Sequestration grounds USAF Thunderbirds ahead of Myrtle Beach Air Show

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – It appears the Myrtle Beach Air Show scheduled for this June will have a few less planes in the sky than planned: The USAF Thunderbirds announced Friday they are canceling all performances after April 1 due to the sequestration measures enacted Friday.

"Details about when the team will resume performances after April 1 are unclear," stated Maj. Darrick B. Lee, with Thunderbirds Public Affairs, in a news release. "In the meantime, pilots will take every opportunity to train in an effort to maintain their proficiency within the limits of sequestration."

Lieutenant Col. Greg Moseley, U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron commander/leader, confirmed the squadron is taking measures to ensure they are ready to resume demonstrations the moment sequestration is rescinded.

In spite of the apparent cancellation, organizers insisted that the show, scheduled to take place on June 28 to 30 over the city's new boardwalk downtown, will go on. A statement was released just prior to sequestration taking effect Friday night:

"Although we are optimistic that an agreement will be reached, we intend to produce the airshow regardless of the Thunderbird's attendance," stated George Cline, president and owner of Air Boss Inc. who is overseeing management of the airshow. "Even though the Thunderbirds are A-list performers in the air show circuit, the other talent line-up secured for our show is impressive and will no doubt attract a strong audience, especially considering the air show is free and will serve as one of several events to celebrate the City of Myrtle Beach's 75th anniversary of incorporation."

Other performances scheduled for the two-day event include: AeroShell Aerobatic Team, Mike Lucas-Lucas Oil Air Show team, Raiders Aerobatic team, the Fowler Cary T33 Jet and the All Veteran Parachute Team.

"The United States Army Ground Forces Band is slated to perform a free military concert on Friday night, with an intermission highlight of an evening parachute jump executed by the All Veteran Parachute Team and sunset performance by the Aeroshell Aerobatic Team," organizers stated.

The other military and civilian performers will take to the skies on Saturday and Sunday afternoon, the release stated.

Hours before the budget cuts known as sequestration were set to take effect, President Barack Obama signed the order to begin $85 billion in across the board reductions.

The deadline for a deal to avoid the cuts was 11:59 p.m. Friday.

According to the Associated Press, the reductions will result in furlough notices to many government employees and will trim government spending on defense contracts and domestic government programs.

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