MARTINSBURG, WV- The sequestration has been hitting hard on many, and our local Air National Guard is no different. The U.S. Air Force has cancelled their popular show known as "Thunder Over The Blue Ridge."
"It's just a shame, a real disappointment, a lot of volunteer time," says Richard Wachtel, airport authority chairman.
The 2013 Thunder Over The Blue Ridge Air Show that was scheduled for May 11th and 12th has been cancelled.
"It was a little struggle to make that decision, but we realized we could not support the air show on this side with all the costs that entailed," says Colonel Roger Nye, commander of the 167th Airlift Wing.
For the past three years, civilians have had the opportunity to engage with the local Air National Guard but that will not be happening this year due to the recent budget cuts.
"We always have to be thinking about those who are deployed, those who are in harm's way, making sure they are ready and making sure they are getting the support they need. It's something that we understand," says Nye.
The local Air National Guard decided they could no longer suppor the show due to the expected budget restraints.
The Eastern Regional Airport authority then agreed to take on the task of hosting the event themselves.
However when the main attraction, the U.S. Thunderbirds, had to cancel their appearance due to the sequestration, the air show board decided to cancel the entire event.
"There will probably be loss of revenue for the community. I know having a show that big when you have 40 or 50 thousand people a day coming in the area, the restaurants and the hotels and all those, it will be a loss of income," says Nye.
In the past, the United Way usually received donations from the air show's visitors.
Nye adds, "It was certainly being looked at as a great opportunity to raise some money."
As of now, the United Way and all of the nonprofit organizations they support will not be able to benefit from this year's contributions.
"There is the possibility that if the sequestration is ended shortly, within the next several weeks, then we might be able to reschedule," says Wachtel.
However, both the chairman and commander acknowledge that it is unlikely that they will be moving forward.
Even with a restored budget, there would not be enough time to plan.
The Air National Guard will still host a family day in June, but it will only be for unit members.