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USAF Thunderbirds: News Center 7 gets rare look at training grounds

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

According to Nellis Air Force Base, the pilot was killed when his F-16 Fighting Falcon crashed around 10:30 a.m. during a routine aerial demonstration training flight at Creech Air Force Base outside Las Vegas.

Last month, News Center 7 was granted rare access to be with the Thunderbirds at the Nevada Test and Training Range as they practiced for their upcoming show season.

U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds Pilot Killed in F-16 Training Flight Crash

RELATED: Thunderbirds pilot is killed in Nevada training flight crash

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Reporter John Bedell and photojournalist Byron Stirsman had to get special clearance to be able to get onto the Nevada Test and Training Range at Creech Air Force Base to be with the Thunderbirds for a practice March 7. They recorded the team’s air show performance run-through for an upcoming story.

The Nevada Test and Training Range is a vast and wide-open space in the middle of the desert at Creech AFB and provides plenty of open air space for the Thunderbirds to hone their precise maneuvers. 

The team performs practice flights at the Nevada Test and Training Range up to three times a day during their practice season from November to March and also practices there during their show season. 

The range is a minutes-long flight in an F-16 away from Nellis Air Force Base outside Las Vegas, where the Thunderbirds are based. 

The cause of the deadly crash is under investigation.

The team’s participation at the March Air Reserve Base “The March Field Air & Space Expo” has been canceled. 

Bedell will have more information on the crash, and his visit to Nellis and Creech Air Force Bases at Noon and starting at 5 p.m. on News Center 7.

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