*CLARIFICATION: An earlier version of this story misstated information about the Sky Hawks' jumps in Memorial Day festivities.
COLUMBIA — The show will go on for the Salute to Veterans Memorial Day weekend festivities despite federal budget cuts that have grounded many aerial demonstration teams.
The Salute to Veterans Airshow will be from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Columbia Regional Airport on May 25 to May 26.
The parade will begin at 9:55 a.m. on May 27.
Demonstration teams and aircraft confirmed for the weekend include:
- The Aeroshell 4-Ship World War II North American AT-6 Texan Aerobatic Demonstration Team
- The World War II B-25 Mitchell Bomber “Show Me” with the WWII P-51 Mustang “Gunfighter”
- Trojan Phlyers Aerobatic Demonstration Team in World War II USAF and USMC T-28 Aircraft
- World War II Army Air Corps BT-13 Vultee in a 22-Minute Aerobatic Demonstration: “Valiant Echoes”
- World War II USN SNJ-Texan Aerobatic Demonstration
- The All Veteran Parachute Team
- The SkyHawks: Canadian Forces Parachute Team
- World War I Kansas City Dawn Patrol with 16 planes on display and flying
- USA K-9 Demonstration Team
- World War II Tuskegee Airmen and Women Air Force Service Pilots Annual Reunions
Mary Posner, chairwoman of the organization, said the six-day celebration, which includes an air show and a parade, will not be greatly affected by the budget cuts. Only one team has bowed out, and Posner said she knew it was likely.
The U.S. Navy F/A-18 E/F Tac DemoTeam was scheduled to come to Columbia from California. The aircraft and its team were set to fly at the Columbia Regional Airport on May 25, until two weeks ago when the team was grounded because of the cuts.
Posner said that while this won’t hurt the show, she regrets the team won’t be able to participate.
“But I am sorry for all of the wonderful events that have been impacted by it,” Posner said.
Popular air show teams such as the Blue Angels and the Golden Knights were grounded on April 1 as a result of federal cutbacks. According to an Associated Press report, cutbacks have affected more than 200 air shows nationwide.
Those teams, however, are not scheduled for the Salute to Veterans Memorial Day weekend.
This year the local show is a big one because it will celebrate a quarter-century of the event. Posner started preparing in March of last year. “This is our 25th year for doing this, and you only do that once,” she said.
Posner said the organization doesn’t request major demo teams such as those who have been laid off, like the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels and the U.S. Air Force’s Thunderbirds, though they have performed in this event before.
“They become the be-all and end-all, and we want to honor everybody, all of the branches of the military, including our allies,” she said.
Posner wanted something to commemorate this year in particular.
The show will end with a mass parachute jump of 15 members of the Canadian Forces Parachute Team, the Sky Hawks, and five members of the All Veteran Parachute Team with the U.S. Army from Fort Bragg in North Carolina.
The Sky Hawks are active duty and have been with involved in the Memorial Day events for 12 years, but this year will be the first time they are scheduled to jump *in the parade.
“They’re wonderful,” Posner said. “They want to jump for us, and that’s fantastic, and what that means is our allies and our military are jumping together.”
If everything goes according to plan, the 20 jumpers will all leap out of the C-130 Hercules at the same time.
“I did plan to do something very special like that for our quarter century, and it’s come to pass and it’s wonderful,” Posner said.
Posner said that on Monday after the air show, the planes will fly along the parade route to salute fallen comrades, while the jumpers from both teams parachute down into four or five intersections along the route.
Hopefully the weather will be cooperative. Posner pointed out that it hasn’t rained on this parade in 24 years.