Perhaps the best Air Force recruiting commercial in history was posted to social media on Monday, but the Air Force recruiting service had nothing to do with its creation.
The 14-second long video shows a pair of pilots making their way down the flight line at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, flight-suited up and carrying their helmet bags. The thing is, one of them is not walking: he’s rolling on a skateboard while holding what looks to be a cell phone to his ear.
The video, which was posted to the popular Facebook page Air Force amn/nco/snco, seems to confirm how service members from other branches see the Air Force: That things are just generally easier and more mellow. The service has a reputation for having better barracks, better food, and overall better quality of life than other services. While that reputation is not always true, the stereotype is hard to ignore as you watch a pilot casually kick-pushing his way down the flight line like a college freshman on their way to Philosophy 101 after a chill frisbee session.
Plus, there’s the cell phone. Though the Air Force and Navy allow cell phone use while walking in uniform, the Army, Marine Corps and Coast Guard do not. If you’re curious, the Air Force also allows skateboards outside of roads used by cars, but regulations say that airmen must wear helmets while doing so, which this pilot is not doing. Flight lines are not one of those areas where skateboarding is allowed, but commenters on Facebook seemed to appreciate it anyway.
“I’m not even mad, that’s a flex,” wrote one.
“On the outside I am furious,” wrote a second. “On the inside I am just a bit jealous.”
“It’s called the ramp for a reason,” said a third.
As fun as that image is, it’s not how America’s number-one airpower branch wants to present itself.
“Members who operate on the flight line are charged with the safety and security of themselves, others, and equipment,” said Mike Reeves, chief of media operations for the 633rd Air Base Wing at Joint Base Langley-Eustis. “The actions of the individual in the video are not conducive [to a] safe operating environment and are against JBLE’s local instructions.”
That makes sense. Air Force flight operations are dangerous enough without the prospect of an expensive-to-train pilot eating dirt and breaking a leg because he botched a kickflip over the refueling hose. One commenter on Facebook put it even better:
“Imagine he hits a rock and eats crap while shooting his board out into the taxiway and an intake does what it does best,” they wrote.
Still, the skateboarding here is far from the first silly antic to take place on an Air Force flight line. In fact, it’s a tradition among aircraft maintainers to put on “freestyle Fridays,” where they might wear funny outfits or put on a sketch as their aircraft taxis onto the runway. Last year, two such maintainers put on costumes from the Will Ferrell movie, “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” and reenacted the scene where Ricky Bobby thinks he’s on fire.
As for the kick-pushing pilot: His name was not immediately available, but Reeves said he belonged to the 23rd Fighter Group, which flies A-10 attack planes out of Moody Air Force Base, Georgia. Meanwhile, the F-15s seen in the background belong to the 144th Fighter Wing out of Fresno Air National Guard Base, California.
Despite the Air Force’s stern response to the video, it’s hard to deny the bliss and “IDGAF” vibes coming from that pilot. After all, who wouldn’t want to score massive air before projecting massive airpower?