The Air Force Thunderbirds have decided to not participate in Air & Space Expo that will be held on Saturday at the Charleston Air Force Base. The performance was canceled because the pilot squad consisting of 6 people wasn’t ready after one of its members died in a crash. Del Bagno, the victim of the crash was saluted by Lt. Col. Kevin Walsh, saying that Cajun (his call sign) was a very talented fighter pilot and a warrior. He lived to inspire the next generation of pilots.
They would likely set a new schedule, but it depends on the squad’s readiness. It’s been 3 weeks since the tragic incident happened. To fill the gap, a veteran pilot has been brought back. Despite the new addition, they still said it would take longer for the Thunderbirds to return to the skies, could be in two weeks or longer. Maj. Nick “Khan” Krajicek has been chosen to fill the slot and he will be here working with other team members for the rest of 2018 season.
“We’re grateful to have Khan coming back to the team,” said Commander of the Thunderbirds, Lt. Col. Kevin Walsh. He was considered a perfect option thanks to his long experience and demonstration profile. This wouldn’t be the first for Mr Khan because he flew in 2016 as well as 2017. The new squad is expected to make an appearance on May 12, 19, and 20. The first performance will take place at Laughlin Air Force Base open house in Texas, while on the other dates, they will show up at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia.
There are concerns about the squadron performing a safe six-ship aerial demonstration. According to a source, if they weren’t ready, the shows could end up being canceled. Krajicek is qualified for the job because he has accumulated over 3,400 flight hours in the military. He also has more than 650 combat flight hours, has flown UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters.