CLEVELAND– A longtime Cleveland family tradition is grounded. Federal budget cuts have forced the annual Cleveland Air Show to be cancelled this year.
The buzz of airplane engines around downtown Cleveland will not fill the skies Labor Day weekend.
“I’ve been going to the air show since I was a kid and it’s like a routine. I always go. I always loved, like, going with the whole family, enjoying the whole thing ’cause it’s like good family time with everybody,” said Jameer Wilson.
“It’s a lot of revenue lost to the city,” said Done Goode.
The air show, which is held at Burke Lakefront Airport, typically brings in more than $7 million to Cleveland’s economy.
“We’ll feel it in terms of people who go to venues; tens of thousands of people go to different venues; some of them stay at hotels, their admission taxes, so we’ll feel that,” said Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson.
The air show is costly to put on and the military provides more than half of the displays.
Without the Blue Angels, the Thunderbirds and other federal government support, organizers say they had no choice but to ground the event.
“That’s basically ground support; it’s display airplanes; it’s everything that would be flying. We’ve been given clear notice that those are all now cancelled,” said Air Show Executive Director Chuck Newcomb.
“I’m one of five brothers and when we were kids, my dad used to put us on his shoulders one at a time, so we could watch the air races,” said Anthony Hurst.
Hurst is a flight instructor for Premier Flight Academy at Burke. He and his students are devastated by the news.
“We always look forward to it every year. It’s just awesome to have it here in Cleveland,” said student Mike Iligas.
“Every year I’m waiting for the air show, so that’s kind of a little different when the air show’s not here,” said student Juamanes Ali.
“It was real amazing and I’m very, very frustrated about it,” said student Vitaliy Rebin.
Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald said he plans to continue looking for ways to keep the air show going.
Organizers expect it to return in 2014.
*Click here for more stories on the air show.