The Air Force is back in the business of hosting air shows with its marquee Thunderbirds aerial demonstration team, but Joint Base Lewis-McChord did not make the list to host one in 2014.
The Thunderbirds will land as close as Spokane for a show at Fairchild Air Force Base on the weekend of May 31. Lewis-McChord did not make the schedule even though it lately has hosted air shows in years ending in even numbers.
Budget constraints last year led the Air Force to cancel more than 60 scheduled demonstrations for the Thunderbirds. A similar number of events are planned for this year.
“We’re glad to be back,” Thunderbirds Commander Lt. Col. Greg Moseley said in a December statement announcing the resumption of air shows.
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The Navy Blue Angels aerial demonstration team also was grounded last year. It is resuming shows in 2014, and is scheduled to perform at Seafair in Seattle the weekend of Aug. 1.
Lewis-McChord last hosted an air show in 2012 and drew about 150,000 people to the base on a July weekend. In 2008, Lewis-McChord’s air show attracted an estimated 375,000 people.
It has hosted shows without the Thunderbirds in the past, but base spokesman Joe Piek confirmed an air expo is not in the works this year.
Air shows at McChord Air Field used to be an annual event until wartime demands took precedence in 2002. The show returned in 2003, took a year off in 2004 and came back once more in 2005. The Air Force did not host air shows at McChord in 2006 and 2007. The event returned in 2008, 2010 and 2012.
In years ending in odd numbers, Lewis-McChord usually hosts an air mobility rodeo in which air crews from different countries test themselves on different exercises while building camaraderie in the field.
Because of forced federal budget cuts, the Air Force last year canceled a rodeo that was expected to bring crews from a dozen nations to Lewis-McChord.
The Air Force intends to bring a rodeo back to the base in 2015, said Master Sgt. Todd Wivell, spokesman for Lewis-McChord’s 62nd Airlift Wing.
Adam Ashton: 253-597-8646 adam.ashton@ thenewstribune.com