Skyfest 2013 canceled after sequester

SPOKANE — The return of Skyfest will have to wait.

Fairchild Air Force Base, which had planned to revive the popular air show this year to coincide with the 75th anniversary of Spokane’s Lilac Festival in May, confirmed Monday that Skyfest will be canceled because of federal spending cuts.

The announcement came shortly after the Air Force’s precision F-16 flying team, the Thunderbirds, canceled its planned Spokane visit along with the rest of its 2013 tour, citing lack of funding. The free air show and community open house had been scheduled for May 18-19.

Skyfest typically draws crowds of 100,000 to the West Plains base to tour military aircraft, displays and aerial acrobatic shows. Last year’s show was canceled in part because of funding problems but also because base personnel were stretched thin.

Referred to as a sequester, the federal spending reductions took effect when Congress was unable to agree on a way to avoid $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts through 2021. The amount that must be cut from the current year’s budget is about $85 billion.

Newberry, who also serves as installation commander at Fairchild, said the base remains committed to its core mission.

“Even though we have to curtail spending,” he said, “we will continue to ensure that Team Fairchild provides worldwide aerial refueling for our combat forces.”