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Myrtle Beach cancels summer air show

By Dawn Bryant
dbryant@thesunnews.com

Myrtle Beach won’t be celebrating its 75th birthday with an air show after all.

Organizers canceled the event Monday, saying the show wouldn’t be the same without the headlining act, the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds. The Thunderbirds’ air show appearances this year starting April 1 have been canceled because of sequestration.

The show was scheduled for June 28-30 over the ocean near the former Myrtle Beach Pavilion Amusement Park. It would have been the first air show in Myrtle Beach in several years.

Organizers, who earlier this month said the show would go on with or without the Thunderbirds, said Monday they are now focused on scheduling an air show in Myrtle Beach in 2014.

“Our decision to postpone this year’s show to say the least is disappointing, but it appears this is one of the many shows across the country that has been cancelled due to the sequestration,” George Cline, president and owner of show organizer Air Boss Inc., said in a news release. “Air Boss Inc. prides itself in first class air show productions and without a headliner, we chose to concentrate our efforts to a 2014 air show for the Myrtle Beach destination.”

Among the other acts that had been scheduled to perform: AreoShell Aerobatic Team, Mike Lucas-Lucas Oil Air Show team, Raiders Aerobatic team, the Fowler Cary T33 Jet and the All Veteran Parachute Team. The U.S. Army Band also was scheduled to perform.

“The decision to cancel this year’s air show was a difficult one to make, but as I always say, ‘go big or go home,’” Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes said in the news release. “We wanted to produce the biggest and best air show for the Myrtle Beach area and not having a headliner like the Thunderbirds limits our ability to do so. It is an absolute shame that Congress and the White House couldn’t reach a compromise to this budget crisis.”

The U.S. Air Force grounded the Thunderbirds season of air shows this year after Congress failed to reach an agreement and automatic budget cuts kicked in. The Air Force canceled support to all air shows, tradeshows, flyovers, orientation flights, heritage flights, F-22 demonstration flights and open houses.

John Cudahy, president of the Virginia-based International Council of Air Shows, told The Associated Press that at least 150 U.S. air shows each year count on military performers to draw big crowds. Several show already had been canceled.

A group like the Blue Angels or the Thunderbirds can account for 10 to 30 percent of attendance – in some cases enough to determine if a show makes or loses money, AP reported.

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