Handout / Getty Images
The Blue Angels perform their precision aerobatics over the Florida Keys during the Southernmost Air Spectacular at Naval Air Station Key West on March 24. All remaining performances for 2013 have been canceled due to budget constraints.
The high-speed, high-altitude acrobatic maneuvers and tight formations of the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels will be missing from dozens of festivals and air shows across the country this year. All Blue Angels performances for the remainder of 2013 have been canceled, the Navy announced Tuesday.
The decision is a result of budget constraints caused by sequestration. “Recognizing budget realities, current Defense policy states that outreach events can only be supported with local assets at no cost to the government,” the Navy said in a statement.
“The squadron will continue to train to maintain flying proficiency until further notice at its home station in Pensacola, Fla,.” the Navy said.
Organizers of Seafair, an annual summer festival in Seattle, broke the news to the community, saying: “The Blue Angels have flown at Seafair for over 40 years and are an important part of our history. The team will be deeply missed by Seattleites.”
The grounding is a sentimental loss for fans but not as serious as other reductions to defense spending, which President Barack Obama said could threaten military readiness. The Defense Department said the cuts would slash ship and aircraft maintenance, curtail training and result in up to 14 days' unpaid leave for most of the Pentagon's 800,000 civilian employees.
For the Navy, programs such as the Blue Angels would take a back seat to "making sure ships are seaworthy and planes are airworthy for the war fighters who are operating overseas," Lt. John Supple, spokesman for the Chief of Naval Air Training in Corpus Christi, Texas, said last month.
The Blue Angels program began in 1946 and costs about $40 million a year. Canceling the bulk of the performing season would save about $28 million, according to Navy officials.
NBC News' Joe Myxter and Reuters contributed to this report.