May 5, 2004 by

Ian Groom


Categories: Extraordinary People

Ian Groom, a top-ranked U.S. aerobatic pilot, was killed in a plane crash on his 58th birthday.
On April 30, Groom was practicing a stunt known as the flat spin for the McDonald’s Air & Sea Show. A flat spin is a maneuver during which a plane spins seemingly out of control, then levels off at the last moment. Fifteen minutes into his routine, his Russian-made single-seat plane plunged into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Fort Lauderdale. Coast Guard rescuers pulled Groom from the aircraft, placed him on a speedboat and transported him to shore. He was taken to Broward General Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
Born in South Africa, Groom flew his first plane when he was only seven years old. He grew up to become a professional pilot, and performed in air shows around the world for more than 20 years. In 1995, Groom became an American citizen and a featured performer in the Air & Sea Show. After the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks, the Naples, Fla., resident trained pilots from several government agencies in advanced maneuvers — at no charge. He also set a world record for doing 57 corkscrew maneuvers in 26 seconds.
His accident took place in front of a few hundred people watching the preparations for the annual Air & Sea Show. It was the first fatal accident associated with the event. On Sunday, the Canadian Air Force Snowbirds aerobatic flying team performed a missing man formation in honor of Groom.

18 Responses to Ian Groom

  1. Jacob Hirschman

    Ian and I were school friends in South Africa. This was a “second generation” friendship as our parents were friends too. Although I lost touch with Ian many years ago when he left South Africa, I have from time to time made enquiries as to what he was doing and where he was living and knew that he lived in the US and was a stunt pilot.
    I wish his family and friends “long life” and hope that with the passing of time their pain will ease and that they will be left only with happy memories.

  2. Tim Akey

    I got to know Ian while working for a few years on an airshow team. Once, after helping him fix his plane at some forgotten show in some forgotten city, (there were a lot of shows in a lot of cities) he gave me a ratcheting screwdirver as a thank you. That screwdirver is still in my toolbox, used nearly every time I work on something, and I have thought of him often. Ian was one of the good guys.

  3. chuck schrecongost

    My deepest and sincere symathy goes to Ian’s family and friends. I flew with Ian many times in New York, and enjoyed his wit and professional attitude to flying. I will miss him.

  4. Bill Besarick

    Ian was a genuine character. A rather unique guy.
    I always smiled when in his presence. There are so many “Ianism” that a book could be written. I was shocked and deeply saddened to learn of his passing. The only comsolation is that he “Went West” doing something he loved. My most sincere sympathies to his family. Ian, I won’t soon forget you!!

  5. Max

    I was there when it happened, but inside the MacDonalds across the street… I looked outside and saw people running towards the beach. I never did find out what happened until later on that night on the news… What a loss to the aviation world..My condolences to his family.

  6. Tommy D

    Ian, it’s xmass 2005 and I miss you. I miss you because I can’t share my happiness in person with you.
    Thanks Ian. Let your dreams come true. -Tom

  7. Ron Ochse

    A fine airshow performer, Ian Groom always desired to come to MCAS New River, NC for our Air Show….he loved performing for the Marines and their families…he will be sorely missed…we will always remember him fondly.

  8. Alex Lopez

    I met Ian in the summer of 2003 I work at the air port in Immakalee as a maintence worker. Our offices where in the same building.Thats were I got to know him and is Partner and his friend Richerd. Ian didnt care who your where or what color you where he whould talk to you. I remember when I was painting the taxi ways where he run over the wet paint in his car and he would just laugh. Because of him I had a chance to meet the one and only Patty Wagstaff. He was a good friend to every body a great father and divoted husband. He was one hell of a guy and one who wasnt scard to tell you what he thought. well always remember you

  9. Rudedog--f-16 viper demo

    It was a great thrill to hang out and get to know Ian from my airshow years 98-01 with the Viper East Demo Team out of Shaw AFB–He was a good friend and I wish the best for his family. Take care and Godspeed–we miss you!!!!
    Rudedog out!!!

  10. Chad

    It’s 2008 now, Imet Mr. Groom because of his son Danny on my hockey team. Mr. Groom was one of the nicest guys one oculd ever meet. So is Danny. I still send my deepest sympathies to the grroms

  11. DB

    I met Ian at East Hampton Air Port some time in the 80’s. He was a genuinely nice guy. He offered me a flight that was 100 dollars for 30 min.s and he gaurunteed I wouldn’t want any more. He briefed me on the flight and procedures and explained to hit the radio button if I thought I would be sick. Well after he put me through a series of tricks I finally hit the radio to even out and wait for my stomach to catch up. He responded that I had made it through an entire routine and I took all he had. What an amazing flight with a truly incredible man. I will remember him always and that flight. Every time I tell the story I am always sure to mention Mr. Groom and what great guy he was. I just wanted to share a good memory of a great guy.

  12. Urban Molter

    Ian and I were good friends. I first met him when I was the performer and static coordinator for the Azalela Festivial airshow in Virginia. He and I were great freinds and I flew for him in his YAK for 3 shows during the ’96 season. Had the time of my life. I have pictures that most would like to see in rememberence and i will try and post them to my webshot and past that link on. We will soarly miss you. Keep flying those Lomcevak! We will keep watching in our memories.

  13. Melanie

    I had the opportunity to get to know Ian through volunteering at a local airshow several years. I was assigned to the performers’ staging area. Ian was one of the most approachable, down-to-earth pilots I’ve ever met, and I enjoyed discussing aerobatic maneuvers with him. It is sad to lose someone who was so valued and appreciated.

  14. Tim Gray

    As a Federal Agent/Pilot I flew many times with Ian, went to dinner with he’s wife, a wonderful woman, a DR at a local hospital. I bought my wife for her birthday a flight with Ian, she will never forget it.

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