Air Force identifies Thunderbirds pilot killed in F-16 training flight crash

UPDATE, 2:08 p.m. EDT April 5: Officials with the U.S. Air Force on Thursday identified the pilot killed one day earlier during a routine aerial demonstration training flight.

Maj. Stephen Del Bagno, who was piloting Thunderbird 4, died after his F-16 Fighting Falcon crashed around 10:30 a.m. over the Nevada Test and Training Range, officials said.

“We are mourning the loss of Major Del Bagno,” said 57th Wing Commander 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.”

Officials are investigating the cause of the crash.

UPDATE 3:22 a.m. EDT April 5: A U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds pilot has been killed in a crash over the Nevada Test and Training Range on Wednesday.

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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.

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ORIGINAL STORY: An Air Force F-16 fighter jet crashed in the Nevada desert Wednesday morning during a routine training mission, according to a military news release.

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The jet from Nellis Air Force Base went down on the Nevada Test and Training Range at 10:30 a.m. PST.

Emergency responders raced to the scene on the range, but military officials have not yet released the condition of the pilot.

The accident is under investigation and follows the fatal crash of a CH-53E Super Stallion heliocopter Tuesday in southern California that killed four marines while the crew was practicing desert landings, according to military officials.

This is the first accident at Nellis since back-to-back crashes last fall at the testing range, the Air Force Times reported. One of those crashes was fatal.

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The Nevada Test and Training Range is in the southern part of the state in the Mojave Desert and covers some 3 million acres.

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