How do flight slots work in the AF?

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by SamAca10, Dec 14, 2010.

  1. SamAca10

    SamAca10 Ensign - DWO

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    Coming from a Coast Guard background, I'm interested to see how the AF selects their pilots. Do AF officers get multiple shots at flight school, or is coming from the USAFA/ROTC/OTC the only time they can apply?
     
  2. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    If you have a flight slot out of AFA, UPT or ROTC, that is your one shot. In other words if you wash out it is all over.

    Now if you don't get one, but later down the road want one, you must apply to a board. Depending on the UPT pipeline flow, will be the mitigating factor. If the pipeline is full there will be no boards, thus you will not be able to apply for a flight school.

    Many times they also may do it first as an X-train. In other words, if you are a Nav, or WSO and want to Xtrain to be a pilot you can apply. If you are not rated than they will not let you apply.

    You also must enter UPT by the age of 27 1/2. That means if you graduate at 22 from ROTC, and do not go active for 6 months, and when you do you need to go to a school for 6 months 1st. You will be 23...23 1/2. Traditionally if these boards are up and running the Wing King is going to select the people who have proven themselves there first or ones that are close to hitting that age req. Which means you could have to wait for 18-24 months prior to meeting the board. Now you are at 25...25 1/2, Than you have to wait until there is a spot for you, which could take 6-9 months. You are now at 26. Also remember some ROTC students are on the 5 yr plan because of engineering, which makes them 23 at graduation, and now they are counting the days to make sure they can make it in because of that age req.

    I only state these numbers so you can realize that it won't happen overnight. It may take yrs, so it is best to ask for it at the on start point instead of trying out another field first.

    The reality is right now with force shape re-structuring I would not foresee them opening up the pipeline for non-rated officers anytime in the near future.

    The clue to when it will be opening up is when they do not wash out AFA grads and only wash them back. Out means exactly that. Back means you bust a ride and you re-start with the next class, thus back.

    Hope that gives you some more insight to the system.
     
  3. SamAca10

    SamAca10 Ensign - DWO

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    Thanks Pima! Just checked this post. The RIF is definitely disturbing. There are people in the Coast Guard who've been at the E-3 level for 2-3 years because of the amount of people who are staying in.

    But the flight slots are sort of similar to the CG's. Typically you can apply either before you graduate from the Academy/OCS. If that doesn't work out, you can keep applying while you're an O-1/O-2. It's not bad though, that first tour would give you more leadership experience, I think.

    So are more senior officer's who go to flight school later (i.e. when they're O-2/O-3 level) less likely to be promoted? Thanks.
     
  4. SamAca10

    SamAca10 Ensign - DWO

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    Oh yes, is Bullet doing okay? Haven't seen him on here in a while :biggrin:
     
  5. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    I haven't seen many non O-1 UPT students. It is possible to get a slot as a cross-train, but I don't see it happening very frequently at all.
     
  6. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Bullet is fine it's just he is incredibly busy at the Pentagon with the 35 right now, so when he comes home at night, the last thing he wants to do is talk military.

    One thing to realize is that the AF does not have WOs in the flight world, whereas, the Army does.

    That is a loaded question, because it is a yes and no answer. Going later means you will have a harder time getting schools like TPS or WIC because they like to take at a certain rank range and operational hours matter for selection. Now as an O3 to O4, not really, but as you get into Field grade jobs open up specifically for patch wearers, which means they become more competitive, better chances of getting PME, and better jobs. The cycle keeps going, and it all started a long time ago before those birds on your shoulders were just glints in your eyes.

    Additionally, you will be expected to step out of the jet, so just because you went as an O2 you can still be just as competitive, but you need to be diligent in that path.

    Too many times people are short sighted and only think about the next PCS. You actually need to always think about how the next PCS will be the foundation for the PCS after that. It is a 2 step game. When Bullet took the 82nd ALO job it was with the knowledge that he would get his pick of bases and the Strike. WHen he took Elmendorf, it was with the knowledge that he was going to be in PACAF (he had already been USAFE) and that would line him perfectly for timing PME as an O4 because we knew SJAFB was our only option. When he took the Pentagon, it was lined up because at that point he had 16 yrs in, and only 1 more tour to go, so it was the time he started working his 2nd career connections.

    There will be times you will be forced to go where they want you to go and times that if you plan wisely you can pick and choose. You can't or shouldn't ever take an assignment because GEE, I always wanted to go there. You need to look at it from how it will help you to get promoted or the next job.
     
  7. sprog

    sprog Member

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    I know of one dude at my old Missile Wing who went to UPT as an O-2. I agree with the above poster, it's a pretty rare event.

    We did, however, have a fair number of UPT/UNT washouts who became missileers:shake:. Study hard, and try not to puke in the airplane!! Or else...Minot awaits:shake:
     
  8. aglages

    aglages Parent

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    What is the career potential for a missileer? I thought non-rated AF officers did not have much of a future (promotion & retirement). Just a rumor? Are there any non-rated AF jobs that have a "decent" career potential?

    I don't mean to hijack the thread but this info might be helpful to those wondering about flight slots and the alternatives.
     
  9. sprog

    sprog Member

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    Well, I got out after my obligation was over; however, I still know plenty of guys on active duty who were missileers with me.

    "Space and Missile Operations," as the career field is called, is a fairly small community within the larger USAF. I only worked the missile side of things, so I won't address the space portion of the AFSC too much.

    We are unique, as non-pilots, in that there are operational command billets (Ops Squadron CC/Ops Group CC/Wing CC) available to people in our career field. Each Missile Squadron Commander has to be a "Combat Mission Ready" missileer, and the Group/Wing CCs have to be "Basic Mission Ready" qualified. A "pocket rocket" (Missile Badge) is a requirement for all of the above.

    As command of a Missile Wing is considered command of a "combat ready wing" (in only the most liberal of terms, as if the missiles launched, that would be "combat"), the O-6s in the field who get Wing command will (as long as they don't kill anyone) become BGs. We have our own Numbered Air Forces (14th for Space Ops, 20th for Missiles), and the Two-Star/Three-Star who heads each is a Space/Missile guy. There are/have been four-star missileers. The current AFSPC/CC is a four-star Missile/Space guy.

    The converse is that the career field is small, and that there are only three Missile Wings in the whole USAF (with a few more Space Wings). Thus, only a few get that high. We do run our own ops, though, and don't have pilots running the Squads. A missileer will never be CSAF, mind you, but I think there are more positions of higher command available to missile guys than say public affairs or transportation officers.

    Most of the USAF doesn't spend much time thinking about the missile community, except to think that we are all weirdos who live in unpleasant places (joking...sort of). It is fairly insular, but if you can stand sticking around the job (which isn't the most fun in the world), there are good opportunities along the way for guys who are strong performers (I know guys who did Weapon School, Pentagon internships, etc.). If I were a USAFA/ROTC Cadet and if I wasn't going to be rated, and if I wanted to stay career, it would be a good career field. There are also virtually no deployments (some guys do go out to the sandbox, but it's the minority), as your mission is performed out in "the field" of North Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming (which, in some of those areas, feels like another planet of vast wilderness).

    I don't want to hijack either, so if anyone has questions about missile ops, they can PM. Almost no one ever does:shake:. It's hardly recruiting poster stuff, but it is a necessary job done by exceptionally professional airmen.
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2010
  10. aglages

    aglages Parent

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    Sprog: Thank you very much for all the information! It is comforting to know that there is at least one alternative career in the AF that does not require a rating....just in case. I will pass your post on to my son.:thumb:
     
  11. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    As a cadet, I got a tour of FE Warren and a missile facility. Previously, I thought I had seen the middle of nowhere...I was wrong! That said, one of the missileers made a good point. He has a great opportunity to get his masters done early. With the concurrent service commitment, I don't think he had any extra time required for his masters.

    As for non-O-1 UPT students, I think I've seen two (1 1st LT and 1 Capt, but I think the Capt was doing some flight surgeon type stuff.)
     
  12. bandit

    bandit Member

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    There are probably as many non-rated AFSCs in the AF as there are rated. All the engineers are non-rated just to give you an idea. There are tons more.

    This should give you some idea. Sorry the formatting is wonky. Can't copy and paste from excel very well here.

    Degree/Course
    AFSC Requirements* Skill Description
    13DXA None Combat Rescue
    13DXB None Special Tactics
    13L None Career ALO
    13M None Airfield Operations
    13S None Space & Missile Ops
    14N None Intelligence
    15W Meteorology Weather
    17D 18 hrs IT CyberSpace Operations
    21A None Aircraft Maint
    21M None Munitions/Missile Maint
    21R None Logistics Readiness
    31P None Security Forces
    32EXA Architecture Civil Engr
    32EXC Civil Engr Civil Engr
    32EXE Electrical Engr Civil Engr
    32EXF Mechanical Engr Civil Engr
    32EXG General Engr Civil Engr
    32EXJ Environmental Engr Civil Engr
    35P None Public Affairs
    38F None Force Support
    61A1 Math / Ops Research Scientist
    61B1 Behavioral Psychology Scientist
    61C1 Chemistry Scientist
    61D1 Physics Scientist
    62EXA Aeronautical Engr Developmental Engr
    62EXB Astronautical Engr Developmental Engr
    62EXC Computer Engr Developmental Engr
    62EXE Electrical Engr Developmental Engr
    62EXG General Engr Developmental Engr
    62EXH Mechanical Engr Developmental Engr
    63A Engr, Math, Mgt, or 24 hrs Acquisition
    64P 24 hrs Contracting
    65F 12 hrs Financial Management
    71S None Special Investigations
     
  13. aglages

    aglages Parent

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    Thank you. I knew there were many non-rated AFSCs but was curious whether non-rated officers had as much of a potential (promotion & retirement) AF career as rated officers.
     
  14. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Promotion is pretty much guaranteed through O3, it is at the O4 and above marker that it becomes competitive. There are many non-rated officers that make General.

    The one thing that needs to be understood is that rated and non-rated "line officers" will meet the same board. It is more competitive for non-rated because it is easy to take a rated officer and throw them in a desk, you can't take the non-rated and throw them in a plane. Thus, if the boards have a low selection rate you will see the % will be greater for the rated.

    The other issue is that to be a Wing King/Queen of an operational flying base, they are going to want a flier.

    We have several friends who have made Full Bird and BG, who never flew in a plane. It happens quite frequently, let's be honest, they are not going to want the commander of A & F to be a O5 F16 pilot. They want the person to have worked up the ladder in that field. Same with SPs. They need to understand the mission of that organization.

    The thing is to always keep you eye on your goal from a long term perspective. Military careers are like your education...you needed to do good in elementary school to be able to get into the TAG program in middle, you needed the TAG program to get into the IB/AP/AICE in hs. You needed that to get into the SA. The higher you rise the more concentrated the program/objective.

    Same with the military, you need to start with one area and then use the military to become the go to person for that area.

    Look at WIC, it use to be called FWIC (Fighter Weapon Instructor Course). Now they take all walks, working your way as a young O3 to get that will make you more competitive at the next base for a more vis job. Higher vis, better PRF. Better PRF, higher chances of PME, Get PME, and next base is even better....see how the cycle is spinning up in your favor? By the end you become the go to guy, thus, you will be promoted.
     
  15. aglages

    aglages Parent

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    Thanks Pima! As usual your insight and experience is appreciated. :thumb:
     
  16. SamAca10

    SamAca10 Ensign - DWO

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    Yes, Thanks everybody! :thumb:

    There's a lot of perspective and insight to not only the UPT/UNT question, but also military careers in general, which I think helps many current cadets and prospectives to think long term. So would it be accurate to sum up the advice as "do well in your current job, and you'll get the one you want later."?
     

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