Maj. Stephen "Cajun" Del Bagno Scholarship Fund                                      

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.

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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.” 

 
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