U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds pilot Maj. Stephen “Cajun” Del Bagno (’18), 34, died April 4, 2018, when the F-16 Fighting Falcon he was piloting crashed. Del Bagno was doing training maneuvers at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada when the aircraft crashed at the Nevada Test and Training Range. The cause of the crash is being investigated.
Del Bagno was in his first season as a pilot for the Air Force Air Demonstration team. An Embry-Riddle Worldwide/Online Campus alumnus, he completed his M.S. in Aeronautics degree on March 23, 2018, just weeks before his death. He served as an F-35A evaluator pilot before being selected for the Thunderbirds unit in June 2017.
Del Bagno had been a corporate pilot and civilian flight instructor, and was the first F-35 pilot to serve in the Thunderbirds, according to a U.S. Air Force news release.