OCEAN CITY – The organizer of the OC Air Show assured the Mayor and Council this week the show will go on in June, despite the possible grounding of headlining military acts, such as the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, due to the looming possibility of sequestration.
The Blue Angels are scheduled to make their inaugural appearance in Ocean City as they headline this year’s OC Air Show on June 8-9.
This week Bryan Lilley of Ocean City Air Show LLC came before the Mayor and City Council to announce additional acts in this summer’s show. Besides the Blue Angels, military performers will be USN F-18 Hornet Demo, the 101st Airborne Screaming Eagles, and the F-22 Raptor Demo Team. So far civilian acts will be the Red Bull Helicopter, Mike Wiskus and the Lucas Oil Pitts, and the Geico Skytypers.
Lilley added it has been a challenge thus far to nail down host hotels to house performers. At this point, the event is in need of 49 rooms per night. He acknowledged those who have come on board, such as the Quality Inn, Marriott Courtyard, Park Place Hotel, the Grand Hotel, Coconut Malorie, Castle in the Sand, and new this year the Clarion Resort Hotel.
“Anything the council can do to encourage the hotel community to assist in being able to host these teams and be able to keep our full-fledged line-up and top performers. The rooms are critical,” Lilley said.
On top of listing the support received so far by the hotel community, Lilley announced the sponsors committed to date, which includes but is not limited to 5 Hour Energy, Taylor Bank, Bacardi, Geico, Hooters, Eastern Aviation Fuels, Coca-Cola, Ocean View Grill, De Lazy Lizard and new this year is Ford.
“As we have in the past, we are anxiously looking forward to the OC Air Show this year. It is a terrific event and you have done a great job. Promoting it and providing the acts necessary to make it successful,” Mayor Rick Meehan said.
Before Lilley could get away, Meehan questioned him over sequestration’s impact on the OC Air Show. The impending appropriation will result in $85 billion in automatic budget cuts unless the Congress comes up with an alternative plan by Friday, March 1.
“With military support or without military support, our full intention is to move forward with an air show,” Lilley said. “We are planning for all cases, and in all cases there will be an air show in Ocean City on June 8 and 9.”
According to the International Council of Air Shows (ICAS) earlier, possible sequestration cuts will have a significant impact on the entire U.S. air show community.
ICAS furthered, the military’s senior leadership is making contingency plans in the event politicians do not reach some agreement. Last month, ICAS provided some details on those contingency plans for the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Navy. In each case, those plans call for massive restructuring and emergency cost-cutting steps, including a reduction in non-essential flying. Also, if no compromise is reached by Friday and sequestration cuts are implemented, the four service branches will institute a hiring freeze and begin furloughing civilian defense employees. They will eliminate all non-essential travel. They will suspend many defense contracts, and they will delay a large number of construction and maintenance projects.
Several air shows across the nation have canceled events this year while the question of sequestration remains in play, including the 2013 Indianapolis Air Show scheduled for June 15-16. The show’s scheduled headliners were also the Blue Angels.
Indianapolis Air Show Chairman Robert Duncan explained sponsors began dropping out when the news spread of the Blue Angels possibly being grounded for the event.
Closer to home, the annual Langley air show, which was to feature the Thunderbirds and set for May, has already been cancelled as a result of the government stalemate. Next up could be the Oceana Air Show, which had tapped the Blue Angels, set for September. Oceana officials seem to be waiting out the March 1 deadline before taking an action.
Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia spokesperson Kelley Stirling told Military.com if the Blue Angels could not appear for its fall show, "that would mean our show gets canceled regardless."
According to Lilley, military performers as well as the OC Air Show are planning ahead. The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and Blue Angels intend to fly for certification in March that will allow them to perform in the 2013 air show season.
“We as a company have looked at it and already come up with detailed plans of a what-if scenario to be prepared,” he said.
Lilley concluded he is confident the OC Air Show will remain to be successful. Not only is the air show free of charge but it is a beach front event where the airplanes become flying fireworks, or a reason for people to come to the beach versus an air show at an air field or facility where people attend solely based upon the aviation perspective.