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Cuts don't clip air show's wings


Organizers have made sure the 2013 Oregon International Air Show will be known for what appears in the sky above Hillsboro Airport, more than for what doesn’t appear.

Sequestration, otherwise known as federal budget cuts, forced the U.S. Navy Blue Angels to cancel their scheduled appearance, but the air show quickly added the Patriots Jet Team, a six-plane civilian outfit made up of former show pilots from the famous Thunderbirds, Snowbirds and Blue Angels.

Along with other notable acts, such as Kirby Chambliss and the Red Bull Skydiving Team and Lt. Col. John Klatt of the Air National Guard, the Patriots Jet Team helps make the air show July 26, 27 and 28 worth the price of admission.

“Even with the impact of sequestration, we are putting on one of the strongest air shows we’ve put on,” spokesman Steve Callaway says. “There are other shows that have had to cancel, because they don’t have cash reserves or organizational structure. We just brought in some crowd favorites.”

The Patriots’ formation-flying Aero Vodochody L-39 Albatrosses have electrified crowds for more than 10 years. One of the Patriots’ pilots, “Scratch,” aka Rob Mitchel, hails from Vancouver, Wash.

The acclaimed Chambliss — a former motocross rider and five-time U.S. national aerobatic champ — as well as the wing suit skydiving Red Bull performers, always put on daredevil shows.

Other highlights: Klatt, a veteran of Iraq and other foreign action, piloting his MXS; Jacquie Warda, the ageless woman who started flying acrobatically at age 50; Mike Wiskus, a pilot since age 17 who has flown more than 24,000 hours, manning his Lucas Oil Pitts; local stunt pilot Renny Price; and aircraft from Hillsboro’s Classic Aircraft Aviation Museum.

A welcome change this year has been the addition of more food options. A concessionaire backed out of the event, leaving organizers scrambling and bringing in local vendors such as Beaverton Bakery, Coyote’s, Jersey Joe’s, Slick’s Big Time BBQ and Mexican, Thai and Indian kitchens.

All proceeds from the air show benefit charities and nonprofits. Since 1988, the show has donated more than $1.3 million to 475 organizations.