Memorial Scholarship for Fallen Thunderbird Launched at Florida Tech

Stephen ‘Cajun’ Del Bagno Flew at
 Melbourne Air Show in 2018

MELBOURNE, FLA. — Florida Tech and the National Air, Sea and Space Foundation are partnering to ensure the memory – and aviation passion – of a fallen pilot live on for years to come.

The university will be home to the Stephen “Cajun” Del Bagno Memorial Scholarship. And the Foundation, which operates the Melbourne Air & Space Show, has pledged $25,000 to establish the scholarship.

Del Bagno was a member of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds. Not long after performing in last year’s Melbourne air show, the 34-year-old lost his life in a training accident in Nevada.

During the 2019 Melbourne Air & Space Show, patrons were asked to donate toward the Del Bagno Memorial Scholarship at Florida Tech. They were able to purchase raffle tickets, and a portion of ticket proceeds to the show were earmarked for the scholarship fund. The Foundation will seek additional donations at future air shows.

The scholarship funds will help Florida Tech aviation students who have a strong desire to fly but need assistance with tuition and flight fees.

According to the Foundation, Del Bagno started flying when he was 14-years-old and went on to serve as a corporate pilot, skywriter and flight instructor prior to joining the Air Force. During his 11-year career as an Air Force pilot he instructed in two jets, the F-16 and F-35, before joining the Thunderbirds in fall 2017.

Whenever he could, Del Bagno encouraged young people to stick with their dreams, no matter the obstacles.

“The biggest thing I learned throughout my career, and what I tell all of the kids when I start talking to them, is in life, you are going to hear a lot of no’s, and sometimes it’s just a test of your resolve…So no matter what it is and how bad you want it, as long as you work hard and don’t accept no as a final answer, you can always turn a no into a yes.”

To support the scholarship fund, please click here.


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