Thunderbirds pilot who died in F-16 crash identified

Posted at 4:14 PM, Apr 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-05 14:23:44-04

UPDATE APRIL 5: The Thunderbirds pilot killed in Wednesday's F-16 crash has been identified as Maj. Stephen Del Bagno. 

Del Bagno was flying his Fighting Falcon during a routine aerial demonstration training flight. 

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

UPDATE 9 P.M. APRIL 4: A pilot  for the United States Air Force Thunderbirds died after his F-16 Fighting Falcon crashed during a routine training flight over the Nevada Test and Training Range.

Nellis Air Force Base says an investigation is underway to figure out the cause of the crash. The pilot's identity has not been released.

This is the 2nd incident involving a Thunderbird plane in a year. A Thunderbird flipped over after landing during a “familiarization flight” for an air show in Ohio in June 2017. The pilot and his passenger were hospitalized with injuries after the incident. 

A Thunderbird also crashed after a flyover over a graduation ceremony at Air Force Academy in 2016. The pilot survived that crash.  

The Thunderbirds were scheduled to perform this weekend at March Air Reserve Base near Riverside, California. That performance has been canceled.

The crash on Wednesday was the third U.S. military crash this week.

Four crew members were killed Tuesday after a Marine helicopter crashed during a training mission in California.

A Marine Harrier jet also crashed during takeoff on Tuesday in East Africa. The pilot was able to eject before that crash.

The Thunderbirds formed in 1953 as the Air Demonstration Unite at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona. They moved to Nellis in 1956. 

ORIGINAL: A F-16 assigned to Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas crashed on Wednesday morning.

The plane crashed around 10:30 a.m. during routine training on the Nevada Test and Training Range, which is located north of the Las Vegas valley.

NAFB says that emergency responders are on the scene. The condition of pilot is unknown at this time.

The range covers more than 3 million acres. NAFB did not give any other information about where the plane crashed or why.


Plane forced to abort during takeoff in January 2018
Lt. Col. Eric Schultz killed September 2017 after plane went down on test and training range Two A-10C Thunderbolt IIs crash in September 2017
Plane owned by civilian contractor crashes near Nellis Air Force Base