AF pilot flying off carriers in the Navy: How?

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by luckymacy, Jan 22, 2011.

  1. luckymacy

    luckymacy Member

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    Is there a name for the program I can look up to find details on what the qualifications are and stuff like that to apply for the cross tour in the Navy? I recently saw video of a mixed gaggle of USAF and US Navy pilots ferriering around 8 F-18s from St. Louis to Australia to deliver them to the RAAF which made me remember there at least used to be such a program.

    I'm sure it's competitive and would like to find more info.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2011
  2. Mongo

    Mongo Banned

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    I would imagine that they are civilians contracted by Boeing. Back in 1973 during the Yom Kippur war, I was on the USS JFK and we were on our way home after a 10 month cruise when we were diverted to the center of the North Atlantic to provide a ready deck for A-4s being ferried to Israel. We only had one landing, an A-4 with generator failures. The pilot had a shaky "taxi one-wire" landing and as soon as he was out of the wires, came up on the radio with a "Damn, it's been 20 yrs since I was on one of these." He rode us back to Norfolk.

    There is however an exchange program where AF pilots do a single tour in Navy squadrons. Its only a very few at a time though.
     
  3. luckymacy

    luckymacy Member

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    No, they were active duty AF and Navy pilots. It was part of the feature of the movie by Boeing. You could even easily tell when they did closeups of their flightsuits they were Navy and Air Force even if it wasn't pointed out in the 'movie'. Do they have any F-18s at Edwards the AF test pilots get to fly to get checked out in hi alpha, hi performance planes? It occurred to me that could have been a source for the F-18 training for the USAFA guys. The multi part 'movie' even showed them getting air refueled out at sea. Looked like a fun time.

    Speaking of Israel and Ferry Flights, my first real glimpse of an F-16 was at Lajes Field AFB in the early 80s. F-16 was being ferried by an AD USAF major. Engine problem. Landed at Lajes. My parents met him at the O' club one night while waiting for a new engine and repair crew to be sent in via C-141. Next day I got out of school to go down to the hangar and get a one on one tour with him. Most modern thing I'd ever seen at the time. It was like the X-Wing fighter out of Star Wars had showed up in the middle of the Atlantic ocean - very cool. To this day it may have been the seed that steered me into USAF and UPT. When they swapped the engine and he took it up for a checkout flight the entire island stopped to watch his 'show' - it performed like an X-wing too!
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2011
  4. Mongo

    Mongo Banned

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    The Navy disbanded its ferry squadron, VRF-31, circa 1985.

    Walk around Patuxent River, Md and identify everyone in a flight suit as Navy, AF, Army, or civilian. Your batting average would not win the NL batting title next year. Most work for Wyle Industries, Boeing, Sikorsky, or Lockheed Martin. I went to a party in December at the new club hosted by Wyle. Sixty or seventy in flight suits, alll with Navy, Army, or AF markings. Not a single military member among them. The only way to know for sure is to check their ID cards.

    Wyle is involved heavily in the F-18 program, including foreign sales. My guess, they were their employees.

    Anyone involved in foreign sales had best figure out a way to make delivery.
     
  5. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    I agree with Mongo.

    I know some AF fliers that did do a stunt with the Navy, but it was with the EAs.

    Realistically that is a heck of a lot of money to train an AF flier on a plane that is not in their inventory. The military doesn't have the funds to train a gaggle of pilots JIC for a plane that they don't own. The shortest course I know of is for the O6s and that is still several flights.

    If it was anyone in the AF I would have to say they were TPS. So the program you would want to investigate is Test Pilot. The big deal here is make sure you are an engineering grad and the top flier in your squadron so you can get selected for this school.

    My bet the AF officers were hitching a ride in the back seat, and the Navy was in charge.

    You will find very often that AD pilots deliver airframes to receiving countries. I know several who delivered jets quite frequently to Israel, but in the AD world that is called a good deal TDY.
     
  6. luckymacy

    luckymacy Member

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    OK, as usually happens we've taken a tangent. I really just want to know if the AF to Navy tour has one of those fancy names (something 'catchy' as only the military can do like Palace Chase....)

    Well, I hope you aren't a betting man, you'd lose this one. No they are not Wyle employees. They interview the main US Navy man in charge of making these ferry flights happen in time to get the RAAF numbers at RAAF Base Amberley up to IOC minimum. He is US Navy aviator Lt Commander Don Moseley, one of the aircrew members in the flight too, and in the video he talks about how he recruited the rest of the Navy and Air Force crew members to make this happen in time. But now that I watch the video, they don't actually say that any of the F-18 pilots were Air Force. They could have only been the KC-10 Tanker Crew that was in tow the whole way and from where the inflight shots came from. They showed USAF guys in their distinctive flight suits doing flight planning along with the Navy guys - I should have made the connection sooner but it's not important to my question.

    out
     
  7. Bullet

    Bullet Member

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    Well, to answer your first question: As Mongo stated, Yes there are exchange programs between the AF and Navy. Not many, but the few slots available have been ongoing on and off for decades. I believe there is a Navy exchange officer flying F-22s now at Langley, or there was one there until recently (particularly important to the Navy as they prepare to receive their first stealth platform, the F-35).

    Other interesting fact, the AF and Navy do quite a few exchanges with some of our closer Allies, especially the Brits AND the Aussies. Had Brits flying in our Eagle squadrons all the time. Aussies as well. We fly the Brit's Harriers and Tornados, and the Aussie's F-18s (and until they retired the last ones this year, their F-111s as well).

    As to AF pilots qualified on Navy fighters and visa versa? Well, the test aviators from both services become qualified in A TON of different platforms, including every fighter in the US inventory. So YES, you can get a chance to fly Navy F-18s (actually, they are owned by Edwards) if you want to fly for the AF, and Navy guys fo get a cance to fly our stuff. The Test School pool of qualified aviators is VERY small, and the competition to get into TPS is extremely difficult (and don't ecen try if you don't have a technical degree, preferably at least a Master's).

    As to who ferries jets to our Foreign Military Sales customers? VAST majority is done by active duty flyers (know tons of Mud Hen crews who did it, for Israel, the Koreans, and the Saudis. Probably fly a few out to Singapore to as they accept delivery). Interesting and fun trip usually, but they always told me the highlight for them was "that new jet smell!"
     
  8. luckymacy

    luckymacy Member

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    Actually, no one has answered my question, yet. I already know vaguely there is an exchange program and stated that right off the bat in my first sentence. What I asked for was some specific detail like the name of the program so I can do more research. Everybody has a web site these days so I'm really looking for the web site or a write up on the web that describes candidate qualifications, how to apply for it, etc.

    I know something abut EAFB. I've been there for work. Supported flight testing there. Worked with and for chief test pilots and flight engineers - both there and at PAX....wasn't asking anything about either place or program... :smile:

    ps, when I google the topic I come up with funny stuff like Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) and some ancient AF Navy exchange tour write up crap like http://www.airpower.au.af.mil/airchronicles/aureview/1971/mar-apr/Breckner.html BTW, this one is funny to read and it touches on another thread going around today about AF life vs Army live. If the AF guy could have lowered his macho rating down a notch one night and diverted from the carrier to land base like some others did he could have enjoyed life more or as he stated in his own words: "It was only in retrospect that my thoughts turned to the pleasant evening I could have enjoyed at home with my family had I not been so zealous in my efforts to get back to the ship."
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2011
  9. Mongo

    Mongo Banned

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    Just talked to my Wyle F-18 foreign sales guy. The first new F-18 aircraft bought by the RAAF since the mid-80s (have no idea how they were delivered) are 24 new F-18Fs which are now being delivered. The RAAF has a detachment at MCAS Lemoore where they are taking delivery, flying acceptance checks, and pilots are being trained. RAAF pilots have transPaced two flights, the first one with five aircraft last spring, the second one this fall with six aircraft. The final two deliveries are this year. They primarily utilized an Australian commercial 707 tanker but did receive some help by the AF. I would have to see the video. Perhaps a USN lisison? Can you link it?

    Relatively certain the Navy no longer ferries factory aircraft. Can't vouch for the AF.

    Continuing tangential. There is no formal program with a 'catchy' fancy name for a program where AF pilots land on carriers. Just a few exchange pilots every once in a while.
     
  10. luckymacy

    luckymacy Member

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    Nope, it's Boeing proprietary, but it chronacles the trip that occured this past December from St Louis to Amberley. Navy did. Period.

    Speaking of giving in to the tangent, in the video they had to make stops in CA, HI and Guam even though they had a dedicated tanker AND they were all carrying 3 huge external fuel tanks each. Now did they really have to or was that strategic as part of the FUN the Lt Commander said he was looking forward to? :)
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2011
  11. Mongo

    Mongo Banned

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    Definitely not SOP and unusual.

    The delivery was early so perhaps RAAF was not prepared to receive it. I still find it hard to believe, out of pride, that they would ask for help for delivery.

    Boeing news release and Aviation Week both report that Boeing themselves delivered the aircraft to Amberley. So, grasping at straws, are you certain that the LCDR was not a Navy pilot assigned to Boeing?
     
  12. Bullet

    Bullet Member

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    I'm pretty sure it had to do with sortie duration versus the 12 hour restriction for crew duty. Puddle jumps almost always have at least one or two stops to stay within duty day restrictions.
     
  13. Mongo

    Mongo Banned

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    Wow!!! “macho” “crap”?? LOL. Just noticed the modification. It appears that the gap in the level of understanding between Navy and the rest of the world definitely does exist. His statements are definitely neither ‘macho’ or ‘crap’. Among other things, the mission is not over until the aircraft is back aboard. Neither a pilot nor aircraft sitting on the beach can contribute to the ship’s overall mission. If it’s broken, the possibility exists that maintenance personnel will even have to be sent ashore to repair it. Since the range of support aircraft is a function, a broken aircraft ashore can even effect the future movement of the ship. A broken hangar queen can even become a spare parts locker. And the pilot is available for future missions. Since many missions are conducted where no divert fields are within range, getting back aboard can literally become a matter of life and death. If the desire to train oneself to stay alive is considered ‘macho crap’, so be it. The list of reasons to get back aboard goes on. All more imoprtant, to a Naval Aviator, then a "pleasant even at home with family". I guess the AF and Navy does live in a different world. Poll 100 carrier aviators as to their most memorable getting aboard event, and then ask them why they didn’t divert. Fifty will tell you there was no divert field available and the other 50 will tell you that the thought never crossed their mind. That is the definition of norm for a Naval aviator.
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2011
  14. kp2001

    kp2001 USMMA Alumnus

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    The only exchange program I'm aware of currently is with the Navy VAQ squadrons. I'm not 100% sure that the AF is sending pilots though, and if they are it is only to the Expeditionary VAQ squadrons that are land based. From what I understand they are sending the WSO's to be ECMO's in the VAQ squadrons to gain an understanding of the Navy's use of electronic attack platforms.
     
  15. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    Difference in culture, I guess. During USAF flight screening we would brief divert locations, and one of the items on our area checklists was to select emergency landing sites. I frequently had IPs ask, "If your engine went out right now, where would you land?" Granted, oftentimes the emergency landing site would likely damage the aircraft if used, but the "where can I land" thought process was pretty ingrained after just a few flights.
     
  16. Mongo

    Mongo Banned

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    Definitely a different mind set. In carrier aviation the pilot often has little or no determination in where he lands. He has no idea either if the ship's deck is available, or, if not, how long it will take it to become available. Compound this with the availability of tankers and how much gas they have to give and a dozen other factors and the whole thing can become a matrix solved at a much higher level than the cockpit. I think the AF pilot was really simply stating that he had finally understood and accepted this. No big deal.
     

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