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Sequestration may impact Bethpage Air Show

The United States Air Force Thunderbirds during the

The United States Air Force Thunderbirds during the Bethpage Federal Credit Union New York Air Show at Jones Beach State Park. (May 23, 2009) Credit: Lorina Capitulo

The Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach will go on this summer, but without any military performers if the federal budget deadlock is not settled within the next month.

The popular air show will instead feature a host of civilian performers on Memorial Day weekend, along with a demonstration by the Royal Canadian Air Force Supersonic F-18 Demo Team, according to Linda Armyn, a spokeswoman for the show.

"It's going to be a great show, but just different," Armyn said. "It will be our 10th anniversary celebration and we plan to put on a show that people will remember."

The Defense Department and other federal agencies will absorb a combined $85 billion in across-the-board budget cuts as part of a sequestration deal signed into law on Friday by President Barack Obama.

The cuts will ground U.S. military performers from participating in public events unless the funding is restored by April 1, the Air Force announced on Friday.

"Faced with deep budget cuts, we have no choice but to stop public aviation support," said Brig. Gen. Les Kodlick, an Air Force spokesman. "The Air Force will re-evaluate the program at the end of the fiscal year and look for ways to curtail the program without having to cancel aviation support altogether."

The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds had been expected to headline the show but their 2013 season will now be canceled unless the cuts are restored.

Other scheduled military performers at Jones Beach had included the Army Golden Knights, a precision parachute team, and the Navy F-18 Super Hornet.

The Navy Blue Angels are still scheduled to perform in 2014, Armyn said.

This year's show will instead highlight fast-paced maneuvers by predominantly private civilian performers, including the GEICO Skytypers, John Klatt, David Windmiller, the Warbirds and Sean Tucker. The Jones Beach show is privately funded.

Additional civilian performers could be added to the lineup if the military cuts are not restored, said George Gorman, spokesman for the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. "We have world-class performers and will have a show regardless," Gorman said.

Organizers are also planning to sell T-shirts at this year's show to benefit families affected by superstorm Sandy, Armyn said. "This show will be a celebration of Long Island and its resiliency," she said.

Almost 400,000 spectators watched last year's Jones Beach air show.

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