Although the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds will still fly at 2012 airshows, as will the Air Force Heritage team, the service recently announced that its A-10, F-16, and F-15 single-ship demonstration teams will not. These teams used to appear at dozens of military and civilian shows.
Citing “significant fiscal constraints” and “best ways to provide combat airpower to warfighting commanders,” Air Combat Command said it will “scale back from six teams we’ve historically sponsored” to only the F-22, which will fly at some 20 shows. “Reallocating those sorties will provide an increase in more than 25 combat-ready fighter pilots, and that’s a very good thing for our Nation.”
Translation: “Dammit, Jim, we’re a fighting Air Force, not the Weekend Playhouse. And we’re broke. On top of that, we’ve got terrorists to fight. We’re giving you the F-22. So suck it up and deal with it.”
Airshow organizers fear that the loss of loud, pointy jets will mean a loss of revenue in attendance. On the other hand, airshows may come out even in the end, since they won’t have to pay for hotels, cars, maintenance equipment rental, security, and music licensing for the demo teams. Aviationist.com suggests the Air Force Secret Hidden Message is, “The F-22 is good for airshows. All the other combat planes are good for war.”