Rhode Island National Guard cancels air show indefinitely

PROVIDENCE – The Rhode Island National Guard has grounded its popular annual air show indefinitely. 

“Due to continued operational changes, the decision has been made not to continue hosting the show,” Maj. Gen. Christopher P. Callahan, the guard’s adjutant general, announced Monday in a press release. 

The annual event, which started 30 years ago, has not been held the last four years due to pandemic concerns. The show usually draws 60,000 to 80,000 spectators per year to the Quonset Air National Guard base. 

The 2021 Open House Air Show was tentatively scheduled for late June in North Kingstown, but like the 2020 show, was canceled over coronavirus concerns, the guard said. The 2019 show was canceled because of a high number of deployments. 

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Other factors that contributed to the indefinite cancellation include continuing to keep hundreds of the guard’s forces deployed overseas or involved with domestic missions, according to the release. 

“Our local community is very important to us,” said Callahan. “As we look ahead, we are scheduled to host the second annual Rhode Island National Guard STEM day in October.” 

Earlier this month, The Rhode Island Air National Guard was awarded $46 million in federal funding to build a state-of-the-art headquarters at the Quonset Air National Guard base. 

The new headquarters will modernize the 143rd Airlift Wing’s base of operations, making it more efficient and mission-ready to support its C-130J and cyber-defense missions and a wide range of assignments from the Pentagon or the governor.  

The new facility will feature modern amenities while shrinking the building’s footprint from 71,302 square feet to 43,550 square feet. 

The funding is part of an earmark secured by Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., in the 2023 Omnibus Appropriations Bill that was signed by President Joe Biden on Dec. 29. 

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