Show director Brent Sparks said the group was unable to secure a “marquee” performer for its usual October date for the Salute America Air Show this year. Sponsors of the comparatively new show are indicating they want a big-name performer, and the all-volunteer staff was having trouble garnering the energy to begin the months-long process of organizing the show, he said.
“I made the decision based on sponsorship fatigue, based on volunteer fatigue and based on the absence of a marquee performer,” he said. “I didn’t think we could do the air show justice this year.”
He said many within the air show industry told him that, without a “marquee performer like the F-18 that we had last year, or one of the air demonstration teams from the United States armed services, it’s pretty tough to build or to conduct an air show” the size of Paulding’s two-year-old show and “attract the same enthusiasm from your sponsors.”
“That’s consistent with the feedback we were getting from our sponsors. They would ask, ‘OK, who’s it going to be this year?’ And we were unable to secure a marquee performer like a fighter jet,” he said.
Federal sequestration cuts prompted U.S. military officials to halt all air show demonstrations in 2013 and provide only about half of the usual number of shows this year.
Sparks said the cuts made F-15, F-18 and F-16 shows unavailable. The Navy’s Blue Angels, and the Air Force’s Thunderbirds and F-22 Raptors are performing shows, but had scheduled their 2014 appearances two years ago in 2012.
Sparks said Paulding show officials also approached the Canadian Air Force about a demonstration team, similar to the CAF-18 Hornets which performed in 2013, but that country has halted such events also because of budget cuts, Sparks said.
The Paulding show competes with shows in Rome and Peachtree City for performers around the same time of year. The Blue Angels and Thunderbirds are booked for those two shows in October.
In addition, Sparks said his all-volunteer staff worked very hard to organize the 2013 show. Planning begins months in advance and Sparks said he “could not ask them to start back up right now” based on their energy level.
He said organizers were planning a 2015 show.