Honorary Thunderbirds Hedeman and Kimzey Mourn the loss of Pilot



 Our hearts and prayers go out to the family and the entire US Air Force Thunderbird squadron as they mourn the loss of Major Stephen Del Bagno who was killed last week during a routine aerial demonstration training flight.

Major Del Bagno, call name “Cajun”, was a member of the flight demonstration team, the “Ambassadors in Blue” for the United States Air Force, who represent the pride, precision, and professionalism of the United States Air Force and was described as a pilot who lived to fly and inspire the next generation.

Major Stephen Del Bagno

Major Stephen Del Bagno

“The mission of the Thunderbirds is to go out and represent the awesome airmen of the United States Air Force and we have been blessed to stand with them and honor them on the floor of the bull riding arena during Military Monday at Cheyenne Frontier Days for the last several years,” said Honorary Thunderbird Tuff Hedeman who flew with the famed pilots in 2011. World Champion Bull Rider Sage Kimzey is also an Honorary Thunderbird as he flew with the esteemed team in 2016.


U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds pilot was killed when his F-16 Fighting Falcon crashed over the Nevada Test and Training Range on April 4.

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Major Del Bagno, of Valencia, California, was an experienced pilot in his first season with the Thunderbirds, he was the squadron’s slot pilot and flew its No. 4 jet. Del Bagno graduated from Utah Valley State University in 2005 and got his commission when he graduated from Officer Training School at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama in 2007.

The US AirforceThunderbirds are preparing to hold a memorial service for Del Bagno this week to “honor Cajun’s legacy and celebrate his amazing life.