Shutdown grounds air show at MCAS Miramar
The U.S. Navy Blue Angels soar over Marine Corps Air Station Miramar during a performance at the Miramar Air Show on Oct. 2, 2011.
Stars and Stripes
SAN DIEGO — Just one day before the air show at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar was scheduled to begin, officials said they’ve been forced to cancel it because of the government shutdown.
Most bases across the country canceled their air shows after sequestration cuts took effect this summer. But Miramar officials asked the Pentagon for a waiver to allow them to fly military aircraft at the show, and when that request was denied, they decided to go forward anyway.
The show was to have featured flying demonstrations and acrobatics by civilian performers — including a Red Bull helicopter and “Dusty” the Disney plane — and static displays of military aircraft.
Many of the acts were already on base preparing when the base received word from the Pentagon on Thursday morning that they would have to cancel the show, Col. John Farnham said.
Farnham, the commander of the air station, said the DOD told base officials that nonessential activities, including outreach events, are not authorized under the government shutdown.
The restrictions are “more than I had the authority to overcome,” Farnham said. “The timing probably couldn’t be worse … but it is what it is.”
Farnham said the cancellation will cost the base some of its nonappropriated funds, because Marine Corps Community Services will refund those who had invested in the air show. He said he’s not sure yet how much money will have to be refunded.
The free air show draws about 500,000 people each year. It typically brings in more than $1 million in revenue, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.
“Personally, I’m disappointed, but professionally, we’re going to press on,” he said in a press conference Thursday morning. “From the bottom of my heart, I apologize to San Diego.”