The Blue Angels has canceled its 2013 season, including the annual performance in August over Lake Washington, Seafair officials announced Tuesday.
The cancellation is due to federal budget cuts resulting from sequestration, which took effect in March. The Pentagon has to cut $4 billion from its budget. While the Blue Angels are a sentimental favorite and a recruiting tool, it’s not considered a necessity.
“The Blue Angels have flown at Seafair for over 40 years and are an important part of our history,” read a Seafair press release. “The team will be deeply missed by Seattleites, however Seafair will continue in its traditional fashion.”
The Patriots Jet Team, a civilian aerobatic group of six planes, will perform in place of the Blue Angels. Their performances are highlighted by a computer-controlled red, white and blue smoke system. Many of the pilots include past experience with the Blue Angels, the Air Force Thunderbirds and Royal Canadian Air Force.
It's the second big annual Summer event in the Puget Sound region to be canceled this year. The organizers of the Family 4th at Lake Union fireworks show announced last week it had not receieved nearly enough donations to put on the show in 2013. But on Tuesday, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn announced he was working on a plan for a new fireworks show.
Whether the loss of the Blue Angels will affect attendance at Seafair remains to be seen. The shows were canceled in 1994 and 1995 because the Federal Aviation Administration denied a performance waiver, claiming the team flew too low over houses and spectator areas. Other military planes flew over Seafair events in 1995, but attendance at Lake Washington dropped by about half.