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Fleet weeks, Blue Angels back for fiscal '14, but with cuts

Oct. 21, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
Jets from the Navy's flight demonstration squadron, better known as the Blue Angels, fly over the Gulf of Mexico in August — part of training so the pilots can stay proficient despite the cancellation of nearly every scheduled 2013 show. Shows will resume next year.
Jets from the Navy's flight demonstration squadron, better known as the Blue Angels, fly over the Gulf of Mexico in August — part of training so the pilots can stay proficient despite the cancellation of nearly every scheduled 2013 show. Shows will resume next year. (MC1 Rachel McMarr/Navy)
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The Navy has announced it will restore its participation in some fleet weeks in fiscal 2014 and allow its flight demonstration team, better known as the Blue Angels, to fly a full schedule of air shows.

But the $57 million the fleet has to spend on such community-outreach events is 42 percent less than the $99.38 million it would’ve used had its budget request been fully funded.

“While we are still able to support community outreach events, engagements are limited and scaled down due to a 45 percent reduction in funding across the service,” Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Navy’s chief of naval information, said in a Monday post on the Navy’s official blog.

“We will be able to provide Americans around our nation with special events to explain and show what their Navy does,” he added. “These events include full schedules for Blue Angels and Leap Frogs [the Navy’s parachute team]; 5 Fleet Weeks; 6 Navy Weeks; Navy and regional band performances; and 10 port visits to U.S. cities.”

What’s on, per Kirby’s blog entry:

■ Fleet weeks in New York City; Port Everglades, Fla.; San Francisco; Seattle; and Portland, Ore.

■ Navy weeks in Baltimore; Mobile, Ala.; Pittsburgh; St. Louis; Omaha, Neb.; and Dallas.

■ Port visits in Baltimore; Mobile; New Orleans; Tampa, Fla.; Savannah, Ga.; New York; Boston; Camden, Maine; Philadelphia; and Los Angeles.

Officials at the Blue Angels did not respond to Navy Times inquiries as to when they would begin flying air shows again, nor where their first show will be. Normally, the team spends the start of each calendar year training new air and maintenance crews in Fallon, Nev., before beginning its air show schedule in the spring.

The Blue Angels’ final scheduled performances for 2013 were to take place Oct. 26-27 at the Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla., air show and Nov. 1-2 at the team’s homecoming show in Pensacola, Fla. Those performances were wiped out in April, along with the rest of the 2013 schedule, in a cost-saving move by the Navy.

The team is scheduled to begin its 2014 season March 15 at an air show hosted by Naval Air Facility El Centro, Calif., according to its official website.

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