Stunt pilot Fred R. Cabanas died one year ago today in Cozumel, Mexico, when a plane he was flying during a taping of an extreme sports show crashed. He was 60.
Cabanas, a fourth-generation Conch, was well-known for his antics in the air, flying many air shows across the country and locally. Friends described him as "larger than life" and a local legend. He began flying at 16 and was the owner of Cabanas Aeronautics Unlimited, which offered thrill rides and aerial tours out of Key West International Airport.
A distinguished pilot and instructor, Cabanas earned an Air Frame and Power Plant license from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Dayton Beach, and was certified as an aerobatics competency evaluator as well as a warbird evaluator.
"He was the life of a party," said family friend Bertica Mira following the news of his death. "If he had something to say, he would tell you. ... He had a great heart."