Rotary Wing Aviation in Marine Corps?

Discussion in 'Life After the Academy' started by BDHuff09, Apr 2, 2015.

  1. BDHuff09

    BDHuff09 Member

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    I am considering my options for service selection and one thing that has interested me is being a Helicopter pilot in the USMC. Army Aviation has been discussed at length on this forum but there is much less on the culture/lifestyle of the Navy/USMC Helo community. I have heard from people at the academy that Helo pilots in the Corps have a different mentality than the jet community, but very little has been elaborated on. I have read about the various platforms and their missions but I am looking for a little more insight into the community.

    Are their any USMC/USN helicopter pilots or really anybody with experience with either of the two communities that can speak to the culture/lifestyle, career progression, mission types, differences from Army aviation?
     
  2. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    Well, you can't stick your arm of the window of an F-18 as easily as a Huey!

    I don't know about USMC specifics, but helicopters are a blast.
     
  3. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    Are you asking about Marine helos or Navy? Not one and the same. Some of the same platforms but not always. Also being a pilot for either the Navy or Marine Corps is different. From your post it appears USMC.

    Marines are Marines first and foremost, regardless of MOS. We all go to TBS first regardless of future MOS or air contract. So the first thing you learn in the Marine Corps are basics if the Marine rifle platoon. Every Marine a rifleman first and foremost. Marine Corps you would fly 22, Ah-1 or Uh-1 or Ch-53 (hope I didn't miss any, 46's are retired...Few other in HMX-1 but thats another beast totally). So missions are transport, attack or a variety of things they use for Hueys. Remember everything in the Marine Corps is centered around supporting the Marine on the ground from close air support, casevac, resupply, troop transport, command and control, etc. Yes pilots stereotypes exist even in the Marine Corps. Jet jockeys have their own unique stereotypes. Some of it holds true in the Marine Corps, but my personal opinion is its not as bad in the Marine Corps as in the Navy. Why? Because it's all about supporting the guy on the ground and helo guys tend to see that up close and personal. Without them they have no mission. They fly into hot zones and pick up hurt Marines, they drop off Marines in hot zones, they talk to Marines to put rounds on the ground to help out their fellow Marines. They also tend to be based in theater much closer to other Marines, sometimes the same bases. Jets don't have to be, they drop rounds from much higher, they don't have 20 Marines in the back of the jet they will drop off and run into fire. Bottom line, everything in the MAGTF is centered around supporting grunts, the Marines in the fight and helos and jets are just a supporting element to it. So as a Marine pilot you learn early on... You are a support element.

    And let me say both (jets and helod) have very much needed and great missions. But yes there are differences. Each person has their own opinion of why. Anything else specific? I was not a pilot, but majority of my buddies are. I can ask them if I can't answer.
     
  4. BDHuff09

    BDHuff09 Member

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    Thank You all who replied.

    NavyHoops as you correctly assumed, I am asking about the USMC side of things. I was wondering specifically how the career progression played out for those officers. The Corps doesn't have warrant officers to take up flying time, so are there more opportunities to fly later in your career? I know infantry is the focus of the USMC and so many of their higher up officers come from this community but are aviators still represented in the higher ranks? Also, I know aviators can be FACs for one of their tours and I am curious as to how competitive it would be to one as this was something that interested me.

    Also, there is a saying that in the Navy Jet pilots are uptight and helo pilots are laid back, and the opposite is true in the Marine Corps (or do I have it flipped?)
     
  5. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    Yes plenty of leadership opportunities in the Marine Corps for aviators. FAC tours aren't terribly difficult to get. Like all things in the military, things tend to go in waves. Some years FACs are all volunteers and other years they have to voluntold people. If it's what you want to do, shouldn't be difficult to get.

    It's all perspective and who you meet that helps to either fit these stereotypes or debunk them. I have pilots who fit both these categories from all communities. My best friend is a Navy fighter pilot. The stuff I hear from him is totally foreign to a boring former Marine ground officer. All pilots tend to be work hard, play hard. Marines in general are like this. You will get the chance during training and school to meet lots of pilots. Ask these kinds of questions and observe training and you can make up your own mind.
     
  6. USMCGrunt

    USMCGrunt Member

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    NavyHoops nailed it. I really can't improve on the points made but can reinforce the "closeness" between the helo pilots and the infantry. It is definitely up close and personal.

    If you go USMC helo's promise me one thing: learn how to read a map. ;) Can't tell you how often the pilots put us down far off from the intended LZ. Always sucks to come off the bird, orient yourself and find you have to hoof it over to the original LZ to start your mission.
     
  7. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Oh man! Did they just retire them? I flew around on one maybe 3-4 years ago..... and it was ..... interesting. HA!
     
  8. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    Yeap. They did. Wasn't long ago, maybe 2-3 years. You know how the slow retirement goes. First they don't add any new pilots, then they slowly transition younger pilots to other aircraft, and then older guys ride it out as long as possible or choose to ride a desk and not switch to a new airframe (some became IPs again or were shore tour guys).

    I remember being at TBS. We use helos from HMX-1 there for training. This was when Osprey's tended to sometimes fall out of the sky. We would be sitting in the LZ for hours and hours, well because if the exercise started at 0600 of course we needed to be at the LZ at 0200. We used to get a mix of 46s, 53s and 22s. We used to pray we would get the 46s instead of the 22s. Oh yeah and there was usually smoke coming out of the 46s and we would slip and fall when getting on the aircraft because oil was leaking everywhere. And Grunt, I agree! Can't tell you how many times I landed in weird places even after telling the pilots we weren't in the right spot!
     
  9. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    My hockey teammate retired from the Marine Corps recently as a Lt. Col. He was a 46 pilot. If they're all like him, he's pretty chill. When he's locked on to something, sure, he's locked on, but in general, he seems pretty easy going (both on the ice, and from my experiences with him in uniform).

    I've only flown on USMC 46s. I also flew on a 47, which I thought would be the same, since, to me, a non-airdale, they looked similar.... but man.... they couldn't be different. That 47 was a BEAST. We had some folks slip on the 46 too.... on an amphib.... and got a lecture from a DASD as a result. Ummmm sorry DASD, we can't hold everyone's hand getting out of the 46.

    And those 46 fumes were horrible until we got moving.

    I also flew on a 22 with a Marine Brig. Gen. He was "scared" to step foot in it, but this was an Air Force 22, not a Marine Corps one..... so it had about $10 million more in gear. That was an fun experience. It felt safe enough, but I get there feeling the two aren't "the same."
     
  10. BDHuff09

    BDHuff09 Member

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    What is the difference mission wise between the CH-53 & the MV-22? They seem to have similar capabilities.
     
  11. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe Member

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    I wish the Army took this approach with the retirement of the OH-58, The Helicopters are quickly disappearing, and a whole lot of Aviation officers have no clue what is coming next, they have no idea if they will even get a transition while having nothing to fly.
     
  12. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    The difference is that aviators in the other services function like Army warrant officers by and large. The warrants are getting this type of treatment as the OH-58D goes away. But the last OH-58s won't retire until roughly 2019, so it's a fairly laborious process.
     

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