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Snowbirds flying team cancels U.S. shows after budget cuts

Snowbirds aerobatic flying team has been forced to cancel all shows in the United States because of budget cuts.

Troy Fleece/The Canadian Press

Canada's famed Snowbirds aerobatic flying team has been forced to cancel all shows in the United States because of budget cuts.

Captain Thomas Edelson, a spokesman for the Snowbirds, said the number of flying hours were cut for the Canadian Forces squadron, which is based in Moose Jaw, Sask., so the four U.S. shows were cancelled.

"While we love going to the States and while we regret not being able to fulfil being able to go down to the States as we had previously planned, it does make sense that we need to aim our priorities at the Canadian audience," Edelson said in an interview Monday with The Canadian Press.

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Edelson couldn't speculate on whether the Snowbirds would return to the U.S. next year.

"A lot of these decisions aren't made at the Snowbird level," he said.

"These are made at much higher levels than even the squadron. We take our direction from higher headquarters in Ottawa and, next year, that's where those decisions would again be made."

Herb Gillen, a spokesman for the Oregon International Air Show, said organizers received a call from the Snowbirds about 10 days ago to cancel a September show.

Gillen said organizers are disappointed.

"In fact, it had been many years since the Snowbirds had appeared there last, so everybody was very excited to have them," he said in a phone interview from Columbus, Ohio.

"The Snowbirds being removed from the lineup … that's a pretty big blow. The show right now is sort of in a regrouping phase and trying to determine what's next, what the viability of the show is this year if they don't have a jet team."

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Gillen said it's an unfortunate situation.

The Oregon International Air Show has faced this dilemma before. Last year, the United States Navy Blue Angels cancelled all of their 2013 performances because of federal budget issues. The show went on with the Patriots Jet Team, a civilian-owned jet aerobatic team, as the headline act.

Edelson said the cuts won't have an impact on the about 30 shows planned in Canada.

"We have a full Canadian season and basically all the Canadian shows that were planned in the 2014 air show season are still scheduled to go ahead."

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