F-16 fighter jet crashes at base outside Vegas

Friday, 06 Apr, 2018

The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds released late Wednesday night one of their pilots was killed in a crash during training.

An Air Force pilot is missing after their F-16 crashed Wednesday morning outside of Las Vegas, according to a service statement.

The Thunderbirds pilot's identity is being withheld, pending next-of-kin notification.

Prior to joining the Thunderbirds, Del Bagno served as an F-35A Evaluator Pilot and Chief of Standardization and Evaluation, 58th Fighter Squadron, Elgin AFB in Florida.

The team's participation at this weekend's March Air Reserve Base "The March Field Air & Space Expo" in California has been cancelled.

This is the third such incident involving the Thunderbirds in less than 24 months. The pilot and his passenger were hospitalized with injuries after the incident.

The jet was part of the Air Force's Thunderbirds Squadron, a flying team that performs aerial demonstrations across the United States as well as internationally.

A statement said emergency crews were at the scene and an accident investigation had begun.

The incident marks the third US military aircraft crash this week.

"We ask that everyone keep the pilot and his family and the Thunderbirds family in their prayers", said Chris Dirato, spokesman of B. Lilley Productions.

"Doctors said the pilot was in stable condition", US Naval Forces Central Command said.

The squad is known as "America's Ambassadors in Blue", with the highly trained pilots performing aerobatic formations and maneuvers during military ceremonies.

Another CH-53E was also damaged in the same day while landing near Arta Beach, Djibouti.