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Thunderbirds pilot dies after crashing F-16 at a testing range outside Las Vegas

Maj. Stephen Del Bagno, pilot for the Air Force Thunderbirds, was killed when his F-16 crashed during training in Nevada on Wednesday, April 4, 2018. (Photo: Air Force Thunderbirds)

UPDATE, April 5 | The Thunderbirds pilot killed in Wednesday's crash has been identified as Maj. Stephen Del Bagno, according to a statement from the U.S. Air Force.

"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."

Authorities are continuing to investigate the mishap that led to the crash, though no details were provided in Thursday's update.

Major Del Bagno is originally from Valencia, California, and he had logged 1,400 hours as an Air Force pilot, according to his biography on the Thunderbirds' website.

ORIGINAL | A U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds pilot was killed when his F-16 Fighting Falcon crashed over the Nevada Test and Training Range.

The crash took place Wednesday morning at 10:30 a.m. during a routine aerial demonstration training flight.

The identity of the pilot is being withheld for 24-hours pending next of kin notification.

An investigation is being conducted into the cause of the mishap.

The team’s participation at the March Air Reserve Base “The March Field Air & Space Expo” has been canceled.

It is unknown how this accident will impact the remainder of the 2018 Thunderbirds Season.

Check back for updates.


Clark County Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick, whose district includes Nellis Air Force Base sent the following statement:

"I was terribly saddened to learn of the death of a U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds F-16 pilot at the Nevada Test and Training Range. This is a tragic day for the Las Vegas community and the nation. My heart goes out to the pilot's family and friends and to the fine men and women of Nellis and the Thunderbirds team, whose importance to Las Vegas and our nation's defense cannot be overstated. I urge the community to keep the Nellis family in your thoughts during this difficult time and to let servicemen and women know, now more than ever, that we appreciate their service."




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