The U.S. military will be letting the Navy Blue Angels and Air Force Thunderbirds back in the sky in 2014, and several Florida stops have already been announced.
"Community outreach is key to connecting Americans to the military," said Blue Angels Commanding Officer and Flight Leader Cmdr. Thomas Frosch. "Our performances provide a unique opportunity to inspire millions to connect with and support our service members, and we
are looking forward to an exciting 2014 season."
The Blue Angels, which have announced their full 2014 calendar, will fly over the Sunshine State five times starting with the huge Sun 'n Fun air show in Lakeland on April 5-6.
"After a year of sequestration and no military participation at airshows, Sun 'n Fun is honored to host the first appearance of the Blue Angels in the southeast in 2014," said Sun 'n Fun President & CEO John Leenhouts. "It is exciting for us to offer our guests the stellar precision that represents the piloting skills of all naval aviators."
Next up will be the Vero Beach Airshow May 10-11, a one-day Pensacola Beach Air Show on July 12, the Sea & Sky Spectacular in Jacksonville Beach on Oct. 25-26 and homecoming finale in Pensacola on Nov. 7-8.
The Thunderbirds have not announced their 2014 schedule yet, which is usually released in December, but they traditionally have four or five stops in Florida. In 2013, they appeared in only the TICO Warbird AirShow in Titusville before the military shut down performances because of sequestration. They had been slated to fly in the Sun 'n Fun show in Lakeland and Lauderdale Air Show, both of which went on with alternative performances as well as the since canceled Cocoa Beach Air and Space Show.
Air shows in Florida traditionally take place in the cooler months of spring and fall. 2013 still has the inaugural Melbourne Air & Space Show set for Nov. 2 and featuring the Florida-based civilian Black Diamond Jet Team.
"We’re proud to be hosting the only remaining jet team air show in Florida this year," said Bryan Lilley, Chairman of the National Air, Sea and Space Foundation. "Against all odds, we’ve been able to keep a beachside air show alive in Brevard County and with it, millions of dollars in economic impact."
The air shows are just one of several community-oriented features the military will be re-introducing in 2014, although at nearly half the capacity of previous years. This includes jet and parachute demonstration teams, band and ceremonial unit appearances, port visits, service weeks, and nonprofit and corporate leader outreach.
"Community and public outreach is a crucial Departmental activity that reinforces trust and confidence in the United States Military and in its most important asset -- people,” said Defense Secretery Chuck Hagel. "It is our obligation to sustain that trust well into the future."
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