Dayton Air Show to continue with or without Blue Angels

7-16-03 -- The U.S. Navy Blue Angels fly in echelon formation during a practice performance at the Vectren Dayton Air Show on Wednesday afternoon.
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7-16-03 -- The U.S. Navy Blue Angels fly in echelon formation during a practice performance at the Vectren Dayton Air Show on Wednesday afternoon.

The Vectren Dayton Air Show will continue despite the U.S. Navy’s confirmation Friday that the headline Blue Angels F/A 18 jets are grounded following a fatal crash Thursday.

Officials for the air show said Friday they had not yet made contact with the Navy regarding whether the team would be fit for flight by the June 18-19 program at James M. Cox Dayton International Airport.

“We as a board are committed to the air show this year,” said Michael Emoff, the chairman of the event. “We have not heard yet whether the Blue Angels will be performing at the air show.”

Emoff extended sympathy to both the Blue Angels and the Air Force Thunderbirds team which, in an unusual coincidence, also lost a jet to a crash Thursday, although no one died in that incident.

“As somebody who has an opportunity to meet the teams and meet the performers who come in to the Dayton Air Show … we have an opportunity to develop relationships and, sadly, we sometimes have an ending like this and it is very unfortunate,” Emoff said.

The Navy Times first reported Friday that the Blue Angels have suspended flying until further notice as a result of Thursday’s fatal crash. The suspension doesn’t mean the Blue Angels will not resume their air show schedule this season, However, team members are returning home to Florida to regroup before deciding when to resume flying, the Navy Times reported.

The crash happened just after takeoff and killed Marine Corps Capt. Jeff Kuss, a U.S. official told The Associated Press. A Naval Air Forces release described Kuss as “an incredible Marine, husband and father, and an inspiration to so many; his loss will be felt across the nation.”

Dayton’s Emoff said the Navy’s decision to ground the Blue Angels is “standard” and “expected” following such incidents.

Refunds will not be issued should the Blue Angels fail to appear here, Emoff said.

“Our show is worth the money that’s paid, no question,” he said. “We hope that we have people come out and support our show with or without a jet team.”

Still, he said turnout for the show is better when jet teams are in flight.

Emoff reassured prospective visitors they would still be able to see the planned visit of the F-22 Raptor stealth aircraft.

“Our show without the headliner will be a great show at most places, and it’s going to be a great show for us,” Emoff said. He added, “With the Blue Angels we have probably the best show in the country. Without the Blue Angels we have a really good show.”