The Blue Angels, the Navy's famed flight demonstration squad, have been wowing audiences for nearly 70 years. However, as sequestration begins to take effect and the Navy is tasked with cutting costs, the skilled pilots will be grounded for the time being. Aside from being an impressive demonstration of the Armed Forces capabilities, the Blue Angels have been a useful recruiting tool over the years, but their immediate future is in doubt. 

Fans come to practice
In anticipation of the Blue Angels' grounding, throngs of aviation enthusiasts recently showed up at Pensacola's Naval Air Station to watch the pilots at work, CBS News reports. Their practice this week welcomed about 9,200 spectators, which is about twice as large as the crowd that usually shows up to watch them perform their impressive stunts. The March 28 practice may have been the last time the F-18s take to the skies – Department of Defense (DOD) officials are unsure of what their practice schedule will be over the next six months.

Money saving a priority
Though the Blue Angels' legions of fans may be disappointed by the move, it is a smart fiscal decision, DOD officials say. Grounding the fleet will save about $20 million over the next six months, and with the Navy tasked with slashing $4 billion, it could go a long way. Still, Navy veteran John Hunt said the decision will have a negative impact.

"Major loss, major loss," he told CBS. "Especially to this area, and especially to the Navy. This is a recruiting tool."

Other planes grounded
The Blue Angels aren't the only fighter planes in the military to have their role reduced. According to USA Today, budget cuts have led the Armed Forces to suspend all military air shows for the time being – that includes the Air Force's famed Thunderbirds. It costs about $10 million for the Thunderbirds to be maintained, and given that defense is still the top priority among the military brass, shows and flyovers should be the first to go.

"As a strictly budget matter, these are low priority from a military perspective," he said. "Flyovers and air shows don't help you defend the nation," defense spending expert Todd Harrison told the publication.