Amigo Airsho Can’t Fly At Fort Bliss
For months, it has been reported that the 2013 Amigo Airsho was in jeopardy. Federal budget cuts caused by the sequestration caused Fort Bliss to cancel their sponsorship at Biggs Army Airfield, home to one of El Paso’s signature 2-day events since 1981. The Amigo Airsho released the following statement on their Facebook page:
The Amigo Airsho is greatly disappointed that we are not having our Airsho at Ft. Bliss; but we are working on future plans to continue our Cleared for Takeoff Educational Outreach program. We are also working on contingency plans and will announce those to the public once those plans are confirmed. We aim to do whatever we can to make this year’s Sho a reality. We will keep the public informed as we move forward.
The biggest question is what other venues could serve as a temporary host for the event? The Santa Teresa Airport is a possibility, but they do not have nearly the acreage as Biggs Airfield, meaning the Airsho would be scaled down. White Sands and Holloman Air Force Base were also suggested, but federal budget cuts would also make those sites highly unlikely.
One other suggestion was to move the Airsho back a month to November, once the sequestration ends. The problem with that idea is that the Sho is planned so far in advance, it would be tough to re-book many of the planes and performers that are scheduled to be at Biggs Airfield October 12th and 13th.
The Amigo Airsho is one of El Paso’s best attended annual events and it would be a tremendous loss to the city if it is cancelled. Let’s hope event organizers have a backup plan in place to keep the Sho alive.
UPDATE: Here’s the official release from Ft. Bliss and The Amigo Airsho
1AD/Fort Bliss Public Affairs Office
Fort Bliss, Texas
Release No: 13-06-06 Contact:
Major Joe Buccino
For Release: Phone:
June 7, 2013
Fort Bliss Forced to Withdraw Support From 2013 Amigo Airsho
2013 Amigo Airsho Will Not Be Held at Biggs Army Airfield
EL PASO, Texas, June 07, 2013 – Fort Bliss and the Toyota Amigo Airsho announced with deep regret that, due to sequestration, Fort Bliss will be unable to host the 2013 Amigo Airsho.
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. Fort Bliss joins the El Paso community in hoping that the effects of sequestration are short-lived. We look forward to the resolution of the current fiscal crisis and the resumption of normal operations, including great events like the Amigo Airsho.
“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.
“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!”
The Amigo Airsho will announce any updates in programming information as soon as possible. You can follow us on Facebook for the latest updates at www.facebook.com/AmigoAirsho.
Fort Bliss officials will continue to remain transparent throughout the sequestration process. Fort Bliss Soldiers and families are encouraged to follow Fort Bliss on Facebook for updates at https://www.facebook.com/army.bliss?ref=ts&fref=ts.