The lingering effects from sequestration have taken a heavy toll on the 2013 military airshow and demonstration season, as multiple public outreach events and at least one high-profile team have seen their entire schedule scrubbed due to budget cuts.
Immediately after the budget sequestration took hold on March 1, the U.S. Air Force announced the cancellation of the 2013 Thunderbirds show season, as well as the immediate cessation of “all aviation support to the public.” That means the service has cancelled its airshow and trade show support, all flyovers and heritage flights and open houses for 2013.
The only exception is if the demonstration uses only local, static aircraft or other assets.
That drastic move was necessary to preserve support for “flying operations in Afghanistan and other contingency areas,” according to U.S. Air Force chief of staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, adding that “roughly two-thirds of our active-duty combat Air Force units will curtail home station training.”
The situation appears equally grim for the U.S. Navy and its Blue Angels demonstration flight team. As of March 5, the Navy had announced only an “intent” to cancel Blue Angels demonstrations through April and appeared to hold out some hope for the remainder of the season.
“The Navy will wait until the last possible moment before making cancellations beyond April,” according to a March 4 Facebook post from the Blue Angels public affairs office.
That position appears unlikely to remain permanent, however, as the Navy needs to cut $10 billion out of its budget under sequestration unless an interim solution is found. Lawmakers in Washington, D.C., have expressed little confidence publicly that the measures will not be permanent.