Broward County

So how do you replace the Thunderbirds at the Fort Lauderdale Air Show?

File photo of The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds performing at a show at Eglin Air Force Base in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, on April 10, 2010. Maj. Stephen Del Bagno, a Thunderbirds pilot who died when his F-16 crashed in Nevada on April 4, 2018, was previously stationed at Eglin AFB's 33rd Fighter Wing.
File photo of The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds performing at a show at Eglin Air Force Base in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, on April 10, 2010. Maj. Stephen Del Bagno, a Thunderbirds pilot who died when his F-16 crashed in Nevada on April 4, 2018, was previously stationed at Eglin AFB's 33rd Fighter Wing. AP

Thousands attend the Fort Lauderdale Air Show and one of the first attractions many think of is the chance to catch the aerial maneuvers performed by the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds.

But not this year.

When the air show returns to Fort Lauderdale beach on May 5-6 it will be short one of its featured acts.

After an April 4 accident that took the life of Maj. Stephen Del Bagno when his F-16 Fighting Falcon jet crashed during training over the Nevada desert, the Thunderbirds announced Thursday that they would cancel their appearance at the air show. Del Bagno was a Thunderbirds pilot.

“While we’re disappointed the Thunderbirds will not be performing, we totally respect their decision given the situation,” Bryan Lilley, president of the Fort Lauderdale Air Show, told WPLG Local 10.

So how do you go about replacing one of the military air show's signature showstoppers?

You call in the U.S. Navy.

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An F/A-18E Super Hornet maneuvers over a carrier in the Pacific Ocean. Travis Mendoza U.S. Navy handout photo

The Navy is making its F/A-18F Super Hornet available to the Fort Lauderdale Air Show, and the craft will take the place of the Thunderbirds and serve as a headliner.

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