Sequestration could affect Thunderbirds at EAA AirVenture

OSHKOSH (WITI) — The Air Force Thunderbirds are scheduled to appear at EAA this year for the first time ever. But with sequestration looming, that’s now in question.

Darin Bolton doesn’t miss the world’s greatest aviation celebration. He’s a big military fan who likes the fighter planes and the bombers.

The Thunderbirds is one attraction Bolton was looking forward to.

“I have not had a chance to see the Thunderbirds since the ’80s,” Bolton said.

The Air Force Thunderbirds flight demonstration team is scheduled to appear at AirVenture this July. But AirVenture officials are closely watching sequestration talks in Washington. Concerned the Thunderbirds could fall victim to the looming federal budget cuts.

“The way we are approaching this is a plan A and plan B,” AirVenture VP of Attractions Jim DiMatteo said.

DiMatteo says plan A is the Thunderbirds arrive as scheduled.

“Plan B is essentially, if sequestration does not get resolved and the military does pull out in totality then we have that plan being worked on,” DiMatteo said.

It’s not just AirVenture that could be affected. Budget cuts have already hit the National Guard. A spokesperson says the guard stopped doing fly-overs for community events.

DiMatteo also says the sequester could affect government sponsored exhibits and demonstrations and even FAA staffing for AirVenture.

“It’s too early to tell what will happen. They might come, they might not come, they might perform, they might not perform,” DiMatteo said.

DiMatteo also says fans of the air show have no reason to be concerned it won’t be another world class event.

“That’s not going to dilute our show at all. We are very excited about what is coming in 2013,” DiMatteo said.

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