WASHINGTON (CBS SF) – The Navy has cancelled the remaining 2013 performances of its precision flying team, the Blue Angels, one of the most visible signs yet of sequestration cuts.
The commander of Naval air forces announced the decision on Tuesday.
The team of F/A-18 Hornet jets traditionally roar across the San Francisco skyline during the annual Fleet Week celebration in October.
San Francisco city officials had already expressed concern that the Fleet Week Parade of Ships could also be jeopardy due to federal budget cuts.
Fleet Week attracts one million spectators and is a major economic boost to the city of San Francisco.
Christine Falvey, press secretary for San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, said that the grounding of Blue Angel shows in 2013 is cause for concern.
“Fleet Week is a San Francisco event and there are a number of activities and exercises that we do,” she said. “We need to understand a little bit better from the Navy exactly what the impact is going to be.”
Jim Lazarus with the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce said he’s worried that the Navy might cancel other Fleet Week activities as well.
“I believe it could. Fleet Week requires ships and airplanes to be successful, to find the sponsors that the nonprofit entities that host this need to put the events on,” Lazarus said.
The Blue Angels have performed at air shows around the world for more than 60 years. The fighter pilots selected to serve a two-year tour with the team are among the world’s best and are often graduates of the Navy’s famed Top Gun air tactics school.
A spokesman for the Navy said team members would be allowed to fly minimal hours to maintain flight proficiency in the F/A 18 fighter jets, but the six-jet squadron would discontinue group practices for the remainder of the season.
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