Because of the federally enacted budget sequester, the US Air Force’s F-22 Raptor Team will not be appearing this year at the Columbia Cup unlimited hydroplane races.
The cancellation is part of the greater elimination of nationwide air shows by the military, which is cutting nearly all non-essential programs. However, Kathy Powell of the Water Follies views the news as just a temporary setback, saying, “We knew the Air Force might have to pull out of our show this year due to the sequester, but that doesn’t diminish the fact that they had already selected the Tri-Cities as one of their limited summertime air show appearances. They saw the Water Follies as a premiere venue and I expect that when they are fully funded again, they will be here in all of their glory. Unfortunately, we’ll just have to wait a year.”
However, Powell also said there is some good news to report on the Air Show front. “The Historic Flight Foundation in Mukilteo, WA informed us that their Grumman F7F Tigercat and F8F Bearcat will be making an appearance at the HAPO Over-the River-Air Show this year, which is really, really exciting. These are two flying pieces of history and they are awesome to see.”
The F7F-3’s Tigercat was originally designed as a combat carrier plane and saw service in the Korean War, but was used extensively for low-level forest fire fighting. There are only six Tiger cats still flying.
The F8F Grumman Bearcat was among the last piston-engine flyers built specifically for World War II combat and was designed to meet and beat the infamous Japanese Zero. The plane could climb to 10,000 feet in just over a minute and has the distinction of being the first official plane used by the US Navy’s Blue Angels demonstration team. There are only ten F8F’s flying today.
“So we’ll have two more great historical planes to dazzle the crowds and we couldn’t be more thrilled,” said Powell.