A few questions on UPT

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by seegate, Apr 18, 2014.

  1. seegate

    seegate Member

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    Hello everyone. I have received an appointment for the class of 2018, but I have a few questions regarding flight training. I have done a lot of reading on UPT, so please do not assume I have not done my own research. This will be kind of long winded, so don't feel like you need to answer everything. Thank you!

    1. Would going the AFROTC route with a Type 2 scholarship to UC Berkeley significantly lower my chances of getting selected for UPT? (Engineering major) Also, which school would you recommend?

    2. Is it true that UPT washouts need to pay back the entire cost of the Academy? This prospect scares me. Would it be better to do 5 years of non-rated to finish the commitment, then try to get into UPT? Is this possible?

    3. Is it possible for someone who tracks heavies to go to test pilot school, or do you need to track t-38? On another note, if you track t-38, do you need to get a fighter slot to go to test pilot school?

    4. What is the current landscape of UPT looking like? (Are there a decent amount of fighter drops? Are they planning a lot of cuts in the future? Is it extremely hard to get the t-38 track?)

    5. How often do pilots switch their aircraft assignments? If a heavy pilot is assigned an aircraft, will he/she be flying that plane exclusively for their career, or does he/she get to fly a lot of different aircraft? I noticed that one of the AFA graduates on this forum mentioned he had gotten to fly heavies, fighters, and trainers, but in all the threads I have been reading, the plane you get on assignment night seems like the plane/type of plane you will be flying your entire career.

    6. Last question, and this does not relate to UPT. I have been hearing conflicting things about grad school after AFROTC/USAFA. If I graduate from one of these commissioning sources, do I need to be at the very top of the class to get to go to grad school? If this is the case, is it easy to get to go to grad school after serving AD for a few years?

    Thanks to anyone who answers. Again, I have done research on my own on these topics, but I either can't find answers to these questions, or I have been hearing conflicting answers.
     
  2. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    The real reason that you can't find the answers or they are conflicting is due in part to the fact that you are asking about what will happen in four years from now at the very earliest.

    Here are my stabs though, and I am sure somebody else will have different answers, hence the start of the conflicting answer.

    1. Attending any college on an AFROTC scholarship, be it type 1, 2 or 7 does not increase or decrease your chances for UPT because the slate is wiped clean as soon as you enter. They do not talk or give preference to scholarship cadets.

    AFROTC has a big hurdle that the AFA does not have and it called EA(enrollment allocations) you must meet a national board and as I stated the scholarship does not matter to them regarding selection. In the AF world it what they call masked.

    ~~~ As for engineering that depends on the needs of the AF, for a few years as an AAFROTC cadet if you were certain engineering majors the AF would release only a few for rated.

    Overall, if you maintain certain things, cgpa, PFT and high CoC ranking at certain levels you have @95% change of going rated.

    ~~~ Caveat, it is now the same system for AFA as AFROTC you cannot just apply for UPT, you must apply for all four rated positions,

    2. Repayment is at their discretion. That being said I do not know of anyone that has been required to pay it back. The students in our DSs UPT class that washed out were given nin-rated positions, some went Intel, and some went maintainers.

    3. TPS requires an engineering degree. There are heavy pilots that go to TPS just like fighters. The thing is now you are at hurdle 3000, and you have yet to clear hurdle number one (I Day)
    ~~~~ You won't be applying for TPS until you have been in for at least one operational tour. Or IOWS, about 10 years from now.

    Nobody knows what the AF will look like in a decade. Heck, no predicted the current RIF/VSSP/SERB a decade ago, let alone 18 months ago.

    4. Read above. There were years in the mid 90s that fighters were not handed down at the rate which they are now. Even today it is only about 25% of the class that wings. Key word is wing, not the 25%, because the real number is even lower when you factor in the fact that 25-30% wash out of IFS.

    It should be stated that there were years AFA grads started UPT thirty days after commissioning, lately it has been 6-9 months or more. AFA will always go before the ROTC grads. It is not uncommon for them to commission, go back home and live with the folks for 6-9 months, and than go to UPT. Our DSs class had the last of the AFA grads, while he was the first of AFROTC. He was fortunate because the AF sent him casual status from Oct-Apr. to his UPT base.

    5. Flieger is a unique situation of xtraining. Our DS is going heavies, and will wing next Friday, he too can already say he has flown trainers, along with every pilot in the AF. One in his class will be a FAIP, thus their first four years operational they will be flying trainers, whereas, our DS will be in a C130J. The FAIP will get their airframe after that assignment. Many also are what people call grey beards. They volunteer for their last tour to be IPs at UPT. Thus, they too will switch airframes again.

    I knoiw a lot of pilots that have switched airframes, but Flieger is the only one that I know that jumped between fighters and heavies. When Bullet went into the Strike Eagle, he came from the 111. The same happened with the 22. You will be seeing the same in the 35, and most will come from the 16

    In the heavy world they can do this too.

    6. For AFROTC you need to be at the top and you must be selected. You can't just say I want to go to grad school right out of college. Many also get to their senior year and decide they are academically burnt out, and want to start their life.
    ~~~ Especially rated, because they know that their new commitment clock will not start until they wing, which takes a year. Add in casual status between the start of grad school, and any casual status after grad before commissioning will factor in. Hence, if you do AFIT, and are on casual status for 6-9 months total, you will be in for close to twelve years, not 10 like those that went to UPT directly after graduation.
    ~~~~ Grad school is needed currently to make O4, the majority of them earn that degree via TA (tuition assistance) since it is concurrent and they pay 75% of the cost.

    Those are my opinions, now onto others giving their insight.:yllol:
     
  3. buffalo

    buffalo USAFA 2013

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    I can only give brief replies this morning, but I'm happy to elaborate on my experience thus far as needed later on. I'm also sure others will chime in throughout the day.

    1. At USAFA, if you are medically qualified, you would like to fly, and are not at the very bottom of the class, you will get a pilot slot. Pima can speak more about UPT slots via ROTC, but from what I have read from her posts, it is still very possible to get a pilot slot if you do reasonably well academically and in your detachment. Personally, I still think there is an advantage by going through USAFA, but it not the only way by any means.

    2. Several years ago, UPT students that washed out risked facing a retention board and there were those that were separated from the Air Force. Currently, UPT students will most likely get reclassified into another AFSC rather than risk separation. However, it's likely what is happening now will not be the trend five years from now when you'd be going through. If you want to be a pilot, get the pilot slot out of your commissioning source. Depending on your AFSC, it may be possible to apply to be released and apply for a pilot slot, but it would be difficult.

    3. It is possible for a heavy pilot to go to TPS, however, as you might imagine you'd be testing heavy airframes, not pointy nosed and fast aircraft.

    4. I'd say the current UPT environment is pretty descent. As I wrote above, washouts are getting reclassified into other career fields rather than getting separated from the Air Force. Drops have also been pretty descent. There is another thread further down the page that lists a drop from Pima and fencer's sons assignment night. However generally, for a class of 25, perhaps 7-8 might track T-38s, 1-2 helos, and the rest T-1s. Of those T-38 students, maybe 4 might get fighters... But that is very generic and times will definitely change when you go through. For example, in 2019 and 2020 when you'd be finishing, there'll be a lot of F-35s coming online, and I suspect they'll be dropping that fighter straight from UPT.


    I don't have time to finish, however I'll say expect that your preferences might change. Most cadets starting at USAFA want to fly. By the time they graduate less than half will actually go to UPT. Same thing relating to airframes. Most folks want to fly fighters going in, but when you learn more about other airframes preferences may change. I know I went in wanting fighters, but as I near my track select, I'm leaning towards the T-1 and airlift track. Be open minded and flexible!


     
  4. Stealth_81

    Stealth_81 Super Moderator Moderator Founding Member

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    Good answers from Pima and Buffalo so I won't repeat it all. I'll give some answers based on my son's experience thus far. For background, Son#1 is a 2011 USAFA grad who went through UPT in 2012-2013, tracked T-38, and just recently finished the F-16 B-Course (FTU) and is moving to his first operational squadron.

    1. I think it is easier to get a pilot slot out of USAFA, but the school may not be for everyone.

    2. From IFS there were a couple kids who washed out of son's class who separated and were asked to repay for their Academy education. I do not know how those were resolved. The other ones were re-classified to another AFSC. At UPT, all of the washouts that I know of were sent to other AFSCs. One of son's friends from USAFA was sent to Missiles.

    3. One correction on the engineering degree for TPS. Son was not an engineering major but has excelled in pilot training. One of his commanders talked to him about WIC/TPS and mentioned that it is possible to get a waiver to the TPS engineering degree requirement for USAFA grads because of the hard science background that they have. I have no idea if this is easy or hard to do, just that he was told it is possible.

    4. Son's class at UPT had the exact make-up that Buffalo stated. The 7 T-38s got 4 fighters. However, at the same time one of the other training bases only got one fighter in their T-38 drop, but it was a Raptor. Son was #1 in his class and really was hoping for an F-22 but there wasn't one in his drop, so he took the F-16.

    5. Son has been told he has a 50-50 shot at an F-35 if his unit changes airframes. There will still be a demand for F-16 pilots for a while, yet, so he may fly that his entire career. Their commander said that the cost to get them through IFS, UPT, and FTU was about $6 million each, so that is not a cost that you just give up and let people train in another airframe.

    6. Slots for grad school out of USAFA are available, but you need to be high on the OOM to get one. Son graduated from USAFA with a 3.5 GPA so he qualified, but after a couple of meetings he decided that he didn't want another two years of school before starting UPT. Now that his flight training is almost done, he is starting his masters program on his own at Florida International University and the AF picks up 75% of the cost.

    Stealth_81
     
  5. hornetguy

    hornetguy USAFA Cadet

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    2. I knew of one guy it happened to. The biggest reason is that he SELF-selected out rather than failing out or medically DQing. Generally, if you try your best and it doesn't work out - you will be fine. Our Wing Vice met with us at the beginning of UPT and said "Do your best. This isn't for everyone. If you give it your all and it doesn't work out, there is no shame in that and no regrets. It just wasn't meant to be and we will take care of you."

    If you give up a rated slot out of ROTC that is offered to you, they will see that and may choose to never allow you to apply for one again. Be careful. Far better to take any rated slot and go with it. Even if it is not pilot, there are plenty of Navs, ABMs, and RPA guys/girls that come back and do UPT.

    4. Latest at Laughlin is typically 3-4 T-38s per class with 1-3 of those being fighters. Pima's DS's drop was a good drop for the T-38s with 3 fighters and a T-6 FAIP. I have seen drops with 1 fighter, 1 FAIP, a BUFF, and a U-28 or MC-12. Never know. I'll side with buffalo here - the future would likely have more T-38s than today

    5. So, a key reason you will see some people with multiple airframes, and even both fighters and bombers has to do with how training used to be. Flieger will probably kill me, but the 'older' guys went through a different UPT. The T-1 came online in the 90s, prior to that, ALL UPT students did T-37 to T-38. Then as today, if you fly a T-38, you are universally assignable to all airframes. Not so if you fly a T-1. Guys that fly a T-38 have the potential to cross-train into a heavy depending on the circumstance. (For example, my husband is a T-38 guy, if I were to end up in a heavy, joint-spouse consideration MAY [but still highly unlikely] allow him to be cross-trained into a heavy, more so since he is an A-10 pilot and their future is not looking good). I'm going to go ahead and say if you fly a T-1, you will never fly a fighter. Cross training between types like heavy to heavy or fighter to fighter - ya, not uncommon.

    6. For USAFA, you need to be in the top 10% to be competitive. In my day, top 15%, but slots are decreasing and that will increase competition. Within that, you can range from AFIT to Rhodes scholar depending on your rank, major, and qualifications. It is not particularly easy to get a grad school assignment full time AD later. Those usually go to people who need it for their career field or who are sponsored to go back and teach at USAFA. They are sending fewer people AD to teach at USAFA, so numbers are dropping.

    I caution people now about grad school after commissioning prior to UPT. That's another 1-3 years your medical status could change or the AF could change. May seem like a short time period, but a lot can happen. IF there is nothing in the world you want to do but fly, consider turning down the opportunity and going straight to UPT. I don't discourage going to grad school, per se, but be aware of the potential risk to losing that UPT opportunity if you choose to go.

    Don't panic so much and think you're going to get yelled at. The prior poster who got reamed did nothing and wanted to us to walk him through EVERYTHING. You did the right thing - "I researched and found good info. These are the questions I still have." This is how to do it.
     
  6. Cidgrad130

    Cidgrad130 Member

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    While Stealth-81 is correct about the technical degree requirement waiver for TPS, it very rarely happens. In the 4 years I spent at Edwards (2006-2010), I only know of a single TPS student that did not have a technical degree (BS in Biology). Students who complete USAF TPS are awarded a MS (Since 2007), so student backgrounds have an impact on accreditation - as a result, waivers are less likely. Even if you are coming to TPS from heavies, most of the flying is completed in T-38s and Vipers. You also get a great exposure to different aircraft via qual evals.

    For non-TPS grads many of the cross flow opportunities that existed in the past have dried up in recent years (e.g., Fighter-Tanker, Tanker-Airlift). That is not to say that you can't move within like-MDS types (slick C-130s to Talons, JSTARS to RJs, 135s to KC-10s). But even those opportunities are limited (especially between MAJCOMs). Kinda difficult to say what it will be like 6-10 years from now.
     
  7. Buff-IP

    Buff-IP USAFA '88 Pilot

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    You know there are folks that go through (a version of) TPS that are not pilots.

    I don't personally know anyone who went through TPS.
     
  8. Cannonball

    Cannonball Member

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    I keep reading about Air Force having a shortage of fighter pilots. If there is a shortage why don't they give out more fighters in each class? Only having one or two per class makes it hard for everyone else to get a fighter.
     
  9. hornetguy

    hornetguy USAFA Cadet

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    There are many limitations on giving fighters- particularly when it comes to the number of T-38s available for training. On a T-1 mission, you have an IP and 2 students in the aircraft. A T-38 is just 1 student and one IP. Laughlin has about 65 T-38s and around the same number of T-1s. T-38s are a few decades older than the T-1s and have a lot high maintenance requirements. Because you need a T-38 graduate to teach T-38s, the pool is smaller along with the need for fighter pilots elsewhere (self-propogating issue).

    In short, they can't produce as many T-38 graduates as T-1 graduates and train accordingly.

    Air Force wide, there is more behind the "fighter pilot shortage" and isn't just a case of having more cockpits than pilots. It has to do with staffing requirements in non-flying billets and other AF politics that changed between 1990 and now. The AF would certainly graduate more fighter pilots or T-38 qualified pilots if they could. The T-1 came online in the 1990s which led to big changes in how pilots are divided in the force.
     
  10. Bullet

    Bullet Member

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    A LOT of the issue also has to do with the number of transition training slots available to MAKE those new fighter pilots. There are only a limited number of each type of fighter,s in the AF's inventory that are set aside for "training" new pilots in a. Flight Training Unit.

    Until the F-35 comes out in larger numbers in a few years, the AF will be facing this shortage issue. BTW, the first "straight out of UPT" slot for a brand new F-35 pilot will be given out next year, so one of you graduating in May and heading to UPT later this year will be getting to fly one in the very near future....
     
  11. HNeedle

    HNeedle Member

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    Well they kind of are... In my class last November, we had 4/7 get fighters. Laughlin had 3/6, Columbus had like 2/5 or somethin. Fighters have been given out more often in the past 6 months than before. That has been the trend.. For a t-38 class of 6 assignable students, 3 or 4 fighters is almost normal now.. Almost. Every drop is different, and it really does come down to "luck and timing." You never know when the pendulum will swing the other way.

    But on a larger scale, I've heard that the b-courses are full. They're running at capacity, so they can't give out any more slots because they don't have room for more students. The Air Force cut training squadrons, removed instructors, etc prematurely and now they have the issue of needing more fighter pilots but having no way to train them as quickly as they'd like.

    Edit: bullet expanded on what I was saying as I was typing
     
  12. aglages

    aglages Parent

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    The following article from Jan 2014 might help explain some of the reasons/causes of the fighter pilot shortage. Hope this helps.

    http://www.airforcemag.com/MagazineArchive/Pages/2014/January 2014/0114aircrew.aspx
     
  13. Bullet

    Bullet Member

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    Completely forgot about that interview with Ms. Grant. Gave up a half hour of my busy schedule with her just before the Holidays, only to rate two lines, not even being quoted by name, just as some "air staff expert"? (Second to last paragraph in the article). Geeesh...

    Hey! I'm almost famous! I can see it now. The legions of adoring fans stopping me on the Metro asking for autographs, saying "aren't you that Air Staff expert?" :biggrin:
     
  14. aglages

    aglages Parent

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    If I send you my copy.....would you autograph it as "Bullet - Air Staff expert"?:thumb:
     

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