|February 10th, 2021|
Early in the new year, the uncertainty surrounding the status of military shows in the United States prompted an inaccurate and unfounded rumor that the U.S. Air Force was cancelling all of its open houses in 2021. There has also been a rumor circulating that the Air Force is planning to cancel the entire schedule of F-35 demo performances. Both rumors have been circulating within the air show community, and neither are true.
In response to a question from ICAS regarding the cancellation of Air Force air shows/open houses, the Air Force offered the following explanation: “Neither the Air Force nor the Department of Defense has issued guidance directing military bases to cancel open houses scheduled for 2021,” says Jennifer Stephens Bentley, Air Force Public Affairs Chief, Policy and Public Outreach. “In the Air Force, those decisions have been left to the discretion of local wing commanders, working in close cooperation with local and state government officials.” Our anecdotal experience here at ICAS headquarters suggests that, despite several cancellations already announced, military event organizers are going to great lengths and becoming very creative to identify strategies and tactics to hold their air show/open house events in 2021.
As it relates to the cancellation of eight air show appearances by ACC’s F-35A Lighting II Demonstration Team during the 2021 air show season, Bloomberg News reported this morning (Wednesday) that the cancellations were prompted by, “…a growing shortage of engines because of longer repair periods…” The article says that, “The engines on A-model F-35s have been running ‘hot,’ or close to the limits of their design, and that heat has caused premature cracks or delamination of turbine engine coatings.”
According to an Air Force spokesperson, “ACC is adjusting the air show schedule for the F-35 demonstration team to ensure the Air Force has enough engine capacity to meet operational requirements. That has resulted in the cancellation of eight planned performances in 2021. Air show directors from each of those events have already been contacted. And we ask that the air show community remain flexible as we work to balance the F-35 demonstration team’s community engagement mission with the operational requirements of the Air Force and the country.”
ICAS will continue to keep members apprised of any and all new developments related to the military’s involvement with air shows during the 2021 season and any other changes or news related to the pandemic’s impact on our industry.