Are Airshows Worth the Cost for the Military?

So the sequester is here, and it is already starting to have an impact on the world of aviation.  In fact, some of that impact took place before the sequestration actually hit.  Last week, the Indianapolis Air Show cancelled their show “due to the wide-ranging impact of sequestration.”

Shortly thereafter, the Air Force cancelled not just air shows, but all aviation support at public events.  That includes “tradeshows, flyovers (including funerals and military graduations), orientation flights, heritage flights, F-22 demonstration flights and open houses, unless the event includes only local static assets.”  So unless it is already based at the air show, don’t plan on seeing any Air Force assets at those wonderful airshows we all love.

I love airshows as much or more than the next guy.  I love just being at the airport watching planes land and take-off, so watching aerial demonstrations is that much better.  That being said, I think the Air Force is making a very wise choice, and one that I expect the Navy will follow, though as of right now the Blue Angels’ official website doesn’t mention any cancellations.

When you consider how much these demonstration teams cost, it just makes sense to cancel their shows with the current financial mess that Congress has put us in.  According to the Department of the Navy Budget Estimates for 2013 from the Finance Department the Blue Angels’ budget was approximately $40 million.

Now as a percentage of the Navy’s total budget $40 million is less than 0.1%, which is clearly not very much.  That being said how can you justify sending these crews all over the country putting them up in four and five-star hotels, while at the same time telling other sailors and airmen that they can’t get the training they need to protect our country because it just isn’t in the budget.

As someone who is being directly impacted by the sequester, I am happy to see that the Air Force is capable of making some common sense decisions.  Put me in the group of people who hopes this whole thing is short-lived and we can quickly go back to enjoying the “sights and sounds of freedom” at air shows all over the country, but until we can come up with ways to take care of the airmen, sailors, soldiers, and Marines that are directly supporting the fight, there is no reason for us to be blowing money on extra things.

One could argue that things like air shows and flyovers are important to maintain public support, and aid in recruiting, and I would agree with you.  However, it does no good to garner that support and recruit those people if you have no way of accomplishing the far more important mission that you have been tasked with.

What’s your take?  Do you think we should continue to fund this extra public support while we are having such major budget problems, or is military leadership making a wise choice to cancel these events for the time being?