LANCASTER (CBSLA.com) — The U.S. Navy Blue Angels flying squadron arrived in Lancaster Thursday ahead of the first-ever Los Angeles County Air Show set for early next year.
KNX 1070’s Vytas Safronikas reported it will be the first air show in 2014 for the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron after leaving their winter training base at El Centro.
The L.A. County Air Show, which is scheduled for March 21-22, will be held at the William J. Fox Airfield and will feature six iconic blue and gold Boeing F/A-18 Hornet aircraft as part of the event in the wake of budget cuts that left the Blue Angels’ future up in the air.
While the Air Force typically performed about 1,000 flyovers annually before the Thunderbirds and Blue Angels ceased performing on April 1, the sequestration cuts earlier this year forced the cancellation of about 2,800 military outreach events nationwide.
Navy pilot Lt. Ryan Chamberlain said despite the setbacks, the Blue Angels are ready to fly again after a long hiatus.
“I don’t think it goes without saying that most of you probably know that we spent a little bit of time off from air shows in the past few months,” he said. “On behalf of Blue Angel No. 8, Lt. Cmdr. Michael Cheng, myself, and the rest of the Blue Angels, I can’t tell you how excited we are to be here today.”
Navy Lt. Cmdr. Michael Cheng said that although they weren’t flying demonstrations, they were still practicing when their wings were figuratively cut.
“We have been flying, keeping our aviation skills and that stuff proficient. But now we actually get into the nitty-gritty of the passes, the rolls, in a diamond formation…so everyone is really excited about that,” he said.
KCAL9’s Amy Johnson reported that the L.A. County Air Show Inc. is not actually part of the county, but a private, non-profit corporation.
“There are certainly expenses associated with the event. Expenses we hope to off-set through sponsorships and ticket sales,” said Dennis Dunbar, the air show’s director.
The county, however, is still happy to provide the airport for the show.
“There has been some work done already by the county, but that’s normal airport operations. So, right now, it should be self-funding,” said Norm Hickling, senior deputy to Supervisor Michael Antonovich.
Click here for tickets and more information on the event.