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Ventura County air show canceled amid military budget cuts

April 10, 2013|By Tony Perry
  • The Air Force's aerial demonstration team, the Thunderbirds, performs at the Naval Base Ventura County Air Show in 2007.
The Air Force's aerial demonstration team, the Thunderbirds, performs… (Jason R. Williams / U.S.…)

The air show at Naval Base Ventura County, which had been expected to draw upward of 200,000 people with the Blue Angels headlining, is being canceled because of the automatic budget cuts called sequestration.

"The community here in Ventura County is very supportive and we appreciate their understanding while we navigate the fiscal constraints we've faced this year," Capt. Larry Vasquez, the base commander, said Wednesday in announcing the cancellation.

The announcement came a day after the Blue Angels announced that the famed squadron was canceling all of its remaining shows this year, including the Ventura County show, the three-day air show at Miramar Marine Corps Air Station in San Diego, and San Francisco Fleet Week.

The Miramar show, billed as the largest in the nation, remains scheduled, officials said, even without the Blue Angels.

Under sequestration, the Pentagon has taken an approximately 7% cut in its $500-billion-plus budget. The Air Force's aerial demonstration team, the Thunderbirds, which has performed at the Ventura County show, has also canceled its performances.

The Point Mugu event had been set for Sept. 28-29. In announcing the cancellation, Navy officials stressed that their budget priority remains training for deployment and supporting troops already deployed.

"As a military organization, protecting that mission is paramount," Vasquez said. Air shows, key to public relations and recruiting, are a lesser priority in tight budget years, officials said.

The Miramar show, which is free to the public, makes money from vendors selling their wares, thus making it less dependent on military funding.

Also, Miramar, home to the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, has numerous fixed-wing and rotary squadrons on base, thus eliminating the cost of bringing aircraft from other bases for the show.

The Ventura County show started in 1960 as the Point Mugu Space Fair. There were no shows in 2011 and 2012 after the base was put on a three-year rotation schedule for air shows with other bases.

The Blue Angels had not performed at the Ventura County show since 1999. The squadron was set for the 2005 show but was grounded due to bad weather.

Officials had hoped with the Blue Angels, flying F/A-18 Hornets, headlining, the 2013 show might double the 2010 attendance. In 2010, the show was topped by the Thunderbirds.


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