Competitiveness of USAF UPT vs USNA/USMA

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by Sneak, Mar 21, 2016.

  1. Sneak

    Sneak Member

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    My lifelong dream is to serve as a military aviator, specifically to fly fighters or attack helicopters. My first choice would be fixed-wing, so I have been focusing on USAFA. However, the more I look into it, the more clear it becomes just how slim my chances are of getting a fighter out of UPT (this is all, of course, assuming I get an appointment and then a pilot slot after graduating).

    Is pilot training out of USNA or USMA different when it comes to track selection/airframe assignment? How competitive are attack helicopter slots when compared to fighter slots?
     
  2. Spud

    Spud BGO

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    You are asking a very open-ended and foggy question. The only service that has both fighters and attack helicopters that in which the selection system can be remotely compared is the Marine Corps. And you have to be a Marine before you even get to that point. The term "how competitive" is pretty squishy.....as in what do you use as the metrics.? You compete for everything in the military, no matter the branch, and a lot of it depends solely on timing and the needs of the service when you are up for airframe selection. Such as, if the day you are on the assignment block, if the AF needs a lot of transport pilots and no fighters, guess where you are going. If on that day, if the Navy needs a lot of helo pilots rather than fighter pilots, guess where you are going. If the Marines, on that day, need transport helo pilots and no attack pilots, guess where you are going. Now combine that with the Navy's practice of taking the top performers of their flight classes and making sure to sprinkle them around all of its aviation communities to prevent some not-so-popular community to become a statistical dumping ground for the bottom of the class, and there is another whifferdill. You have to accept the hard fact that you are an officer first, with an aviation specialty second and that specific specialty may be beyond your best efforts. You also have to go into aviation with the attitude that no matter what airframe you are flying, you will be the best in that community and the best officer your peers and enlisted troops will have. The aluminum that is wrapped around you is only the tool of your role of an officer.
     
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  3. EOD/SEALmom

    EOD/SEALmom Member

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    Whifferdill.....I'm going to borrow that one! :)
     
  4. Sneak

    Sneak Member

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    I get that I would owe my 5-10 years and that they can do whatever they want with me. I would gladly do whatever job I end up with as an officer. But it is also my understanding that there is at least a little bit of personal choice involved.

    I see now that my question was indeed pretty vague. I guess what I was asking was about the number of assignments to those airframes that typically happens in a flight school class. I remember hearing somewhere that something like 10% of UPT grads usually end up in fighters. You actually kind of answered my question though, because what I didn't know was that the needs of the military fluctuated so much on a yearly basis.
     
  5. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    Its not even so much on an annual basis, but a monthly basis in terms of airframe billets. On the USN and USMC side of the house, you could have 0 jet spots in one class and 3 in the next. Each airframe literally fluctuates with each class. I believe the USAF is pretty similar in that. Bottom line, pick the service that fits you best and really understand the airframes. You won't be flying jets in the Army or C-5s in the Navy.
     
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  6. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    Fighter pilots tend to be people who did well in their pilot training class, period, dot. Employing a fighter is some of the most demanding flying a person can do, so services try not to pick the "average" person for that. Roughly the top 25% of T-6 students will get a chance at T-38s. From T-38s, your chances at fighters range from 0% to nearly 100%, depending on the needs of the service. Currently, the USAF is short on fighter pilots, but it also has limits of how many new fighter pilots it can make at any given time. Five years ago, few fighters were being dropped. Now, we are back to a few per class, on average.
     
  7. Usnavy2019

    Usnavy2019 Member

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    Another thing to consider is that what if you aren't selected for flight school. A lot of things can knock people out of the box for a flight spot. Most times, it is for medical reasons. Flight medical standards are more stringent than the basic DoDMERB standards. While you might be qualified to serve in the military, you may not be quailed to be an aviator. Ask yourself the question, "What branch would you be happy serving in if I wasn't a pilot?" For me, it was the Navy. I would still be happy serving on a ship. I couldn't say the same for the Air Force and while I have huge respect for Marine Corps and Army, I couldnt see myself as a ground combatant. I will caveat this and say that I would like to service select Naval Flight Officer (Goose/Merlin from Top Gun) and fly the EA-18G Growler (The Electronic Attack variant of the Super Hornet). Navy Pilot (Maverick/Iceman from Top Gun) is my close second. So just a little different from you.
     
  8. usafa12

    usafa12 Member

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    If you want to know if you'll do well in pilot training, go get a few civilian flying lessons in either a glider or cessna/piper. If you have a knack for flying, youll realize it on your first flight, and I bet you'll do well at upt. If you don't have a knack for it, chances are you won't get a fighter. That should serve as the basis of your goals going into upt. Flying is a lot like athletics, you either have the gift for flying or you don't.
     
  9. Hurricane12

    Hurricane12 USNA 2012

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    That is pretty blatantly not true. Natural ability has relatively little to do with success in flight school. Some people learn faster than others but being able to fly is not some magical gift that separates pilots from lesser mortals. And stick skills won't save you if you're a lazy dbag, which is why most people fail anyway.
     
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  10. usafa12

    usafa12 Member

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    Another thing to consider sneak is that army officer pilots tend not to stay in their helo p airframes their entire career. Warrant officers do the most flying in the army, whereas in the Air Force at least there is a good chance you'll fly for 20 years. Something to consider. Flying is a skill like any other skill. And it's something that to be on the fighter level you can't just learn it, you have to have it. There is no amount of studying that is gonna make you naturally figure out how to land or trim the jet, which if that takes you a while, the people that do get it quickly are going to soar ahead. The hardest working people in my upt class were the worst pilots. I didn't have to work hard or stress about anything and graduated first in my class. I was blessed with natural talent to fly just like many people are blessed with their own gifts in other areas. Most people in Air Force upt fail out because they were crappy pilots, not because of work ethic.
     
  11. Sneak

    Sneak Member

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    That is interesting to know about warrant officers, since I would want to probably stay in for 20. I wonder why they don't stay with their airframe. Do they get promoted out of their flying position?
     
  12. usafa12

    usafa12 Member

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    Exactly. They get promoted and stop flying, whereas we have wing commanders who are full birds that fly vipers with us all the time.
     
  13. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    Well, once you hit squadron leadership and above, the normal amount of flying tends to decrease. The competing interests of organizational leadership start to take over.
     
  14. usafa12

    usafa12 Member

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    Yep, it's a sad day when that starts happening.
     
  15. Spud

    Spud BGO

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    They say there are only 2 possible bad days for a pilot. One is when he knows he is walking out for his last flight. The other is when he doesn't know he is walking out for his last flight.
     
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  16. Cannonball

    Cannonball Member

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    So they still fly all the time even as FGOs? That is the opposite of what I have heard. It's nice to know that.
     
  17. usafa12

    usafa12 Member

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    yes definitely
     

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