The Thunderbirds pilot Stephen Del killed in a training crash has been identified. The US Air Force said that Stephen had logged around 3,500 flight hours. The pilot was alone in the F-16 Fighting Falcon when it departed from Nellis Air Force Base, near Las Vegas, and crashed at the Nevada Test.
The Air Force said that the pilot was previously the F-35A Lightning II Chief of Standardization and Evaluation at the 58th Fighter Squadron and became a Thunderbird demonstration pilot in 2017 for the 2018 airshow season.
Commander of the 57th Wing at Nellis AFB, Brig. Gen. Jeannie Leavitt said, “We are mourning the loss of Major Del Bagno.” Further, Leavitt added, “He was an integral part of the team, and our hearts are heavy with his loss.”
The US Air Force summarized Stephen’s career as an exceptional aviator. USAF said, “Maj. Stephen Del Bagno is the Slot Pilot for the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, flying the No. 4 jet. He is a 2005 graduate of Utah Valley State University and commissioned from Officer Training School, Maxwell AFB, Ala. In 2007. Del Bagno was a civilian flight instructor, corporate pilot, skywriter, and a banner tow pilot, before USAF.”
The team of pilot recognized as “America’s Ambassadors in Blue.” The air force stated they canceled Team’s participation at an Expo at the March Air Reserve Base in Southern California.
Marvel Studios tweeted, “We lost a friend yesterday. Marvel Studios is saddened to hear of the loss of Air Force Maj. Stephen Del Bagno, who we were lucky to get to know during his time as a consultant on Captain Marvel. We will miss him greatly; he’ll always be part of the team.”
The cause of the crash remains under investigation, which was third US military aircraft crash this week.