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Ventura County Air Show canceled by US Navy amid budget cuts

April 11, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
The U.S. Navy's annual Ventura County Air Show has been canceled amid military budget cuts.

The show was set to take off on Sept. 28. The Blue Angels expected to attract over 2,000 people over the two-day event but then the sequestration axe fell.

When the Blue Angels fly at an air show, jaws drop. And when they don't fly at an air show, attendance drops.

So when the U.S. Navy decided to ground the aerial demonstration team, the organizers of the Naval Base Ventura County Air Show decided to pull the plug on this year's event.

"Announcing the cancellation was a little gut-wrenching, done a lot of planning, it's very important to the community but it was the right choice to make," said Kimberly Gearhart, a spokeswoman for the base.

All of the Blue Angel's demonstrations for this year have been cancelled. The Air Force's air demonstration team, the Thunderbirds, have also canceled their entire 2013 season. The cancellations are the result of Congress' automatic budget cuts called sequestration.

The cuts will keep the fliers from taking part in other air shows as well including San Diego's Air Show at Miramar, which is considered to be the biggest in the country.

"This is kind of unprecedented," said Blue Angels pilot and Cmdr. Thomas Frosch, "I know it hasn't happened since Korea but we also sent them over to Korea. This is the first time I think the team has been grounded for this amount of time."

Ventura County Air Show fans won't be the only ones affected by the cancelation. Small business owners throughout the Ventura area say they too will feel the hit.

"When something like that is cancelled, all those people we would have had business and it just could really hurt us," said Alexandra Walters, a Ventura business owner.

Naval base officials say Ventura's last Air Show brought over 100,000 people through the gates. Many attendees ended up spending money in the county at stores, restaurants and hotels. That's money that now may not make it to places like Nature's Grill located in downtown Ventura.

"The more people that are around the more people come in here and the better it is for us," said Kelsey Meritt of Nature's Grill. "Anytime that there's an event that goes wrong, we get less customers so it makes a difference."

But even if Congress is able to solve its budget impasse, don't expect the Blue Angels to rocket back into Point Mugu anytime soon. Gearhart says now that the show's been canceled, there's really no way to get the high-performance fliers back this fall.

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