Tico Warbird Airshow features last performance of Thunderbirds

Sequester cuts will ground the planes

TITUSVILLE, Fla. - The Thunderbirds will make their last performances at the Tico Warbird show this weekend before being grounded because of military budget cuts.

The 36th annual Tico Warbird Airshow takes flight through Sunday at Space Coast Regional Airport in Titusville, reports Florida Today. The headlining Air Force Thunderbirds will make their first appearance at the event. The Thunderbirds will be grounded after this weekend because of military budget cuts. It's unknown whether the aerial team will perform at the Cocoa Beach Air Show in the fall.

Their high-speed act is from 3:25 to 4:05 p.m. Friday Saturday and Sunday. During that time, traffic on U.S. 1 will be rerouted southbound at SR 405 and northbound at Kings Highway, according to Valiant Air Command spokesman Terry Yon.

Gates open at 8 a.m., and the airshow starts at 1 p.m. each day.

While you'll spend the majority of the time looking up, don't forget to browse through the vintage aircraft on display or take a walk through the Valiant Warbird museum. Bring binoculars and cameras for plenty of photo opps.

Linda Morgan, widow of Robert Morgan, a famed World War II pilot and commander of the B-17 Flying Fortress the Memphis Belle, will be on hand for pictures and autographs. In 2001, Robert Morgan wrote his autobiography "The Man Who Flew the Memphis Belle: Memoir of a WWII Bomber Pilot." He died in 2004.

Another guest is Richard "Dick" Cole, co-pilot of Jimmy Doolittle, who launched the first bomber off the USS Hornet in the 1942 raid on Tokyo. You'll get a unique point of view about vintage aircraft from Morgan and Cole.

"He's 97 years old, so he will be there early," Yon said. "Last time he came to our air show was two years ago. He was very spry."

"He encouraged all the ladies to take a picture with him — he's quite a guy," Yon said.

Cole will be under the wing of the B-25 called Killer B.

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