Sequester Downs Nation’s Air Shows

Congress’ long-running budget battle with President Barack Obama claimed another casualty this month as dozens of air shows across the country were canceled.

The long-running Indianapolis Air Show was the first major show to skip 2013 after event headliners the U.S. Navy Blue Angels bowed out, citing the sequester. The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and the U.S. Army’s parachute demonstration team, the Golden Knights, also suspended upcoming performances.

With the Department of Defense looking to slash $46 billion from this year’s budget, per the Los Angeles Times, air shows were an easy mark. In a news release, Col. Barry Cornish, 99th Air Base Wing Commander at Nellis Air Force Base, said the move “prioritized combat readiness over other activities, and air shows have been canceled as a result.”

With Congress and President Obama unable to work out a compromise, other major air shows, including large events held in Ohio, South Dakota, Virginia and Arizona, announced their cancellations this week.

Other tourist-friendly activities promoted by the government, such as White House tours, have also been cut because of the sequester, while reduced manpower means longer lines and more headaches for national park visitors.

The acrobatic air squadrons are major draws for air shows, bringing a 25 percent larger audience, according to the New York Times. Without those draws – and the additional military support each show receives – it didn’t make financial sense for the shows to go on.

In 2011, the Dakota Thunder Air Show cost the air force base about $200,000 in expenses, including more than 87,000 gallons of air fuel, supplies, security and lodging for visiting aircrews.

At least two major air shows without a major military presence historically – EAA AirVenture Oshkosh and Wings Over Houston – will go on as planned.

[Photo Credit: Flickr user Sebastian Bergmann]

China Airshow To Feature Acrobatic Team

Airshow China 2012 is scheduled to run from November 13 to 18 and will feature over 600 exhibitors from 39 countries. Promising to be bigger and better this year, the show hopes to become more recognized by the international aviation and aerospace community. To help make that happen, the show will feature a variety of airborne daredevil fliers.

Officially titled the China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition, Airshow China is the only international aerospace trade show in China that is endorsed by the Chinese government. That’s significant because China is looking for 5,400 new passenger aircraft between now to 2031. To get that many aircraft, China wants to make its own plane, the C919, which has attracted international aviation manufacturers to the show.

“We had to close for entries last month as we did not have any space for more,” said Yang Xiangang, vice general manager of Zhuhai Airshow in a South China Morning Post report.Airshow China, held in Zhuhai, features a display of aviation products, hosted trade talks, a technological exchange and a flying display of acrobatic teams from Europe.

This year, the Breitling Jet Team, Breitling Wingwalkers and Yves “Jetman” Rossy are scheduled to participate.

To get to China, they will fly through Eastern Europe, into Russia passing through Siberia, then on to Mongolia and down through China to reach their destination as we see in this video.

[Photo Credit: Flickr user doniphon]

Video: Southwest Airlines’ departure from the Oskhosh AirVenture

Though aviation enthusiasts are the focus of each annual Oshkosh AirVenture, there’s also a big commercial and and industrial component. This year, for example, Ford, GE and Honda each had a significant presence on the grounds, largely for what seems to be exposure.

As part of the festivities, Southwest also brought one of their Boeing 737s to display at the show, and they chocked the airplane full of volunteers, employees and media for a special shuttle flight from Chicago‘s Midway into the heart of Oshkosh, Wisconsin. And since Gadling Labs is based out of Chicago, we hitched along for the ride.

Departure from Midway was at an eye-rubbing 7AM, and once on the ground in Oshkosh we had full range to wander wherever and photograph whatever we wanted. And just as the clouds rolled in at 5PM, we gathered back together to make the journey home.

First officer JC was standing on the airstairs as we watched the clouds roll in, and somehow we got onto the topic of cockpit jumpseat availability. Asked if we could take an open slot, he shrugged in affirmation — since this wasn’t a commercially operated Southwest flight the rules on passengers in the cockpit weren’t as strict, so after checking with the captain of the flight we came up front.

Above, you’ll see the perspective of the Southwest crew during the taxi and takeoff from Oshkosh AirVenture. With spectators lining the parallel taxi way and a festive atmosphere all about it was truly a unique experience — we hope you enjoy the perspective.

Photos from the Oshkosh Airventure

Festivities from the 2011 Oshkosh AirVenture are just wrapping up as we type, and as our photos come back from the dark room we’re sending them straight out to print.

As far as air shows go, one can do no better than the Oshkosh AirVenture in Wisconsin. Your typical small town air show this is not. Sure, they’ve got the warbirds and the experimental planes and the helicopters and the commercial jets — in sheer volume of hardware here there is no doubt.

Oshkosh goes well beyond the lifeless shell of steel and rivets though — this show is more about community than anything else. It’s immediately apparent as you walk down the runway where the primary show takes place. On the left side you’ll see cycles of aircraft flying in formation, in loops, around in spirals and performing for the audience.

And on the right? Legions of personal aircraft surrounded by campsites. Thousands of them. Some visitors sleep in their aircraft, others right under the wings. Scores of people make the trip up to Oskhosh each year to nestle back into the community, talk shop and catch up with old friends. It’s the annual reunion of airplane nerds.

Add to that mix a strong commercial component of airframe, technology and culture displays and you’ve got the biggest aircraft event in North America, a virtual playground for any aviation enthusiast. Take a look at the pictures from Gadling labs courtesy Erin Drewitz below.


Photo of the Day (1.11.11)

There are few things in aviation that are more impressive than modern aerobatics. Take a minute to consider what’s happening in this picture: nine difference pilots controlling machines that can reach speeds of 800mph, all within just a few feet of eachother.

If you’ve heard of or seen the Blue Angels, then you may be familiar with their English counterparts; the Royal Air Force’s Red Arrows. Widely regarded as one of the best aerobatics teams in the world, the nine-man team has performed over 4,000 displays across 53 countries since their inception in 1965. Today’s Photo of the Day by Emerald2810 is an astounding shot of the Red Arrows in their trademark diamond formation, high above Epsom, Surrey in England.

If you have a favorite shot from an air show or travel festival, we’d love to see it. Share it with us at Gadling’s Flickr Group and it could wind up right here as our next Photo of the Day.