Any Helicopter Pilots Out There?

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by Blueblood1, May 17, 2016.

  1. Blueblood1

    Blueblood1 Member

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    My DD had no desire to fly when she started USAFA. She recently said she is starting to consider Helicopters. Just wondering (for my edification) what that path is, and what opportunities are realistically available.

    Would she still have to get a pilot slot and go through UPT, then apply for rotary specialization, or is there a separate path?

    From what I can tell, AF uses Hueys, Hawks and Osprey. Are there a lot of positions available for those or are there additional opportunities?
     
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  2. Cerberi

    Cerberi Member

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    USAF UPT is for fixed wing (including Osprey) pilots. UHT for the USAF is offered through the Army at Ft Rucker. (The USN pilot training is broken down into phases and everyone essentially starts together and after a certain point people are broken out between helicopters and fixed wing - very general overview) You are in the USAF but the training is delivered via the US Army.

    Each USAFA class tends to get a limited number of slots for people wanting to attend UHT. The number was 25 for many years and then dropped to 5 one year. Who gets those slots is dependent on how many apply, class rank (military and academic).

    If she goes to UPT - she will not be assigned to a helicopter air frame

    The USAF does not fly attack helicopters like the Apache and Cobra. Most (if not all) USAF helicopter slots are committed to either special operations or search and rescue as their primary missions.
     
  3. Stealth_81

    Stealth_81 Super Moderator Moderator Founding Member

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    That is not correct. USAF helicopter pilots start UPT with everyone else and track helicopters after T-6 training. Then they go to Ft. Rucker for second phase. Raimius is a 2010 USAFA grad and current helicopter pilot. He will be along soon enough to chime in with information.

    Stealth_81
     
  4. Blueblood1

    Blueblood1 Member

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    Thanks. I thought AF/Army separated several years back -- my only contact went through when it was a joint program, and he had to complete two phases of UPT and then go to rotary school.

    I will await Raimius's (always sound) comments.
     
  5. Cerberi

    Cerberi Member

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    Hard to believe it's changed - it's only been 30 years. Sorry for the incorrect information

    Mine was the class that only had the 5 slots because the senior leadership at the time weren't fans of USAF helicopter careers
     
  6. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    The training pipeline is through UPT. Phase 1 and 2 (academics and T-6s) are done as normal. Phase 3 tracks to T-38s, T-1s, or TH-1s (helicopters). Near the end of T-6s, students put in their "track select" dream sheets, with those options in ranked order. Then, leadership will determine where each student goes, based upon needs of the Air Force, their class ranking, and dream sheets. If you track to TH-1s, you go to the 23rd FTS at Ft Rucker for phase 3. The 23rd is an AF squadron that runs an AF program. Instruction is by contract and AF instructors.

    After phase 3, students graduate UPT (get their wings), and are assigned to an operational aircraft (UH-1N, HH-60G, or CV-22) or are selected to stay on as an instructor at the 23rd (FAIP). There is a more thorough description in my blog posts (linked in the signature line). At one point, CV-22s were dropped out of T-1s, but I think it has reverted back to TH-1s only.

    Rotary-wing is a small segment of the AF. Last I checked, there were roughly 400 helicopter pilots in the AF (info is a few years old). It's a fairly small community (I already knew about 1/4 of the squadron by the time I in-processed to my 2nd assignment.)

    Helicopters are fun, so feel free to ask questions. I like talking about flying!
     
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  7. Blueblood1

    Blueblood1 Member

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    Helicopters are fun, so feel free to ask questions. I like talking about flying![/QUOTE]

    Much appreciated -- answered my questions. I will see my DD Thurs for 70 of her 96 hrs, and will get her on the forum and PM you if she wants more info. Thanks for the input.
     
  8. falcongirl

    falcongirl USAFA grad

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    I graduated from SUPT-H a couple of months ago and am headed to fly the HH-60G. Feel free to PM me with any questions as well! I highly reccomend Raimius's blog posts. They're a detailed and accurate description of UPT in general and the helo track.

    CV-22 drops returned to being shared between Rucker and the other UPT bases this fiscal year after a couple years of being exclusively available to T-38/T-1 students. We've dropped 3 or 4 this year from SUPT-H.
     
  9. falconfamily

    falconfamily Member

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    I'm curious, how does the opportunity to fly helicopters compare to other airframes? Do you have the opportunity to fly more often even if the length of your flights are shorter? Just trying to understand the attraction to flying rotary wing. My DS is currently at UPT, about to start flying T-6s, and his first choice is rotary wing.
     
  10. falcongirl

    falcongirl USAFA grad

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    For me it's more about the rotary missions and the type of flying itself than the flying time. Helicopters fly much, much lower than most fixed wing aircraft. For reference, the two low level flights you receive in the T-6 are flown at 500' AGL. Most USAF fixed wing aircraft spend the majority of their time cruising in excess of 20,000' on instrument flight rules. Low level flights comprise the majority of helo mission training and are flown day and night at approximately 150' AGL. It's very visual and dynamic flying, and extremely "hands on". To me, cruising 100' above the trees with the doors open, the cockpit shaking, and the WOPWOPWOP of the rotor blades feels a lot more like "flying" than doing aerobatics at 15,000' in an enclosed cockpit.

    The mission of the HH-60 is to perform combat search and rescue and personnel recovery operations, day or night, in permissive or hostile environments. Basically you go and get someone out of a really bad situation on the worst day of their life. To me there's nothing more honorable than fulfilling the promise that our country makes to every service member that we won't leave them behind. I've always wanted to be a part of that.

    The Huey mission is also extremely important. Raimius can probably speak much more elegantly than I can on that one.
     
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  11. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    The USAF has helicopter pilots because the jet pilots needed someone to look up to.
     
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  12. falconfamily

    falconfamily Member

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    Thanks FG, I have spent a fair amount of time in helicopters. So I totally get where you are coming from. DS is a 2015 grad and his reasons for wanting the mission is the same as yours. But my understanding is that there are so few helo slots and right now there is a huge demand on fix wing pilots, so who knows what will happen with all of this.
     
  13. falcongirl

    falcongirl USAFA grad

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    The helo career fields are actually all undermanned right now, and the AF is planning to add additional helo pilots to global strike command. I'm not sure how that will affect the available SUPT-H slots.
     
  14. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    On average, helo pilots probably fly shorter but more frequent sorties. The extremes, like strat bomber pilots, may only fly 1-2x per month, when not deployed.
    AF helicopters, as a whole is undermanned. Hueys had their requirements upped significantly, which is a big part of that. You won't see a huge shift in the number of UPT slots, as the schoolhouse is already at/near max capacity. (Fighters have a similar issue).
     
  15. falconfamily

    falconfamily Member

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    That is my understanding Ramius, that UPT is at capacity and there are real issues with trying to enlarge that funnel. But I am courious about your statement about upping the requirements for Hueys'. What do you mean by that?
     
  16. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    The authorized number of aircrew in each squadron in the missile fields was substantially increased several years ago.
     

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