The shows won't go on: Military grounds all flyovers, air shows
"We're staying focused on our primary mission," the Air Force says amid the sequester
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - You couldn’t miss them. They flew fast and high over parades and ball games in a show of military might. But now, aviation fans and families are missing them in a different sense. The military’s canceled all flyovers and air shows.
Because of budget constraints presented by the sequester, the Department of Defense reported
it’s grounded -- for the rest of the fiscal year -- all air shows as well as flyovers at events like holiday parades, sporting events, military graduations and military funerals.
“We had to cut back to really focus on what's important to DOD and the taxpayer -- that's to be prepared to employ air power anywhere in the world at a moment's notice,” said Lt. Col. Tyler Gabriel, 357th Fighter Squadron Commander at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.
How much money does the Air Force save? Lt. Col. Gabriel gave the example of the cost of flying one A-10: about $6,600 an hour. Often, multiple jets will fly in formation and take time to get to their destination.
“I just want the American public to know that we're doing the most with what we can with what we've been given -- to get the maximum training,” the lieutenant colonel added. “We're staying focused on our primary mission.”
Aviation hobbyists at Todd’s Restaurant, next to Ryan Airfield, felt a mixture of understanding and disappointment hearing the news.
“I'm sure they're trying to look to cut little here, little there to meet their final goal,” said 33-year pilot Roger Lee. “They probably look at that as more of a luxury item for them than it is a necessity.”
“It's disappointing because the public needs to know what the military has,” said 15-year pilot John Deptula. “To lose those air shows -- they don't know what they're paying for with their taxes.”
KGUN9 News reporter Kevin Keen Lt. Col. Gabriel, “Do you understand their disappointment?”
“Oh, sure. I can understand that,” he answered, standing at Davis-Monthan. “We're still flying. We're still training. If folks are really interested in getting in an eye-full of air plane, they can always look up in the sky over Tucson.”
If and when flyovers and air shows will return is unclear. That largely depends on the next budget-related move Congress makes.