Sequester affects Thunder Over Louisville but show must go on


by WHAS11

Posted on April 18, 2013 at 7:08 PM

Updated Saturday, Apr 20 at 8:43 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Washington's inability to reach a budget agreement is prompting Thunder Over Louisville producers to make some changes in 2013.

How do you perform a big air show without any military aircraft?

Most air shows are dependent on ticket sales to pay the bills. But Thunder Over Louisville producers say the support of local sponsors here is ensuring that while 2013's air show may be different, it will still be a crowd pleaser.

Over the last 24 years, Thunder's air show has grown from a way to stagger the crowd's entrance ahead of the fireworks, now one of the top five air shows in the nation.

Yet, federal budget cuts are cutting into the show this year.

 “Unfortunately the Air Force will not be able to participate in Thunder Over Louisville,” Angela L. Billings, a retired Air Force Lt. Col., said.

Automatic spending cuts triggered when Congress and the Obama administration could not reach a budget deal mean the Air Force has had to prioritize spending.  Training missions that have included Thunder flyovers are now downsized.

 “As a result of sequestration, those training missions have been curtailed in length and duration, so therefore there is not as many of them and they're not as long,” Billings said.

With its growling engines, the Trojan Horsemen team is one of several to pay tribute to combat service.

Louisville's own Jay Gordon is back with his ex-Russian Air Force aircraft performing loops, rolls and spins.

Danville, Ind. Billy Werth is known for aerial acrobatics. His 6000 hours of flight time includes 600 hours teaching how to fly upside down..

 “We've got a full air show, I can guarantee you that.  We're going to start 3 o'clock in the afternoon and we'll have aircraft in the air right on up til 9:30,” Wayne Hettinger, Thunder Over Louisville producer, said. “Couple with that Joe we probably have the biggest and best nighttime air show that we've ever had.”

The biggest entry in 2013 is the Thunder sponsor UPS' newest 767 and is capable of carrying 132,200 pounds of payload.

 “Seeing it with the landing gear down, flying at that lower level altitude over the bridge and right there in the skyline over S in and L will be a great sight for folks,” Jeff Wofford, with UPS, said.

Ups is showing off a new design of its 767's, projected to save seven million gallons of fuel each year and a reduction of more than 65,000 tones in carbon emissions.