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August 12, 2013
'Blue Angels' Grounded in Mindless Cuts
 
Flack Me doesn't normally venture into the political realm, where events can have fractious lives of their own. But when worthwhile, widely popular, time-honored existing events are cancelled as a result of mindless congressional skirmishing, it needs to be noted. Such is the case with the grounding this summer of the Navy's Blue Angels and the Air Force's Thunderbirds close-formation flying teams as a result of this spring's federal budget deadlock, the sequester.

Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Major 'Vino' Weintraub, a Marine Corps flying veteran, advises that the Blue Angels had presented two of this season's 35 scheduled shows, and already spent $20 million of their $37 million annual budget, when they were grounded in April. The erstwhile congressional "negotiators" may not even have been aware that that would be one of the results of their inability to agree on coherent policies. The sequester cuts were left to the agencies involved to make. No doubt others as worthy in their own ways as the two military flying teams were also necessary.

Major Weintraub notes that, in a given season, approximately 11 million people attend Blue Angels' shows and 35 cities across the nation "each realize an average of $6 million of economic impact" from their breath-taking performances. And then there's the recruiting appeal of the shows. "The recruiting loss," Maj. Weintraub writes, "will be felt most acutely in Rockford and St. Cloud and other smaller inland cities, where the only exposure young people have to the Navy and Marine Corps are the Blue Angels and the inspiration they provide." Without the Blue Angels, cities such as Rockford, Ill., Indianapolis, Ind., and St. Cloud, Minn., "canceled their air shows altogether."

And the edge the formation pilots need to maintain is quickly lost. We'll bet that none of this was on the minds of the stalwart congresspeople last spring. They were too busy sniping at their partisan opponents.

Yes, public relations in its highest sense needs to be part of lawmaking, not because military stunt teams, for example, are indispensable, but because they are invaluable, and that probably wasn't even a consideration for Congress. The agencies involved had to make their own cuts after the secluded combatants turned to other weighty matters.

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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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