Luke Air Force Base cancels March air show

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Luke Air Force Base officials announced Friday that they have canceled the 2013 Open House and Air Show due to the possibility of massive federal budget cuts.

"Storm on the Horizon" had been scheduled for March 16-17.

"While I value the importance of this event to both the Air Force and our local community, given the budgetary pressures and expected repercussions if sequestration goes into effect, we need to cancel this year's Luke Days," Brig. Gen. Michael Rothstein, 56th Fighter Wing commander, said Friday.

"I cannot in good conscience spend some of our limited resources to host an Open House, while the Defense Department considers potential civilian furloughs," he continued.

The air show attracts crowds of 200,000 to 250,000 each year, and is considered important in building relationships between the Luke Airmen and the public.

"Candidly, it's very frustrating. I understand the importance of the air show to the airmen and the community.  It's important in a democracy for us to open our gates," Rothstein told 3TV.

The Luke Air Force Base Commander is concerned about potential furloughs for the 1,200 civilian employees.   Rothstein says he cannot justify spending the roughly $300,000 on the open house and air show, while at the same time furloughing staff.

Luke AFB is taking additional steps to reduce costs, including deferring non-mission critical repairs and supply buys, significantly reducing flying not directly related to pilot training, and curtailing non-mission critical services.

Rothstein has also been in contact with the Arizona Diamondbacks.  He told the team not to expect the traditional Air F flyover on opening day

"I have been overwhelmed by the phenomenal community support shown to Luke in the short time I've been here," Rothstein said. "That support for our base is second to none, and made canceling our Open House a very hard decision for me."

Rothstein said he hopes to resume events like the open house and air show as soon as possible.

"I believe it's important for Luke to open our gates to the public to enhance awareness of Air Force missions and military capabilities as well as the skills and professionalism of its people," he added.

No dates for future open houses have been set.