Sequester Knocks the Navy’s Blue Angels Out of the Air

Photo Credit: NY Times

A screaming comes across the sky. Again and again, all day long. Here at the 36th annual TiCo Warbird Airshow, fighter jets and vintage planes roar and rumble by as viewers ooh, aah, and then walk over to the line of food stands to buy funnel cakes and gyros, corn dogs and root beer floats.

The undisputed star, of course, is the Air Force Thunderbirds, whose six-plane precision flying team crisscrosses a perfect sky in ever-changing formations and gives an undiluted thrill to the crowd — at least those who brought earplugs.

But this is likely to be the last appearance by the Thunderbirds until the end of the federal government’s fiscal year on Sept. 30, if not longer. A performance this weekend by the Navy and Marine Corps’ Blue Angels near Key West, Fla., will also be their last for some time. The Army’s parachute demonstration team, the Golden Knights, is also suspending performances.

The failure of Congress to avoid the automatic spending cuts under what is known as sequestration is being felt in many ways, including the cancellation of White House tours and the loss of some 70,000 slots in Head Start early education programs. Along with less visible cuts, the Defense Department has suspended operation of the demonstration teams starting April 1.

(The Navy is hedging its bets, having simply announced its intent to cancel performances in April while waiting to see if financing problems are resolved, said Cmdr. Kevin Stephens, a Navy spokesman. “We want these cuts to be implemented at the last possible moment so they can be reversed where possible,” he said.)

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