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Military aircraft cut from Louisville air show

Mar. 31, 2013 @ 07:14 AM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — The Kentucky Derby Festival says military aircraft won't be a part of this year's air show at Thunder Over Louisville due to federal budget cuts.

Organizers of the event told The Courier-Journal (cjky.it/10iMAhd) on Friday that fighter jets, bombers and attack helicopters that have thrilled crowds in the past have been grounded from air shows due to spending cuts.

The show, however, will go on.

Festival spokeswoman Aimee Boyd said organizers have lined up civilian aircraft acts that will perform from around 3 p.m. until just before the fireworks show begins.

The April 20 event had 15 acts booked as of Friday.

"We saw this coming last July and started doubling and tripling up on civilian aircraft," said Thunder producer Wayne Hettinger.

Mike Berry, Derby Festival president and CEO, said spectators will still enjoy the acts.

"It will be a wonderful ... but very different air show," he said.

Berry and Hettinger said because Thunder draws such a large crowd to the riverfront, sponsors have provided enough funding to obtain the acts.

"We can spend the extra dollars to bring in the civilian aircraft. It will be a show to be proud of," Berry said.

Air show volunteer Mike Riordan said military aircraft usually do flyovers without any aerobatics. He said civilian aircraft are more likely to do "loops and rolls, to provide a different look and feel."

Previous shows have included military aircraft such as the C-130, B-52 bombers, Harrier jets; F-16s and different helicopters, Riordan said.

This year's show will feature aircraft like the RV-4, T-34 and F-86 Sabre.

Hettinger said the federal budget situation changes, military planes could be added back into the lineup as long as he has at least 24 hours notice.

Promoters said Thunder Over Louisville attracts about 700,000 people along the Ohio River shoreline making it among the largest annual events in the Southeast.