Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan: Congress: Stop grounding military air shows

Feb. 23, 2013 @ 08:09 PM

I’m mad at Congress right now. I know, I know. Who isn’t?

Specifically, because of the current partisan gridlock and threat of economic catastrophe, the Wings Over Wayne Air Show has been cancelled. Set for May 18-19 at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base here in North Cackalacky, it’s a reasonable drive to go see military aviation on display. But there won’t be any flying into the great blue yonder because of Congress.

This air show, like another at Joint Base Langley in the Norfolk, Va., area, has been cancelled because of our federal government’s inability to compromise. Can I get a harrumph?

The air show headliners were to be the Blue Angels -- the U.S. Navy Blue Angels Flight Demonstration Squadron of six F/A Hornets and a C-130T Hercules. I haven’t seen them since I was a kid, but I sure haven’t forgotten them. That’s what a great air show can do.

Want to know what else Congress’ impertinence is preventing you from seeing? The F-15E Strike Eagle; the 4CE Formation Aerobatic Team; the MV-22 Osprey; Black Daggers Special Forces Parachute Team; F-22 Raptor; flyovers by the B-2 Bomber and F-35 Lightning; Lee Lauderback and his P-51; F-18 demo from Naval Air Station; Indy Boys Jet School Bus; F-16, A-10, F-5, HH-60 combined arms demonstration; and Patty Wagstaff, the first female National Aerobatic Champion.

The air show was free admission, too.

And May 18 is Armed Forces Day. A military air show is a great recruiting tool, showcases where our tax money is going, encourages little aviators-to-be and shows off this great state of ours. It also shows there are real men and women flying these birds, and reminds us of the risks they take as military service members.

Going through my attic recently, I found autographed posters of the Golden Knights from my days as a Bowley Elementary student at Fort Bragg in the early 1980s. My son saw the posters featuring the U.S. Army parachute team and immediately asked if he could have them. Paratroopers are cool.

There’s something about hearing the sound of an airplane or helicopter in the sky. I can’t explain it. You don’t need to be a pilot to feel it.

When I saw “Top Gun,” I wanted to be the guy on the aircraft carrier who wore a headset and waved the light sticks as the jet landed. Ask me sometime and I’ll demonstrate.

Aviation is an amazing feat of humanity and physics, like space travel. We live in an amazing, spectacular world, and Wings Over Wayne would have shared some of that with us civilians.

The subject line in the press release I received was: “N.C. Air Show Cancelled Due to Congressional Uncertainty.” For the love of the Wright Brothers, give us the air shows back. Congress, I’m narrowing my eyes at you.

It’s too late for this year. I checked with Public Affairs at Seymour Johnson AFB just to be sure, and the 2013 air show is not happening regardless. They trade off years with Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, which hasn’t set the 2014 air show date yet. The 2015 air show back at Seymour Johnson is to be determined.


Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan may be reached at dvaughan@heraldsun.com or 919-419-6563.