was privileged to be allowed to cross the crowd ence line to photograph pilots and aircraft, usually following their performances. These special pictures were made possible as a result of that generous consideratiion, and I will be forever grateful for it, particulary to Kim Curry and Tim Weaver, both class acts in their own right.
Jim LeRoy appeared at Springfield Air Rendezvous for the first time i9n 1998. The show included a performance by Daniel Heligoin and Montaine Mallet, better known as the French Connection. They would crash fatally a few years later while practicing for an air show performance.
Jim's incredibly kinetic flying made him an instant favorite with central Illinois enthusiasts, and we were delighted to see him two years later at SAR 2000. Performing for the first time at this event was Springfield aerobatic sailplane pilot Bob Frasco.
|I do not have one copy of the 2002 Springfield Air Rendezvous
Souvenir Program. If you have one for sale or to donate to AeroKnow, please contact email@example.com
Jim's final appearance at SAR was in 2004 when he flew solo and as part of the X-Treme Air Show team which included Kent Shockley in his fire-breathing truck Shockwave and Jimmy Franklin flying his jet-boosted Waco IPF-7.
The August 1 issue of the State Journal-Register article
by staff writer John Reynolds noted the launch of a scholarship fund for Jim's
four-year-old son Tommy, Contributions may be directed to the
Jim LeRoy, Jr. Memorial fund
c/o Harris Bank
110 E. Irving Park Road
Roselle, IL 60172
Anyone with questions may call bank representative Nancy Little, 630-980-7700.
It was a privilege to know Jim LeRoy even for a little while. God speed, Jim. I'm sure the angels envy your wings as we did when you graced Springfield skies.
To visit the AeroKnow Memorial Page dedicated to Springfield, Illinois native son, aviator, band leader and optometrist Dr. Mark R. Foutch, click here
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