Thunderbird #4 Killed In F-16 Crash Near Creech AFB

posted in: Jet Teams | 0

Thunderbird #4 Major Stephen

The US Air Force has released the name of the Thunderbird pilot killed in yesterday’s F-16 crash in Nevada. Thunderbird #4, Major Stephen Del Bagno, was killed in the crash that occurred while the team was practicing their airshow routine near Creech AFB. He was in his first of two seasons with the team, which is based at nearby Nellis AFB in Las Vegas. He had over 3,500 flight hours in both civilian and Air Force aircraft.

Here is Maj. Del Bagno’s full bio from the Thunderbirds’ website:
Maj. Stephen Del Bagno is the Slot Pilot for the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, flying the No. 4 jet. He is a 2005 graduate of Utah Valley State University, and commissioned from Officer Training School, Maxwell AFB, Ala. in 2007. Before joining the Air Force, Del Bagno was a civilian flight instructor, corporate pilot, skywriter, and a banner tow pilot. He enjoys snowboarding, water sports and spending time with family and friends. Prior to joining the Thunderbirds, Del Bagno served as an F-35A Evaluator Pilot and Chief of Standardization and Evaluation, 58th Fighter Squadron, Eglin AFB, Fla. He has logged more than 3,500 total flight hours in over 30 different aircraft, with 1,400 hours as an Air Force pilot. Del Bagno is in his first season with the team and hails from Valencia, Calif.

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

Our thoughts are with Maj. Del Bagno’s family and teammates.

This is the first fatal crash for the team since 1982, when the four pilots in the diamond formation were killed after failing to recover from a loop. The famous tragedy became known as the “diamond crash”, and occurred in the same training area as today’s crash.

There have been more recent nonfatal crashes; in 2016 Thunderbird #6 crashed just short of the runway at Peterson AFB in Colorado after the team performed a flyover for the US Air Force Academy graduation ceremony. The pilot ejected safely, and the crash was eventually blamed on a faulty throttle component. The same day, Capt. Jeff Kuss of the US Navy Blue Angels demonstration team was killed in a crash while practicing for an airshow in Smyrna, TN.

In 2017, Thunderbird #8 skidded off a soaked runway while landing at the Dayton Airshow in Ohio. The flight was not part of the airshow; it was a “familiarization flight” with a member of the team’s maintenance crew in the back seat. Both pilot and passenger survived, though the pilot was injured.

Please visit our forums for further discussion on the crash and what it means for the airshow season.

USAF Thunderbirds Soar Over Paris, Normandy Beach, And More In Preparation For Bastille Day Flyover

posted in: Jet Teams | 0
USAF Thunderbirds Over Paris, France - July 2017
Photos Courtesy of the USAF Thunderbirds

Members of the United States Air Force (USAF) Thunderbirds demonstration team are in Europe this week, preparing for their upcoming shows in France and England. The team is set to fly over the city of Paris, France on July 14 in celebration of Bastille Day, France’s La Fête Nationale (The National Celebration) commemorating the Storming of the Bastille on 14 July, 1789.

The team flew a practice sortie over the city as well as the beaches at Normandy and Mont Saint-Michel. Check out these incredible photos!

USAF Thunderbirds Over France - Mont. Saint-Michel

USAF Thunderbirds Over France - Pointe Du HocUSAF Thunderbirds Over France - Normandy Beach

USAF Thunderbirds Over France - Louvre

USAF Thunderbirds Over France - Normandy Beach

This year, the traditional flyover of the parade through Paris will feature the Patrouille de France and a number of other aircraft from the French Air Force’s inventory, to include Dassault Mirage 2000s and Rafales. Following them will be the USAF Thunderbirds and a pair of Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptors. Much like the Patrouille de France’s American Tour earlier this year, the inclusion of the Thunderbirds in these festivities marks the 100th year since the United State’s entry into the First World War, signifying solidarity between the French and American forces.

Following their Bastille Day flyover, the team will be performing at the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) at RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire, England July 14-16. Afterwards, they will depart Europe back for the US to fly at Flight Over the Falls in Great Falls, Montana on July 22-23.

To see where you can catch the USAF Thunderbirds this year, check out our post with their 2017 schedule!

US Air Force Thunderbirds And Patrouille de France Fly Together Over Nevada

posted in: Jet Teams | 1

Patrouille de France and USAF Thunderbirds Fly Together

Two teams, together as one. That was the sight in the skies around Nellis AFB on today as the Patrouille de France arrived in Las Vegas for a visit with the United States Air Force Thunderbirds at their home base. The Thunderbirds sent up all six of their F-16 Fighting Falcons to escort the eight French Alpha Jets in, setting up a dramatic photo opportunity over the desert and mountains near Nellis.

Patrouille de France and Thunderbirds Fly Together

The pilots and maintainers will spend two days in Las Vegas before flying to Colorado Springs, CO and Peterson AFB to fly over the US Air Force Academy. From there, they will travel to Langley AFB to take part in a VIP event which AirshowStuff will bring you coverage of on Friday. Several other events on their North American tour follow before they return to France in May.

Patrouille de France and USAF Thunderbirds

This isn’t the first time that the USAF Thunderbirds have spent time with the Patrouille de France. The teams performed together at the Melbourne Air & Space Show in early April, and again one week later at Maxwell AFB in Alabama.

The Patrouille’s visit to Nellis AFB comes a short time after they had a similar joint formation flight with the Blue Angels while visiting them in Pensacola.

All photos courtesy of the Patrouille de France and USAF Thunderbirds

Patrouille de France and USAF Thunderbirds Fly TogetherPatrouille de France and USAF Thunderbirds Fly Together
Patrouille de France and USAF Thunderbirds Fly TogetherPatrouille de France and USAF Thunderbirds Fly Together
Patrouille de France and USAF Thunderbirds Fly TogetherPatrouille de France and Thunderbirds

“SOLOTURK” Turkish F-16 Fighting Falcon Demo Scheduled For 2017 Canadian Airshow Appearance

posted in: Airshows, Military | 1

SoloTurk F-16 Fighting Falcons

The ongoing Patrouille de France North American Tour is not the only exciting international appearance in North America this season! The Turkish Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon demonstration, known as SOLOTURK, will reportedly be traveling to the airshow in London, Ontario this September for one of just six appearances outside of Turkey. The other scheduled shows are listed on our forums.

The team typically performs a very aggressive demonstration utilizing smokewinders and a spectacularly painted black, silver, and gold aircraft. This same team was scheduled to perform at the NAF El Centro show last year, but the plans eventually fell through. Hopefully London will fare better!

SoloTurk F-16 Fighting FalconSoloTurk F-16 Fighting Falcon

From the SOLOTURK website:

SOLOTURK is a demonstration team which presents the capability of the modern and high-performance F-16 aircraft possessed by Turkish Air Force and the high level of skill and knowledge necessary for its use to the audience as a show. The demonstration flights are realized with a solo F-16 C Block-40 aircraft. White-colored smoke is released from the smoke devices which are placed on the edges of both wings during the show. No modifications have been made on the aircraft; it can be planned for any mission. Besides the demonstration flights, the SOLOTURK pilots continue their combat training.

London also announced that a KC-30 of the Royal Australian Air Force will be in attendance.

Photos courtesy SoloTurk website

BREAKING: US Air Force Approves Live-Fire Single-Ship Demonstrations Next Year

posted in: Military, Popular Posts | 4

A-10 Thunderbolt II Warthog Strafe - Hawgsmoke 2016

The US Air Force has decided to add live munitions to its single-ship demonstrations starting next year. The change was announced in a surprise press release today, distributed by Air Combat Command. Not all show sites will be eligible for the new demonstrations; the list will be finalized and released at this year’s ICAS convention.

“We’ve been wanting to share this with the public since our conference back in February,” said ACC Commander General Mike Holmes. “We’ve been planning this since [Secretary of Defense James] “Mad Dog” Mattis was sworn in. All credit needs to go to him. He was the one that brought up the idea and paved the way for us to bring something truly exciting to the air show circuit next year.”

The aircraft that will incorporate the live rounds are the A-10 Thunderbolt II, F-22 Raptor, and F-16 Fighting Falcon (Viper). The F-35 will not be participating for unspecified reasons. The A-10 will be restored to full demonstration status as part of the move; it currently is only permitted to perform in Heritage Flights. Each aircraft will conduct two strafing passes using their cannons and one bombing run with several bombs during their performances.

F-22 Raptor Weapons Nellis AFB Red Flag 2015USAF F-16 Fighting Falcon

When asked about the new addition to show line-ups, Mattis said, “Our folks at home need to see we ain’t messin’ around. They need to harden up and get some. They need to hear the rumble of the guns and feel the motivation to drop and give our boys in blue fifty.”

The US Navy will not pursue live-fire passes until 2020, deciding instead to focus on the upcoming plan for the Blue Angels to transition to unmanned drones.

Until next year, here’s a dose of some BRRRRRRRrrrrrrt to tide you over!

USAF Thunderbirds Museum Reopens At Nellis AFB

posted in: Jet Teams, Museums | 1

USAF Thunderbirds Re-Open Museum

The United States Air Force Thunderbirds have re-opened their team museum at their home base of Nellis AFB. The museum helps tell the Thunderbird story, from its beginnings, to today.

Inside the museum, you’ll find artifacts and other memorabilia including documentation on the team’s formation. The picture below shows the designation and order to create the 3600th USAF Air Demonstration Unit at Luke AFB on May 23rd, 1953.

USAF Thunderbirds Re-Open Museum

Other displays include old Thunderbird team gear, patches, and photographs.

USAF Thunderbirds Re-Open Museum

USAF Thunderbirds Re-Open Museum

To access the museum, visitors must have a valid DOD ID card to get onto base property or be escorted by a DOD ID cardholder. The hours of operation are 8 am to 4 pm, and the location is 4445 Tyndall Avenue, Nellis AFB, NV 89191. For the most up-to-date information, call 702-652-6776.

The Best Of Military Aviation – January 2017

posted in: AirshowStuff, Featured Videos, Military | 0

Each month we bring you a compilation of the very best military aviation videos on our Youtube channel. These videos take you inside military operations all over the world for things like exercises, aircraft carrier operations, aerial refueling, and training missions. Please enjoy the January video, which you can watch below or view on Youtube: The Best Of Military Aviation – January 2017

A compilation of the best military aviation clips from January 2017. Featuring F-35 Lightning II night landings, A-29 Super Tucano cockpit footage, Red Flag 17-1, aerial refueling of F-16s, on board footage of the College Football Championship game flyover, and more!

Be sure to check out the other videos in the series as well by checking out the Best of Military Aviation video playlist!

The Best Of Military Aviation – December 2016

posted in: AirshowStuff, Featured Videos, Military | 1

Each month we bring you a compilation of the very best military aviation videos on our Youtube channel. These videos take you inside military operations all over the world for things like exercises, aircraft carrier operations, aerial refueling, and training missions. Please enjoy the December video, which you can watch below or view on Youtube: The Best Of Military Aviation – December 2016

A compilation of the best military aviation clips from December 2016. Featuring the Checkered Flag exercises, AV-8B Harrier carrier operations, aerial refueling of F-16s and F-15s, and more!

Be sure to check out the other videos in the series as well by checking out the Best of Military Aviation video playlist!

USAF Thunderbirds Flyover New York City

posted in: Jet Teams | 1

USAF Thunderbirds Flyover New York City

The United States Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, the Thunderbirds, flew over famous landmarks around New York City Friday morning.

It was announced last Friday that the Thunderbirds had planned a flyover around the city, framing the 6 red, white and blue F-16s with landmarks such as the World Trade Center and Empire State Building.

The Thunderbirds will perform at the 2016 New York Air Show this Labor Day weekend.

See more photos on the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds Facebook page and in the slideshow below. Photos courtesy of the Thunderbirds.

USAF Thunderbirds To Fly Over New York City, Statue of Liberty, And World Trade Center

posted in: Flyovers, Jet Teams | 3
USAF Thunderbirds Flyover Statue of Liberty in New York City
Photo credit: NY Airshow/USAF

Flyover alert! Six red, white and blue F-16 Fighting Falcons of the US Air Force Thunderbirds will fly over famous sights around New York City, NY on the morning of September 2nd.

The team will flyover the Statue of Liberty and up the Hudson River, setting up a unique photo opportunity with the World Trade Center. If you live in the area and want to see the flyover yourself, Battery Park, South Cove Park, Robert F. Wagner Jr. Park, or Nelson A. Rockefeller Park should be good vantage points for the flyover Friday morning in Lower Manhattan. Liberty State Park or J. Owen Grundy Park on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River would also be good vantage points.

The six jets are expected over the landmarks around 9:45 am. AirshowStuff will be sure to post some pictures and videos of the flyover after it happens for those who can’t see it in person!

1 2