Thunderbirds pilot killed in crash identified

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The Thunderbirds pilot who was killed in a crash over the Nevada Test and Training Range on Wednesday, April 4 has been identified as Major Stephen Del Bagno.

“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.”

Del Bagno was the squadron’s number 4 pilot. He was killed when his F-16 crashed during a routine aerial demonstration training flight.

People in the community were shocked to learn the news of the pilot’s death.

“I didn’t even know about that at all,” Mike Seppala said. “That’s super intense. Wow. Must be a lot of sorrow going on around there.” 

An investigation is underway into the cause of the crash that the Air Force is calling a “mishap.”

“It’s sad to lose someone who’s done their duty and did their part,” said Daniel Partridge.

Del Bagno is a 2005 graduate of Utah Valley State University and commissioned from Officer Training School, Maxwell AFB in Alabama in 2007.

Del Bagno was an experienced pilot with more than 3,500 total flight hours in 30 different aircrafts, including 1,400 hours as an air force pilot. 

Prior to joining the Thunderbirds, Del Bagno served as an F-35A Evaluator Pilot and Chief of Standardization and Evaluation, 58th Fighter Squadron, Elgin AFB in Florida.

This is the third crash in nearly three years for the Thunderbirds. One jet ran off the runway in Dayton, Ohio last June.  

The pilot and crewman survived.

Another F-16 crashed in colorado springs, but the pilot ejected. 

“That’s quite a bit, but you know, they are airplanes, and you are in the sky, and you’re doing tricks, so, stuff happens,” Mike Mumford said.

The Thunderbirds crash is the fourth incident in the last 24 hours involving a U.S. military aircraft.  The team canceled participating in the “March Air Reserve Base Show’ this weekend, and it’s unknown how this will impact the remainder of the season.

Del Bagno was from Valencia, California.

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