Blue Angels Grounded, But MCAS Miramar Air Show To Go On
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Aired 4/10/13 on KPBS News.
Sequestration cuts have grounded the famed Blue Angels. The Navy on Monday morning announced the cancellation of all remaining 2013 performances, including in San Diego.
Tens of thousands of Blue Angels fans gather every year at MCAS Miramar to watch the thunderous F/A-18 Hornets pierce through the San Diego skies as they perform daring aerobatics. But this year, the elite flight team will be grounded because of federal budget cuts.
“I can tell you that no one’s more disappointed than the Blues themselves,” said Blue Angels spokesman, Lt. Aaron Kakiel.
Kakiel said even if another funding source becomes available, the Blue Angels won't be able to fly.
“It takes a significant amount of time and energy and resources to get the Blues back up to a situation where they’re trained as a team to perform and are certified to be able to put on those air demonstrations," said Kakiel. "So it takes a specific amount of time to come back from shutting down.”
Still, the MCAS Miramar Air Show, scheduled for October 4th-6th, will go on.
"The Blue Angels, we’ve appreciated them coming out the past few years, and everybody loves to see them, but the one thing everybody has to be aware of is the Blue Angels are not the air show. They’re just one performer," said Lt. Chad Hill, MCAS Miramar media officer.
Hill said the highlight this year will be the Marine Air Ground Task Force demonstration.
“So we will bring in helicopters, planes, tanks, amphibious assault vehicles. The Osprey will come down and troops will come out of the back of amphibious assault vehicles and converge onto one point as if they were assaulting an objective,” Hill described.
The cancellation of the Blue Angels' remaining 33 shows will save the Department of Defense approximately $20 million.
The Blue Angels have performed in air shows around the world for more than 60 years. The fighter pilots are among the world's best and are often graduates of the Navy's famed Top Gun air tactics school.
Kakiel said individual team members will continue to fly minimal hours to maintain their proficiency.
"They will not be practicing their air show demonstrations, but the pilots will be maintaining a minimum safe flying proficiency," said Kakiel. "Which means, they'll be flying in their hornets to make sure that they are able to safely operate those aircraft."