Getting a pilot slot, USAFA v. AFROTC

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by mckenyan, Dec 24, 2009.

  1. mckenyan

    mckenyan New Member

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    Hey guys, I got my apointment to the academy yesterday and I really want to be a pilot. I am planning on accepting the appointment and attending the academy. I was just wondering if anyone out there knows how much better your chance of being a pilot is if you attend the academy rather than becoming an officer through ROTC at a civilian university. Thanks
     
  2. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

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    I believe it works something like this (my numbers are off but the idea is there - just like the New Math):

    There are approximately 1050 AF pilot slots every year. AFA gets 500 of them, AFROTC gets 500, and AFOCS gets 50. Since there are many many more ROTC pilot-wannabes, your chances of getting a slot, should you be PQ'ed, is greater by far at AFA.

    Now, getting slot that is not with a drone is another matter.
     
  3. Dadandgrad

    Dadandgrad Parent

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    I will second Fencersmother's comments. Two years ago my son and I spoke with an Air Force recruiter (he was a Colonel). The numbers he gave were similar to those from Fencersmother. More importantly he stated that each school gets so many pilot slots (or slot) for their ROTC detachment. His basic summary was if your ultimate goal is to be a pilot your odds are much better at USAFA vs. ROTC. Congratulations on your appointment and best of luck!
     
  4. Gasdoc

    Gasdoc Member

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    You have to also factor that AFA grads comprise 20% of incoming officers yet get 50% of the UPT slots
     
  5. usafa21astr

    usafa21astr New Member

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    This is actually incorrect, there are not a fixed number of pilot slots given out to each detachment. It is all based on individual scores and it does not matter what detachment they are at. However there is a sort of cap on the number of pilot slots a detachment can get since the unit commander's ranking makes up 50% of your order of merit score that determines who gets a pilot slot. As cadets get farther and farther back in the ranking there is a greatly decreased chance they will get a slot.

    My take on the whole pilot slot at USAFA vs. ROTC is one of guarantees vs. a normal college life. At USAFA you will bust your *** and almost be guaranteed a pilot slot while with ROTC you'll bust your *** but may not get a pilot slot. On the other hand, at USAFA you'll be surrounded with the military lifestyle 24/7 (at least for the 1st year) while in ROTC you'll get to have more of a "normal" college life. Your pick.
     
  6. homewith4

    homewith4 Member

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    Right now (could change at anytime of course), the pilots flying UAVs (drones) are pilot training graduates. They have earned wings and went through pilot training just like the pilot flying an F-16 or C-17. Most find out the aircraft of assignment 3 weeks prior to pilot training graduation.

    You have no idea upon college graduation whether you have a UAV slot or a manned aircraft slot. And there would be nothing you could do at the AFA to guarentee a manned aircraft slot, that determination is made at pilot training. Right now, the UAV/manned career fields are linked into one. There is a great deal of debate about if those UAV pilots will ever be released from that career path, even the active duty getting the UAVs wonder how long they will fly by remote control.
     
  7. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    I have stated this ad nauseum, it is great to go in with a plan, but just like applying for the AFA it is important to have a back up. The AFA will give you the best shot for becoming a pilot, but many things can happen between now and 5 yrs from now when you would pin on your wings.

    Many kids go in and say they want to fly fighters and the reality is only a very select few will get them, probably about 10-15% from the starting class. If you only want fighters and get them, you have truly beaten the odds. You need to ask yourself if you will be okay wearing a flight suit and flying a computer screen...or a heavy. Getting into the SA is only the 1st step of a very long path, for example, g forbid you get injured, you may get medically dq from flying, what will you do then?

    As far as ROTC you compete on a national level and your Commander has a hand in the decision, he/she will rack and stack the cadets which will be seen through their comments that go to the board. Along with the commanders rec your ROTC career, gpa, medical clearance and AFOQT will be included. Your packet will go up against a board similar to ROTC scholarship, a national level. Speak to your det commander and cadets that are there, by Feb/Mar both Jrs and Srs know their future career path. At DS's college only 1 cadet in the past 5 yrs did not get a pilot slot, but the rule of thumb at his det is: as long as you have a 3.2+ and are active in the det you will get it. DS is at a det that is considered large (cadets from smaller colleges are sent there for Lab) They typically have 5-6 cadets every yr that get UPT.

    I would say that from an outsiders view point, it would be more beneficial to attend a university that has ROTC on campus. The reason why is based on face time. Your ROTC career is similar to AFA, you will want a "job". If they can't connect the face or they feel that you can't be there for meetings and the ROTC det., they will most likely skip your name and give it to someone else that can be there by just walking from their dorm. Getting a job in the ROTC det is very competitive, you don't just get one because it is your time. You actually apply for jobs and move up the ranks. Additionally ROTC dets typically do community service, some of it is volunteer, some is mandatory...FACE TIME! Then there is the additional fact that the cadets have leadership, you want them to know you too. The det commander is removed and rely upon the cadet commander for input to a point..."they are a nice enough guy, but I really don't know them" will not help in getting a leadership position. ROTC you get to be the "avg college" kid, however, those that place college above ROTC in the amount of dedication to the AF may pay the price in the end when it comes to UPT. DS has placed ROTC very high on his list, he has joined AAS, he is known by the AF personnel, not only by name, but his AAS nickname. This is due to the fact that he has been active within the det. If he went in only for PT, Lab and the mandatory service, I highly doubt in the size of their det that the det commander would say hi "Pete" (nickname...nowhere near his real name...play on words of our last name)

    The interesting thing at his det and his friends at other dets in other states, the majority of ROTC cadets do not want to fly. He has stated for his yr, there are only @15% who have UPT as their first pick. I think this occurs because many cadets that go engineering want to pursue that path after graduation...they are looking more to going to NORAD than to Columbus, his best friend at Ohio State is an example of this, he actually wants to go into the civil engineering. side of the AF and build the runways in IRAQ, he is a jr, when he entered as a freshman it was UPT all the way.

    Conversely, the difficulty of getting a pilot slot from the AFA is really based on making it through the AFA. Be realistic, the AFA loses @25% from I-Day to graduation. I am sure every cadet entering believes they will graduate, but statistically the facts prove that this is not true. Anyone can see that many candidates, even on this board, have a mathematical weakness. The AFA it is known as the little engineering school in the Rockies. Check out the curriculum and be honest with yourself...you are mandated to take many mathematical/science courses all 4 yrs. If you feel math is a weakness, then be ready to buckle down for 4 yrs. The SA's are Ivies that also require you to have a 2nd job besides just learning. IMHO, they are harder than HYSPM, because it is not just going to class whenever you schedule your classes, it is full time, you eat when they say eat, you march when they say march, you go to class when they say go. I believe that is why you lose 25%, because school isn't 20 hours a week and the rest is free time to study or play Xbox. It takes a truly dedicated cadet to live this life. The cadet that does well does not only desire to fly, but more importantly desires to have a diploma conferred upon them from the AFA. The day they open that packet is the day they envision standing at graduation with the President speaking and a fly by some fighters, they may also envision flying the 22, but their first thought is graduation.

    Done with my 0.0189467 cents, but I hope that it has given you something to mull over.
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2009
  8. Bundy

    Bundy Member

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    Great post, Pima. Very informative.

    Just curious...what determines which AFA grads will be assigned to fighter pilot training vs. "heavies", etc. My son will likely be in the class of 2014 (LOA + nomination in hand). He has aspirations to be a fighter pilot, but I am continually stressing to him to have a plan "B".
     
  9. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Simple answer, it is determined by his rank at UPT. There will be 2 BIG nights in his life at UPT. The 1st is "TRACK" night, this is when they seperate them into Fighters and Heavies. The second is "ASSIGNMENT" night. In the old days it was a real big deal, formal affair, mess dress and all!

    Their academics, sims and flight scores are added together into a formula, and a line is drawn. Simplistic terms, those above the line get Fighters, below heavies. CAVEAT: Bullet wanted fighters, so I am not sure if those that desire heavies can say don't put me into the pool of fighters. There are many who want heavies. Which means the line can move. There is a preset number, they know prior to "track" where they stand on the list, and how many heavies and how many fighters are coming down.

    When they are tracked, then the grading system starts from scratch. There is a list of how many 15, 15E, 16, 22 are available. We have seen it done 2 ways. First way: if number 1 wants a 16, he gets that than number 2 selects, the last gets what is left. We have also known squadrons that have done something similar to the Wheel of Fortune, where they just spin the wheel, then they trade at the end of the night. In both ways, the number 1 grad gets to go first.

    Also, when they go to their FTU, they will start from scratch again, and that is also known as "ASSIGNMENT" night. This is the night where they learn where they will go for their 1st operational base. Here again they MAY have the option of trading their base with others.

    This is why I always say it is a long path.
    1. AFA Cadet
    2. Graduate
    3. Get UPT
    4. Graduate
    4. Graduate FTU

    As you probably realize the course/path will end at the age of @24 before they land at their 1st operational base. 7 yrs from now. A lot can change between the ages of 17 and 24, a lot can happen, it is very important that they attend any SA to become an officer, not just a pilot. They will owe no matter what 5 yrs at least, and it will really stink if they only chose this route to be a pilot when they wash out of UPT.

    I believe the UPT wash out rate is also @ 25%. I know I sound like Janie Raincloud, but I would rather see people enter with their eyes wide open. Look at the statistical numbers, 1300 enter, 1000 graduate, 550 get pilot slots, 400 get wings, 60 maybe even 100 get fighters. In the end, you can see that less than 10% even out of the AFA calss of 14 will fly fighters.

    Also, when you get to UPT they do not care what your commissioning source was, you all start from scratch. Bullet was double crewed at FTU, both were AFA grads, one graduated and one went to an FEB. The beauty of the AFA compared to ROTC is they have opportunities like soaring to give them a leg up, but that doesn't mean they will become an operational pilot. The only guy that was FEB'd out of Bullets class was an AFA class, the ROTC guys made it through.

    Our DS wants to fly fighters, but we have pounded in his head the fact that it is a very long hard road. As a newlywed spouse when Bullet was at FTU, I recall nights and weekends where he was locked away in a room studying. UPT/UNT is incredibly competitive. FTU is even harder. Then when you think it is all over because you get to your 1st operational base, you spend the 1st 2-3 months, studying, taking sims and check rides to become operationally qualified. From start to finish for him it was 2 yrs before he became MR. It is not as if you graduate from UPT and you are safe. 3 yrs ago Bullet was President of an FEB at an FTU, they pulled his wings, but the guy still owed his commitment. During the same time there was an AFA grad on casual status with a UPT slot that was stupid enough to get a DUI...he lost his UPT slot before he ever got there. We also have a friend that played football for the AFA, played intramural flag football at his 1st operational, got injured and was medically dq'd from ejection seat planes, he had the choice never fly again or go heavies (he opted to never fly again, he was a Captain). As I have said a lot can happen, make sure you want to wear the blues along with the bags.
     
  10. SJJTitan

    SJJTitan Candidate

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    Thanks for all the good info Pima, really puts it into perspective for me. My top choice has always been fighter pilot, but I would be more than happy to be a research chemist for the Air Force (as that's what I'm planning on majoring in, maybe along with Flight Science just so I could fly on my own). But hey, that doesn't mean I won't try my hardest to get that UPT slot!
     
  11. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    I am not sure about Flight Science, but if you are referring to Flight Docs, there are two routes and both are incredibly hard to get into. One is go UPT and then to Med school, the other is to go to Med School and then UPT.

    Hornet would be the one to give you answers on the path.

    BTW where is our beloved Hornet?
     
  12. hornetguy

    hornetguy USAFA Cadet

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    He has taken a long hiatus from the forums and was sneakily lured back with comments about Rose-Hulman IT.

    Having done a 5 week tour at Tyndall in AFRL as a chemist (my major), you will get maybe 4 years in the lab, at best, then put in management positions. After major, promotion is very limited, and damn near impossible after Col.

    If your question is about flight doc, feel free to PM me or say so on here. Right now I have an interview scheduled in Feb for Harvard Med which would put me on track to be a flight doc if I am accepted and go.

    PS, Pima, saw you called a few days ago. Those days were filled with fun in Dallas at the bowl game followed by continued festivities today. Might have to wait till later next week to talk!
     
  13. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Hornet,

    Congrats on the interview with Harvard, I guess that means you won't be DS's mentor next yr! Bullet and I thought of you during the Bowl Game, hope you had your ticket! Check your PM's

    SJJ, the beauty of this site is that there are so many active cadets. When orientation weekends come about, it might be best to ask around the forum if any cadets have an "in" with a Chemistry Prof, so you may have a 1 on 1 discussion with them during the weekend for career progression.
     
  14. AFAMOM08

    AFAMOM08 Member

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    Hornet,
    Congratulations on the interview with Harvard Medical School! I will keep my fingers crossed for you! :thumb:
     
  15. Pam Zubeck

    Pam Zubeck New Member

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    Cadets thoughts on RPAs?

    I'm a reporter working on a story about RPAs and USAFA's prep of cadets for this assignment. I'm interested in hearing from cadets their thoughts about this emphasis on RPAs, which might eventually overtake the numbers of pilot slots.

    All feedback is welcome to help me understand this issue. Thanks.
     
  16. Bullet

    Bullet Member

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    Ms. Zubeck,

    I'm assuming you know as well as I that any media request for solicitation for a military member's opinion should be properly requested first through the agency's respective Public Affairs Office.

    I kindly ask you to contact the USAFA PA office for your request to interview and / or question cadets for this information as a member of the media.

    If you weren't aware of this standard procedure before, please accept my apologies. But also follow through with the proper request channels....

    Cadets, for your own protection, please do not reply to media requests without first contacting the USAFA PA office to coordinate your involvement. I've seen too many good young men and women get in serious trouble for just this type of situation, even if their intentions were innocent and pure.
     
  17. Texasrocks

    Texasrocks Member

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    Since this is a topic that concerns manu future pilots who want to fly manned jets. From what I have seen on TV (red flag...) it takes a long time for a pilot to be combat ready. What is the timeframe for the UAV?

    Also is it feasible have a pilot fly UAV's as a stepping point to flying manned aircraft and it becomes part of the career progression. This way all or most would fly UAV's for a portion of their career.

    thoughts comments
     
  18. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Texas rocks,

    I think because there is a media person on this thread, people maybe concerned about discussing in full detail the system due to the fact that it is AF policy not to speak to reporters without the expressly written consent of the AF through the PA. This may not be an AF site per se, however, cadets, AD and retirees know that rule, thus not willing to jeopardize their career. Yes, this is an anonymous forum, but it really isn't if you know what I mean.

    In short, from a broad stroke nobody can tell you if there will ever be the chance to X-train, it really is a manning issue of the pipeline. Yrs ago, to convert from a Nav to a Pilot, it was near impossible, then the pipeline opened up and it became easier, to the point of ask and you shall receive. Currently, the pipeline is slowing which could mean that it will be difficult to do it again. The reason why is it costs millions to get some one operational, why should they spend that money again when they have enough to fill their needs with new students. Additionally, it means they would be creating a vacancy in the operational world from where you began, which in essence is going to cause them to spend more money on training over that side too.

    The current system is not set up to make this a career progression into manned flying. Actually, if you look at the leadership during these tv shows, you will see they interviewed O5's, to get to that rank you have @15 yrs in the system. Most of these people did the reverse, they went from manned to unmanned. Our close friend left the AF to be a busdriver in the sky. AFter 8 yrs of on and off due to being furloughed he came back into the AF. He was a fighter pilot, but the only position the AF offered him was at Creech as a UAV pilot. HOWEVER, that doesn't mean it won't become a possible career path by the time you are in the system.
     
  19. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    Essentially, there are no guarantees in life.

    If you look at the number and types of aircraft the AF has/will have, you will notice that unmanned aircraft are the up and comming thing, numbers wise. Unmanned aircraft are probably going to be largely separated from the manned aircraft world soon.

    What does that mean for USAFA and AFROTC pilot slots? IMO, probably a lot of uncertainty in the near term.
     
  20. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    Truly sage advice. Cadets, don't speak to the media without clearing it first. You're only inviting trouble. The media is a business, first and foremost, and they don't care about military regs. But you do.
     

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