Due to the budget sequester, the Air Force has cancelled all aviation support to public events for at least the remainder of Fiscal 2013, and is standing down the Thunderbirds aerial demonstration team to preserve flying hours for readiness needs, announced service officials. “Engaging with the public is a core Air Force mission and communicating and connecting with the public is more important today than ever before. However, faced with deep budget cuts, we have no choice but to stop public aviation support,” said Brig. Gen. Les Kodlick, Air Force public affairs director, in the service’s March 1 release. Effective March 1, Active Duty, Air National Guard, and Air Force Reserve units ceased all aviation support at air shows, tradeshows, and open houses, unless the event includes only local static assets; they also stopped flyovers (including at funerals and military graduations), orientation flights, heritage flights, and F-22 demonstration flights, states the release. Cancellation of the Thunderbirds’ 2013 flying season takes effect on April 1, according to the release. Thunderbirds and heritage flight crews will complete their certification procedures in case the budget allows resumption of scheduled events in 2013, states the release. (See also Sequestration’s Disconnect.)
Reports of production troubles on the SpaceX rocket that could contend for military cargo deliveries happened to coincide with a different company’s concept receiving an early nod—one that might not require a rocket at all.