For many states, counties, cities, and the businesses located in them, late spring through early fall is a chance to improve their economies. Thanks to ridiculous federal budget cuts, another revenue boost will be eliminated in many localities.
Air shows attract large crowds, and generate business that affects organizers and vendors alike. Many of them depend on demonstrations by the Navy’s Blue Angels, or the Air Force Thunderbirds. Other crowds are entertained by F-16, F-18 and F-22 fighter jets and the U.S. Army Parachute Team, known as the Golden Knights. This year they are all grounded.
Thanks to the overly drastic budget cuts known as the “Sequester”, cuts in military spending have forced the cancellation of non-defense activities by these highly trained, and highly skilled flight teams.
200 of the approximate 300 air shows will be affected, says John Cudahy, president of the International Council of Air Shows. He says 60 have already been cancelled. He also predicts that 15 to 20 percent of them will not return next year, even if military participation returns.
“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,” he said.
Some of the larger air shows in larger cities do not expect a significant drop in attendance as a result of the cancellation of the military demonstrations. But smaller communities fear a drastic loss of attendance, and a noticeable loss of revenue for their communities.
Thunder over the Blue Ridge in Martinsburg, W.V., which is an easy day trip from Baltimore and Washington typically draws 88,000 people. With the Thunderbirds cancelling, and the inability of the West Virginia Air National Guard to host the show, again because of the budget cuts, they had to cancel the entire show. Bill Walkup, one of the board members said they considered having the two day event on the civilian side of the airport, but knew they could expect no more than 15,000 fans. Subsequently, when the Thunderbirds were forced to cancel, the decision was made for them.
Maj. Darrick Lee, spokesman for the Thunderbirds, said the seasonal expense for the team is about 9.75 million dollars. “Would we prefer to be flying? Of course,” he said. But, he added, “We encourage folks to go and have a good time with or without us.”
Columnist-The Guardian Express