By Glenn Pew, Contributing Editor, Video Editor
Key West-based airshow, ferry, and well-certificated pilot Fred Cabanas, 60, was killed Tuesday along with his passenger Jorge Lopez Vives, host of an extreme sports show, while flying near a private airfield in Cozumel, Mexico. According to the FAA, Cabanas held an ATP, multiengine 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. According to his website, Cabanas had flown for TV and movies and had accumulated 24,000 hours total flight time.
At the time of his death, Cabanas owned Cabanas Aeronautics Unlimited, which offered thrill rides and aerial tours of the Florida Keys. Cabanas' legacy is continued by pilots he touched, including Gary Ward, who credits Cabanas as an inspiration and mentor. As Ward's airshow career developed, Cabanas helped Ward get work, flying with him in the Cayman Islands, Panama, and other locations. One quirky connection won by Cabanas was being credited with reporting a MiG 23 flown by a Cuban military general as it was inbound to the U.S. from Cuba, in 1991. Cabanas performed in the Pitts S-2C, Waco, Cub, P-51 Mustang and other warbirds at airshows internationally. In 2005, he also raced at Reno. He leaves behind a wife, Susan, and their two children. Cabanas' daughter and son are both pilots.