Four members of the Air Force Thunderbirds perform an Echelon Pass during the 2012 Barksdale Air Force Base Defenders of Liberty Air Show in 2012. (Staff Sgt. Chad Warren / Air Force)
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After the cancellation of Air Force Thunderbirds and Navy Blue Angels appearances because of budget cuts, air-show officials are fighting back, all the way to Capitol Hill.
The International Council of Air Shows Inc. has taken the unprecedented step of hiring a lobbying firm to explain to Congress the importance of air shows and the economic boost they provide to communities.
“The air show industry in the United States of America is threatened with extinction,” council president John Cudahy said.
Mandatory budget cuts grounded the Air Force’s Thunderbirds demonstration team during the air-show season. Air Force bases across the country also canceled their scheduled air shows.
The firm, Van Scoyoc Associates, will lobby for “air shows regarding sequestration-related issues,” according to a document filed in the Senate. The move was first reported by the Center for Public Integrity.
The council estimates this year’s air-show cancellations will result in the loss of $1 billion to the communities.
“This will not only drive many air shows out of business permanently, it will also have a devastating impact on the communities in which they are held,” Cudahy said.
Lobbying on behalf of the air-show organization will be former Senate aide Jennifer Cave, who also worked as a special assistant to the National Security Council and the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Michael Shupp, a retired Marine colonel and former Marine Corps director of legislative affairs for the House.