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Author Topic: USAF cancels aerial support for airshows, Thunderbirds cancelled from April 1.  (Read 6934 times)

Offline Webmaster

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USAF cancels aerial support (incl. F-22) for public events, Thunderbirds season cancelled from April 1.

So, I guess most of you knew this was going to happen. I've posted the USAF and Thunderbirds specific news releases in the news section, or just goto af.mil

I feel gutted, and I'm not even in the US. Took them off the airshow calendar for so many shows, having not too long ago added them one by one for the lucky shows that got the F-22 or Thunderbirds, and now preparing for the effects. What's the Navy going to do, and how many of these airshows will cancel because they won't get the Thunderbirds? I hope for the best, but fear 2013 will be worst year since decades for airshows...

I hope they can reinstate support when decisions are taken for the next FY, too late for most, but then I'd be happy when adding them back on the schedule for the Oct-Nov shows, couple of big ones then. Surely they'll rectify it for Nellis...?

Also for Asia military overseas it's sad news, as the TB were planning a Asia/Pacific tour.

Looking at the European calendar makes me happier. There are some great/promising shows again, better than last year if you ask me, but still waiting for some teams to release their schedules to give it another big update. For this year, RAF Tornado Role Demo has become a victim to cutbacks, but I hope the others will be good to go soon. Bookmark http://www.milavia.net/airshows/calendar/showdates-2013-europe.html and check back often for updates.
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Offline shawn a

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  :'( We have a dysfunctional, partisan politics-obsessed congress to thank for this! Perhaps congress is what should be cancelled for this year for all the work they fail to do.   >:(  I'm sure no one here would even notice or care!
Niels, you hold out more hope than I do that this can be rectified before autumn.

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Navy is cancelling the Blue Angels performances for April airshows.

USAF AFB airshows are cancelling one by one, as well as some shows that would have the Thunderbirds.

The calendar http://www.milavia.net/airshows/calendar/showdates-2013-north_america.html has been updated, but still working on it, I'm expecting more cancellations.
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Offline tomdemerly

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This is my first post on the forum guys, so I hope it isn't bad form to share two links from editorials about the effects of the sequester on the airshow industry and the cancellation of the flying season for the Thunderbirds and the Blue Angels:

http://tomdemerly.com/2013/04/14/losing-airshows-can-we-afford-it/

And on the possible future of flight demonstrations at airshows as the industry seems to be changing:

http://tomdemerly.com/2013/04/15/the-privatization-of-airshows/

Hopefully this is a one-season deal because it's a significant loss I doubt we'll ever be able to measure accurately.

Offline r0m8470

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I was wondering if the demo teams have some latitudes to creatively generate funding for the sole purpose of paying for air show expense? Say, how about putting corporate logos on the planes - think Formula One, NASCAR style sponsorships. The narrator would then say 'US Air Force West Coast Viper Demo team presented by XYZ', something along that line. I think the right set of suppliers can be targeted. The issue I think would be more on the regulatory sides.

As far as the logos, the Air Force have water soluble paints. Same ones are used during Winter/Arctic exercise.

I've seen at least 2 Czech Republic's Su-25 Frogfoot with corporate sponsors on the tail. They're not part of any demo team that I know of - I don't even know what the occasions were but I've seen their pictures on 'World Air Power Journal' publication.

Offline tomdemerly

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That a strong idea, and interestingly, many airshows with the Thunderbirds or Blue Angels had sponsors for things like the courtesy cars the Blues and Thunderbirds used to be seen riding in at the event on the flightline. I think the government had to trend away from that for a number of reasons.

That suggests any private/corporate support of the Blue Angels or the Thunderbirds is probably off limits. I remember when I was in the Army we weren't even allowed to provide product endorsements officially to a boot company or a knife company.

That said, I think your idea had some merit to it.

Offline r0m8470

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Yeah - I can think of people start blowing the sponsorships out of proportion, may affect allegiance etc. Example: an F-22 Raptor demo team sponsored by Russian Oil and Gas company, or USN Tac Demo team sponsored by Chinese Telecom, stuff like that.

However, I do think that the armed forces can regulate that easily. Plus, on the contract, they can specify unique and identifiable deliverables, such as mentioning 'sponsored by XYZ' on show narrations, etc and the deliverables can be limited to just that.

I've dealt with vendor funded activities with Fortune 50 companies, and the arrangements can be as extensive as having vendor-funded head count. However, the contractual side can be arranged so that it does not intrude on the company integrity, so I think this could work, if the government allows it and places strong governance on the program.

Offline shawn a

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Perhaps a visit to a US air show by the Russian Knights, or The Swifts, or some chinese team in J-10s would embarrass our government enough to "Support Our Troops"!
Save Money--disband Congress!!

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I'm not familiar with U.S. laws/government, but I would imagine a law would have to be passed to allow this, before the armed forces can even start considering this and regulate/specify anything, because I would imagine that the rules on corporate sponsorship are pretty tight already and not include exceptions under which sponsoring the military could fall, for obvious reasons. Or am I wrong?
Also, I'm thinking in such a setup, awarding a sponsorship contract to the corporate sponsor would not be as easy as in the corporate world, and be more like government procurement. So even if you could set the rules in such a way to favor say Boeing or LM as sponsor... if they are outbid by a US subsidiary from whatever undesirable foreign company... by law they'd have to accept or get sued or fined... etc, etc. So I don't think they can regulate it easily as you say... they may still end up with something that's objectionable in every possible way.

We're only hearing about this sponsoring to deal with the current situation... but I don't think they're capable/allowed of accepting such a solution short term. So then it doesn't help in the short term, and there's no need for it long term right, because:

The current situation is not normal, the cuts are made everywhere except the real costly things because they are short term, we are not talking about structural spending cuts here, right? The US Thunderbirds annual budget is reported as $9.75 Million (mind you, taken from a news article on the cancelled season, may be lower than actual savings made by cutting the TB altogether, I don't know). The current USAF budget is normally about 140 Billion! Relative to the budget and all other spending plus potential areas of cutbacks (*cough* procurement, overseas bases, combat force), that $10m is a small price to pay for public relations and recruitment benefits it provides, so it can be (and I think, will be) easily justified. Because even if structural cuts are made on the PR and recruitment budget, it would not drop to such a low level where that 10m cannot be afforded... they've already cut the single-ship demos.

My point is: it's structurally not necessary to take a tricky sponsorship route, and airshows are still a very effective PR/recruitment tool. When automatic cuts don't apply, and recruitment needs go up again, and it will sooner than later, then there's no problem with funding the teams. It's only affecting the teams now because of the current forced cuts, that doesn't mean they are threatened in case of structural cuts. Unless they'll be really drastic. But even then... the DOD's budget has been 2x that of FY01, that's not just inflation in personnel and procurement costs, those have been and will be continue to be met by base closures and force reductions, right? It's been due to the wars, and all the "overhead" that came with it. They had the teams and singleship demos flying in FY01... no corporate sponsorship required.

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Niels Hillebrand
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