A major part of the July 4th celebration in Utah is going away this year because of federal budget cuts. The U.S. Department of Defense has grounded all patriotic flyovers for the rest of the new fiscal year. A year ago Wednesday KUER reported on a record number of flyovers in a single day by the 419th Reserve Fighter Wing in Utah. The wing and support crew did 19. This year they’ll do zero. Andrea Mason of the 388th Fighter Wing at Hill Air Force Base says the F-16 pilots normally use the flyover as training sorties so there’s no extra cost to the taxpayer. But she says the budget problems change things this year across the country.
“So we have to conserve as many hours as possible to put toward combat readiness in our training," Mason says. "So as the nation calls us we’re ready to deploy at a moment’s notice.”
Mason says the Air Force places a high value on its strong ties to the community and flyovers are a way of thanking Americans for their support of the military. She says hopefully things will change in the near future.