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Dark Clouds Hang Over Air Shows After Budget Cuts

The Blue Angels
Steven Sohlstrom, FlightFlash.com

BRUNSWICK, Maine (AP) – The automatic budget cuts that grounded the Navy Blue Angels and Air Force Thunderbirds are taking a toll on performers, air show announcers, concessionaires, vendors and others who depend on air shows and the millions of spectators.

All told, the International Council of Air Shows says 64 air shows that depended on military participation have canceled this season — including the air show here in St. Cloud.

Those included Wings over Wayne at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina and Skyfest 2013 at Fairchild Air Force Base in Washington state this weekend.

The council says air shows draw nearly three times more spectators than NASCAR events and pump about $1.5 billion into the economy and. Aerobatic pilot Sean Tucker describes the air shows as “the Indianapolis 500, the Fourth of July, and ‘Top Gun’ rolled into one.”

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