Seymour Johnson cancels Wings Over Wayne air show

kpoe@newsobserver.comFebruary 15, 2013 


Ed Hamill flies his modified Pitts Special inverted over Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, while four F-15E Eagle fighters from the 335th Fighter Squadron pass underneath him, in practice for the Wings Over Wayne air show in 2009. The show, which has been held in Wayne County since 1957, has been canceled this year due to uncertainty over the federal budget, the 4th Fighter Wing at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base announced Friday Feb. 15, 2013.

ED HAMILL — 2009 Charlotte Observer file photo

The Wings Over Wayne air show that has been held in Wayne County since 1957 has been canceled this year because of uncertainty over the federal budget, the 4th Fighter Wing at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base announced Friday.

Wings Over Wayne was scheduled for May 18-19 and was expected to draw thousands of visitors to the base and Goldsboro. A new date has not been set.

“Obviously this was a difficult decision,” said Maj. Amber Millerchip, base spokeswoman. “But, unfortunately, because of the very fiscally straining times we’re facing, from the Air Force to the Department of Defense to our nation, we want to make sure we are good stewards of the resources.”

The show was canceled in part because of the looming possibility of automatic federal budget cuts, known as sequestration, enacted by Congress in 2011. After a two-month delay agreed to on New Year’s Day, the automatic cuts are set to go into effect next month unless Congress takes steps to avoid them.

Canceling the show will allow the 4th Fighter Wing to reallocate the approximately $215,000 planned for the show to combat readiness training, Millerchip said.

The show features military and commercial pilots performing loops, spins and drops and showcases more than two dozen types of military and civilian aircraft. The event was free, though visitors were asked to bring food donations for the local Salvation Army.

“We work day in, day out with the community, and it’s a chance for us to open our doors and show the appreciation we have for all their support, and a chance for them to pull back the curtain and see what we’re doing,” Millerchip said. “It showcases our fantastic aircraft system and our capabilities.”

The show also raised interest in the military and helped with recruitment, Millerchip said.

The show has been semi-annual since 2005. Though the show is off for now, there is hope for its return, Millerchip said.

“When we’re not facing uncertain fiscal challenges, we’re going to do everything we can to make sure we have an air show in the future,” she said. “It’s not every day someone gets to come up close to an F-15E or other fighter jet.”

Poe: 919-836-4918

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