This weekend Titusville, Florida will play host to the 36th annual Tico Warbird Air Show, and this year’s events may prove to be the biggest in the Valiant Air Command’s history with the United States Air Force Thunderbirds headlining the weekend’s performances. Not only that, but Tico will be the final Thunderbirds performance for the 2013 air show season, and the team may be grounded for much longer than that.
This year’s air show, which is set for March 22-24 at Space Coast Regional Airport, will be dedicated to the famous B-17 Flying Fortress and it’s famed bombing raids into the heart of Germany with the 8th Air Force. The show will also be dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the “Memphis Belle” reaching 25 missions.
As for the Thunderbirds, in a worst-case scenario, this may be the final performance ever for the team that has represented the pride and professionalism of the U.S. Air Force since 1953. As of April 1, all military aerial demonstration performances are cancelled as a result of sequestration measures, which refers to budget cuts to specific areas of federal spending.
The following statement was issued by the team March 1 in response to the official cancellation of their 2013 season:
– This decision enables Air Combat Command (ACC) to reallocate flying hours to combat readiness training, which will enable more sorties for combat readiness and deployment commitments, ensuring strategic air defense forces are ready to meet the challenges of peacetime air sovereignty and wartime air defense.
“Sequestration temporarily limits our ability to travel, but it doesn’t stop us from reaching out within our community to tell the Air Force story,” said Lieutenant Col. Greg Moseley, U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron commander/leader. “We still have an obligation to educate people about our great Air Force and the incredible things our Airmen do. We’ve always had a robust community relations effort; until this issue is resolved, we’ll continue to engage the public as best we can. Flying is an important part of the Thunderbirds mission, but it’s not everything.”
Any appearance by the USAF Thunderbirds always draws big crowds, which in turn draws big bucks to the local economy. Titusville, which is located next door to Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, was hit particularly hard by the retirement of NASA’s 30-year space shuttle program in 2011. Annual events like the Tico Air Show give the city a much needed economic boost, and the fact that this weekend’s air show may be the final public aerial performance for the Thunderbirds – at least for 2013 – means record crowds are expected to attend.
In addition to a 45-60 minute performance by the Thunderbirds, some 75-80 vintage aircraft will be on display and flying each day, with many performing WWII reenactments and fighting mock battles. Old warbirds such as the P-40 Warhawk, P-47 Thunderbolt, P-51 Mustang, F-8 Crusader, Grumman Wildcat, Avenger, F-4U Corsair, B-17, B-25, and many more will all be present. Flights will also be offered on a vintage C-47 that actually flew in the historic Normandy invasion of 1944. Helicopter and bi-plane rides will be available to purchase as well. Some of the best aerobatic pilots in the world, such as Mike Goulian, will also be performing.
“It’s going to be a great air show,” said retired Air Force Colonel and Valiant Air Command spokesman Terry Yon. “I tell folks it’s a combination county fair, three-ring circus and Fourth of July all rolled into one. We expect it to be one of our best in years.”
In addition to family entertainment, there will also be antique automobile shows, plenty of photography opportunities, vendors, exhibits to visit and pilots to talk to.
Advance tickets are available for purchase online by visiting the VAC’s Tico Air Show website at www.vacwarbirds.org, or at the VAC Warbird Museum located at 6600 Tico Road in Titusville. Advance tickets for age 12 and older go for $15 each, children 12 and under are $5 each. Tickets purchased at the gate on air show days will cost $5 more ($20 for 12 and older and $10 for children 12 and younger).
Because of the extended aerobatics box required for the Thunderbirds to perform their high-speed maneuvers, US Highway-1 will be closed from approximately 3:25 p.m. until about 4:05 p.m. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Traffic will be diverted, near the Space Coast Regional Airport, southbound at Highway 405 and northbound at Kings Highway.
Gates open at 8:30 a.m., with the air show itself beginning at 1:00 p.m. each day. Additional information may be found on their website, www.vacwarbirds.org.
Don’t forget to “Like” the Tico Warbird Air Show on Facebook!
All proceeds benefit the Valiant Air Command Museum Fund and Aviation Scholarship Programs.
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