The Air Force Thunderbirds will not participate in Saturday's Air & Space Expo at the Charleston Air Force Base.
The demonstration team canceled its North Charleston performance because the six-pilot squad isn't ready after recently losing one of its members in a crash.
The Thunderbirds have returned to flying after the March 18 death of Maj. Stephen Del Bagno, but scheduled air show appearances depend on the team’s readiness to perform a safe six-jet demonstration, according to the Thunderbirds' base in Nevada.
Nellis Air Force Base announced Thursday that Maj. Nick Krajicek has been named the squadron’s Thunderbird Slot Pilot, flying the No. 4 jet for the rest of the 2018 show season.
"To facilitate Krajicek’s requalification training, the Thunderbirds’ participation at the Charleston Air Show and the Fort Lauderdale Air Show has been canceled," according to a Nellis news release. "The team’s participation in the Laughlin AFB Air Show and the Air Power over Hampton Roads air shows are being evaluated."
Although Lowcountry aviation fans will miss out this year on "America's Ambassadors in Blue," the first area air show since 2011 will proceed with several flying groups and ground displays of aircraft.
The AeroShell Aerobatic Team will perform as the headliner act, according to Joint Base Charleston.
Gates for the Air & Space Expo open at 8:30 a.m. with aerial shows beginning at 10 a.m. The free event ends at 5 p.m.