Are tax payers still paying for NFL patriotic displays?


"A report released in 2015 by Arizona Republican Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake found that the Pentagon spent $6.8 million on sports marketing contracts with the National Football League, Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League and Major League Soccer on what the senators dubbed “paid patriotism.” ** The practice was subsequently banned by the Pentagon**…Kurt M. Rauschenberg, a spokesman for the National Guard Bureau, wrote in an email to CBS MoneyWatch. “Generally, these are considered community relations programs involving the team reaching out to the local National Guard asking for them to conduct honor guard, flag unfurling, or** fly-overs**. Those are of no extra cost to the government and very normal.”

Excuse me? Flyovers? So people are volunteering to fly privately owned fighter jets using their own fuel?

Is the DoD still using our money to ‘advertise’ during the National Anthem?

Pilots needs flight hours to maintain currency. They’re going to take off and fly around in circles anyway, might as well schedule it to go over a stadium.

That makes sense.

Military pilots have a certain list of things they are expected to accomplish during training flights, and flying straight and level at moderate speed really isn’t part of that. ETA: I would note that as of a few years ago, Air Combat Command maintained that if a pilot was expected to demonstrate 10 things during a training flight, but only accomplished 8 of them; he had to start over and demonstrate all 10 things on his next flight – no partial credit. I do not know if ACC still requires that.

It’s sort of like saying that having a Treasury Department accountant spend his afternoon at the movies doesn’t result in any added cost to the taxpayer. Yeah, that’s true, but the cost borne by the taxpayer isn’t especially productive. (Of course, some may hold the opinion that watching a 15 second flyover of an NFL stadium is productive in some sense other than improving warfighting capability.)

There’s a difference between training, which happens at training squadrons, and pilots simply maintaining hours. ANG bases don’t conduct their own pilot training, they go to active duty bases run by AETC. They’ll do their own check rides, but there’s plenty of time during those for flight straight and level.

A lot of these flyovers are just C-130s flying at low altitude because they make a lot of noise and it’s cool.

At my C-130 unit a typical weekend mission might be, take off, fly 200 miles, land, do nothing there, take off again, do a mock low altitude cargo drop over the military reserve nearby, fly over a parade, circle for 90 minutes, land. All on board get to add those hours to the tracking system, which keeps them in flight status. Everyone on the ground gets experience planning and executing flight missions. Nothing ever got “done,” per say, but those planes flew every weekend I was there.

It is totally normal for aircraft to conduct routine flights in order to maintain pilot proficiency. Not every flight is “Top Gun” style training. I have lived on many Air Force bases, and they would literally just fly in circles to practice the takeoff - cruise - landing cycle.

My wife belonged to an Army aviation squadron. She was an executive assistant to the squadron command team. For at least a few days every month she had to clear their calendars (no meetings, no inventories, nothing) so that the Commander and his XO could go log their flight hours.

It is really trivial to just ask an aircraft to plan their flight path over a stadium, since they have to fly anyway. Who knows, maybe the pilots are making “pew pew” noises while they do it? Counts as training.

I once participated in one of these things for a NASCAR event. The flags were unit property and the Soldiers are salaried. Their was no cost to the unit except - I assume - the gas we spent to get there.

I don’t know if the Army paid some kind of fee or bribe or whatever to get the sports officials to make time for it. But NASCAR has already paid for a country singer to perform the national anthem, we just had to stand there during it. The Army was sponsoring its own NASCAR driver at the time, so whatever expense it took to bring us out there was probably a drop in the bucket.

I’m using “training” in the most non-technical sense of the word to facilitate clarity.

When I did an F-16 ride several years ago, the pilot complained about how mobility guys had much different requirements than folks under ACC; basically arguing that AMC’s criteria for determining proficiency was more common-sense and less rigid. We specifically discussed how flying hours were quite precious with so much to do. Whether that is still the case with flying hours across the services going up, I cannot say.

About a dozen or so years ago I was at the park on a Saturday with my grandkids when a KC-135 tanker buzzed the neighborhood. It kind of freaked me out so when we got home I called the cops to find out what was going on, and was told it was “a routine training mission.” Uh yeah, I have refueling tankers flying 300 feet over my neighborhood every day. Right. :rolleyes:

I found out later it was part of a flyover at the college football game. So yeah I guess they do go hand in hand. (Why the cops couldn’t just tell me it was for the football game, I’ve never been able to figure out.)

I’ll cop that if a flyover is done by an ACC fighter squadron, that might incur some flight hours that might not otherwise need to be done, since ACC pilots typically aren’t struggling to meet their hours any given period and the fighters have such short missions. But I’d wager that most of these flyovers are ANG/AFR units who are looking for excuses to log hours anyway, or longer range aircraft where adding a waypoint to increase the hours is more of a benefit than a drawback. This being GQ and me not being able to find any cites other than AF PR people saying the same thing, that’s about all I can contribute.

As for the other types of events mentioned in the OP, honor guard units may or may not be getting paid for their time depending on their service component (guard/reserve probably are), but they’re all getting mileage/per diem/lodging depending on the distance to the event. There’s certainly some cost that the government eats for those, but the honor guard is on hand anyway to perform military funerals and official ceremonies, so I guess it’s seen as a minor price to pay for a lot of recruiting exposure.