Thunderbirds pilot dies in crash

US Air Force F-16 fighter jet crashes near Nellis Air Force Base outside Las Vegas

A U.S. Air Force pilot died after his jet crashed in Nevada during routine exercises on Wednesday, military officials said.

The pilot's name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

Air Force officials are conducting an investigation into the crash.

The team will no longer participate in "The March Field Air & Space Expo", which will be held April 7-8 at March ARB, Calif. It was not yet known how the accident would impact the remainder of the 2018 Thunderbirds season.

Due to their nature, aerial display teams like the Thunderbirds also co-exist with the perils of operating high-performance aircraft. He has logged more than 3,500 flight hours, with 1,400 of those as an Air Force pilot. Then he was with the 58th Fighter Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base in Okaloosa County, Fla., before joining the Thunderbirds.

Del Bagno, of Valencia, Calif., graduated from Utah State University and worked as a flight instructor, corporate pilot, skywriter, and banner tow pilot before he joined the Air Force, according to his Thunderbirds bio.

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The Thunderbirds, the Air Force's premier traveling demonstration team, are assigned to the 57th Wing at Nellis. This weekend's show would have been the unit's third of the season.

On June 23, 2017, Thunderbird #08 ran off a wet runway and overturned at Dayton International Airport in OH while rehearsing for an air show.

The crash yesterday sparked an emergency response at the base, as crews battled to first find and then save the pilot's life. The pilot managed to escape to safety using a parachute.

Last November, the commander of the formation at the time, Lieutenant Colonel Jason Heard, was relieved from his post and replaced by Lieutenant Colonel Kevin Walsh.

Thunderbirds pilots typically serve two-year tours with the elite aviation squadron.

The massive CH-53E Super Stallion crashed about 100 miles to the south in a remote desert area just outside of El Centro, near the U.S. -Mexico border.

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