Dozens of air shows are being cancelled this summer as US military cutbacks have left airplane fans in the lurch.
The air shows are the victims of federal cuts from the sequester, which struck the military hardest. It means that the biggest draw of summertime air shows — the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels and the U.S. Air Force’s Thurderbirds — will remain on the ground this air show season.
While the aerial acrobatics of the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds will be missed, the cutbacks also affected the other military planes that were a staple of air shows. This included the F-16, F-18, and F-22 fighter jets as well as the U.S. Army Parachute Team.
Without the stable of military planes to draw in crowds, more than 60 of the 300 air shows scheduled this summer have been cancelled and many more are expected to be call off shows.
With the air shows cancelled, a piece of American history is also being cut off. Air shows had become a summer piece of Americana much like baseball games or fireworks, but now many of them will be lost, possibly forever. Before being grounded this year, Blue Angels had flown every year since the Korean War, the team’s lead pilot noted.
The cancellations are expected have a continued impact on the organizations putting on the shows.
“The worst case is that they either cancel and go out of business, or they don’t cancel and they have such poor attendance and they go out of business,” said John Cudahy, president of the International Council of Air Shows.
Some businesses relied almost entirely on the air shows, and now that these shows are cancelled many business owners are upset.
“I just think it’s sad that there are political games being played. I doubt the Blue Angels are even half of 1 percent of the entire Navy budget,” said Lloyd Proctor, co-owner of Blue Angel Hot Tubs in Pensacola.
Businesses aren’t the only ones who will be hurt now that air shows are cancelled. Many of the shows, like the one in Indianapolis, were used as fundraisers for charities that are now without an important source of revenue.