Sacramento air show unaffected by shutdown

Unlike San Diego’s Miramar Air Show, which was abruptly canceled Thursday, Sacramento’s air show this weekend won’t be affected by the federal government shutdown.

The California Capital Airshow, which sets up its shows two years in advance, finds itself in the fortunate position of not having booked one of the two top U.S. military flight demonstration teams. Both the Navy’s Blue Angels and the Air Force’s Thunderbirds are grounded this year by Pentagon sequestration budget cuts.

Also, unlike the San Diego show, the Sacramento event is not supported by the military but by charitable contributions, volunteers and ticket sales. And the Mather airstrip where the Sacramento show is held has operated as a civilian airport since the former Air Force base was decommissioned in 1993.

The Capital Airshow, which runs Saturday and Sunday, will feature a military flight team, but the pilots hail from the north.

“They are thrilling,” Darcy Brewer, the event’s executive director, said of the Canadian Snowbirds demonstration team. “It’s not just rumble and roar, there is an elegance.”

Brewer said cancellation of the San Diego show would benefit the Sacramento show. At least one of the teams scheduled to perform at the Miramar Marine Corps Air Station is being added to the more than five-hour show in Sacramento. Brewer also predicted it would boost attendance.

Organizers of the Miramar air show, one of the longest-running in the nation, had tried to soldier on despite the shutdown, but announced Thursday they were directed to cancel the event by the Department of Defense.

Snowbirds spokesman Capt. Thomas Edelson said the team is happy to enjoy the California weather and show Americans what the small but proud Canadian military can do. The team flies nine Canadian-built CT-114 jet aircraft.

Brewer said she’s happy to have the Snowbirds on hand but emphasized there is much more to see, do and learn at the air show.

“We don’t plan our show around the jet team,” Brewer said. “You can see the history of aviation in five hours.”

On Thursday, gusty winds delayed the setting up of the event and forced cancellation of some media flights, but the air show is not expected to be affected, officials said.

Wind gusts peaked at 35 mph at Mather Airport, with sustained winds of 24 mph. The Red Bull Air Force skydive team was set to tandem-jump with members of the media Thursday afternoon, but the plane was grounded after wind speeds crept past the safety limit. Brewer said the wind delayed set-up by a day, but she expected volunteers would be able to get everything in place for the dress rehearsal today and the shows Saturday and Sunday.

“It will be breezy again tomorrow, but not as much,” said Stefanie Henry, of the National Weather Service. “It should start to calm by tomorrow night.”

The calming is expected to continue into the weekend. But, Edelson said, wind doesn’t affect his team’s ability to fly jets in tight formations.

“Winds don’t really affect planes,” Edelson said. “As it will affect one, it will affect the others.”