USAF Thunderbirds End Their Short 2013 Air Show Season on Florida’s Space Coast

Zero G News' photograph of F-16 with the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds Posted on AmericaSpace

The TICO Warbird Air Show brought some thunder to Florida’s Space Coast this weekendshortly thereafter Mother Nature brought some thunder of her own. The air show was held March 22-24. Photo Credit: Mike Killian / www.ZeroGNews.com

This article is used with permission by Zero G News.

This past weekend Titusville, Fla., played host to the 36th annual TICO Warbird Air Show, and this year’s events proved to be the biggest in the Valiant Air Command’s history with the United States Air Force Thunderbirds headlining the weekend’s performances. Their visit to Florida’s Space Coast marked the end of the team’s very short 2013 air show season, and brought record crowds to the small city which neighbors NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

In a “worst-case scenario,” this may have been the final performance ever for the team that has represented the pride and professionalism of the U.S. Air Force since 1953. As of April 1, all military aerial demonstration performances are cancelled as a result of sequestration measures, which refers to budget cuts to specific areas of federal spending. A permanent cancellation of the team is, however, very unlikely.

The B-17 "Chuckie" conducts a pass during this weekend's TICO Warbird Air Show. Photo Credit: Mike Killian / Zero G News

The B-17 “Chuckie” conducts a pass during this weekend’s TICO Warbird Air Show. Photo Credit: Mike Killian / Zero G News

The following statement was issued March 1 by the team, in response to the official cancellation of their 2013 season:

This decision enables Air Combat Command (ACC) to reallocate flying hours to combat readiness training, which will enable more sorties for combat readiness and deployment commitments, ensuring strategic air defense forces are ready to meet the challenges of peacetime air sovereignty and wartime air defense.

With the TICO Warbird Air Show behind them, the Thunderbirds' 2013 Air Show season ended. Photo Credit: Mike Killian / Zero G News

With the TICO Warbird Air Show behind them, the Thunderbirds’ 2013 Air Show season ended. Photo Credit: Mike Killian / Zero G News

“Sequestration temporarily limits our ability to travel, but it doesn’t stop us from reaching out within our community to tell the Air Force story,” said Lieutenant Col. Greg Moseley, U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron commander/leader. “We still have an obligation to educate people about our great Air Force and the incredible things our Airmen do. We’ve always had a robust community relations effort; until this issue is resolved, we’ll continue to engage the public as best we can. Flying is an important part of the Thunderbirds mission, but it’s not everything.”

Any appearance by the USAF Thunderbirds always draws big crowds, which in turn draws big bucks to the local economy. Titusville, which is located next door to Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, was hit particularly hard by the retirement of NASA’s 30-year space shuttle program in 2011. Many of the talents behind NASA’s space shuttle program lived in the small city, and after the STS program ended most were laid off, which in turn forced many to move in order to take advantage of other opportunities (many of them remain unemployed, and others moved anyway due to foreclosures, divorces, etc.). Annual events like the TICO Air Show give the city a much needed economic boost.

Spectators at the 2013 TICO Warbird Air Show react with awe as the world-renowned Thunderbirds thunder past overhead. Photo Credit: Mike Killian / Zero G News

Spectators at the 2013 TICO Warbird Air Show react with awe as the world-renowned Thunderbirds thunder past overhead. Photo Credit: Mike Killian / Zero G News

By all accounts the Valiant Air Command’s 2013 TICO Air Show was a great success, with record crowds showing up despite some ugly weather which cancelled several performances Sunday. Severe storms packed with lightning, hail, and strong winds were expected later in the afternoon, so the Thunderbird flew a “low-show” a couple hours earlier than was originally scheduled in order to beat the storm. The decision to move their final performance up paid off, as a powerful storm cell with gusts over 80 mph hit the air show’s location head-on 15 minutes after the team finished flying their routine, causing minor property damage and flipping at least one aircraft over. The National Weather Service has not confirmed a tornado touch down on the air show property (Space Coast Regional Airport), but eyewitness accounts—as well as several news reports—beg to differ. Investigators will be on-site today to try and confirm whether or not a small tornado did in fact touch down.

For more information about the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum and their annual TICO Warbird Air Show, please visit their website at www.vacwarbirds.org. The volunteers with the VAC work for no pay to save, restore, and publicly display old vintage military aircraft in an effort to educate the public of the significant history in which these aircraft and their crews were a part of. All proceeds from the annual air show benefits the Valiant Air Command Museum Fund and Aviation Scholarship Programs.

The F-16s with the U.S. Air Force's Thunderbirds being readied for the 2013 TICO Warbird Air Show. Photo Credit: Jeffrey J. Soulliere

Photo Credit: Jeffrey J. Soulliere

Photo Credit: Julian Leek / Blue Sawtooth Studio

Photo Credit: Julian Leek / Blue Sawtooth Studio

AmericaSpace photograph of U.S. Air Force General (retired) and former Apollo astronaut  Thomas P. Stafford shares a joke with Thunderbirds Public Affairs Officer Darrick Lee during the lead up to the 2013 TICO Warbird Air Show. Photo Credit: Alan Walters / awaltersphoto.com

AmericaSpace was fortunate enough to be joined by U.S. Air Force General (retired) and former Apollo astronaut Thomas P. Stafford during the lead up to the 2013 TICO Warbird Air Show. In this image, he shares a joke with Thunderbirds Public Affairs Officer Darrick Lee. Photo Credit: Alan Walters / awaltersphoto.com

Photo Credit: John Studwell

Photo Credit: John Studwell

Photo Credit: John Studwell

Photo Credit: John Studwell

Photo Credit: John Studwell

Photo Credit: John Studwell

Photo Credit: John Studwell

Photo Credit: John Studwell

Photo Credit: Jeffrey J. Soulliere

Photo Credit: Jeffrey J. Soulliere

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 comments to USAF Thunderbirds End Their Short 2013 Air Show Season on Florida’s Space Coast

  • Karol

    Beautiful photography, simply beautiful. It’s great to see General Thomas Stafford looking, and doing, so well!
    I’d bet that after all the political posing, posturing, and finger-pointing has finally come to an end, the Thunderbirds will be back to a full schedule – they are amazing beyond words!

  • We simply cannot afford to have our young people not experience the awe and excitement of both The Thunderbirds and The Blue Angels. How many career decisions were influenced by both units? Probably untold thousands! These pilots and their support crews represent the very best of America and we need to continue to showcase these highly positive role models. The so-called “sequestration” is nothing more than a political gimmick at the expense of those who truly benefit from these shows. I’ve been to many air shows and I’m like a little kid each and every time I watch these pilots. The shows are a reminder that I’m proud to say I’m an American!

    Great to see Tom Stafford and hopefully there will be an article or two on his achievements!

  • As a retired USAF aircraft maintenance tech. I am very sad to see the war birds grounded as for hard core maintenance tech. this is what we stood for and enjoyed seeing time and time again. Go Air Force.