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Miramar Air Show Canceled. Just Because, That’s Why.

UPDATE: The story is getting substantial pushback in the comments to the effect that, even if the air show is raking in sufficient money to pay for the flyovers, it doesn’t follow that the air show is paying for the flyovers. Indeed, as a Marine lawyer notes, they really can’t. That is, there’s no way for a private air show to pay for military jet fuel or the time of military pilots.  These are indeed fair points.


blue-angels-miramar-air-show-2012

The Pentagon has canceled a popular air show even though it operates at a profit and takes place next fiscal year.

San Diego Union-Tribune (“Miramar air show grounded“):

The Pentagon has grounded military flights for the Miramar Air Show, making it unlikely that the popular annual event will take place this year.

Marine Corps Air Station Miramar was informed Friday that the Defense Department has rejected the station’s request for military flight demonstrations, Capt. Anton Semelroth, a Miramar spokesman, said in a statement.

The reason given was department-wide budget cuts as a result of sequestration. The Pentagon comptroller announced in March that all aerial demonstrations would be grounded starting April 1.

“That policy has not changed,” according to the July 11 decision letter signed by Rene C. Bardorf, deputy assistant secretary of defense for community and public outreach. “In fact, no flyovers or aerial demonstations have taken place except those in support of active duty funerals and the repatriation of remains of those formerly missing in action.”

Problem is, the Miramar Air Show makes money. Marine Corps and Defense Department officials were unable to provide a detailed accounting of costs and net revenues Friday, but past air shows have brought in more than $17 million, according to estimates.

“There is no reason financially to cancel any of this,” a Pentagon official told U-T San Diego, asking not to be named because of the sensitivity of the topic. “This is very political. It’s all administration appointees wanting to create clamor. They’re trying to blame this on Congress, when it’s their fault.”

Certainly, Congress deserves a lot of blame for its inept approach to fiscal austerity. But this certainly sounds silly on its face: the show makes money. And, in any case, it takes place at the beginning of the next fiscal year, which hasn’t yet been slated for sequestration (although it almost certainly will unless there’s an unexpected clue transfusion).

Despite plans to use only local aircraft units to limit costs, “the perception of permitting aerial demonstrations at the Miramar Air Show when similar justification was denied for the academy graduations is problematic since neither event rises to the national or international level of significance,” according to Bardorf’s decision letter.

It stated that the air show would cost the Defense Department an unspecified amount. Pentagon officials were unable Friday to immediately explain the discrepancy over costs, since Bardorf and others are on furlough because of the budget cuts, a spokesman said.

That’s funny right there, I don’t care who you are.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Jenos Idanian says:

    The proper format for your headline should be “…canceled because FU, that’s why.”

    And this is perfectly understandable — the Obama administration said it wanted the sequester cuts to be as painful and disruptive as possible.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Pentagon officials were unable Friday to immediately explain the discrepancy over costs, since Bardorf and others are on furlough because of the budget cuts, a spokesman said.

    10 million unemployed comedians and here they are, giving it away for free.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    And this is perfectly understandable — the Obama administration said it wanted the sequester cuts to be as painful and disruptive as possible.

    An executive making executive decisions, and you object just exactly why? Because he makes the decisions in a political way? WTF did you expect? That he would do what a President Romney would? Congress could fix this you know. After all, the constitution gives them the power to. But instead of working with the Dems to pass a bipartisan budget that accomplishes some of their goals, the GOP has decided to give away constitutionally delegated powers to Obama.

    And I thought Dems were stupid.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

  4. Jenos Idanian says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: An executive making executive decisions, and you object just exactly why? Because he makes the decisions in a political way? WTF did you expect?

    I object because it’s crassly political and stupid. And wasn’t this guy supposed to be so much better than this? So far above it?

    It’s exactly what I expected. It’s not what was promised, it’s not what his supporters predicted, it’s exactly the opposite of what was promised of the Nobel Peace Prize winner, but exactly what I expected.

    And, for that matter, a lot of us predicted.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

  5. Butch Bracknell says:

    Whoa whoa whoa. Lets talk more about this “profit.” Profit to MWR? Because NAF dollars are different than appropriated dollars, and it would still take a ton of appropriated dollars to fly the planes, fuel, security, etc. You can’t take the gate receipts and use it to buy JP-5. $17M is a lot of money and instead sounds like one of those “total community economic benefit” figures instead of “profit.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  6. James Joyner says:

    @Butch Bracknell: Fair point. “Profit” is the wrong word here. But it does appear to operate as a surplus. Given USG funding buckets, though, you’re likely right: there’s more money coming in than going out but the money can’t be moved around rationally.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  7. MarkedMan says:

    I’ve got to side with Butch on this one. It costs a lot of money to fly these jets. I would be surprised if the air show was paying even a significant fraction of the costs.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  8. That is, there’s no way for a private air show to pay for military jet fuel or the time of military pilots.

    Sure there is. They could do it through the same process used for reimbursing the military for providing equipment for movie shoots:

    Sometimes filmmakers will get permission to film military ships and aircraft as they perform their regular missions. “But more often, the director wants specific shots, so then we go through the process of billing the production company,” he said.

    For example, aircraft are billed at an hourly rate, and each comes with a different price tag. “We’ve got F-22s that run about $25,000 an hour to T-38s that are about $3,500,” Hodge said.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  9. wr says:

    The Republicans in the House just voted to completely eliminate the Food Stamp program, but here at OTB we’re desperately concerned about budgets cuts ending an air show.

    Republican priorities in action.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

  10. Jenos Idanian says:

    @wr: You really are a lying sack of crap. The Republicans split off the food stamp program from the Farm Bill.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 9

  11. wr says:

    @Jenos Idanian: “You really are a lying sack of crap. The Republicans split off the food stamp program from the Farm Bill. ”

    Yes, so they could hand out huge subsidies to farmers while cutting off all funding to the food stamp program. They did not introduce a bill to reauthorize food stamps, they did not announce a date when they would introduce food stamps, they have no intention of reauthorizing food stamps. Which every sentient being in the country understands.

    Or wait. Maybe you really are that much smarter than me. Tell me, sage of the Slurpee machine, what is the House Republican plan for food stamps if they manage to pass a farm bill without them? Oh, and Boehner’s promise that “we’ll get around to those issues later” doesn’t count.

    I’m waiting. Tell us now. Or go ahead and remind everyone exactly who the “lying sack of crap” around here really is.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  12. William Wilgus says:

    @Jenos Idanian: So that they can make larger cuts to the program than they would have been able to if they hadn’t split it off.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  13. michael reynolds says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    So you’d respect Obama if instead of canceling an air show he canceled training, or cut fuel to the fleet, or maybe pulled some trauma doctors out of Afghanistan. Your priority as chief executive would be air shows. Right.

    Brilliant. As usual.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  14. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @michael reynolds: Have you actually been paying attention to how Obama’s handing the sequester? Res ipsa loquitur.

    He said that the sequester (that he proposed) would be a horrible, horrible, horrible disaster, and he’s going to make damned sure that his predictions come true.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

  15. Rick Almeida says:

    The fewer dollars we spend on bread and circuses, the better.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  16. M. Bouffant says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    horrible, horrible, horrible disaster, and he’s going to make damned sure that his predictions come true
    Remind anyone of what an entire obstructionist party has been doing (openly) since 2009?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  17. michael reynolds says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Of course you entirely avoid the question and fall back on, “I hate Obama so muuuuuch!”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0