Flying fighters or other

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by SonNo2of4, Oct 23, 2012.

  1. SonNo2of4

    SonNo2of4 Member

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    I understand it is hard to qualify to fly fighters. How does the selection process work. I have a son that is quite interested. Is it helpful to have already flown prior to entering the academy cost on the order of 10K.
     
  2. Blue&SilverBear

    Blue&SilverBear USAFA Alumnus

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    Usually around 50% of a graduating class goes to pilot training (UPT).

    Usually if you're medically qualified you get a pilot slot.

    What track you take (fighters/bombers - T-38s, heavies - T-1s, helos - UH-1s) depends on how you do in T-6s.

    If you do well enough to get your first choice in track (ie. T-38s for fighters/bombers), what airframe you get depends on what is available at the time and how well you do in T-38s.


    Prior flight experience won't necessarily help get you in to USAFA (I had none). I guess it could conceivably help in UPT (not a flyer so I don't really know), but by then you would be 4+ years removed from your pre-USAFA flying.
     
  3. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

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    My kids had virtually no flying experience, though their older brother is a private pilot. Both are approaching UPT now, and I know that one has taken some flying/pilot lessons (don't know about the other one.), just to get a "feel" for the machines.

    So, top half of the class has pretty much gone to pilot training if that's what they want, and they're medically qualified. That's the rub, and why the 2-* class doesn't go to the clinic for anything! Of course, some of the cadets do not desire flight slots so those in the bottom half do get slots too.
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2012
  4. hornetguy

    hornetguy USAFA Cadet

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    It certainly won't hurt. However, it won't make your son significantly more competitive, and the four years of USAFA could wipe any particular gains from that investment. I'd recommend doing it IF HE WANTS TO FLY NOW AND GET HIS LICENSE, but don't take on a hardship financially (if it is) in the hopes it will make a huge difference in UPT. Working hard is a much better investment in doing well.
     
  5. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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  6. Stealth_81

    Stealth_81 Super Moderator Moderator Founding Member

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    My son went to the Academy with zero flight experience. He went through the glider and the powered flight programs while at the Academy. Hornetguy is right that success in flight training has a lot more to do with your work ethic than it does with past flying experience. The learning curve is very steep with each new training aircraft and you need to be able to take in a lot of information very quickly and work on your own time in addition to the classroom and flying training.

    Son has spent many Sunday afternoons in the squadron room studying when it would be much nicer to be out on Lake Amistad, but the extra work pays off. Your class ranking is determined not only by your flight grades, but a big chunk is your commanders recommendation. A person who is actively studying a lot and is helpful to his or her classmates can get a big boost. The top students in the class can be separated by only one or two points. That can mean that you can move from first in the class to third by getting a 98% on an exam instead of 100%.

    Another thing to remember is that he may want a fighter, but he also has to be ready to fly whatever he gets. Within a UPT class of 25 students. usually 6-8 of them will get T-38s, and the rest will get T-1s (and maybe one helicopter, like Raimius!). Out of the 6-8 T-38s, usually one or two don't make it through. Then at assignment night, there may be only one or two fighters available. So a person can get all they way through being at the top of their class, and with one slip, will not get a fighter.

    Stealth_81
     
  7. Bill1899

    Bill1899 Member

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    I don't know as much as the other people here but I can tell you when I was at summer seminar last year they kind of made fun of the guys that thought they were already expert pilots. The logic seemed to be that the Air Force is very well equiped to teach people how to fly so they dont care too much if you already know how to fly. If your son does learn to fly before going to USAFA I would suggest that he doesn't talk about it too much when he gets there.

    Good luck.
     
  8. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    When the world is going by at 200 knots, that Cessna/DA-20 will feel like a go kart compared to a Corvette. It did for me! :shake:

    A lot of what makes a good student pilot is being able to think ahead while flying. In that respect, doing some flying can help you get in the right mindset.

    UPT is a demanding program, but a lot of it has to do with the flow of information. When you start T-6s, you get a paper box FULL of regulations and lesson handouts. Students normally cover half of that box during academics. Then, when they hit the flightline, it's aircraft limits, emergency procedures, local area procedures, maneuver parameters, VFR and IFR regulations, etc. For my first month of T-6s, I was studying or flying for 12 hour days, then going home and trying to study for another couple hours before going to bed. It's that pace, plus an attention to detail that gets people in a downward spiral.

    For trying to get T-38s, students will need a good commander's ranking (usually with a good attitude and trying to help everyone else succeed), good daily ride scores (basically their "average" has to be good), very good checkride scores (biggest flying % of the ranking), and good academics. Checkrides and commander's ranking have the most impact, but daily rides and academic scores can be that extra bump that pushes people into the top spots. When I arrived at Laughlin, one student had missed exactly 1 question during academics and testing (something like 400+ questions on the tests). Sometimes it can come down to who did better on those tests in phase I.


    BUT......
    First things first! To get that chance he needs to get a commission and a pilot slot. IMO, the best way to do that is get into the academy and do average or better.
     
  9. SonNo2of4

    SonNo2of4 Member

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    This board is awesome, just ask and you receive the info. I will relay the information to my son. We were at USAFA last weekend. He liked it a lot. He had heard that many of the people that wound up as pilots already had their licenses going in. When he checked out the prices of the classses and found that it was 10K, he said it is not worth it to him. He is a very good kid. If it made a difference, I would lay out the 10K, though it sounds like it isn't that important at this point. I have been told he will receive his LOA next time the board meets. I think he is going to go USAFA rather than WP, but much of that decision hinges on his desire to fly. Thanks for the info.
     
  10. aggie83

    aggie83 Member

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    My nephew is an F-16 pilot that graduated from ENJJPT and had not flown a day in his life before he commissioned from Texas A&M. He finished #1 in his UPT class. His first choice was an A-10 but there were no A-10 slots given out (available) for his class. So as stated, even if you finish #1 in your class, it all depends on what is available and needed in the AF at the time your UPT class graduates.
     
  11. EagleDriver

    EagleDriver Member

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    I also had NONE WHATSOEVER flying experience until UPT. In my day, class of 83-01 Williams AFB it was T-37 than T-38 regardless if you were F.A.R. "fighter/attack/reconn. or not. In my perception of people that had private license etc...they had the jump on the T-37 for about two weeks. After that, we were all even steven. When we got to the T-38...it didn't matter if you had thousands of hours in Cessnas whatnot. Supersonic is supersonic. matter a fact over a dozen people in my class washed out of UPT that had private pilot licenses.
    If you can afford it by all means go ahead...just make sure you don't have a civilian instructor that may give "bad" techniques that may follow you into "military" way of flying etc find a instructor thats AF trained...at least he/she will know what you may be going through...but on the other hand...how hard is it to teach flying a Cessna? :shake:...You will have EXCELLENT instructors that will teach you all you need to know to be a graduate of UPT....I was average in the academic portions 85% but I excelled in the flying portion to graduate 3rd in my class. One of the tricks is not to wash back a class due to failing a phase. :thumb: By the way...AF ROTC Rules...although my son C3C disagrees...My biggest motivation at UPT was to be BETTER than the Academy grads...#1 guy was USAFA, #2, #3 was ROTC...I forgot the rest..doesn't matter now....but at that time, it was soooooo critical to graduate in the top 5 to get the aircraft of your dreams.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2012

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