On Sunday, before the Tampa Bay Buccaneers thrashed the Green Bay Packers 38-10 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, game announcers Joe Buck and former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman were caught on a hot mic appearing to criticize a military flyover using four A-10 aircraft following the national anthem, with Aikman predicting, “That stuff ain’t happening with Kamala-Biden ticket, I’ll tell you that right now, partner.”
Aikman started the exchange, commenting, “That’s a lot of jet fuel just to do a little flyover.”
Buck chimed in, “That’s your hard-earned money and your tax dollars at work.”
Aikman then offered a form of political endorsement: “That stuff ain’t happening with [a] Kamala-Biden ticket, I’ll tell you that right now, partner.”
Stars and Stripes noted in March 2018 that according to Air Force spokeswoman Jennifer Bentley, military flyovers don’t cost taxpayers since the flyovers are part of training missions. A flyover can be 10 minutes of a 12-hour mission.
The Air Force’s “2018 Aerial Events Policy” removed limits on flyovers at NFL games which had been shelved due to a Defense Department spending cap; that cap was taken off in February 2018. The flyovers have been used for recruiting as Bentley noted, asserting, “Flyovers are a way for the U.S. Air Force to showcase the capabilities of our aircraft while at the same time inspire a future generation. We are increasing the number of events eligible for support to assist with recruiting efforts and in telling the Air Force story.”
“Up to four aircraft at a time will be allowed to participate in each flyover, and the Air Force has abolished limits on the number of aircraft and equipment displays that it can set up on the ground, according to the new rules,” Stars and Stripes reported. Bentley stated that the Air Force approves roughly one-third of the flyover requests it gets, conducting roughly 1,000 each year. She added, “Just because we increase the eligible number of events doesn’t mean that units will be able to support. All flyovers are done on a volunteer basis.”
As Air Education and Training Command reported:
Despite challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Air Force Recruiting Service had a successful fiscal 2020 making adjusted recruitment goals and achieving new milestones for the year. The regular Air Force accessed 26,268 non-prior service enlisted Airmen, as well as 127 prior service, 660 line officers, 651 health professionals and 50 chaplains. The Air Force Reserve accessed 7,062 Airmen, exceeding their goal of 7,000, including enlisted, line officers, health professionals and chaplains. The Air National Guard assessed more than 9,200 enlisted Airmen and nearly 2,000 officers to finish the year ahead of their adjusted goal.
Maj. Gen. Ed Thomas stated, “Fighting through COVID in 2020 was no small feat and I could not be more proud of our recruiters. They adjusted course quickly from in-person recruiting to virtual recruiting to get the mission accomplished. … When COVID shut down our Military Entrance Processing Stations, recruiters quickly became experts in shifting and rapidly adjusting when and where we shipped recruits from to ensure a steady flow of Airmen into the hands of our Military Training Instructors.”
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper echoed, “What the U.S. Air Force Recruiting Service has done in response to COVID-19 by being ready to pivot, prioritize, and match applicants to an optimal job and enter-active-duty date on a weekly, and sometimes hourly, basis has been incredible.”
Aikman’s apparent Harris-Biden endorsement in the hot mic incident runs counter to his past support for Republicans. Aikman has supported Republicans in the past. The Washington Examiner reported in 2013, “Supporting a fellow Texan, the former Cowboys quarterback contributed to former President George W. Bush’s presidential campaign. Aikman gave a total of $27,300 to the RNC and Republican presidential candidates John McCain and Mitt Romney.”