Noted aerobatic pilot, Fred Cabanas died in a plane crash on January 15th, along with Mexican television host Jorge Lopez while generating footage for Lopez’s show whose title translates as “Extreme Adrenaline.” The site of the crash was a
private airstrip on the Caribbean island of Cozumel.
A fourth generation native of Key West, Florida fell in love with flying as a boy and at the age of 16 he had established himself as a “hangar bum” at Key West International Airport, trading airplanes washes for flight lessons.
Cabanas grew to be a Key West aviation legend who entertained hundreds of thousands around the world with his dare-devil aerobatics. He has won many awards at air shows over the years, performing in his Pitts S-2c, Waco, Piper Cub, P-51 Mustang and other warbirds and participated in the 2005 National Championship Air Races in Reno, Nevada as well as performing stunt flying for numerous movies, television shows and commercials.
He owned a business in Key West, Cabanas Aeronautics Unlimited, where he offered aerial tours of the Keys and aerobatic thrill rides as well as aircraft ferrying services. At the time of his death, Cabanas held an ATP, multi-engine rating, commercial land and seaplane privileges plus an A&P license and advanced ground instructor certificate. He was also an Aerobatic Competency Evaluator for ICAS as well as an EAA Warbird Evaluator. Over the course of his career Cabanas had accumulated over 24,000 hours total flight time and touched the lives of all who came in contact with him, including fellow aerobatic pilot Gary Ward who cites Cabanas as his inspiration and mentor.
The flags at Key West International Airport were lowered to half mast in tribute to Fred’s passing, he leaves behind his wife Susan and an adult son and daughter, both of whom are also pilots.