The annual event was canceled 24 hours before the event was set to begin, surprising everyone involved including the pilots of the show.
“We’re very passionate about what we do as aviators,” said The Patriots lead pilot Rob “Scratch” Mitchel. who says he especially loves to meet the crowds. “It’s why we do this and do it for free. This is disappointing.”
Expressing his sincere and heartfelt apologies, MCAS Commanding Officer Col. John Farnam said they were already doing with less to accommodate the spending cuts of sequestration. The usual three-day event cut down to two, and the grounding of the biggest draw – The Blue Angels.
“From the bottom of my heart I apologize to San Diego for having to stand here and make this statement,” said Farnam. “In the end, the government shutdown was just too much of a hill for me to climb.”
In years past, the event drew an estimated 500,000 spectators and brought in roughly $1 million profit. The money goes into a fund to support military families.
This year, with the shortened program, they had hoped to just break even, but now will most likely end up taking a loss.
“We don’t do the air show to make money,” said Farnam. “The most important loss for us and me personally is the interaction with San Diego. That’s my biggest regret.”
A regret echoed by these all volunteer pilots who fly for nothing more than the love of it.
“This is one of our favorite airshows,” said Scratch. “I think we are more disappointed that we can’t do our mission and show people what it’s about. We like to connect with the people.”
Sponsors, vendors and those who purchased tickets will be reimbursed.