There were also expenditures for tents, chairs and port-o-potties. So when the sequester went into affect, the Navy gave the green light for the Blue Angels to perform in its two scheduled March shows. Its first performance took place earlier this month in El Centro, Calif., where the team trains for the winter before relocating to its permanent base in Pensacola.
The Navy funded about $140,000 of the Key West show, with the balance coming from sponsors that include Budweiser and the Key West Marriott Beachside. The Monroe County Tourist Development Council also is kicking in $60,000 worth of advertising, according to Trice Denny, spokeswoman for Naval Air Station Key West.
The show also will include three other military acts, including the Special Operations Command’s free-fall parachute team.
Crowds also love the civilian performances. There will be seven, including Jack Knutson and Rob Holland, who perform together as “Xtreme Firebirds Air Show.”
Chuck Aaron will fly maneuvers in the Red Bull Helo. “Malibu” Aaron is the first and only civilian pilot ever to be licensed to perform helicopter aerobatics in the United States. And Greg Shelton thrills with his wing-walking act in a red, white and blue Stearman.
There also will be a tribute to Keys aviation legend Fred Cabanas, a stunt pilot who died in a plane crash in January near Cozumel, Mexico. He traditionally opened the air show daredevil-style. He would fly his bright-yellow Pitts Special 2-C upside down, just five feet from the ground, slicing a yellow ribbon between two poles with his propellers.
Lt. Mark Tedrow, who pilots the No. 6 Hornet, said the Blue Angels have tried to not worry about the fate of the squadron for this year and focus on the immediate task of putting on a great show this weekend.
They have continued to train normally, which is a must to be able to safely fly the $26 million planes with maneuvers that leave little room for error.