U.S. Jet Teams Cleared for Take Off
Air Show fans craving their military jet teams finally received long awaited news Friday of the return of the USN Blue Angels, Leap Frogs and the USAF Thunderbirds.
While it's great news for fans, it's tremendous news for an industry rocked by sequestration.
UT San Diego first reported the Pentagon's decision to reinstate the services' public outreach efforts but at 45% of its pre-sequester levels.
A Pentagon spokesperson told the paper, "The Navy will return the Blue Angels and Leapfrogs parachute teams to their full schedules."
I posted that quote on my personal Facebook page and immediately people expressed doubt tinged with bitterness. Then John Cudahy, President of the International Council of Air Shows posted the following:
This news is supported by private conversations I have had with a large number of people. This will NOT restore the Thunderbirds or Blue Angels for the current, nearly completed air show season, but it will allow them to fly a full schedule (or very nearly a full schedule) in 2014. Great, great news for the air show business and the American public!
Green light GO!
Well not quite...so many questions and opinions on what this will actually mean. Will the Blues fly all their shows since half are military? Will there be any military shows? Will the Thunderbirds cut a few shows and restore the single ship demos? Will military shows be allowed to seek outside funding for portions traditionally funded by APF or appropriated funds?
I do know the Blues told shows scheduled for 2014 to be ready for winter visits as soon as the Pentagon gave them go ahead. On Saturday, the USN Leap Frogs posted the following on Facebook:
The rumors are true. The Pentagon has given us the green light to fire up our performance season again. We're as excited as you are and we already have some demos in the works for as early as next week. Stand by for more information as we lock it in.
We'll know for sure at the annual ICAS convention in Las Vegas Dec. 2-5, but I'll share with ATA as more information becomes available.
Let us know if you spot any of the North American Jet Teams in your area! Share your comments too -- what do you think of the news?