Pilot Couples?

Discussion in 'Life After the Academy' started by toby, Mar 25, 2016.

  1. toby

    toby New Member

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    Would anyone be willing to share their stories (successful/unsuccessful) of couples going through UPT and beyond? How much influence will Join Spouse have (if even possible w/ different airframes + needs of the AF?)
     
  2. Capri120

    Capri120 Member

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    Not sure how they work with you today, but when I was an aircraft maintenance officer and DH was a pilot, we requested joint spouse assignment and they essentially ignored and/or laughed at us...one of the reasons DH and I both separated...but this was in the 80's.
    Oops...giving away my age.
     
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  3. Capri120

    Capri120 Member

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    On a better note, I work with B2 pilots, and have had a few pilot couples, both in the Wing, flying the bomber, just in different squadrons. Cannot have relatives subordinate or superior to one another. So, depending on type of aircraft both are qualified/rated for, it is feasible.
     
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  4. Hurricane12

    Hurricane12 USNA 2012

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    With the caveat that fiancé and I are Marine aviators, not USAF, I'll talk to my experiences for a bit.

    We started dating in the lull before actually starting flight school. This was great, because we had endless free time and (as unattached O-1s) a decent amount of disposable income. Flight school itself was, honestly, not bad either. We both wanted to do well, and so understood each other when hanging out every night turned into "hey, I have my check ride tomorrow, lets not do something tonight." Friday nights almost as often as not we'd hit the sim building for practice. Romance!
    I got helos and he got jets, so we did the distance thing for over a year and a half. It's harder, but in some ways it's easier: we talked almost every night (with exceptions like the "night before check ride" above) and it became part of our routine. We also managed to visit one another a few times and took turns in each other's sims (he crashed the helicopter trying to hover, I got an okay-pass 3 wire on the boat. NBD.).

    Getting stationed together is tricky: we, and many other couples, arguably gamed the system by getting legally married before he winged out of flight school. The service will try to station both parties near each other. When it's time to PCS, one person can extend or cut early for the couple to stay on the same timeline as well. Recent pushes on the Navy/USMC side seem like they're taking collocation more seriously. But, this is no guarantee.
    Based on what platform each person gets, someone's only option may be hundreds or thousands of miles from their better half.
    One of my IPs in flight school was stationed at Pendleton (SoCal) while her husband was at Whidbey Island near Seattle. That's not uncommon. If you are together you can still get put on separate deployment cycles and basically share a home in name only.

    Even if you're with your spouse/partner, things are not easy. We both work long days and sometimes inadvertently take each other for granted. You have to consciously make time for one another and be willing to make sacrifices at work for your partner. One of the biggest arguments we've had was because I stayed late to help someone with flight planning when I'd promised to be home for dinner. Be deliberate in setting time aside for one another and stick to it.
    Remember: no one has ever said at their retirement party "I wish I spent more time at work," but there's plenty of bitter divorced pilots out there wishing they'd spent more time at home. Some day the uniform is going to come off, don't take it off and have no one to come home to.
     
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  5. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

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    My wife and I flew different aircraft...in two different states. We were only 600 miles apart; USAF considered that "join spouse" so...

    Our wing commanders were VERY generous about giving us "extended limits" so we could meet on weekend several hundred miles from our base, without taking leave. This took a lot of work with the JAG folks...letters stating we were "on duty" and such.

    I moved air-frames...a couple of times, trying to get us together...eventually we were successful until...Desert Storm...after than, base closure; our base was hit, she had orders to Asia and I had orders to school...we were told we'd never be based together again; our careers were too diverse (she was a heavy driver, I had fighter/trainer/heavy time).

    It can be tough...I knew a couple of couples that were able to make it work for an entire career although it limited their progression.

    Be honest with each other, decide what it is YOU BOTH want...and press on from there!

    Steve
    USAFA ALO
    USAFA '83
     
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  6. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    It is possible, but it takes work and some good timing.
    I know a few couples who are in the same airframe, which makes things easier. I also know a couple where one had to switch aircraft to get assigned together (that took several years of work and commander's support).
     
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  7. ktnatalk

    ktnatalk Sailor. Shipmate. Parent.

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    Here is the link to the updated (12March2016) Navy policy on Spouse Co-location. It includes Single Parent Assignment as well.

    http://www.public.navy.mil/bupers-n...n/1000/1300Assignment/Documents/1300-1000.pdf
     
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  8. toby

    toby New Member

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    Thank you all for your insights!

    @Flieger, how did you make it work? Getting married with your significant other only to have it ripped away from you by the AF and having to endure long distance as long as the both of you were pilots... What happened after your wife was sent to Asia and you were sent to school?

    I recently went through a breakup with a fellow cadet... 4.5 years strong (starting at NWP), one reason we broke up was because we were both headed to UPT at different bases (future join spouse was unsuccessful), and we agreed (as much as I wanted to not believe it) that realistically we were going to get different airframes and bases coming out of it, and the seemingly eternal long distance relationship was too much for us to handle.
     
  9. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

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    Toby,
    We took one assignment apart...didn't like it. When she got her orders to Kadena...we talked a lot with people WAY up the food chain...and at the end, she decided to leave the AF (her choice, I didn't mention it and actually argued against it). However...she was not a "housewife" she was a combat pilot/engineer...and following me, her career wasn't working. I was heavily recruited by both an ANG unit and an AFRC unit...and after a LOT of soul-searching...I left active duty to be an active reservist. There were times we were apart, but we had some control over that. The really big thing is to have BOTH OF YOU buy-in on the plan. I've known couples that stayed active duty...took assignments that might not have been the greatest career-wise (limited them to 0-5) but kept them together.

    Yes, I realized the day I left active duty that my goal of Major General was over...I'm still okay with that!

    Steve
    USAFA ALO
    USAFA '83
     
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  10. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ Member

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    The stories shared above show many of the ways this can play out. Co-location is not guaranteed, but the Services will try. As it does in any marriage, honest communication and a flexible attitude will help hold the relationship together. It is a joint decision. It could be pilot-pilot, Navy ship-sub, Army Doctor-Marine ground - all of it will be a challenge.

    Military-civilian is a challenge too! Civilian spouses who want to work outside the home have to be creative and adaptive, with portable careers, even as they hold down the homefront while the uniformed spouse deploys or is on an unaccompanied tour. Or it might be the right thing to do for the family to stay in one place because of the kids' school, medical or family situation, while the military spouse does a "geographical bachelor" tour.

    Most military women I know marry military men, current or former, because it just seems to work that way - better understanding of the demands.

    My husband and I took several tours apart, though we could have been in the same location, but it would have been a lateral career move for one or both. For us, we both wanted command (we managed 6 between us), and we wanted it for each other. We coped with the separations through strong communication, committed visits and agreements of not-to-exceed timeframes. Of course, in some ways we had it easier at the start of our relationship, not having the options of Skype, FaceTime, email, texts, the feeling of being constantly connected. It was static-filled phone calls at odd hours from out of the country and letters, which always arrived in bunches after weeks of nothing, if a deployment was involved. We were Navy-Navy, and for us, we could handle not being together all the time. I emphasize "for us." Every couple has to determine what is tolerable and what is not acceptable, for how long, and clear about what expectations are.

    Going on 34 years married come this September. We had our hard times, but we worked it out. You cannot bury resentment, because it will flare up in a poisonous way in an argument that wounds both sides. Both parties have to willingly commit to a shared decision, with no "I only did this because you ..." conversations. Bless my wonderful DH, he puts up with my independence and strong personality, being pretty much that way himself, and the chemistry worked for us. I look back and don't know how we did it - one stretch he went 4 tours of sea duty back-to-back - but we took it day by day, and trusted each other with absolute faith.
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2016
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  11. toby

    toby New Member

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    Thank you all so much!
     
  12. forumjunkie

    forumjunkie Member

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  13. forumjunkie

    forumjunkie Member

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    Sorry I always do the Quote thing wrong.

    I would be interested in hearing more about having a family with 2 Military careers?

    Also Any experiences with resentment of one Officer spouse giving up their career, to support the other officer spouses career. It seems like it would be hard for example to be typecast as the supportive "Military Wife" at a function gathering, knowing you know more and have done more, than many of the other Military officers and enlisted there.

    Not trying to cause trouble I just think it is easier to deal with these things if you think AND WORK them out ahead.
     
  14. jackson1989

    jackson1989 Member

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    I was wondering what role does the "flight commander" for the UPT squadron have in determining drops. What other factors play a role? Results seem to be very mixed from class to class, with the aircraft being similar.
     
  15. DevilDog

    DevilDog Member

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    My son had a couple in his UPT Class that fell in love there. There was only one way they would get the same base, to take a Drone drop. They had two openings for Drone Pilots and much to the delight of the others in that class, these two decided they would go drones so they could be together.
     
  16. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    I'd find someone new to love...
     
  17. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    I am not married to a military man, but most my friends from USNA are. Some are dual military and other couples one person has gotten out. Usually it's a decision that came together. It honestly has to be or resentment will happen. As far as the woman now being the dependent, most of them have done fine with it. I actually have quite a few friends that their husbands got out and the wife remained active duty. They have stayed away from the drama that can sometimes come with spouse clubs. Usually the drama resides around a spouse 'wearing rank.' Because they had their own rank they tended to stay out of that. It's all about approach like with anything.
     
  18. farewelltoforeignshores24

    farewelltoforeignshores24 Member

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    Here's a question:

    Say I become so military officer/pilot etc etc, and decide to settle down with a foreigner who is also in the military, let's say a Canadian. What would happen then? Would one of us have to quit and revoke citizenship? Would the Canadian and American government work together?
     
  19. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    You would have to be geographic bachelors. Sure at some point you might both get orders to something like the Pentagon or CENTCOM where the Canadians might have a handful of postings (and something similiar with Canada) but it would more than likely be extremely rare and only happen once in your career. If you both want military careers be prepared to rarely see one another.
     
  20. ktnatalk

    ktnatalk Sailor. Shipmate. Parent.

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    Besides to consider what posted by Hoops...

    It could potentially impact your security clearance and/or access. Besides the citizenship(s) or your future/potential spouse, what about the possibility of other citizenship(s) possess by your future/potential in-laws? It may be "relatively easier" if s/he is from a Five Eyes partner country, but there are still lots to think about before getting serious.
     

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