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Thunderbirds pilot killed in training crash identified

UPDATE @ 2:09 p.m. (April 5): The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds have identified the pilot killed in a training crash as Maj. Stephen Del Bagno, pilot of Thunderbird 4, according to a release Thursday. 

RELATED: US Air Force Thunderbirds: News Center 7 gets a rare look at training grounds

Del Bagno, 34, was killed when his F-16 crashed over the Nevada Test and Training Range around 10:30 a.m. during a routine demonstration training flight. 

“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.”

The Thunderbird’s next appearance at the March Air Reserve Base “The March Field Air & Space Expo” in California has been cancelled, according to officials. 

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It is not known how the crash will impact the remainder of the 2018 Thunderbirds season. 

FIRST REPORT

A U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds pilot has been killed in a crash over the Nevada Test and Training Range on Wednesday.

According to Nellis Air Force Base, the pilot was killed when his F-16 Fighting Falcon crashed about 10:30 a.m. during a routine aerial demonstration training flight in central Nevada.

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The training range covers some 4,500 square miles.

The pilot’s name and hometown are being withheld for 24 hours, pending notification of next of kin, Air Force officials said. 

An investigation into the cause of the crash is underway.

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 affect the remainder of the 2018 Thunderbirds season.
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