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Air Force Thunderbirds pilot killed in F-16 crash has been identified

Maj. Stephen Del Bagno (U.S. Air Force)
April 05, 2018

The Air Force has identified the Thunderbirds pilot who died yesterday in an F-16 crash over the Nevada Test and Training Range.

U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron Slot Pilot Thunderbird 4, Maj. Stephen Del Bagno, was killed when his F-16 Fighting Falcon crashed during a routine aerial demonstration training flight, around 10:30 a.m., Nellis Air Force Base said Thursday.

“We are mourning the loss of Major Del Bagno,” said Brig. Gen. Jeannie Leavitt, 57th Wing Commander. “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.”

There is an investigation into the crash and the cause of the mishap.

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The Thunderbirds will not participate in “The March Field Air & Space Expo” at March Air Reserve Base, and it is not known at this time how the accident will impact the remainder of the 2018 Thunderbirds Season.

This crash was within 24 hours of a deadly Marine Corps helicopter crash in California, and within two days of another Marine Corps jet crash in Djibouti, which the pilot survived.

Four Marines are dead after their CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter crashed during a routine training mission near El Centro, California, on Tuesday.

The Marines are from the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. The cause of the crash is under investigation.

And that deadly crash took place the same day a Marine Corps jet crashed in Djibouti, but the pilot was able to eject and is currently in stable condition and being treated for injuries.

The CH-53E crash is the deadliest crash for the Marine Corps since last July, when six Marines and one Navy sailor from Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC), and nine service members from Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 452, were among the 16 deceased service members following a Marine Corps KC-130 crash over a soybean field in Mississippi. The refueling plane crash was caused by a mishap, and the plane reportedly “disintegrated” in the air over the field.