Air Force cancels Thunderbirds at Chicago Air & Water Show

March 12, 2013

Scott Kanowsky

Flickr/alex_sanks
The "Thunderbirds" air demonstration team will not perform at this summer's Chicago Air & Water Show, according to an U.S. Air Force spokesperson.

A popular air demonstration team known as the "Thunderbirds" will not be performing at this summer's Chicago Air & Water Show, according to an U.S. Air Force spokesperson at the Pentagon.

The Air Force blamed recent $85 billion automatic federal spending cuts, known as sequestration, for the cancellation. Chicago is not alone, though. Air Force spokesperson Capt. Nicholas Plante said all of the Thunderbirds appearances after April 1 have been canceled nationwide.

But Plante said the squad of F-16 fighter jets could return if lawmakers in Washington reach a budget compromise that ends sequestration.

Mary May, spokesperson for the city Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, said officials have yet to hear from the Air Force about the cancellations.

Regardless, May said the Chicago Air & Water Show will still go on as scheduled. The event is currently set to take place August 17-18, according to the city's website.

On Navy Pier Tuesday, many said they were not pleased to hear the Thunderbirds would not be a part of Chicago's lakefront summer spectacle. Some even said they would not go to the Air & Water Show if the Thunderbirds were not performing.

"[It is] very disgusting what's going on with the government," said Marilyn Muscolino, of Lake County. "I actually think it's stupid, I mean I wish [the Thunderbirds] would be back."

But Chicagoan Jim Thompson disagreed.

"This is the best news out of the budget cuts I've heard. Not a problem," he said. "[The planes] are noisy, they're loud, and they fall down sometimes."