KEY WEST (CBSMiami/FKNB) — The U. S. Navy’s elite Blue Angels fighter jet demonstration unit performed this weekend in Key West in what may be their final public exhibition at least through Sept. 30, the end of the Navy’s fiscal year.
Sequestration motivated a March 5 directive signed by Under Secretary Robert Hale of the Department of Defense prohibiting “all aerial demonstrations in civilian air shows and military open houses” from April 1 through the remainder of the DOD’s fiscal year.
The Blue Angels’ website schedule shows some air performances already canceled. Even though Congress has agreed on a plan to finance the government for the rest of the fiscal year, it is unclear whether the Angels shows will continue, Navy officials said.
Blue Angels’ flight leader, Commander Tom Frosch, said he hopes the Angels’ presence can continue at other scheduled shows, because it plays a critical role in Naval recruiting.
“Losing the Blue Angels would be a tremendous loss to our recruiting effort,” said Frosch. “Our (Blue Angels) mission is to compliment the recruiting effort, take the Navy to your backyard in many towns that are not exposed to the military.
“We want to expose young men and women and inspire them into potential future careers in the Navy/Marine Corp,” he said.
Trice Denny, Public Affairs Officer with the Naval Air Station Key West, said on Saturday more than 26,000 attended the show while another 10,000 attended Sunday.
The air show also featured other highlights including demonstrations by the Fighter Composite Squadron VFC-111 “Sun Downers” and the Special Operations Command Parachute Demonstration Team.
The Florida Keys News Bureau contributed to this report.