Here in Las Vegas attending my second ICAS meeting. ICAS is the International Council of Air Shows, an industry group made up of performers, air show organizers and suppliers. The yearly meeting is meant to give an opportunity for the group to reflect on the season just ended, make contacts and sign contracts for the next and attend seminars meant to raise the knowledge level of all.
This time last year everyone was stunned by the news that the US jet teams – The Blue Angels and Thunderbirds – would not fly in 2013. The mood was very grim as dozens of shows contemplated the loss of their major draw and performers and suppliers accessed their prospects as multiple air base shows also shut down under the yoke of Sequestration.
2013 has been a rough year for the industry in the US. In Canada we were very lucky that the Canadian Forces Snowbirds still flying but the pain of military cuts was felt and demonstrated by static ramps missing the customary US visitors. Everyone moaned and groaned and vowed to change the focus of their shows to work fill the void. All were quick to opine that this was the “New Normal” and air shows were going to be different going forward. Smaller, more diverse, better run.
Fast forward to today. The Blue Angels have released their schedule and the Thunderbirds are expected to do the same very soon. Air shows that are on the list are full of enthusiasm and roaring to sign additional acts. Base shows are back on the list. The sun is shining and the visibility is endless. Full throttle! The 2013 season seems to have been forgotten. Money is no issue once again because a big, shiny, fast, loud jet team is going to bring the crowds to the show without anyone having to lift a finger.
I can’t believe that memories are so incredibly short and that the adage that failure to learn from history means that you are doomed to repeat it will be proven true once again when the next axe falls.