“His loss comes as a shock to his family, friends and wing men,” Walsh said. “We remember Cajun as an airman, a warrior, a talented fighter pilot and a great friend with more than 3,500 flight hours in over 30 different aircraft. He lived to fly and inspire the next generation.”
The Thunderbirds planned a memorial service for Del Bagno this week.
The crash was the most serious since a Thunderbird jet flipped over and ran off a runway at Dayton International Airport last June during a familiarization flight, trapping two crewmen until they were rescued by first responders.
An Air Force investigation determined excessive speed and landing too far down on a wet runway contributed to the incident.
The mishap injured then team narrator and F-16 pilot Capt. Erik Gonsalves, who was hospitalized for leg injuries, and destroyed the $29.2 million fighter jet on June 23, according to the Air Force. A second crewman who was a backseat passenger in the F-16D jet was uninjured, the Air Force said.
The Thunderbirds are scheduled to appear at the Vectren Dayton Air Show during the 2019 show season.