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The US Air Force recently released a tranche of documents on the support they provided to the Neil Armstrong biopic First Man.  This included their Rules of Engagement for companies filming on Edwards Air Force Base, which detail the stringent and at times ludicrous restrictions the Air Force places on Hollywood film crews.

Most of the documents are administrative gumpf relating to insurance, environmental impact of filming at Rosamond Dry Lake at Edwards AFB, data sheets on pyrotechnics, a contract for a 1960s-era USAF fire truck to be loaned to the producers, and a Kern Country fire department permit.

All information on script input was apparently deleted due to commercial confidentiality, making it unlikely that the USAF will be releasing any more script notes in the coming months.  I will endeavour to find a way to challenge this practice of deleting the most politically controversial documents produced by the entertainment liaison offices.

The most interesting document is the ‘Rules of Engagement (ROEs) for Production Companies Filming on Edwards Air Force Base’ – a 15-point list of dos and don’ts for the film crew.

  1. Members must not carry onto Department of Defense property any non-prescription narcotic, hallucinogenic, or other federally controlled substance (ie., marijuana); or alcoholic beverages. Members entering the base will be subject to search of their vehicles and person.
  2. Drivers must follow all traffic signs (speed, stop, etc) while driving on base. Those who are ticketed will have driving privileges revoked and will not be authorized to drive on base.
  3. Seatbelts must be worn by all passengers while traveling in vehicles on base.
  4. Drivers must use hands-free cell phones. Texting and driving is NOT authorized.
  5. Drivers must stop for all pedestrians at pedestrian cross-walks.
  6. Members are not permitted to use base facilities such as gas, base exchange or commissary. Please do not solicit military members to purchase items at these facilities as it will result in disciplinary action(s) for the military member.
  7. Absolutely no personal pictures prior to being authorized by the Department of Defense project officer. There are many areas of the base that are sensitive. To avoid inadvertently capturing aircraft, and/or secure areas on base, please do not take any pictures without permission.
  8. Please follow all directions of the Security Forces members at the gate or working the Lakebed area or if stopped.
  9. Please stay in designated areas. (Lakebed and/or Base Camp).
  10. Members must have an unexpired government ID on your person at all times.
    Members must provide an ID if requested by Security Forces. If applicable, please also display your employee badge (around your neck or clipped to your shirt) at all times while on the Lakebed and base facilities.
  11. While on or near the Lakebed, members must not discard food items, trash, spit sunflower/peanut shells or items.
  12. No bicycles, hover boards, skate boards, etc., are permitted on the Lakebed or on base property.
  13. Privately Owned Vehicles (POVs), SUVs and trucks, are not permitted on the Lakebed without prior authorization. Please use the designated parking area for POVs.
  14. While on the Lakebed, no open-toed shoes, flip-flops or sandals may be worn.
  15. While on the Lakebed, base property or in the latrines, smoking is strictly prohibited. This  includes electronic cigarettes. Anyone caught smoking in non-smoking designated areas will be removed from the base. This is an extremely serious safety issue due to the amount of flammable items in and around the area.

While some of these restrictions make sense many seem excessive.  No sandals, no vape-pens, no flipflops.  Many seem aimed directly at hipster millenials: no hover-boards, no selfies, no drugs or alcohol of any kind.

Of particular interest is the Fox Mulder clause about not spitting sunflower shells while on base.  Exactly why this restriction is in place is unclear – after all, Edwards is 470 square miles of mostly desert, and whatever local wildlife has not been sacrificed for test-flight purposes might appreciated some discarded peanut/sunflower seed shells.

And of course, the question I’m sure you’re all asking – what about other kinds of nuts?


US Air Force file on support to First Man