When the armed forces were strong and full of service members who weren’t being threatened with involuntary separation, air shows were a fine idea. The idea of the local community coming on base to witness different stunts and be a part of a big event was great at the time. But now, too many troops are being separated from each service due to budget cuts while these elaborate shows are still ongoing. They stopped for a few years at some bases, but they’ve picked back up. Here are some reasons why air shows should be discontinued.
Air shows have the best of intentions; simply to provide entertainment to community members. But, sometimes things don’t always go as planned. Aircraft crashes, accidents, dehydration, and even sunburn are all potential disasters that can happen at an air show. Recently, a young boy was able to start a helicopter that was sitting on the ramp in Mankato, Minnesota during an air show. The incident left two people slightly injured, mostly giving everyone a good scare. I’m not sure who is more at fault: the kid’s parents or the crewmember in charge of the helicopter. Gathering large crowds with dangerous aircraft stunts, hot weather, and fried foods is a disaster waiting to happen.
Air shows are a great way to invite the surrounding community to get involved in base activities. However, there is a lot of risk involved in inviting everyone to come onto a military base for one elaborate weekend. This forces security force members to work longer hours and more days. Working more hours than normal usually makes people work less effectively and miss things. The need for increased security will mean that others have to step in to assist security force members. Service members from finance, communications, and contracting will all be tasked with pulling security duty for at least one day of the air show. These members aren’t specially trained in security details, so having them perform these tasks is risky. They will do their best, but it makes me slightly terrified that part of the base’s security is put in the hands of these people.
Whether it’s jet fuel, crew duty time, or the actual cost of flying an airplane, air shows require a lot of money. Even if crew duty time and fuel were written off as training, it isn’t the type of training that the armed forces needs. The air show routines are not what pilots need to be practicing, but combat attacks and maneuvers that will help them while deployed or under attack. Some of the bigger air shows are able to turn a profit, but that is more of the exception than the rule. And those that don’t make a profit clamor on about how the air shows are for community outreach, not bottom lines.
Apart from the cost of producing such an amazing show, there is also an enormous amount of planning involved. Teams are formed to coordinate food vendors, extra security details, how to handle the amount of traffic, and finding flight crews and aircraft to perform. Whether military personnel take on the task of planning or it is contracted out, the government is paying several people to plan these extensive events. These shows aren’t planned overnight or in the span of a few months. Planning for future air shows typically begins the week after the current air show ends.
What do you think? Is there still a place for air shows on base or are they antiquated and wasteful?
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.