U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds pilot killed in crash identified

Pilot identified

WATCH US Air Force Thunderbirds pilot...

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. - UPDATE: The U.S. Air Force identified Thunderbird 4, Maj. Stephen Del Bagno, as the one killed in a crash over a Nevada test range Wednesday.

That's according to a tweet by the Thunderbirds. This was Del Bagno's first season with the Thunderbirds.

According to his biography, Del Bagno is originally from Valencia, California, and graduated from Utah Valley State University before heading to officer training school at Maxwell AFB in Alabama in 2007.

“We are mourning the loss of Major Del Bagno,” Brig. Gen. Jeannie Leavitt, 57th Wing Commander said in a statement. “He was an integral part of our team and our hearts are heavy with his loss. We ask everyone to provide his family and friends the space to heal during this difficult time.”

The crash is still under investigation.


The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds released late Wednesday night one of their pilots was killed in a crash during training.

According to a press release from the squadron, the crash happened during routine training Wednesday morning around 10:30. 

The pilot was killed when his F-16 Fighting Falcon crashed over the Nevada Test and Training Range.

The identity of the pilot is being withheld for next of kin notification, and the crash is being investigated. 

The squadron frequently practices over the training base between shows to perfect their demonstration.

This crash is the third crash in three years for the team.

In 2017, Capt. Eric Gonsalves' F-16D flipped over on a Dayton, Ohio runway, injuring himself and crewmember Technical Sgt. Ken Cordova. 

In 2016, Maj. Alex Turner's F-16 crashed due to a throttle malfunction in Colorado Springs, Colo. following the Thunderbird's performance at the U.S. Air Force Academy Graduation. 

WATCH: Thunderbirds pilot talks about 2016 crash

The squadron also announced they will not be performing at The March Field Air and Space Expo this weekend at March Air Reserve Base in California.

The release also stated it's "unknown how this accident will impact the remainder of the 2018 Thunderbirds Season." 

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