ICAS Convention and 2014 Air Show Season Look Ahead
The 2013 International Council of Air Shows (ICAS) Convention is now over and performers, producers, support services companies, and others are either home or on their way. Attendance this year was down because of limited military attendance. However, there are military bases that are, as of this moment, "on" for 2014. That's good news.
Most notably, we have the Blue Angels, Snowbirds, Thunderbirds, and Golden Knights with shows for next season. In actuality, the Blues are working on a 2-year schedule and at our Opening General Session on Tuesday morning, released a modified 2014 schedule and their 2015 dates. The Snowbirds solidified their 2014 list, the Golden Knights have a number of open dates, and the Thunderbirds dates for next season were finally released on Thursday morning. Things had gotten hung up a bit in Washington with Air Force brass waiting to make sure their dates would be accurate.
That being said, there's still a chance that a second round of Sequestration could affect military base open houses/shows. That might leave holes in the teams' schedules. What happens then is anybody's guess. During the convention, Pittsburgh, Joint Base Andrews, and a couple of other bases canceled their 2014 shows. That is not good news but since we are faced with reduced military participation, some military and civilian shows don't want to take the chance on not having a team or a single ship demo. It's a fact that military teams, single ship demos, and military static display aircraft DO help attendance. Earlier in the fall I'd heard a rumor that the Air Combat Command was going to have 2 F-16 demo teams out next year but an Air Force official said that that we most likely WON'T have Viper East or West. Fortunately, we will have the F-22 Raptor Demo Team from Langley. On the Navy side, there's no indication that we're going to have Hornet or Super Hornet demo teams. I am hearing that there WILL be Marine Corps Harrier demos. That'll be cool.
All of these changes have put the air show business in a position it's never been in before. Our industry has, since the founding of the Blues in 1946 and the Thunderbirds a few years later, found huge crowd-pleasers in those teams. Up until a few years ago the Air Force's Air Combat Command had TWO A-10 demo teams, TWO F-16 demo teams, TWO F-15C teams and ONE Strike Eagle team. For a few years we even had a C-17 demo team. On the Navy side we had the Blues, Leap Frogs parachute team, and Hornet & Super Hornet demo teams, East and West. The Marines have had the Harrier demo for years and we even got to see the MV-22 Osprey for a couple of seasons. Well, Sequestration hit us hard. But our country is at WAR. And as nice as it is for the military to show off its hardware - and the people who fly and maintain that hardware, the primary jobs are to fight and defend our freedom.
I hope to have details on the Air Force Heritage Flight program soon. I'm just not sure how that inspiring and patriotic program will play out but as I get solid information I'll post it.