Blue Angels Grounded By Budget Cuts For 2013

By: CBS News Email
By: CBS News Email
Among the Blue Angel events cancelled will be the May 27th Naval Academy graduation at which President Obama will be giving the commencement address.

In this photo provided by the Florida Keys News Bureau, the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels perform their precision aerobatics over the Florida Keys during the Southernmost Air Spectacular at Naval Air Station Key West Saturday, March 23, 2013, in Key West, Fla. / Rob O'Neal/AP

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Facing major budget cuts in federal spending, the Navy has canceled the remaining 2013 performances of the Blue Angels.

In a statement, the Navy says the famous flight demonstration squadron will continue to train in Pensacola, Fla. but resources will make performance for the rest of the year impossible.

"Recognizing budget realities, current Defense policy states that outreach events can only be supported with local assets at no cost to the government," the statement read. "This is one of many steps the Navy is taking to ensure resources are in place to support forces operating forward now and those training to relieve them."

The Navy said it aims to resume Blue Angel performances "as the budget situation permits."

Among the Blue Angel events cancelled will be the May 27th Naval Academy graduation at which President Obama will be giving the commencement address.

The year-long cancellation comes after the Navy had already wiped out performances earlier this year.

Last month, Navy veteran John Hunt said of the planes' grounding, "Major loss, major loss. Especially to this area, and especially to the Navy," Hunt told CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann last month. "This is a recruiting tool."

Since 1946, the Blue Angels and their acrobatic, high-speed stunts have wowed crowds and helped the Navy with its recruiting. But it's expensive public relations, and the Navy must slash $4 billion, its share of the mandatory budget cuts. Part of that was cancelling the Blue Angels' regular season, an estimated savings of $20 million.

The Navy's not alone. The Air Force puts on a similar air show with the Thunderbirds, elite pilots demonstrating in F-16s. The same budget cuts have forced the Air Force to cancel the remaining 20 shows in this year's Thunderbirds season.

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