HILL AIR FORCE BASE -- The familiar roar of Hill Air Force Base F-16 engines won't be heard this Fourth of July.
Fighter pilots at the base won't fly their traditional routes over local Independence Day celebrations this year because of flying-hour program cuts related to sequestration.
Kari Tilton, spokeswoman for Hill's 419th Fighter Wing, said Hill pilots have flown over community parades across the Wasatch Front for more than 20 years, but since Department of Defense officials directed the Air Force and all other services to cancel aviation support to public events through the remainder of the fiscal year, the Hill jets will be grounded this year.
"It's always a privilege to participate in these events, and it's disappointing to have to sit it out because of fiscal limitations," said Col. Bryan Radliff, 419th Fighter Wing commander. "We look forward to being able to conduct them again in the future."
As part of sequestration, the Air Force was mandated to reduce flying hours by as much as 18 percent, or approximately 203,000 hours.
Because aerial support flights to public events are flown using already allotted flying hours, they are conducted at no additional cost to taxpayers, but the limited flying hours remaining are now being used to support only flying that directly supports combat readiness, Tilton said.
"Engaging with the community is something we want to support when we can," said Col. Lance Landrum, 388th Fighter Wing commander.
"However, the deep budget cuts have already grounded half our pilots and aircraft. We have no choice but to prioritize the little flying hours we've been allocated toward maximizing combat readiness."
The cancellations include the Thunderbirds aerial demonstration team, all air shows, trade shows, flyovers at funerals and military graduations and other events, orientation flights, heritage flights, F-22 demonstration flights and open houses.
Hill does not have an air show scheduled this year.