Need an education on RPA Pilots

Discussion in 'Life After the Academy' started by MomWPgirl, Nov 3, 2011.

  1. MomWPgirl

    MomWPgirl Member

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    Hope someone can give this Mom information on RPA pilots. My DS, AFROTC senior graduating in May recently called asking for my thoughts. He received a Public Affairs Officer slot.....his first choice as he is a communication/mixed media major and he was thrilled. Initially, he sought an RPA slot but felt he didnt have a chance so did not continue to persue it. He was informed today an RPA slot is open for him. Now he is unsure about which direction to go. I feel PA is where his gifts lie but the RPA slot truly excites him. My question is what type of opportunities are there for RPA pilots both in military and civilian environments. I dont know much about this area....any information is greatly appreciated.
     
  2. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

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    This is MPO...

    An RPA pilot...they are in HIGH demand right now; both in the civilian (think gov't employee and agencies that might be interested in recon, intel, etc.) and military world. They are also "fairly" immune to drawdowns right now.

    PA types...not to be insulting because they are VALUABLE FOLKS!!! But the "higher ups" always seem to target them FIRST for any cuts. I know I've been told "...we need an officer to speak with the press...we don't have a PA, you do it. Don't do anything stupid!" :eek:

    RPA...better career path in the AF right now and in the foreseeable future. Again, IMHO.

    Steve
    USAFA ALO
    USAFA '83
     
  3. MomWPgirl

    MomWPgirl Member

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    Been doing some research myself....he would definitely be happier in the RPA pilot environment. Thanks for your opinion and insight. While his major fits better with PA his passion fits RPA. Glad to hear it is a solid initial career choice.
     
  4. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    Does he not want to be a real pilot instead?
     
  5. MomWPgirl

    MomWPgirl Member

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    He would have loved a pilot slot but unfortunately his vision is slightly under the requirements. When he was told RPA was an option he pursued that avenue but initially did not get a slot....thus went PA due to the fact it matched his education background. Initially very bummed about not receiving RPA slot but he got over it and moved on. He is a bit concerned about the the RPA training though.......how math intensive is it? He does well in math, is extrememly logical but has not had any real math or technical classes for a few years now.
     
  6. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Listen to Flieger.

    If I were you, I would gift him some lessons for private pilot. It will allow him a new perspective for his job.
     
  7. MomWPgirl

    MomWPgirl Member

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    I would love to do that. He has to make his decision by 1700 today. Feel bad for him as he is making such an important decision with 24 hours notice. Needless to say, he is researching everything he can. Really leaning to RPA pilot, AF mentors encouraging him in that direction as well but his main concern is the academic portion......as his education has not been in the technical/math arena.
     
  8. MomWPgirl

    MomWPgirl Member

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    I have to think the AF would not offer him the slot though if they felt he couldnt handle it. Funny though......if he had been offered this a few months ago he would have jumped at it......now he is second guessing himself.
     
  9. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Tell him to go with his gut. Will he live 4 yrs AD regretting taking the PA and wondering if?

    The AF does test using the TBAS and the AFOQT. I am assuming since it is rated he took the TBAS. Did he also apply NAV/CSO and ABM? Obviously for all of those slots vision is not a factor.

    If it was my kid, and I knew a yr ago he would jump at it, I would ask him why you aren't jumping now?

    Commitment owed?
    Fear?

    If it helps, DS is UPT selected and non-tech major. We don't have that fear. He scored very well on his ACT M/S, AFOQT, and TBAS. Flying in it's own way is the seat of your pants. You can be Boy/Girl Wonder for Math or Science, but that doesn't mean you have SA (Situation Awareness). It is what you do in the heat of the moment that is the make or break during training, not what you were taught in the classroom for Statistics or Organic Chemistry.

    He could be an AFA grad, and still bust. Bullet at 111 FTU had a crew mate who was an AFA grad. He had every math and science class you could imagine. He flew gliders at the academy, but still he busted.

    You can do the what ifs all day long. You can research everything until your mind is boggled. It really doesn't matter. There is no guarantee for anything, so pick your dream.
     
  10. MomWPgirl

    MomWPgirl Member

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    What happens if he busts?
     
  11. Stealth_81

    Stealth_81 Super Moderator Moderator Founding Member

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    That is a very hard question to answer right now for the Air Force. With the reduction in budget and staffing, it is harder to stay in the AF. Our son is at UPT right now (2011 USAFA grad) so he is seeing first-hand what is happening to the people who bust training.

    Before your son would start RPA training, he would go to IFS (Initial Flight Screening) at Pueblo, Colorado to see if he has the potential to be a pilot. IFS is somewhat of a "private pilot course on steroids with military-type instructors". It lasts 7 weeks and it is where many of the candidates are washed out.

    If a 2Lt fails IFS, the Air Force sends them back to their home base (for RPAs it would be Randolph), and they begin a process of finding another position for them based on their skill set and the needs of the Air Force. This can take up to 6 months, and the Lt will be put on a casual status job at the base (ie: collecting urine samples for drug tests or similar) while the process goes on. Some are recommended for separation, and some get other jobs. Right now according to son the split is about 50/50 at his base for staying in the AF after busting IFS. I talked to a mom whose son is doing RPAs from Randolph and she said that the IFS drop rate is somewhat higher for the RPA candidates than it is for the UPT candidates.

    Stealth_81
     
  12. Bullet

    Bullet Member

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    May be a little too late to add my perspective:

    Know quite a few RPA pilots, and a few PA officers as well. Those in the RPA community seem to me to have a MUCH higher level of job satisfaction. No contest.

    And like Flieger, I have nothing but admiration for the PA community. But the mission of the AF is to Fly, Fight, and Win. Reporting about it is secondary...
     
  13. MomWPgirl

    MomWPgirl Member

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    Well he chose the RPA slot. :shake: Thank you all for great insight and advice. Though Stealth-81....your perspective was a bit concerning for this Mom. IFS sounds as if it will challenge him like he has never been before but he is soooo excited about the challenge. Again, I sincerely thank you all as the last 24 hours has been a bit of a roller coaster. Between him and his sister at West Point I have so much to learn......
     
  14. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    The RPA program is likely a bit different than the pilot program for IFS, and the program may have changed quite a bit in the past year or so.
    Here is my write up: Edit
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 5, 2011
  15. MomWPgirl

    MomWPgirl Member

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    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 5, 2011
  16. SamAca10

    SamAca10 Ensign - DWO

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    Interesting....A couple of the first class cadets here at CGA did an internship where they explored how the Coast Guard would treat RPA pilots. Their findings found that mid-career officers in their 2nd or 3rd aviation tours would be the ideal candidates. Although I don't expect us to acquire UAV's anytime in the new future.

    Don't you have a pilot slot waiting for you raimus?
     
  17. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    He's training right now to join America's third best helicopter corps.
     
  18. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    I'm glad you value the Coast Guard and Navy so much, Scout. :wink:
     
  19. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    I said THIRD, not FOURTH.
     
  20. SamAca10

    SamAca10 Ensign - DWO

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    :thumb:

    What types of missions do Air Force helicopters do?

    Coast Guard....SAR and LE
    Army.......Medevac, Special Forces, blowing S@#* up
    Navy...... Mailship :wink:
     

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