Greetings!

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by csBlaZe, Nov 10, 2007.

  1. csBlaZe

    csBlaZe Member

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    Hi,

    ... i'm a prospective USAFA cadet and stumbled on a link for these forums on avitop. Currently, i'm just completely the first quarter of my junior year in high school and have just decided my goal is to be selected for an appointment from the USAFA. I have ALOT of questions!

    The first, and important question is- what should I be doing now? I'm a CAP cadet, and getting a PPL... at school im the chapel assistant, an executive band member (for our percussion section), and a mentor. Im planning on joining the V-soccer team next season.

    I will also be honest with everyone. My grades that last two years were'nt to great, so I decided to get serious and now have a tutor and am going all-out with my academics. My private school does have a much tougher curriculum, but I still want to aim for all A's. The classes I am in right now include physics, electronics, & AGB2 so its not like im taking sub-par classes or anything.


    Another important question is- how do I get an ALO? I have tried to find information but ended up with no results. Do I have to contact the USAFA? Im also going to talk to my CAP commander about this.


    By the way, not having 20/20 vision will not disqualify you from any pilot opportunities. I have 20/200- correctable to 20/20 (which is what really matters) and my diop +/- is well in standards. Waivers for this are becoming more lax. DONT TAKE MY WORD FOR IT, but I even read on baseops.net that the AF is finally allowing LASIK instead of PRK for fighter pilots- this is not fact... but anyway- what does this have to do with anything with the USAFA? UPT is not until after you graduate and thats when you should be worried about getting a waiver- if you even need one. Reason im bringing this up is becuase I read a thread on here with a guy who couldnt get in some "pilot pool" thing and therefore had a 50/50 chance of getting into the academy. I'm not saying I know more then others here, im just kind of confused.


    Anyways! Im planning on staying here for a while and lookin' forward to enjoying it!

    Thanks. :biggrin:
     
  2. Stealth_81

    Stealth_81 Super Moderator Moderator Founding Member

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    Welcome csBlaZe,

    Congratulations on deciding to apply to the USAFA!
    We are glad that you have come here for information. Please take time and read a lot of what is already posted on these forums. There is a lot of information contained in them.
    The most important thing you should be doing right now is getting those grades up to your goal, and preparing for the SAT or ACT tests. You might also look at getting into athletics this year, rather than waiting until soccer next year.
    Once you open a candidate file with the USAFA, you will be assigned to an ALO. If you have already filled out you pre-candidate questionaire online, you should be getting the information. You might also look into applying for the Summer Seminar, which you would go to in the summer between your Junior and Senior year. That will give you a very good feel as to whether USAFA is really a good fit for you. My son went to Summer Seminar and that is really what nailed it down for him that is where he belonged.
    Not having 20/20 uncorrected vision does indeed disqualify you for pilot opportunities at USAFA. Here is how the process works:
    When you are accepted to the USAFA, you are qualified into three categories. Pilot Qualified (20/20 uncorrected vision), Navigator Qualified (up to 20/50, uncorrected vision), or Commission Qualified (less that 20/50 uncorrected). While I am sure being pilot qualified helps your admission, understand that a majority of accepted cadets are only commission qualified.
    After you start your 3rd year at the Academy, and you commit to the Air Force, there are a certain number of Cadets who are allowed to have PRK correction to their vision at Air Force expense, to try and get their vision up to pilot qualified. The Air Force is now looking at allowing LASIK, also, but I have not heard if it approved, yet. Keep in mind that if you have vision correction done on your own before the Academy, it is an automatic DQ for admission. The Air Force will only allow vision correction surgery that is performed by them.
    You are correct that UPT doesn't begin until after you graduate, but your pilot slot is earned much earlier. I would leave it to one of the cadets on this forum to tell you exactly when it is decided, since I am not exactly sure. You won't receive a pilot slot if you are not pilot qualified. There are no waivers granted to get into UPT if you weren't pilot qualified at the Academy.

    I hope I have helped with some of you questions. Keep reading what is on here, and let us know if you have more questions.

    Stealth_81
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2007
  3. RetNavyHM

    RetNavyHM USN (RET)

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    Stealth_81 has it correct below.

    The potential pilot qualified (PPQ), potential navigator qualified (PNQ), and commission qualified (CommQ) statuses are no longer being passed to the applicants by DoDMERB. The letters and DoDMERB's web page is only going to say qualified. To find out which group you fall into you will need to contact your admissions counselor at USAFA.

    USAFA is doing both PRK and LASIK on cadets and the active duty population in the Colorado Springs area. Currently the Air Force (and to a much more limited extent the Navy) is doing studies on the possibility of allowing LASIK in aviation. It is still a disqualification for aviation, but standards do change, and I know that the AF is heading towards allowing LASIK.

    The second porttion of the last quoted message is incorrect, if an applicant goes out and gets PRK or LASIK before applying, as long as there were no complications, 6 months have passed since the surgery, and the refractive error pre-surgery and post-surgery meet certain requirements, DoDMERB will qualify that applicant.

    I'm not sure what UPT is, but I do know that if, by the time you have your commissioning physical exam (Junior year), your vision is within standards for pilot or even navigator, regardless of what your admissions status was (PPQ, PNQ, CommQ), you can get medically qualified for pilor or navigator. The rest is left for service selection, and I'm not sure how that is done at USAFA.
     
  4. USNA69

    USNA69 Banned

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    Will the applicant be qualified PPQ, PNQ, or CommQ?
     
  5. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    Grades are the largest portion of a candidate's score, so make sure yours are good (this includes SAT/ACT scores, class rank, etc). One good thing is that USAFA will issue waivers for eyesight as well as pay for PRK, depending on the case. I was told that while my eyesight is far from perfect, I would likely be able to get a waiver (this comes straight from the Doc at the USAFA eye clinic).
     
  6. csBlaZe

    csBlaZe Member

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    Thanks all for the answers!

    I understand now, regarding the eye-site thing. I was on the ROTC side of things which is why I was confused (two different processes).

    Don't, worry! I have gotten any eye surgery yet becuase I knew that it would DQ me.

    I did read your reply, RetNavyHM- but just to clarify! I can still have a chance of becoming a fighter pilot or w/e even after not qualifying for the "pilot pool" selection in the AF Academy and still may have the chance to get the waiver AFTER. This is kind of important since my dream in life has always been to become an AF pilot; however, its not even everything to get a fighter slot. Cmon- anyone who's flying anything in the AF has got it pretty good- and you always have a chance of getting the slot youve always wanted after serving a few years.

    I just want to make sure becuase the AF requires 8 years (active, then reserve) after graduation and it wouldnt be to good on my part if I ended up with an office job or something like that for that period of time.

    Yes, Stealth- im looking forward to the summer seminar- hopefully I can get in though- because there is competition for these academies in everything... and im checking out the pre-cand questionare now...

    Again- thanks everyone for the answers! Really helpful. :shake:
     
  7. csBlaZe

    csBlaZe Member

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    Is your goal to become a pilot? What class are you? The USAFA has an eye clinic?!

    lol, jk to the last one. :thumb:
     
  8. Luigi59

    Luigi59 Banned

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    Longer for pilots.
     
  9. hornetguy

    hornetguy USAFA Cadet

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    Once you are in your aircraft in the AF, you are locked into that aircraft type. Basically, a C-130 pilot cannot change into an F-16, the training is radically different. Maybe F-16 to F-15, or KC-135 to KC-10 or MAYBE to C-17, but definately not from C-17 to F-22! The "pilot pool" you are talking about doesn't mean much at all once you're here. You can move into the pool with waivers or PRK. You can also move out if your vision gets worse or other medical problems occue (too many concussion, etc)

    Also, RetNavyHM knows what he is talking about since he was once part of the DoDMERB panel. ;)
     
  10. csBlaZe

    csBlaZe Member

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    I meant required service for going to the USAFA academy.... the pilot is 10+ years.

    Yeah- I believe him. I didn't know what the DoDMERB panel was at first- but it made sense anyway. GAH- I hope they give the clearence for LASIK by the time I need a waiver (if I do) becuase I don't enjoy the thought of a dude sticking a knife in my cornea or w/e. :frown:

    I know of a B1 pilot who switched to F15- but then again... thats a fighter/bomber thing.

    Does one have the chance to get an AF med examination before going official (taking the cadet oath) to make sure I have no oustanding med disqualifications?

    The fighter thing is always a toughy. I think your pretty much at the mercy of the pilot board since everyone is millimeters apart in UPT there is not much one can do to distinguish themselves for a fighter slot. Everyone does a great job and you just get what ya' get.
     
  11. RetNavyHM

    RetNavyHM USN (RET)

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    They will be just "Qualified", same as all the other services.

    Again, having PRK or LASIK is not a definite disqualification any longer. If you meet certain criteria you can be qualified by DoDMERB.

    The USAFA admissions office places the applicants into the different categories as one of their admission tools. If you are offered an appointment and show up to the academy, those admissions tools are tossed out the window and it is all dependent on you and whether you pass the medical and academic portions to become a pilot.

    Yea, what he said!! Hornetguy is is right in the thick of things as a cadet at USAFA, so he should have the inside scoop on a lot more of this stuff than I do.

    Ummmm, you better look up the processes for PRK and LASIK. For PRK they use a laser to burn away a portion of the cornea, no cutting involved. For LASIK they cut a flap in the cornea and use a laser to burn away a portion of the lens, then push the flap back. They can use either a blade or a laser to create the corneal flap. So if you want no cutting, you are looking at PRK.

    No.
     
  12. USNA69

    USNA69 Banned

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    I guess I asked the wrong question. If a kid shows up at AFA with either PRK or LASIK, will he be eligible to enter the flight program upon graduation?
     
  13. csBlaZe

    csBlaZe Member

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    ... dang it- I got that confused a while ago. Thanks for clearing it up. I do know that PRK is an older type of eye surgery and it takes longer to heal or something... but I still may be wrong. Which one is more reliable?
     
  14. hornetguy

    hornetguy USAFA Cadet

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    While RetNavyHM will give a better answer, PRK takes much longer to heal since the cornea has to regrow. The flap on LASIK acts like a natural bandage after the surgery and helps the recovery. Don't know about reliability.

    The issue I heard with LASIK is that some studies suggest (or the AF/Navy was simply worried) the flap may slide off at high G's or that it can swell at high altitude or large pressure differences (submarines as well?).
     
  15. RetNavyHM

    RetNavyHM USN (RET)

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    Or I was confused and didn't read it correctly! Currently, with PRK, the answer is yes, provided he/she meets the pre-surgical refractive requirements. If interested I could dig those up for you.

    PRK has been around longer than LASIK, both have good histories. PRK does take longer to heal, as you are removing the outer surface of the cornea, and from what I've heard, it feels like you have a load of sand in both eyes for about a week. LASIK, since they peel a flap back and do it on the lens (which has fewer nerve endings) there is minimal pain, and you are good in about 3 days (I was fine after 1 day and had 20/15 vision after 3 days, after starting at 20/800+).

    The concern with LASIK is with the flap, if you have to eject at high speeds, there si the possibility that the flap could peel off and you've then lost a pilot. Also if there is a small air bubble, at altitude, is it going to interfere with the vision or cause some other issue? Studies are being done, and I think the AF will be the first to allow it.
     
  16. USNA69

    USNA69 Banned

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    This is from the latest U.S. Navy Aeromedical Reference and Waiver Guide:

    I know the Navy was planning to ease off but I haven't seen anything official. Therefore, my advice to USNA and USMMA candidates continues to be not to have it done until it can be performed under the auspices of a Navy Flight Surgeon.
     
  17. RetNavyHM

    RetNavyHM USN (RET)

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    I was not clear, for AF no waiver is required, for Navy a waiver would be required for aviation. Again, this relates to PRK only.
     
  18. csBlaZe

    csBlaZe Member

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    Besides, people from age 18-21 are not considered good candidates for eye surgery so most of the people on here (planning to go to USAFA) shouldnt be looking at it anyway.
     

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