Thunderbirds grounded because of budget cuts, but Myrtle Beach air show still on

dbryant@thesunnews.comMarch 1, 2013 

Myrtle Beach will have an air show this summer -- even without the planned star performers.

On Friday, the U.S. Air Force grounded the Thunderbirds season starting April 1 -- including the scheduled performance in Myrtle Beach in June -- after Congress didn’t act and automatic budget cuts kicked in.

But the other teams on the air show lineup are still ready to perform during the Myrtle Beach Air Show set for June 28-30 over the ocean, organizers said Friday.

Among the acts on the air show bill: AreoShell Aerobatic Team, Mike Lucas-Lucas Oil Air Show team, Raiders Aerobatic team, the Fowler Cary T33 Jet and the All Veteran Parachute Team. The U.S. Army Band also is scheduled to perform.

“Although we are optimistic that an agreement will be reached, we intend to produce the air show regardless of the Thunderbirds’ attendance,” George Cline, president and owner of Air Boss Inc. who is overseeing the show, said in a news release. “Even though the Thunderbirds are A-list performers in the air show circuit, the other talent lineup secured for our show is impressive and will no doubt attract a strong audience, especially considering the air show is free and will serve as one of several events to celebrate the city of Myrtle Beach’s 75th anniversary of incorporation.”

On Friday, the Air Force canceled support to all air shows, tradeshows, flyovers, orientation flights, heritage flights, F-22 demonstration flights and open houses.

But it said the Thunderbirds and Heritage Flight crews would still complete their certification procedures for flying aerial demonstrations in case Congress works out a plan for the budget cuts and the air teams can resume their scheduled events for 2013.

Wendy Varhegyi, chief of the engagement division for Air Force public affairs, said earlier this week that if lawmakers are able to agree on an alternative soon after the Friday deadline, the season could be salvaged. She said the amount of time it took Congress to reach a solution would determine how soon the pilots could fly again.

Contact DAWN BRYANT at 626-0296 or at dbryant@thesunnews.com or follow her at Twitter.com/TSN_dawnbryant.

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