glider and powered flight participation

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by luckymacy, Dec 1, 2010.

  1. luckymacy

    luckymacy Member

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    My son has his private pilot's license. What does a cadet have to do to become a student sailplane instructor? How does one compete to get in to the powered and glider programs? Also, how difficult is it to fly the the DA-40s out there for recreation on the weekends? When you are flying or instructing, is that part of a class or on personal time?
     
  2. Stealth_81

    Stealth_81 Super Moderator Moderator Founding Member

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    Soaring (the gliders) is one of the Summer Programs available to the Freshmen (4 degrees) in the summer between Freshman and Sophomore year. Your son should put it down as his first choice when the selections sheets are filled out. (Of course, there are no guarantees he will get it.) Once he particiates in the program, he can become an instructor pilot with some more training. These instructor slots are very competitive. There is also a Soaring Team that competes around the country. There is a second chance to take soaring as a class later on in their time at the Academy. I think it is during Firstie year.

    Powered Flight is done during the summer between 2 degree (Junior) year and Firstie (Senior) year, or as a class selection during the Firstie year. The instructor pilots for Powered Flight are active duty Air Force pilots. There are no cadet instructor pilots. (Can this change? I don't know). There is no availablility of the DA-40 (Air Force Designation is T-52A) for recreational flying. Those planes are in high demand to get all of the cadets who want to take the Powered Flight class.

    The Cadet Flying Club has some older T-41 Mescaleros (Military version of the Cessna 172) that are available for cadets to do some flying in if they have their PPL. The Flying Team uses T-51s (Cessna 152s), and your son could try out for that team if he wants more flying time. The Flying Team also travels a lot for competitions. Both the Flying Club and the Flying Team are outside the classroom.

    Stealth_81
     
  3. buffalo

    buffalo USAFA 2013

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    You can do soaring the summer after 4* year or during your 3* academic year. I have it scheduled next semester, so every other day for about a month I will go down to the airfield for a couple periods during the school day. If you want to be a soaring IP you need to take the basic course either during the summer or during the fall semester.
     
  4. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    To become a Soaring IP, you need to take AM251 (basic soaring) either the summer before 3dig year or during the 1st semester (summer is a better way to go). After completing that, you need to interview for an IP slot. These are usually held during the academic year. IIRC, there are 40 IP slots each semester of 3 dig year (which is why doing AM251 in the summer is prefered). Also, summer weather is better, so the chances of soloing increase.
     
  5. luckymacy

    luckymacy Member

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    Link available to get more details on the flying teams?

    Excellent info and we really appreciate it. What are they exactly looking for when it comes to selecting members of these flying teams and when/how does a brand new cadet approach this subject?
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2010
  6. PDub

    PDub Prospective

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    I can't remember exactly when, but sometime before Acceptance (maybe even before inprocessing) there will be an opportunity to submit your application for the flying team. Once the deadline is missed one will not have the opportunity to join for the rest of his/her cadet career. A PPL is required and selections are competitive and the schedule will be stressful, but it is a rewarding experience and you get lots and lots of flying hours in. Top graduates of UPT have frequently been grads formerly on the flying team. If you want to talk to an expert on this subject PM me and I can get you in touch with one of my friends (who lives right next door to me) who is currently a 2 dig on the flying team.
     
  7. luckymacy

    luckymacy Member

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    What are screening process details?

    PDub, can you find out just what 'rigorous' screening process really consists of? Is there a flying evaluation or is it just a series of groung tests and interviews? Anything 'unusual' in the ground test that you wouldn't study for an FAA knowledge type test ? Below is from the AFA website but this is all the detail I could find on the subject of screening process. Feel free to PM if you dont' want to discuss it publicly. Thanks!

    The Academy team is composed of 18 members, six from each of the upper classes. Four-degrees must undergo a rigorous screening process, plus hold a private pilot license, before they are accepted on the team.
     
  8. aggie83

    aggie83 Member

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    Summer choices for Jump (parachuting from planes) and Soar (flying gliders) is based on your overall grade point average so fall grades are very important. If he wants to be a glider instructor, I would certainly try to get in the summer session of Soar.

    Our son got Jump his first summer but they only got in 2 jumps because of weather. He took Soar this semester and they missed half of the training days due to bad flying conditions of some sort (snow, frozen fog, overcast, high winds) with no makeups. He had it early from 8 am -11 am so that may have contributed to the overcast days they missed. Kinda of frustrating not getting his wings for either.
     
  9. hornetguy

    hornetguy USAFA Cadet

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    Much how the PTWOBs have a haze as their test, the Flying team has its own hazing type test. By haze, it is meant to be obnoxiously difficult and time-consuming to test the commitment. My friend who went flying team during our 4 dig year had to memorize some insane number of civilian and military aircraft and identify them with screenshots. Had to memorize verbatim procedures. Did many interviews with flying team members. Required to have a PPL. Essentially, these 4 digs are subjected to an insane amount of memorization and work on top of being a 4 dig.
     
  10. Strike Eagle

    Strike Eagle USAFA Cadet 2015

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    Are you able to get a PPL at the Academy?
     
  11. hornetguy

    hornetguy USAFA Cadet

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    Yes, but it will be at your own time and expense. One of the 2009 AF fellows with me here at RAND did his PPL through the program at the academy air field.
     
  12. HNeedle

    HNeedle Member

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    yup, with the Aero Club. I'm doing it now on weekends and sometimes during the week... also a big time and money commitment. helps to be a 2* with a loan :)
     
  13. ptwob387

    ptwob387 New Member

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    We don't haze. Every single part of tryout day has a purpose.

    That said, try to take jump, regardless of whether you think you want to be a soaring IP or not. If being a glider rider is the right path for you, you can take basic soaring your first semester three dig year and become an IP. If you miss out on jumping after freshman year, though, you have no chance to make the team and you'll be competing for a slot in the basic course as a firstie.

    T-52s are cool, but Powered Flight is horribly undermanned. Expect major changes to the program within the next year.
     
  14. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    I'll disagree a bit. If you want to be a PTWOB or a glider IP, you NEED to decide. Obviously, you cannot do both. While it is possible to do jump over the summer, get basic soaring 1st semester, and become a glider IP 2nd semester, trying to do that cuts your chances to become a glider IP by more than half. Summer tends to have better weather, which increases your chances of doing well and soloing. Plus, it gives you two chances to make the upgrade program to be an IP.

    If you want to be an instructor, you really are doing yourself a statistical disservice by trying to do the other program over your 3 dig summer. If you want to be a PTWOB, you are killing your shot by doing summer soaring.
     
  15. hornetguy

    hornetguy USAFA Cadet

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    And I said in the next sentence that hazing "it is meant to be obnoxiously difficult and time-consuming to test the commitment."

    Just like BCT and 4 dig year. They can be called hazing or not. Our, as USAFA cadets/grads understand, perspective is unique. It is a form of hazing in the traditional sense, but in the military context is necessary. I don't demonize the PTWOB try-outs. I don't want someone under canopy who can't handle pressure.
     
  16. luckymacy

    luckymacy Member

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    What, if any, are the differences between taking soaring during the 3 dig summer vs taking it during the fall semesters with respect to the curriculum? If you take it during the fall semester, how many days a week and how many hours a day are you at the airfield?
     
  17. stvblm

    stvblm Member

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    I get the impression that the cart is leading the horse here. Everything is based on merit. The focus should be on grades first then everything else will follow. Let them do jump or soaring and have fun regardless of whether or not they are selected to become an IP or WoB
     
  18. LBloom

    LBloom New Member

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    Summer soaring students get a block of 10 days in the soaring program. They only fly on weekdays, so they end up with 7-8 flying days. There are two soaring groups each day during the summer; one group starts at 0530 and the other starts around 1230. As such, the days for a student at the airfield are about 7 hours long from the start of the morning brief until the last glider lands. Each group consists of approximately 18 students. Weather permitting, students can expect 2-3 sorties per day.

    Academic year soaring students work on a much different schedule. During the school year, soaring is assigned as a 10-lesson class which takes place every other weekday for the duration of the course. Students will either take a 0600 bus for a 0630 brief with a 0700 takeoff and a 1000 last land or they will take a 0900 bus for a 0930 brief with a 1000 takeoff and a 1300 last land. Each class size consists of approximately 10 students. Weather permitting, students can expect 2-3 sorties per day.


    I did the soaring program during the summer after 4-dig year and was lucky enough to solo and get selected for IP upgrade. Having seen both sides of the program many times, I think any cadet interested in becoming an IP should take soaring during the summer. It's easier to study and rest for soaring during the summer when it's the only thing on your plate. The weather is also usually better during the summer than it is during the academic year. Finally, a soaring student who doesn't get picked up for IP upgrade at the end of the summer can apply again in the fall semester whereas a fall soaring student only has one shot to apply. I've seen lots of cadets miss the cut during the summer and make the selection during the fall.

    There are no differences whatsoever between the summer soaring curriculum and the fall/spring soaring curriculum.

    Any more questions, I'd be glad to help.

    - Soaring IP, C/O 2012
     
  19. luckymacy

    luckymacy Member

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    Thanks! Just the detail I was looking for. What's the likely IP training route and then when you execute IP duties if you took soaring during the fall semester? BTW, other than being decent in gliders and soloing, what's the process for getting selected as IP? If GPA is great what else is used?
     
  20. LBloom

    LBloom New Member

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    A student who takes soaring during the fall semester and gets selected for IP upgrade will be enrolled in AM-461 (Soaring Instructor Upgrade) during the spring semester. This class takes place every other afternoon and begins with a 1200 bus for a 1230 brief followed by a 1300 takeoff. Students will fly until just before sunset. Each upgrade class consists of approximately 20 students. Since they fly every other day, there are two upgrade classes per semester; this allows for about 40 upgrade students per semester.

    The training route can be stressful at times because there are bound to be lots of days spent studying at the airfield when weather grounds flying ops. Students will not have time to work on other academics while the airfield; when they're at the airfield, they will either by flying or studying for their upcoming sorties.

    IPs can teach three different courses: AM-100, AM-251, and AM-461. AM-100 is a course during the 3rd period of the summer for basic cadets. When basic cadets go through 2nd BCT Jack's Valley, they get a day at the airfield to ride in the UV-18 Twin Otter (the plane from which the Wings of Blue jump) and also get an orientation ride in the gliders. IPs lucky enough to teach AM-100 during the 3rd summer period will show off their flying skills to basics all day long. It's an awesome opportunity to get some stress-free flying in and give the basics the best day they've had in over a month.

    AM-251 is the bread and butter of the soaring program. Offering 14 sorties or a solo - whichever happens first - AM-251 is designed for students with zero flight experience to become familiar with flying a glider. It is also a prerequisite for applying to be an IP. Teaching AM-251 is both fun and stressful; fun because you can watch a student progress from a flying death machine to a solo-able pilot, stressful because students always keep IPs on their toes and force them to recover from some sticky situations.

    I've already talked a bit about AM-461, so I'll just add on that teaching IP upgrade is much easier than going through it. AM-461 offers plenty of flying time for IPs and is also less stressful because students are generally very skilled past the halfway point in the program and do far less to scare their IPs.

    IP selection is based on GPA, MPA, PEA, and an interview with a board of cadet IPs and one officer. Soloing is NOT a prerequisite for becoming an IP! The questions IPs ask themselves when making selections are "Will this person be able to devote sufficient time to their airfield duties without compromising his or her ability to succeed in other cadet duties?" and "Does this person have the aptitude to succeed in the IP upgrade program?" A 2.6+ GPA, 2.6+ MPA, and a 2.3+ PEA are the rock bottom minimums I would ever consider for an applicant. Probations are a no-go. The interview gives cadets a chance to explain away some lackluster performance and also to discuss why they deserve to be picked over their peers.

    I hope this answered your questions well. Anything else, please let me know.
     

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