Aviation

Discussion in 'Military Academy - USMA' started by Szpieg, May 5, 2010.

  1. Szpieg

    Szpieg Member

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    Does anyone (Grey Hog) want to pass some knowledge about the Aviation branch of the Army? This is one of the two things I love and Aviation seems the the most attractive option for me at this moment.

    Thanks
     
  2. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    What would you like to know?

    Do you have airframe questions?
    Career progression questions?
    Questions about job opportunities?

    Fire away.
     
  3. Szpieg

    Szpieg Member

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    Actually the bottom two are general of what I was going to start asking! I was wondering how the program is and what are your commitments to it. Also the job opportunities. If I were to leave after however many years of service I commit, what kind of jobs can I get?
     
  4. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    The bottom line is this: you will never get rich flying helicopters. Your intelligence and talent will be better used elsewhere in the civilian world. There will always be people with more hours who are willing to fly for less money. Unless you want to take a job that will take you far from your family (fighting forest fires, helicopter logging, or offshore oil rig flying), you won't find much good work in the helicopter industry beyond the military.

    The commitment, despite some poor info floating around, is 6 years from the time you finish your aircraft course. In years past, it was 6 years from the end of BCS nights. That flight school curriculum is gone, having been replaced by various forms of the Flight School XXI model. Now, the end of your aircraft course is the beginning of your ADSO.

    Flight school is, by design, anywhere from 13 to 18 months based on your airframe. However, lately it's quite backlogged, especially for gun pilots (OH-58D and AH-64D). Primary, the intial flying course, is also backlogged. A few 2009 USMA grads I know signed in to Fort Rucker in July '09 and didn't fly their first hour until March '10. However, as far as you're concerned, that's not too much of a worry, as you wouldn't see Fort Rucker for at least 6 years from now. But currently, LTs are spending over 2 years at flight school, and many currently there will miss the current conflicts, at least at they exist now.

    As far as career progression, you'll follow a similar progression to the other MFE branches (if you didn't know, there's no "combat arms" anymore, as it has been replaced by MFE: Maneuver, Fires, and Effects). However, there are no Executive Officer slots in aviation, which works to keep you on par time-wise with LTs from other branches. Where an infantry LT would be a Platoon Leader, then XO, and then a staff officer, you will get to the big Army later and follow the same path, minus XO time.

    The type of career you have will depend very much on your airframe and duty station. I am naturally biased toward gun/scout airframes, as that is where my experience lies in "regular Army." The current conflicts have resulted in beaucoup flight hours for all the folks in the gun/scout communties, but less so for UH/CH pilots. As a lieutenant, I amassed approximately 1400 flight hours, which used to take about 9 or 10 years to accomplish. As the conflicts subside, so will the flight hour opportunities.

    It's hard for me to know where you want the discussion to go without a few more details.

    What's your ultimate goal?
    What do you see yourself doing in a helicopter?
     
  5. Szpieg

    Szpieg Member

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    Man good information man...my ultimate goal...i really dont know yet. I mean I want to serve, but I also want a family. A family where I can come home every night to spend time with. Im not sure if I will make the Army my profession or leave after my duty...All is still very unclear to me. As for me being in a helicopter, I would either like to fly gunships or a transport, either or would be cool, but if I cant get those, any will be fine. I just feel myself wanting to fly, as well as an engineer. Im not sure yet but if I stay in the Army as a career, then Aviation. If I plan on leaving, then Engineer.
     
  6. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    Well, essentially attack or lift (transport) is all there is in the rotary world. It's the most measurable distinction. The communities have very different mentalities.
     
  7. vampsoul

    vampsoul Candidate

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    Anyone know anything about flying the OH-58 Kiowa? Also, how much "say" do you get in choosing the helicopter you fly?
     
  8. Gray Hog

    Gray Hog USMA Alumnus

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    If you are limiting "helicopter industry" to those who sit in a cockpit and wiggle the sticks, that may be a true statement. However, I define that industry much more broadly. If you happened to be at AAAA last month, all of those hundreds of men and women in business suits would tell you that they work in the "helicopter" (or perhaps "aerospace") industry. A high percentage of them are former Army Aviators who are now highly successful and quite well compensated on the civilian side. Elsewhere in the even broader "defense" industry, Aviators are generally among the most heavily recruited, because they are perceived as being particularly self-reliant and self-motivated. That background, plus a SA diploma will go pretty far.

    After hanging up the uniform, I walked straight into a nice position working for helicopter OEM. No, flying was not part of my job. That would have been fun, but not as lucrative. :wink:
     
  9. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    Yes. My first 1400 hours came in the OH-58D, mostly in Iraq. What would you like to know?

    As for how much "say" you get, well, it varies. The selection is done by order of merit. Each student from a cohort class (approx. 30-40 aviation students) ranks all four aircraft, sometimes five if fixed-wing is in the mix, by preference. That is to say, you might put OH-58D/AH-64D/UH-60/CH-47, or some permutation thereof, depending on which aircraft you want most. The tricky part is this: DA provides the aircraft. So, if the top-ranked student puts OH-58D, and there is an OH-58D slot provided by DA, then he will get OH-58D and become a scout pilot. If he puts OH-58D and there are no Kiowa Warrior slots provided by DA in that round of selection, they will look at his second choice, which in our scenario above was AH-64D. If there is an Apache, he will get it. If DA did not provide an Apache slot, he will end up with his third choice, which is UH-60. You see how it works, I'm sure. The trick is that DA may not provide a slot for his aircraft of choice, depending on the Army's need at the time. So, the number one guy may get his third choice. We had whole classes only get UH-60s when I went through.
     
  10. Gray Hog

    Gray Hog USMA Alumnus

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    Separation from family is just part of the job, whatever you do in the Army. However, I would say that the average Blackhawk pilot has the most "normal" life among Aviators.

    Regardless of whether you stay in just for your initial ADSO or to retirement, you will have to have a second career after the Army. So, you need to consider the ultimate marketability of your experience and skills once you get out. However, while I do strongly suggest that you make branch and assignment decisions with this in mind, that is NOT to say that you should not follow your heart. If you truly want to fly, choosing to be an Engineer because it sounds more marketable on the civilian side is misguided in my opinion. You will likely regret such a decision. I applaud you thinking long-term; too few young people do. However, you also don't want to look back on your military career and have major regrets. A healthy balance between passion and reason is in order.
     
  11. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    Remember, Szpieg: any idiot can be an engineer. It takes a special kind of idiot to fly a helicopter.
     
  12. vampsoul

    vampsoul Candidate

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    What is the main mission of its aviators? What is it like to fly an aircraft with such an "open" structure? How hard is it normally to get that choice of helicopter out of flight school? Thank you.
     
  13. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    If you want to be hot when it's hot, cold when it's cold, and wet when it rains, fly the OH-58D. I remember one strange morning when we were caught in a thunderstorm line, trying to round-the-corner of southeast Baghdad with my next-door-neighbor in the left seat, doing our damndest to get home before we were in real trouble. At one point I looked at him, blue-lipped and soaked to the bone, as he looked back at me. He said "Who the hell ever thought that this was a good design for an aircraft?" Probably not as funny in its recounting, but at 0430 in a desert squall line, it seemed pretty darn hilarious.

    What is it like? It's sort of like riding a motorcycle through the sky. Of course, a lot of our work was done down low, until we had a few bad run-ins with some people who didn't like us. But it's the only aircraft in which shooting your rifle out the door from the left seat is an official, evaluated aircrew task. You'd be surprised how often we had to do that.

    The main mission, by design, is reconnaissance and target designation and interdiction. In the current environment, KWs fly in Scout Weapons Teams and provide reconnaissance, security, and close combat attack capability to ground maneuver forces.

    *shamless plug warning*

    If you want to be a helicopter pilot, a cavalryman, and an all-around quality aviator, fly the OH-58D. If you want your aircraft to handle the piloting for you, fly the rest of them.

    *shameless plug complete*
     
  14. Gray Hog

    Gray Hog USMA Alumnus

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    Plus, your USMA education will be equated with engineering by many, regardless of the major listed on your transcript. As you probably know, all West Point degrees are BS, because of the heavy math and science load required of all cadets, including a mandatory selection of an engineering concentration. So, unless you specifically want to work in a particular engineering field, I wouldn't be overly concerned about the need to be an Engineer officer or even to major in an engineering discipline. Trust me, you will get plenty of engineering at Woo Poo U, whether you want it or not (and future employers know that...and value it).
     
  15. Gray Hog

    Gray Hog USMA Alumnus

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    Yes, there is a big difference between being an aviator and [effectively]a systems operator. The KW is the last aircraft in the Army inventory in which the pilot's skills at the controls truly matter and can be effectively demonstrated/tested (well, maybe Little Birds, too, but that is an aircraft you needn't think about straight out of flight school).

    By the way, though the Army is contemplating a third try at a replacement for the KW, it will still remain in the inventory for at least another decade. Even the most modest plans to upgrade that platform will result in a very different and much improved aircraft. As a minimum, as part of the CASUP program, the mast-mounted sight will be removed and replaced with a more modern nose-mounted sensor and the cockpit and avionics are all being upgraded. Bell is also proposing a beefier engine and upgraded rotors and drive system to give it more power and better performance.
     
  16. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    Hell, it doesn't need beefier engine. There's almost 40% more power built into the engine already. If they'd give it a better transmission, they'd be able to use the extra 200 SHP they had to down-rate out of the engine.

    But that's neither here nor there...
     
  17. TheKnight

    TheKnight Class of 2014

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    I can't say anything about the Aerospace industry etc. But I can tell you that if you want to fly law enforcement helicopters, having been in and learned to fly in the Army is a big plus.

    Perhaps the stuff you did in the field won't matter for most industries, but in Law Enforcement it does. So if that's ever been something you'd consider then flying a police helicopter could be something you enjoy.

    Although it may not be the best for family life.
     
  18. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    Yes and no. Or rather, that doesn't tell the whole story. Very few departments or agencies will hire you off the street to fly for them. In general, most require that you become a police officer first and then spend x amount of time as a regular "beat cop" before the chance to move into their aviation unit occurs.
     
  19. Gray Hog

    Gray Hog USMA Alumnus

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    It's not just about simple SHP, the primary issue is high DA performance. The Army wants 6K/95 HOGE capability at MGW.
     
  20. Gray Hog

    Gray Hog USMA Alumnus

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    There are plenty of government agencies besides police who hire former Army pilots "off the street." However, if all someone really wants to do is fly for a living, I would question why he would go to a SA. If you only want to be a pilot, become a warrant officer.
     

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