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Air show still flies, despite cancellation of others

The Trojan Horsemen perform during military air show rehearsal Waukegan Regional Airport. | Sun-Times Medifile

The Trojan Horsemen perform during a military air show rehearsal at the Waukegan Regional Airport. | Sun-Times Media file

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Updated: May 5, 2013 2:29PM



Officials with the Gary South Shore Air Show announced Tuesday, April 2, that their 2013 event had become a casualty of federal sequestration, but their counterparts up the North Shore are hoping that their show can go on.

“At this point, we’re still moving forward,” said Waukegan Regional Airport manager Jim Stanczak of the annual Waukegan Air Show, scheduled for Sept. 7. Though Waukegan Regional, like Gary Chicago International Airport, was one of 149 nationwide to have their towers shuttered this spring due to federal budget cuts, Stanczak said the tower isn’t needed for a one-day, controlled event.

“Normally, during an air show, the air boss takes over and the space is closed,” said Stanczak, though he added that the facility would be open to emergency traffic.

According to a statement released Tuesday by the South Shore Vistors and Convention Bureau, the Gary show cancellation had more to do with the expected lack of U.S. military participants.

“In response to the government’s sequestration measures,” the statement read, “which have resulted in the intentionally painful cuts of the federal budget and the cancellation of aerial demonstration teams, including flyovers, jump team demonstrations and aerial demonstrations, it is nearly impossible for our show to take place this year and meet the high standards as it has set the past 13 years.”

The South Shore statement added that 37 other U.S. air shows and three international events have cancelled their 2013 edition due to sequestration.

In Waukegan, the 2012 event featured an F-18 Superhornet from the U.S. Navy and an A-10 Thunderbolt from the U.S. Air Force, but the show’s usual backbone consists of restored warbirds and other aircraft from private organizations.

Waukegan’s tower, staffed by employees contracted through Midwest Air Traffic Control Services Inc. by the Federal Aviation Administration, is set to close on May 5. The FAA announced earlier this year that sequestration would trim $637 million from its budget.



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