Seafair has jet team lined up in case Blue Angels are grounded


SEATTLE — Even if federal budget cuts ground the Blue Angels, fans will see a precision-flying team at Seafair.

Seafair said Wednesday it will sign a contract with the Patriots Jet Team, a civilian-owned precision aerobatics team based in California, to appear at the Seattle festival the first weekend in August.

The afternoon announcement followed a tweet earlier Wednesday from the Patriots that the team would return to Seattle for this summer’s Seafair, but organization President Randy Howell saying subsequently that negotiations were still under way.

The Patriots performed at Seafair in 2007 and 2008, festival staff said, and have appeared at the Joint Base Lewis-McChord Air Expo.

If a federal budget deal is reached and the Blue Angels do receive funding, then both they and the Patriots will fly in Seattle.

Bringing the Patriots Jet Team here is a costly endeavor, said Howell. It involves moving six performing L-39 jets, a spare, a corporate jet and a truckload of equipment. Seafair will cover the expenses, said Melissa Jurcan, the festival’s marketing and communications director, who declined to divulge the budget.

The original Blue Angels itinerary called for 65 shows in 32 locations this year. The team’s online schedule says shows at eight locations are being canceled from April to June.

Military spending was cut March 1 as part of federal budget cuts known as sequestration. The Navy has not told Seafair whether the Angels will be available.

Sequestration could cancel visits by Navy ships, including dockings in Seattle, Portland and San Francisco, according to a list posted online by Military Times. Seafair is nonetheless preparing to host a fleet week, perhaps with fewer vessels than usual, Jurcan said.

Seafair to date has confirmed the Red Eagle and Lucas Oil biplane teams and is working to book several other acts, said Jurcan.

“We are 100 percent sure there will be an air show,” she said.

Mike Lindblom: 206-515-5631 or mlindblom@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @mikelindblom