Public Domain (foreground) /Frank Kovalchek (background)
On April 4th, 2018, an F-16 Fighting Falcon operated by the U.S. Air Force Thunderbird display team crashed during a routine practice flight. The elite class pilot of the aircraft did not make it. The incident happened over the Nevada Test and Training Range where the famous display team practice.
The crash is under investigation and the name of the pilot will not be released until next of kin are notified.
This was one of three accidents that happened in the last 48 hours. A Marine Corps CH-53 crashed yesterday killing all 4 onboard as well as a Harrier Jump Jet in which the pilot successfully ejected, sustaining just minor injuries.
Although all the incidents in the past 48 hours are still under investigation, this point has to be made. With the cuts to the military in the past decade it’s become apparent we’re not maintaining our military the way we should. Not only is some of U.S.’ equipment decades old (although upgraded), parts and labor are being cut as part of the overall budget decrease.
This is not to say that pilot error doesn’t happen and can’t be ruled out, but there were 7 U.S. military aircraft crashes in 2017. As of today, April, 5th, 2018, 5 U.S. military aircraft crashed and we’re not even halfway through the year. Many of the accidents were due to blown out engines and systems malfunctions, however, so there is a recurring trend here.
UPDATE April 5th, 11:30 PST-The pilot has been identified as Maj. Stephen Del Bagno.
U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron Slot Pilot Thunderbird 4, Maj. Stephen Del Bagno, was killed when his F-16 Fighting Falcon crashed over the Nevada Test and Training Range April 4, 2018. https://t.co/18AUe8PhMu
— Thunderbirds (@AFThunderbirds) April 5, 2018