The United States Air Force announced Thursday that Thunderbird pilot Maj. Stephen Del Bagno was killed in a crash Wednesday over the Nevada Test and Training Range.
Del Bagno, one of the pilots who took part in the flyover before the Daytona 500 on Feb. 18, was flying his F-16 Fighting Falcon in a routine demonstration training flight when he crashed around 10:30 a.m.
“We are mourning the loss of Major Del Bagno,” said Brig. Gen. Jeannie Leavitt, 57th Wing Commander, in a press release. “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.”
The Air Force said an investigation is underway to learn the cause of the accident.
Del Bagno was a native of Valencia, California. According to the Thunderbirds’ website, Del Bagno was in his first season with the demonstration team.
Before he joined the Air Force, Del Bagno was a civilian flight instructor, corporate pilot, skywriter, and a banner tow pilot.
The team’s participation in the March Air Reserve Base’s “The March Field Air & Space Expo” has been cancelled.