Air Force identifies pilot who died in Thunderbird crash

Matt Saintsing
April 05, 2018 - 11:01 am

U.S. Air Force


The U.S. Air Force pilot with the elite Thunderbirds that was killed when his F-16 jet crashed in Nevada Wednesday has been identified as Maj. Stephen Del Bagno.  

Del Bagno was killed when his F-16 crashed over central Nevada  during a routine aerial demonstration training flight on Wednesday, the Thunderbirds. 

“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 graduated from Utah Valley State University in 2005 and was comissioned in the Air Force in 2007. Prior to joining the Thunderbirds, Del Bagno served as an F-35A Evaluator Pilot and Chief of Standardization and Evaluation, 58th Fighter Squadron, Eglin AFB, Fla.

He was in his first season with the team. 

This tragic accident may impact the remainder of the 2018 Thunderbirds Season, the Thunderbirds said, and their appearance at an air show at March Air Reserve base in Southern California has been cancelled. An investigation has begun to determine the cause of the mishap.

Wednesday’s crash was the third involving military aircrafts in less than 48-hours.

Four Marines were killed when a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter crashed Tuesday in California during a training mission west of El Centro, Calif, along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Also on Tuesday, a Marine Harrier jet crashed when it took off from an airfield in Djibouti in East Africa. The pilot ejected and was medically treated.