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Thunderbirds air show remains up in the air

Date Posted: 2004-09-03

The military is still weighing its options on whether to go forward with a scheduled air show September 15th featuring the U.S. Air Force demonstration team.

The Thunderbirds are scheduled to perform on the second day of Kadena Air Base’s America-Fest scheduled for Sept. 14-15. The first day is a festival day only for military personnel and their families in Okinawa.

The air show is scheduled for Wednesday the 15th, open to the Okinawa civilian community. The problem is that the community leaders from the towns surrounding Kadena do not want the air show to take place.

The Tripartite Liaison Council, which encompasses Kadena, Chatan and Okinawa City, has demanded the show be stopped. Miyagi Tokujitsu, Kadena Town Mayor, says he didn’t realize how dangerous such a show could be, and said “we were told the air unit is highly trained and there was no danger.”

Miyagi was responding to reports of a Thunderbirds crash in the United States some years ago, during which the pilot ejected from his stricken F-16 less than a second before it crashed. The plane was destroyed and none of the 60,000 spectators were injured. He notes that the planes scheduled to perform in the skies over Kadena are the same model as the one that crashed in the U.S.

The Kadena Air Base Commander, Brigadier General Jan-Marc Jouas, has told the mayors the military is taking their concerns seriously. Base officials say the a decision on whether to let the show continue, or whether to cancel it, is being considered by senior military commanders.
The America-Fest performance is one of three scheduled in Japan by the Thunderbirds.

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