A U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds pilot who died when his F-16 Fighting Falcon crashed in Nevada was identified Thursday as a Valencia native.
Maj. Stephen Del Bagno crashed over the Nevada Test and Training Range around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, according to the Air Force. He was performing what the Air Force called a routine aerial demonstration training flight.
“We are mourning the loss of Major Del Bagno,” said Brig. Gen. Jeannie Leavitt. “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.”
Air Force officials said an investigation into the crash is continuing. Meanwhile, the Thunderbirds team has canceled its planned appearance at this weekend’s air show at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside County.
According to his Air Force biography, Del Bagno graduated from Utah Valley State University in 2005 and spent time as a flight instructor, corporate pilot, skywriter and banner-tow pilot before joining the Air Force.
He had logged more than 3,500 flight hours in more than 30 aircraft, including 1,400 as an Air Force pilot. This was his first year with the Air Force’s famed Thunderbirds flight team.