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2013 Amigo Airsho will not be held at Fort Bliss

2013 Amigo Airsho will not be held at Fort Bliss

POSTED: Friday, June 7, 2013 - 2:46pm

UPDATED: Friday, June 7, 2013 - 2:54pm

Fort Bliss has announced it will not be able to host the 2013 Amigo Airsho due to sequestration. 

Fort Bliss released a statement, "On March 23, 2013, the Under Secretary of Defense released a memorandum to all military units regarding the localized impacts of sequestration. According to that document, all aerial demonstrations, including participation in civilian air shows, was to cease on April 1, 2013. Fort Bliss officials continued to plan for the 2013 Amigo Airsho in the event that sequestration was rescinded by the U.S. Congress."

"To remain consistent with the Under Secretary's guidance, Fort Bliss is reluctantly withdrawing its support for the 2013 Amigo Airsho," explained Major Joe Buccino, Fort Bliss spokesman. "We hope to resume our support for this great event next year, provided that sequestration is rescinded by Congress."

"It goes without saying that we with the Amigo Airsho are greatly disappointed that Fort Bliss was forced to make this very difficult decision," said Pancho Mangan, CEO of the Amigo Airsho organization. Regardless of this major development, we do aim to do whatever we can to make this year's Sho a reality. We do not have a contingency plan that we are able to confirm at this time, but we will keep the public informed as we move forward."

According to the International Council of Air Shows, over the past two months, more than 60 military-supported air shows have been cancelled. The two most prominent air shows in the United States, AirPower over Hampton Roads, traditionally held at Langley Air Force Base, Va., and The Take to the Skies AirFest in Durant, Oklahama, were cancelled last month. The Air Combat Command's F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team, which was scheduled to participate at the 2013 Amigo Airshow, has been disbanded for the remainder of the fiscal year.

"I have a great appreciation for the Amigo Airsho, its history, and Fort Bliss' role in supporting community relations events," said Colonel Brant V. Dayley, Fort Bliss Garrison Commander. "Our relationship to El Paso has not changed. What has changed is the fiscal environment within which we operate."

In another example of belt-tightening required by sequestration, next month, Fort Bliss begins enforcing unpaid furloughs on all civilian employees, resulting in a 20 percent pay cut for all furloughed employees for the remainder of the fiscal year.  

"The Amigo Airsho has enjoyed a relationship with Fort Bliss spanning 31 years. The unfortunate situation we face this year will not sever that long-standing relationship. We will continue to work together and anticipate we will partner again in the future," said Mangan.

Mangan said the Airsho is looking for a location for this year's show. A location has not been set but Mangan said it would be in the region. 

"Regardless of the ultimate outcome for this year's show, the Amigo Airsho will continue our outreach and involvement in the community. For example, we will still host our annual golf tournament on June 21, and are continuing our special focus on our growing educational programming," continued Mangan.

"The Dick Azar's Cleared for Takeoff Educational Outreach Program has expanded exponentially in the past few years, and will continue to do so, with a goal of reaching as many El Paso children as we can to encourage learning and excitement about aviation."

The Dick Azar's Cleared for Takeoff Education Outreach Program is a partnership between the Amigo Airsho and El Paso area schools. The educational outreach program targets fifth graders at local elementary schools, with 10,000 students having participated since the program's inception. Volunteer pilots visit the schools for weekly, hour-long lessons over a four week period. The pilot instructors integrate practical application of what the students learn in their science and math classes into aviation education. Students who complete the program graduate at the end of the program with a certificate deeming them "Cleared for Takeoff!"


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