Federal budget cuts grounding air shows

The Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron (Blue Angels) performs at the Blue Angel's Homecoming show ending the 2004 season in Pensacola, Fla. (Photo by PH2 Mark A. Ebert.)

The Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron (Blue Angels) performs at the Blue Angel’s Homecoming show ending the 2004 season in Pensacola, Fla. (Photo by PH2 Mark A. Ebert.)

 

If you are hoping to see the Navy Blue Angels or Air Force Thunderbirds in action this summer, you won’t find them.

Federal budget cuts that eliminated military flying acts triggered the cancellation of dozens of air shows, meaning lost income for performers, air show announcers, concessionaires, vendors and others who depend on air shows and the millions of spectators.

The cancellations also mean disappointed fans, fewer events that celebrate aviation and inspire youngsters and lost military recruiting opportunities.

According to the International Council of Air Shows, air shows pump about $1.5 billion into the economy and draw nearly three times more spectators than NASCAR events.

The biggest acts are the Navy Blue Angels and Air Force Thunderbirds, the precision flying teams whose performances were abruptly canceled April 1, along with the Army skydiving team, military flyovers, demonstration flights and even static displays.

The cancellations caused by automatic budget cuts known as sequestration sent ripples through the industry, because the jet teams anchor most shows in which they perform.

Without them, organizers of major air shows opted to cancel. To date, 64 air shows have canceled, accounting for a loss of nearly a third of air show revenue, and the figure could go as high as 100, said John Cudahy, the air show council’s executive director.

Industry insiders believe the military jet teams will be flying again next year, but there’s no guarantee from the military or Congress.

Not all air shows are being canceled. Be sure to double check before you travel.

 

 

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