Can I Guarantee Myself a Shot at Being a Pilot?

Discussion in 'ROTC' started by FacFortiaEtPatere, Feb 14, 2016.

  1. FacFortiaEtPatere

    FacFortiaEtPatere Member

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    Greetings all,

    (This is my first thread, so forgive me if I diverge from any customs or courtesies unique to this forum.)

    I'm a junior in high school with strong aspirations to be a fighter pilot in the Air Force, and (hopefully) a NASA astronaut at some point down the road in my career.

    My question is: Which commissioning source (i.e. ROTC at an SMC, or USAFA) would give me a better chance at getting a UPT slot? Also, is there any way to guarantee a chance to be a pilot in my contract? I've had my heart set on being a pilot since I was very little; I'm very passionate about aviation and aeronautics, I couldn't imagine ever doing anything else.

    Forgive me if my question is invalid or if I'm not asking the right questions.

    If I haven't given enough information to receive an accurate answer, let me know.
     
  2. I-am-Will

    I-am-Will Member

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    Straight forward to answer your question without being too blunt, there are never no guarantees in life. As for which avenue would be the best way to go, it's all dependent on your style. For me, I'm a ROTC cadet going to a regular university. Life is completely different from ROTC life vs academy life. ROTC fits the type of lifestyle I have with all that I do.
     
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  3. Akrogan

    Akrogan Member

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    There is one way to guarantee an aviation contract, and that is the Marine Corps PLC program aviation option. It doesn't pay for school, but will give you a chance.

    As for being an astronaut, get an engineering, math, or physics degree with great grades, do super well at aviation training, then go to test pilot school, and then pursue being an astronaut. All much easier said than done, of course.

    I am an AFROTC cadet, but I just want to point you in a direction that may work. There have been tons of Marine Corps astronauts, btw
     
  4. MABlue

    MABlue Member

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    Although if you do end up doing USMC PLC a few years down the road, you would also have to go through an additional 6 months of ground training at The Basic School. The good thing is that it would give you a guaranteed flight slot, as mentioned above. You could also consider USNA(Marine or Navy commision) or NROTC as both of these paths can lead to flight slots. Since you're a junior, you have time to pursue all of the paths next year. Having more options never hurts.
     
  5. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Like I-am-Will stated there is no guarantee at all. USAFA will not guarantee it, nor will ROTC. You have to fight for it from the minute you step on foot on campus (be it C Springs as a USAFA cadet or ZYX college as a contracted or non contracted cadet)

    Akrogan, although they may have that option with the Marines, the OP needs to understand Marine and AF life is totally different. There is no guarantee that even if you go to UPT you will wing, let alone go fighters. You have to want to be in that branch.
    ~ Wash out of UPT and they can say you still owe X years because of your SA or ROTC commission, and this is what your career field will be now. Nobody should fool themselves, UPT in any branch as far as I know has had 100% wing. AF is more like 50-60% on a good day, and out of that it is 10% that get fighters. Nobody walks in and says I will wash out, but a lot do.
    ~~ Just saying for the OP, even they guarantee UPT from the Marines there is no guarantee they will wing, and now they will spend 3 yrs flying a desk before they can bolt. You better want to pay that price for any branch you commit to for commissioning.

    I would also say that when it comes to Test Pilot School (TPS) they want you to have an engineering degree.

    The AF has the most airframes, they are buying @ 3 x more F35s than the Navy and Marines, however, the OP needs to look deeper. What is the % of UPT students that wing? What is the % that get fighters out of the % that wing?

    As an AF retired F15E WSO O5 wife (now at the Pentagon working regarding AF fighters) and an AF Mom of a C130 Pilot, I want to say that you and 90% of 16/17/18 yo say the exact same thing...I have wanted to be a fighter pilot since I can't remember, but the reality is it is great to have those dreams, but in the end, your true happiness also depends on wanting to serve as an Officer in that branch. Nobody will call you Pilot FacFortia, but they will call you Lt/Ensign FacFortia.

    OBTW, FacFortia, I get the NASA dream, but that is an insanely long haul. Look up Col. Mike Good. Mike flew with Bullet in the 111s. He went up 25 years after commissioning into the AF, and 9 years after being selected for NASA, he had 16 years in when selected.

    Keep the dreams, but be honest with yourself, nobody can say what the rated world will look like come 2023 when you wing, nor 2032 when you have the 1st option to leave the AF rated world due to commitments, and if you are like Col. Good, nobody can say what it will like in 2037, let alone the years it takes to go up, which could mean on a good day 2046...30 years from now.

    I know that seems harsh, and it may be, but the point is...choose first the branch you want to be in as an officer, than move on from that. Don't choose a branch because it may be the closest thing to guaranteed flight school.
    ~ Again, I know Col. Good. Col. Good flew a desk before he got picked up for UNT. He was never a pilot.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2016
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  6. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    Even if you get a "guaranteed" aviation slot via Navy, Marines, or anything else, it really only guarantees a shot at it. It does not guarantee that you'll become a pilot.

    I agree with the above wholeheartedly. Not everyone gets their first choice. Many more get their second or third choice.
     
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  7. Spud

    Spud BGO

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    Pima pretty much hits the nail on the head and her last paragraph has far more truth than poetry in it. No matter what branch, if you make it through pilot training, the selection of the actual airframe is HIGHLY dependent on what the needs of the service are that particular week. The week of your airframe assignment (why they call it "dropping", I have no idea) could be the week the service needs more cargo pilots, more helicopter pilots, more V-22 pilots, more AWACs pilots, more EW pilots, than fighter pilots, then that is where you will go . Sure, you can request whatever you want but it is called a "dream sheet" for good reason. Be ecstatic that you get silver or gold wings and where ever the service sends you, vow to be the best officer with a pilot specialty that your chosen community has ever seen. Your primary job will be to lead sailors, soldiers, and Marines, both officer and enlisted. Your secondary job will be to operate some, admittedly, pretty cool and lethal war machines.
     
  8. rocatlin

    rocatlin Member

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    As far as "guaranteed" aviation contract with Marine Corps PLC, that can actually change with the needs of the Corps at the time of graduation from TBS. One of my best friends was a guaranteed aviation contract -- and ended up an artillery officer. Granted, that was 30 years ago.

    As it has been stated, there are no guarantees, only decent odds. Getting a specific MOS is kind of like predicting a futures market.
     
  9. FacFortiaEtPatere

    FacFortiaEtPatere Member

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    Thank you all for the information and advice; it's a huge help for me in making these life-changing decisions that I'm not sure I'm qualified to make at 17 y/o. Quite honestly, I don't know a whole lot about the inner workings of the Armed Forces except for everything I've read online or in books, or heard from my family members that are currently AD or retired. Every little bit of advice or $0.02 is greatly appreciated.

    I've heard a little bit about Marine Corps PLC from my peers, but like Pima said, I don't think I'd be truly happy with my pilot specialty if I don't enjoy my primary job as an Officer in my respective branch. It sounds horridly arrogant and pretentious I'm sure, but I want to commission in the Air Force because I believe that I have inherent qualities that would make me a great Officer/leader in general, and I have a passion for leadership; I've always felt that I was born to lead, especially in the Armed Forces. That being said, my family's history is rooted in the Air Force, I think it's the best fit for me, and I'd like to carry on the family tradition as well; my heart is set on the Air Force, that is certain.

    The reality is that even if I washed out of UPT/didn't get a shot at UPT or whatever circumstance, I'd take the specialty I'm given and do my job to the best of my ability, same with whatever airframe I get if I do make it to UPT and wing; however, I'd still like to do everything in my power to give myself the best opportunity to live out my dream of flying fighters and going into space.

    It is an insanely long haul to get where I want to be, but I want to get there, more than anything. Tell me there's a 1% chance of success and I'll put all of my effort into it. Do the odds of being successful in this career track at all correlate with how much I put into it?

    BTW Pima, is there any way I could contact Col. Good? It'd be an unfathomable honour and privilege to be able to talk to him.
     
  10. 5Day

    5Day Member

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    As you read many of the posts on this forum, you will see lots of advice given to service academy hopefuls that says, "make sure you have plan B, C, and D in place. We want to make sure that if they unfortunately don't get the opportunity to addend a SA, they have a back up plan in place.

    That being said, Shoot for the stars, do everything you can to become that Air Force Astronaut. But, make sure you have your back up plan in place. In this case, will you be happy in the Air Force if you are not a pilot? Would you be happy if you were flying heavies and not fighters?

    My DS went through that process. He also wants to be a pilot, but for him he could not see himself in the Air Force if he was not a pilot. The alternatives in the Navy, be it subs or surface were much more attractive backups. So for him it is USNA, NROTC or college as a non contracted cadet. YMMV. It looks like you are already going through the process. Pick the branch that best suits you.
     
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  11. FacFortiaEtPatere

    FacFortiaEtPatere Member

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    5Day, I appreciate that: it definitely gives me a lot to think about because I currently don't have Plan B, C, and D in place. If I didn't get to fly fighters, I'd be happy with heavies, and if I wasn't a pilot at all, I'd be happy, but in order for me to be happy I have to know that I did everything in my power to get that role flying fighters first. After that, if I don't get the job I want, then ultimately I'll still be an Air Force Officer and I'll take pride in that and whatever my specialisation is, always.
     
  12. Tweet79

    Tweet79 New Member

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    If I am not mistaken, the AF test pilot program requires a degree in engineering, math, or physics.
     
  13. EOD/SEALmom

    EOD/SEALmom Member

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    +1 5day

    Yes, you should be hopeful that you have a shot at it. What the other posters are saying by Plan A, B, C etc is that you shouldn't put all your eggs in one basket. Aim for USAFA as plan A, maybe USNA as plan B, AFROTC as plan C....and as you research all those you'll find plans D, E and F etc.

    I understand your draw to AF, for my daughter it's Navy all the way (although she's not aiming for pilot), but she did not want to apply to other SA's because she would not be happy in those branches. So if for you it is AF only - that's ok!

    I wish you the best of luck!
     
  14. FacFortiaEtPatere

    FacFortiaEtPatere Member

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    Thank you so much, EOD/SEALmom. I suppose USAFA is Plan A, B is AFROTC, maybe finding C is my next objective. I'll need all the luck I can get; that seems to be a greater part of the battle than I previously thought.
     
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  15. EOD/SEALmom

    EOD/SEALmom Member

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    Takes a lot more hard work than luck :)
     
  16. I-am-Will

    I-am-Will Member

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    Good for you though planning this out now in HS. In HS, I didn't know what I wanted to do. First two years of college, being an officer wasn't even a thought. A come to Jesus moment helped put me on the right path. Ever since being in ROTC, my Plan A was always to fly heavies. Got an Intel slot back last semester; still shot for pilot to fly heavies. This past Thursday, was given a RPA slot. Am I bummed somewhat for not getting a regular slot? Tiny bit. But in the end, I still have the opportunity to an officer in the USAF. I get to still be classified as a pilot if I make it through the training post college graduation. And I get to go into something that's vastly growing.

    Moral of the story, always think big picture.
     
  17. FacFortiaEtPatere

    FacFortiaEtPatere Member

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    RPA? I've been remotely (haha) interested in that as a backup to fighters or heavies. Keep in touch and let me know if you enjoy working with them.
     
  18. Jake_Mangan

    Jake_Mangan New Member

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    I am a senior in high school I already received my NROTC Marine Option scholarship to Auburn University. I have the plan of becoming a Combat Engineer but I have always aspired to be a pilot and I could think of no better job then to become a pilot in the Marine corps. Now with that said, how could I prepare for a fixed wing pilot MOS and what would change in my college ROTC classes.
     
  19. 5Day

    5Day Member

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    @Jake_Mangan I think you would be better off starting a new thread "NROTC Marine Option Service Selection" to ask how the marines do their service assignments and what you could do in college to increase your chances to become a Marine Pilot.

    I have a feeling the answer is going to be get great grades, have excellent performance in your ROTC unit and be a superstar at TBS.

    The marines are different in their service selection process Every Marine Officer is trained in infantry at The Basic School and then goes on to a Marine Occupational Specialty (MOS). The choice of MOS is largely determined at TBS. So service selection is not like the Navy.
     
  20. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    Your ROTC academic classes would be the same. The BROTC Lab sessions is composed of various "clubs"... Semper Fi for Marines, Blue and Gold for SWO, and Cockpit clubs for Navy pilots. At least that's how it was set up for DS's college. As a Marine you would probably be required to attend Semper Fi but I know plenty of folks who came out of that with a flight contract. (2 of the 5 Marines that commissioned along with DS had flight contracts). No need to rush it. Talk with your MOI shortly after you report and let him/her know of your aspirations. They can give you the guidance you need.

    5Day is correct in general, but Marines can get flight contracts while still in college and really don't participate in the service selection portion of TBS. Without a flight contract your MOS will be determined late in TBS and will have a lot to do with how you perform there.
     

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