Canceled air shows chill a joy of summer

Congress' mandatory budget cuts are grounding elite military flying teams, creating an economic ripple effect in many communities.

By Bruce Kennedy Aug 20, 2013 8:55AM

The U.S. Navy's Blue Angels perform over the Florida Keys on March 23, 2013, in Key West, Fla. (© Rob O'Neal/Florida Keys News Bureau via Getty Images)In many parts of the country, the annual air show is as much a part of summer as the local carnival or a night out at the movies. But there's been a change this year.

Sequestration -- the across-the-board federal budget cuts mandated by Congress -- has grounded the Navy's Blue Angels and the Air Force's Thunderbirds. These are the precision flight teams that usually tour the country by taking part in American air shows. Also affected is the Army's Golden Knights parachute team.

This past weekend in Chicago, the Air & Water Show drew about 1.7 million people to the city's lakefront to watch performances by civilian acrobatic teams in vintage planes. But those numbers were down from the estimated 2 million who attended last year, in part because of the absence of military flight teams.

"One of the things I miss most of all is the week before the show, you'd be driving and you would suddenly be (buzzed) by the Blue Angels," as they practiced for the show, Chicago resident Diana Widman told The Tribune. "That's how you knew it was the air show weekend."

Earlier this year, the International Council of Air Shows announced about 200 of the country's 300 air shows were being affected by sequestration, with dozens canceling their events altogether.

Council president John Cudahy told The Christian Science Monitor that air shows have an estimated economic impact of up to $2 billion nationwide and that some of these venues may never rebound from the big military attractions' sequester-related cancellations.

A spokesman for the Thunderbirds told The Monitor a typical season for the high-powered jet squad costs around $9.75 million -- money the Air Force needs for other missions.

Some air shows are getting community support. Hundreds of volunteers are working with organizers at the California Capital AirShow to ensure the event goes on as scheduled in October. reports that air show near Sacramento is only one of two in the nation that are scheduled to have military jet performances this year. But in this case, that will mean an appearance by the Royal Canadian Air Force Snowbirds.

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Aug 20, 2013 11:04AM
yeah that's because it's more important for our government to give the tax payers money away to some country that don't even like us.
Aug 20, 2013 11:17AM
Instead of cutting funding for things the populace enjoys.  How about Government salary cuts.  Do they really need free health care?  Let them bleed money into the machine like we do.
Aug 20, 2013 11:04AM
Yeah, but our government would rather spend on money on arming the Egyptians and wasting lives, time and treasure in Afghanistan, etc. 
Aug 20, 2013 11:12AM

Since it's actually our money, perhaps the administration could take a little of the money spent on President Obama's vacations, and restore the Blue Angels.  Even making Bo fly with the rest of the family could free up enough money for at least one air show.


It would be a nice gesture on his part to share some entertainment dollars with the downtrodden public, rather than just entertaining rich hangers-on like Beyoncé, Jay-Z, etc., etc.

Aug 20, 2013 11:15AM
Gee, if the Obamas would cancel a vacation or two they could fly again.
Aug 20, 2013 11:07AM
Sacrifice a $2 Billion nation wide economic impact to save $9.75 million...somebody is using the wrong calculator...
Aug 20, 2013 11:16AM
Tell Obama he's had enough vacations
Aug 20, 2013 11:14AM

I agree with the other comments...our government gives away billions to other countries in aid but they can't AID their own people! Local economies rely on the air show to generate revenue for local businesses!

The air show in Chicago really sucked this year. They say there were 1.7 million people that attended but I didn't see that many

Aug 20, 2013 11:22AM
All the while oboze goes on 100 million dollar vacations and flies his dog, and I don't mean michelle, in a separate plane. At this point, impeachment is to kind.
Aug 20, 2013 11:20AM
We live a couple miles from a big air force base on a couple acres.  At the end of our property is a big cell tower and another big physical feature.  Anyhow, every year the air force base has their air show and for a week before the thunderbirds or whatever would zip by our house for hours every day and turn around at our cell tower.  Everybody would come to sit on our back patio or yard to hang out and watch because most of the tricks they did in the show they pretty much mirrored turning around behind our house and the were so low it was easy to see into the planes and everything.  We also knew they could tell when we would get a little group of neighbors hanging out because one of them would flip over or do something different passing over the yard and house.  Anyhow, going to miss that this year.  But, I do know the sequestration was an Obama idea, and he was cutting the defense budget either way, and he had the power to cut whatever he wanted and decided to cut the things that would be noticed most by people instead of the things that wasted most or had least effect on people.  But, 9 million for this... people who work and pay the taxes deserve something, these military groups also serve as a symbol.
Aug 20, 2013 11:12AM
There are plenty of places for the federal government to cut expenses!  I'd love to have the opportunity to slash a few things!  If you're losing your house you don't have a house warming party!  The federal government has to tighten it's belt like the rest of us!
Aug 20, 2013 11:18AM

Yet the waste continues. Something meaningful gets cut but vets still get screwed over at the VA, we still send plenty of money to other countries, and lastly and most importantly, lets not forget about the MIC, can't touch that sacred cow. Give them all we can and all they demand, no questions asked.

Thanks DC for consistently f'ng everything up because you act like children and can't work together. Do you damn jobs for a change!


I think its time

Aug 20, 2013 11:11AM
It is a shame. How many young children have become pilots because of these shows?
Aug 20, 2013 11:13AM
That was one of the things I loved about being in the Navy. Between being stationed at Miramar NAS in San Diego (location of the Top Gun school) and going with my squadron (VF-151) on deployments aboard the USS Midway to the South China Sea during Vietnam, it was like an airshow everyday. Admittedly, I was busting my butt 12-16 hours a day humping 500# bombs, rockets and missiles but I wouldn't change the experience for anything in the world.
Aug 20, 2013 11:21AM
I realize that it's been said many times, but the FACT is that the Oblabla administration has cut things that are the most visible and painful to the people in an effort to make it appear that "sequestration"--which was his own idea/plan--is so bad. In fact, there are many wasteful areas of spending that need to be cut, but they don't show, so he's not doing it. How about we cut:

1. Dept. of Ed (this is a local issue not a federal govt. issue)
2. Dept of Energy (created during the peanut farmer admin to make us energy independent--hasn't done anything except build a huge federal bureaucracy)
3. EPA (Good idea originally, but nothing but a regulation mill instead of doing any real good ever since)
4. Dept. of HHS (Keep the FDA, but streamline it, and dump the rest of HHS especially that idiot, Sibelius)
5. Dept. of Commerce (No one knows what this department does! It's been superseded by OMB, Treasury and other duplicate agencies)


Aug 20, 2013 11:31AM
thank you Mr. Obama  for your support ! " NOT " We the people see your true spirit for this country !!! Just another way you are screwing the AMERICAN PEOPLE !!  the biggest   Anti- American  President  in history  !!
Aug 20, 2013 11:05AM
Oblunder's dog gets to spend the money and now there's another.
Aug 20, 2013 11:12AM

not an air show with them. Its hurting the community which often has a season for tourist to come an see the show. This is bad very bad


Aug 20, 2013 11:16AM
I don't feel we need the Blue Angels, but it's sickening all the money that is being sent overseas in the form of "foreign aid" to countries that hate us.  How about we stop foreign aid, stop the blue angels, start taking care of our soliders coming back home and start securing our borders.
Aug 20, 2013 11:40AM
You can bet your tax $ that members of congress are not feeling the pain. Bet they are still doing family stuff all summer. They don't care about air shows, or the military showing its pride. I was in the Air Force for 8 years and my kids always enjoyed the shows at Offutt AFB, Nebraska. Not sure if that is one that will be cancelled since I don't live in Bellevue anymore. Its a shame and disgrace! 
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