FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - MAY 1: U.S. Navy Blue Angles fly in formation May 1, 2004 during a performance at the 2004 McDonald's Air and Sea Show in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The show draws millions of spectators each year. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
(AP) - Deep budget cuts in Washington mean military flight teams will likely be no-shows at air shows across the U.S. starting this spring, leaving dozens of host cities bracing for thinner crowds and lost tourism dollars.
When $85 billion in automatic cuts kicked in March 1, the Air Force canceled shows at bases from Florida to Arizona and grounded its formation-flying pilots, the Thunderbirds. The Army's Golden Knights parachute team also canceled performances. The Navy's famous Blue Angels said only that military commanders intend to cancel their April shows, though nothing is officially canceled yet.
John Cudahy of the International Council of Air Shows says at least 150 U.S. air shows each year count on military performers. Without them, he estimates up to a third of the shows might cancel altogether.