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From the ICAS Newsletter:

Although there are a few specific details yet to be worked out, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel recently announced that Department of Defense public outreach programming – including performances by the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and U.S. Navy Blue Angels – will resume, “…starting immediately at a reduced level.”

Hagel did not elaborate on what “reduced level” might mean as it relates to the military’s air show support, but shortly after Hagel’s announcement, the U.S. Navy announced that the Blue Angels and the Leap Frogs parachute team would both perform a “full schedule” in 2014. The U.S. Air Force has not yet announced details on the Thunderbirds’ schedule, but it appears likely that the team will fly something close to a full season in 2014.

Less clear is the impact that Hagel’s announcement will have on air shows and open houses at military bases during 2014. Industry insiders suggest that fewer military shows will be held, that a specific dollar limit will be set to host these events, and that decisions on where the events are held will be based on the impact and “return on investment” that these shows produce for the military.

It is also still unclear what impact Hagel’s announcement will have on Marine Corps Harrier and Osprey demonstrations, single-ship demonstration performances by Navy and Air Force aircraft, and military static display participation. ICAS expects those issues to be resolved within the next several days.

“Among many other things, the end to the prohibition on military support is a significant achievement for ICAS,” says ICAS President John Cudahy. “The entire organization has been working hard since late February for this outcome. Although it will never be possible to quantify how much our efforts contributed to the return of military support to air shows, there’s no question that the trips to Capitol Hill, the conversations with Pentagon officials, and the hundreds of letters from our members to their elected officials were a significant contributing factor in helping to educate all parties on the impact that the prohibition on military support of air shows was having on the country, on the military and on the air show industry.”


ICAS headquarters has already received several inquiries from members since last Friday’s announcement by Secretary of Defense Hagel. The concern: If the military cancelled all of their air show participation with very little warning in 2013, is it possible that they might do this again in 2014?

The answer: hypothetically possible, but not likely. In 2013, the military was asked to implement a full year’s worth of budget cuts in just six months. For 2014, the Department of Defense has made a deliberate decision to restore military participation for 2014. They have had time to develop a more thoughtful, deliberate plan. And, as part of that plan, the Pentagon decided that a restoration of community outreach programs was important. Under those circumstances, it’s not likely that they would decide just a few months later to change their minds.

The fact that the federal government is currently operating under a continuing resolution that expires early next year has also been a source of concern for some ICAS members. Most experts agree that the difficulties created by this month’s government shutdown make it likely that we will not see another government shutdown this spring.

“We are living in uncertain times when it comes to the military’s ongoing support of air shows. And many details related to the U.S. military’s involvement in the 2014 air show season are yet to be resolved,” says ICAS President John Cudahy. “But, based on all the information we’ve been able to gather thus far, it appears that we will be returning to something very close to ‘business as usual’ for the 2014 season.”


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