The 2019 Defenders of Freedom Air & Space Show at Offutt Air Force Base has been canceled. The event was scheduled for June 1-2 and would have been headlined by the US Air Force Thunderbirds.
The base announced the cancellation today, in the midst of absolutely devastating floods that have taken over much of the base’s footprint and the surrounding area. Offutt is located just outside of Omaha, Nebraska, near the Missouri River. It is home to the US Strategic Command and plays a critical role in overseeing the country’s strategic forces, including nuclear forces. As many as 30 buildings on base were reportedly damaged, though thankfully the residential part of the installation is at a higher elevation.
Four people have died due to the floods so far, and thousands have been forced from their homes. The rebuilding effort will be massive, and it makes complete sense that the personnel stationed there will not be up for hosting a large public event in just a few months time. We wish them the best in the long road ahead.
There is no word yet on how this will impact the USAF Thunderbirds’ 2019 airshow schedule or where else the team might perform that weekend instead, but we will update our airshow calendar with that information when it becomes available.
"#TeamOffutt has done an incredible job battling this historic flood … we can’t thank our on-base mission partners enough for support, as well as, @CityofBellevue, @CityofLaVista, @SarpyCountyGov, @Nebraskagov & @OPPDCares" – Col Manion, #55Wing CC
Read: https://t.co/SPxEUMvsA3 pic.twitter.com/t5sh8AaNiv
— US Strategic Command (@US_Stratcom) March 19, 2019
Here is the full statement from the base:
The 2019 Defenders of Freedom Air & Space Show has been cancelled.
While the 55th Wing and our partner units are fully mission-capable, the recent flooding event affecting much of Nebraska has made hosting this year’s annual event untenable.
“The scope of this historic disaster has touched nearly every aspect of Nebraska including Offutt Air Force Base,” Col. Michael Manion, 55th Wing commander, said. “Assessing the impact to the base is ongoing and we will recover, but it is obvious it will be some time before we can return to normal operations or have the capacity to host an event like an air show and open house. We sincerely enjoy opening our gates to the public and appreciate the tremendous support we get from Bellevue, Omaha and the surrounding communities and are committed to continuing the open house and air show at the next available opportunity.”
No dates for future Defenders of Freedom shows have been set at this time. Anyone who has purchased premium “Flight Deck” seating will receive a full refund and no action is required by the purchasers.
For more information, call the 55th Wing Public Affairs office at (402) 294-3663.