Fighter/Bomber vs Tanker/Cargo Track

Discussion in 'Life After the Academy' started by AFAMOM08, Mar 26, 2009.

  1. AFAMOM08

    AFAMOM08 Member

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    A few questions for Bullet and all of the others who have been there and done that--
    My son is at a point in UPT where he is being asked to declare his preference --He has always wanted to be a fighter pilot. Now that the decision point is here what are the pros and cons of each track? What should he take into consideration? If you had it to do over would you still pick the same track?
     
  2. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    Alright; if you take the "Little Boy Dream" out of the equation; (Every little boy dreams of being a fighter pilot); here are some of the pros/cons:

    FIGHTERS PROS:
    1. Fun
    2. Prestige
    3. Fun
    4. Stay at local base a lot more (Great if you have wife/husband/kids)
    5. Fun
    6. More mission oriented
    7. Fun
    8. Great for the loner or 2 person.
    9. shorter flights usually

    CONS:
    1. Don't get to travel that much
    2. Can actually get boring
    3. Lot more desk paper duties

    HEAVIES PROS:
    1. Lot of traveling (Fighter bud of mine did just normal PCS, war, exercises. C-5 friend of mine has been TDY to MORE THAN 80 countries; including russia, china, chile, India, etc..
    2. Change out style of planes easily. Cargo friend has flown C-5 as well as C17 all the way down to a C-21 learjet taking VIP/generals around the world.
    3. Very commercial oriented so commercial jobs are much simpler to pick up
    4. You don't get shot at as much.
    5. Have more contact with others (Crew mates)

    CONS:
    1. Traveling. Pro/Con up to you
    2. Don't see the family as much
    3. Pretty simple flying compared to fighter
    4. Longer flights. cross country; globally.

    Now this is basically fighters and cargo. Refueler/tanker, transport, mission control, etc... type of aircraft have their own set of pros/cons. The thing is; NONE of it is really a PRO OR A CON. Some people like staying at one base for a few years; being home most nights, flying every couple days; flying fast; and only going away for war or exercises. Some prefer the TDY, multi-day missions, seeing the world, etc... Same with all the other pros/cons; each person sees it differently.

    Bullet would be a better brain to pick for the fighters. (But I have to admit, the F-15 is my FAVORITE PLANE.) later... mike.....
     
  3. oldgrad

    oldgrad Banned

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    This is basically an answer which must come from within and is based primarily on physiological attributes. Different personalities and motor skills, among many other variables, lend themselves to different communities. Hopefully, once a student has reached the decision stage, he is both aware of his assets and liabilities and has the maturity to reach the correct decision. Being home at night should have very little, if anything, to do with it.

    To paraphrase Winston Churchill from the Boer War:

     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2009
  4. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    This really is an easy question.

    What does he want to fly? I have met few who don't know what they want to fly and many who accept what ac frame they are given.

    Back in Bullets day when he graduated there were no Strikes for them, but the top of the class got 111s. He always wanted the Strike and when it became operational he jumped out of a perfectly good airplane to get one.

    I am sure if he got a heavy he would have been proud to fly it also, but as you stated it has always been a dream of your DS to fly fighters. If that is the dream, no pro/con list should divert you from obtaining it.

    Both fighters and heavies have pros/cons, and to take it one step further in a few months it will be assignment night that is when the question because more intense...F-15, F-16, A-10, etc. That is when you need to ask what do I want to do in the fighter...Air to Air or Air to Ground. Some people love blowing up things, some love the dog fight and some love both.

    You can spin yourself in circles wondering what if, but truly it is a gut check. If you turn to him and say 10 seconds which one, count it out loud, by 9 he will say what is in his gut. Tell him to follow that and not to look back. It really is that simple. Over thinking it can actually be detrimental since you might talk yourself into it.
     
  5. oldgrad

    oldgrad Banned

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    Again, just another phase in examining ones physiological attributes, being honest with oneself, and, insteading of going with pure wishes, show maturity and do what they are best at.
     
  6. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Oldgrad, I took the question as they are ranked high enough to have a choice between fighter and heavies. You are taking a different approach.
    I took the question that this pilot is high enough in the track to choose, thus they have already surpassed any physiological issues at this point that is required. Pulling 9 Gs in the centrifuge comes later.

    Maturity does have a factor in the issue, I just see it differently than you. I see it as don't live life with what ifs, but understand and accept that your path you designed might not be your reality. However, do everything in your control to push the envelope and never ask what if.

    TPG I think that is why many AF pilots want the A-10, it sounds very similiar
     
  7. air_power

    air_power Member

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    What do people think about having prop ground attack fighters again?
     
  8. oldgrad

    oldgrad Banned

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    Not really. Simply because one meets the minimum standards for a particular pipeline does not necessarily mean that particular pipeline is the best personality type match for that individual.

    Previous civilian flight time will normally cause one to do better than they would otherwise in flight training. Does previous flight time cause one to have a Type A personality which would bode one well as a fighter pilot? Not at all.

    Does the fact that a student who loved, and did well on, cross country training flights but hated aerobatics, yet passed with a high enough grade to select any pipeline he wished, make a better fighter than transport pilot? Not at all.

    Is the Type A who enjoys yanking and banking and pushing things to the limit, going to be happy flying transports? Probably not.

    Actually, just for example, back in the days before the one size fits all strike fighter, I would say that introverts made better bombers while extroverts make better fighters.

    All I am saying is that, no matter the grade, matching platform with personality type will result in the more likelihood of a successful career. There have been books written on this very subject.
     
  9. oldgrad

    oldgrad Banned

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    I cannot imagine what the overall advantage of a propeller-driven plane would be nowadays. Maybe loiter time and payload to weight ratio but nothing that would justify an entire new platform.
     
  10. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    The air frame should never be matched to the personality as oldgrad states
    Personality has very little to do with how a pilot handles the stick or their competency.

    As a spouse I have seen the gamut, but I can guarantee you there are great silent type pilots and crappy TYPE A pilots. The respect that they earn is due to their abilities and not personalities. To state that their personality should be a part of the equation negates the skill of any pilot.

    Oldgrad is eluding that skill is not as important as the personality. I beg to differ...when the plane is in trouble as a WSO's wife I couldn't give a rats a** about their personality type, but how they handle the airframe.

    Key word TYPE A is a better pilot...wrong! Bullet is nothing like a typical type A personality, however he was DG at LIFT and FTU. His motivation was his love for the aircraft and his brethren. Type A's are all about themselves. He has @2500 FIGHTER HOURS, made every gate, and was an IWSO and has a toilet bowl on top of his wings, so he is living proof you don't need to be an a** to be a great flyer!

    Cross country has nothing to do with yanking and banking. Dog fighting and SA does. You don't take a UPT student and have them perform 4 v 4's or ,red/bue air that is for FTU. The student that graduated higher has proven their ability in demonstration of what was taught, thus, they have a stronger grasp of the demands as a pilot. This is why fighters are typically given to the top 10%, they proved that the overall concept was grasped. Not saying that heavy pilots didn't grasp it, just saying that the top echelon grasped more facets faster and were able to illiustrate their knowledge and a higher performatory level than the rest.

    Tracking at this level Figher vs heavy is about the ability to command control of the aircraft...no UPT instructor expects any pilot to do aerobatics. Heck at SJ they still get in trouble for tipping their wings over their home to say hi to the family. These are multi-million dollar aircraft, when they take them up there is a mission..the mission for TWEETS is not acrobatics, but to determine skill level.

    Bullet will be on tonight to give his perspection, again mine is from the outside looking in.

    G Bless your son and may he get his dream airframe
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2009
  11. oldgrad

    oldgrad Banned

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    I was speaking specifically of pilots. I have no clue what makes WSOs 'tick'.


    Huh?? Page 16, Item 9 of the following link covers the primary training aerobatic syllabus. Also note Item 21, Page 22 for step one in learning 4 v 4s.

    http://www.t6driver.com/jsupt/jppt_jsupt_syllabus.pdf

    I think we are going to have to agree to disagree on this. Your original advice, to go with ones gut feelings, was pretty much right on.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2009
  12. oldgrad

    oldgrad Banned

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    This statistic continues to pop up on this forum. Could someone please clarify how active duty fighter pilots comprise nearly one-third of the AF totals (3600 out of 12,000), yet only 10% are trained as such. The only way this could be true, in my way of thinking, would be for there to be a lot of old gray haired half-senile AF fighter pilots still out there 'yanking and banking' since their average active career would have to be three times the length of all other AF pilots.
     
  13. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    What makes a WSO tick...the thrill of a fighter. WSO's are primarily assigned to fighters. There is no WSO on any airframe that starts with the letter C, or K in front of the C

    As far as old craniums in fighters you betcha why do you think LTC's that go back to Randolph or Columbus are known as GRAY BEARDS.

    Uncalled for and un-professional! You owe an apology to very LTC that flew out their career. Guess what Squadron Commanders are those old gray haired half-senile pilots protecting this country. Now a days you have @ 18 yrs in to become a commander or a DO. You don't become one after 5 or 10 yrs of flying the airframe...it is more like 15-18 yrs. AND THEY ALL HAVE GRAY HAIR! None of them are 35, BPZ for Major no longer exists, the fastest track LTC will be 16 yrs of AD,(22 graduate + 16 yrs = 38) thus most are pushing 40+ :eek: That comment was just down right rude to any officer. We all know that 35 yrs is basically your max...do you think that 4 stars spend a lot of time in a jet after they pin on their 1st star. Most never step back in for any operational purpose after they pin on that 1 star. Op. bases do not have 30+ yr AD officers running them, they have 0-6 selects (Fast track, and that puts them at 40-45) Are you insinuatung that 40 yr old pilots are half-senile? If you are I better book my room at assisted living because I am on borrowed time!

    Back to the OP...and back on track..don't pick an airframe for its base assignment, pick it for the mission, pick it for your dream, pick it because you want to live your life without a what if. Good luck, Keep us informed of his selection and thank him and your family for serving our country

    I am backing out of this fight, Bullet will be home in a couple of hours (doing Friday Roll Call at the hooch) and will give his perspective that the OP asked for
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2009
  14. oldgrad

    oldgrad Banned

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    You obviously missed the absurdity of my comment. No apologies necessary. Lets just say that the commitment for heavies is 8 years and half get out at the earliest opportunity and go fly for the airlines. The other half fly out their careers averaging 20 years of aviation service. Half at 8 years and half at 20 years equals an average flying career for the heavies of 14 years. For the tac air community to get by on 1/3 the feed for their pipeline, that must mean the AVERAGE flying career for the fighter guys is 3 times 14 years or 42 years of flying. Since they were probably 24 yrs old when they were winged, this means the AVERAGE retirement age for fighter pilots would be 66 years old. For every '8 and dive' there would have to be a 100 year old fighter pilot out there to compensate for him.

    Probably a 66 year old AF fighter pilot, if any were around, would agree with me.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2009
  15. kp2001

    kp2001 USMMA Alumnus

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    Let's remember that this thread is about the pro's and con's of particular Air Force airframes. This is not a thread about debating who (what personality, physiologic traits, etc) fit a particular type better than others.

    Let's quit bickering at each other and get back to the original question.
     
  16. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    Argggg; C-130 GUNSHIP!!!!

    CAN YOU FEEEEEEL THE POWER!!!!!!
     
  17. Bullet

    Bullet Member

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    Wow, I guess I miss out on all the good discussions at work! Dang you Pentagon Network Firewalls!

    AFAMOM08,

    First off, congrats on your son getting this far! I'm guessing he'a about 2/3's of the way through the T-6 phase since he's approaching the time to fill out his preference sheet. I'd be happy to give you my perspective on the differences between the fighter/bomber and airlift communities. Better yet, PM me and I can pass my contact info so he can call me direct if he wants (gets rid of the "middle man" that way)

    Second, I'm sorry this thread got off track. Heck, it's a free internet discussion forum, you get what you pay for. That usually means dealing with opinions over the facts. LOTS, and I mean LOTS, of bad information and speculation being passed here. Done with good intentions perhaps, but just plain WRONG never the less. I will avoid getting into a mud-slinging contest (as KP correctly pointed out) and return instead to answering you basic question, but I might try to clear up some of the mis-conceptions being passed on.

    OK, on to your question: “the pros and cons of each track?” and “would I do it all over again?”. CC did a bang-up job with the first response to your question. Allow a guy who spent a 20-year career as a WSO in the fighter world to add my $1.42 (this post will be long, so I had to multiply 71 x $.02 ).

    I sat down over beers many a times with my Airlift and Tanker Bros, discussing the plusses and minuses of each other’s jobs. Quite frankly, a LOT of “grass is always greener” from both sides of the table. The heavy guys get jealous of the amount of “glory and prestige” the fighter (and bomber) guys seem to get, the amount of time we stay home compared to them, and the cool “missions” the fighter community participates in daily, both at home training and deployed. The folks on my side of the table were jealous that they got away form home station so much more than us, that EVERY mission of theirs was a “real-world” mission, with a real world focus, and without the “home station” nit-noid stuff we had to put up with. But you know what, we all realized that each of us had an important part to play in today’s battles, and without each other, neither could succeed. Then we would just sigh and drink more beer together, each side thinking to itself, “lucky dogs”….

    Despite what has been said on here about flying skills, physiological abilities, and maturity levels at UPT, what it really boils down to are cultural differences between the two communities, and which one your son feels he would want to be of. His instructors at UPT have been looking at him and evaluating him from day one, they know what it takes for each community, both in aptitude and attitude, and will provide their guidance to him as well. They will also take into account his preferences, and let him know early on if they feel he is a right fit for his top choices.

    But ultimately, it is your SON’s choice. You say he has always wanted to fly fighters. Why change that dream now? If he ranks high enough in his UPT class, he will have that chance to strive for that dream even farther. Where the maturity part comes in is if he doesn’t get that dream, either through performance on his part or lack of available airframe slots on the AF’s part. How he deals with that situation will demonstrate his maturity level. But let’s not dwell on that scenario. I say, if he always wanted fighters, and he has the shot, then go for his dream, and what I (or anyone else) says about the matter about “lifestyle” or “mission focus” or “days deployed” really shouldn’t matter a hill of beans.

    As to your second question, I’ll keep it short. Would I do it again? Heck yes, twice over, in a heart beat! And for more reasons than I could list in a forum without crashing the thread.

    In the end, the offer stands. PM me and I’ll pass my contact info. I’d be happy to talk to him some night or some weekend and pass my thoughts. I promise to be brutally honest about all the good and the bad from both sides. But don’t be surprised when he calls you afterwards and says “I want to fly Strike Eagles! They kick butt!” :thumb:
     
  18. oldgrad

    oldgrad Banned

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    Thanks. My point exactly. Just helping ensure that it is an informed decision for a community that he "feels he would want to be a part of" and succeed in.

    I too apologize for perhaps somehow being a part of those who got off track.
     
  19. Bullet

    Bullet Member

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    Easy answer. Your numbers a WAY off. According to the March 23rd data from the AF's Manpower Center, their are a little over 14.1 thousand pilots on active duty right now, 2600 of which are rated in fighters. Comes out to about 18% of the active duty pilot strength.

    My IMPRESSION (can't find the solid numbers on AFMPC's web-site) from my experience is that you also see a larger number of heavy guys leave as soon as their commitments are up compared to the fighter community. Opportunities to fly in the Guard or Reserve or greater in heavies than in fighters. Thus you get a slight bump in the total percentage for fighter qualified pilots as the ranks get higher.

    As to UPT, typical class size is 35 - 40 students. Lots of factors are in play as to how many fighters will drop for each class. Some classes get 3 or 4 slots, some get 6 or 8. Averages out to around 10 -15%. Usually. With assignments being handed out based on class rank, and with the demand for a fighter assignment typically being much higher than for a heavy, it means you need to be pretty high up in your class rank to get a fighter out of UPT. Usually in the top 10% to "almost" garauntee it (one of the top 3 or 4 folks in your class). Get ranked number 5, and you're chances start going down rahter fast. Life's tough like that....
     
  20. oldgrad

    oldgrad Banned

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    Seems like a huge change in just over two years since this article was written indicating a primarily fighter pilot shortage and the ratio still at 30%. I don't remember any major realignments (but I am gray haired and half senile):

    http://www.airforce-magazine.com/MagazineArchive/Pages/2006/July 2006/0706shortage.aspx

    What would account for the decrease of 1700 fighter pilots during the same period when at the beginnning of the period AF Magazine was describing a shortage?

    Could you give a link to your 2600 numbers? Or maybe give a definition of 'rated'?

    Or maybe Air Force Magazine is simply publishing bad gouge?
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2009

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