Skipping a sport to pursue a pilot's license?

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by usafa2022, Jul 27, 2016.

  1. usafa2022

    usafa2022 Member

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    This is a bit of an odd question, so here's some background. I recently turned 17, the legal age to earn a pilot's license. I grew up flying with my dad in our family's airplane and picked up a lot of flying ability over the years. For a long time I figured I would follow the traditional flight training progression (solo at 16, PPL 17), but I've never been able to find the time to formally train for it and still haven't soloed. The main reason is that I run xc and track, which requires year round training and doesn't allow me any free time during the school year, save Sundays. One day a week of flight training is not sufficient to earn a PPL; it takes consistent training about four to five times a week at minimum.

    This year, my junior year, I've been thinking about possibly skipping cross country season to make time to finally earn my license. I already have an aircraft and could easily hire an instructor, and without xc I would have many free afternoons to go to the airport. This way, I could start running again in the late fall and winter, when the weather is too bad to fly, and rejoin my team for track season in the spring.

    Explaining this to my coaches and teammates is a totally different matter, but what I want to know is how this would affect my USAFA and AFROTC scholarship applications. Would it show a lack of dedication to my sport? Or would the benefits of having a pilot's license outweigh that? Earning my certificate is something I've dreamed about for a long time, and honestly I don't see myself getting it done unless I can take few months to work at it consistently.

    (Side note: I was also wondering when the latest possible season to earn a varsity letter would be. I have not lettered yet and want to before completing my applications. Would it be spring of junior year? Fall of senior year maybe?)
     
  2. Jimmay

    Jimmay Member

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    While it's still summer vacation why not bang a lot of it out then finish it off during the school year. That way you do not have to skip an xc season. FYI I did it that way.
     
  3. usafa2022

    usafa2022 Member

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    @Jimmay yeah that was the original plan but time kind of ran away, you know how that goes:bang:. Studying for the ACT, marching band, running, etc. took up much of my time. I've only got one free week left this summer anyhow.
     
  4. Jimmay

    Jimmay Member

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    Then start now and finish next summer. The only deadline for this is application season.
     
  5. usafa2022

    usafa2022 Member

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    @Jimmay Not sure how that would work since it would basically amount to doing the entire thing next summer, which isn't really enough time. Between family vacations and other activities I have maybe five free weeks over the summer.
     
  6. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

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    Stay with your sport. Devote Saturday afternoons, Wednesday nights, and every other Thursday (or whatever, you get the idea) to flying. Or just wait till next summer and don't put it off so long next time. Or, consider skipping band.
     
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  7. tommyboy44

    tommyboy44 Member

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    I agree with this. I have a friend who did it that way and then used time off (some of Thanksgiving break, Christmas break, and all of Spring break) to get some hours. Then he finished the rest about a week ago. While it may sound like a hassle due to the gap between the dates, flight time adds up fast.
     
  8. Stealth_81

    Stealth_81 Super Moderator Moderator Founding Member

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    You should be able to make time for getting your PPL as well as participating in athletics. Planning and time management are critical skills to have for the Academy. If you really cannot find time to do them both, then do the sports. Getting a PPL is merely a "nice to have" thing for your applications and does not add any appreciable points to your WCS. Sports are a vital part of your application and a varsity letter is very important.

    Stealth_81
     
  9. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    Listen to the advice being given. It's nice to get your PPL. Is that a real game changer in the academy application process? No, not at all. It really doesn't have any impact. Especially if you compare it to sports. If you go and read the thread, that's a sticky at the top of this forum about athletics, you'll find that sports has very little to do with physical fitness or anything. It's about teamwork and many other attributes that involves others that you are interacting with. Getting a PPL is pretty much a LONER activity. There's no doubt that if it's a choice of playing 4 years of high school sports, probably at least 2 of those year varsity, and possibly being one of the team captains and having leadership roles in that sport;..... vs getting your private pilots license....... Sports will win every time.

    Caveat: "There always is with me". This is your life. You should be doing the things you WANT to be doing. You should not be trying to figure out all the squares that need to be filled in order to receive an appointment to the air force academy. First of all, there are no "SET SQUARES". The academy looks at the whole person. That means, for each person, it will be different. For some, academics will weight greater on their application than for another. WHY? Because they lack in another area. For another, sports/clubs/leadership will weight heavier because maybe they only have 28's on their ACT. Another reason you should be doing what you like and want, is because in the end, only about 10% of the original applicants will receive an appointment. If you don't get an appointment, it's not the end of the world. But you should be looking at what makes you happy. Life is too short.

    The academy should not be your GOAL. Some will call it a goal. They think of it as one of many goals. That's a difficult way to look at it. Remember, "Life is a JOURNEY, NOT a DESTINATION". The academy is simply a stepping stone to reach goals. To be the person you want to become. To have the career and relationships with others that you want. The academy is only a 4 year step in the journey. Some will see life as hundreds or thousands of short range goals. And the academy is simply one of those short range goals. And if that's how you see it, then that's fine. I personally, am not one for "Short Range Goals". Goals are much further out. They're the "End-Game". Where once you've reached it, you come to a fork in the road where life changes. Life is made up of challenges, steps, learning opportunities, disappointments, rewards, etc. These are what makes you grow, mature, become more experienced, and a better person. If you see the academy, the military, which college you get in, where you live, your house, possessions, etc. as part of the journey, and not the destination, then you'll know where you're headed and if you're reaching the actual goals of who you want to be, doing what you want to do, and sharing it with the people you want to share it with. Because in the end, it's only the relationships we have with ourselves, others, and whatever creator you believe in, that matters in life. It's the only thing that you can honestly close your eyes at night when you sleep, that will truly make you content; or not; with who you are and what you've become.
     
  10. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    + 1,000,000 to Stealth's post.

    My DS at your age worked 20 hrs a week as a lifeguard during the school year, and 40 hrs over his summer break. He volunteered for Habitat for Humanity, was in NHS, FHS, and LHS as a student, which required after school hours. He had every AP offered at his HS and also was a Jump Start student his sr. yr.
    ~ Jump start is where you go 1/2 day to HS and 1/2 day to the Community college. He had @ 30 college credits between AP and Jump start.
    ~~ He was also a TKD jr. Olympic champ, a national champ and 2x state champ. As a lifeguard he had 23 saves. He was not only the sr. lifeguard for the Y, but also the pool mgr.
    ~~~ His ACT best sitting was 33 or 34 (can't remember).NOTE: Best sitting, not superscore. He was top 7% of his class. Every MOC nomination. AFROTC type 2 scholarship recipient.

    During the summer of his rising sr. yr, he started talking about following in his Dad's footsteps (flying...Bullet on here is his Dad), up until that point he wanted to be a JAG in the AF. We said ok, we will pay for you to take a couple of hrs. to see if you want this. He was bitten by the flying bug. We made and agreement with him, we would pay 1 hr for every hr he paid. Never did we think he would use all of his lifeguard paycheck to pay for flight time. He had solo'd and over 100 hrs within a year.
    ~ Note: look above on what his life was like as a senior in hs.

    To sum it up, my kid worked to pay for his flight hours while also volunteering and carrying an incredible course load (cgpa was 3.86 according to AFA). He found time to fly every week.

    Just saying that he is the kid you are fighting against for an appointment. One that juggled it all. I am not trying to be mean. rude or harsh. I am trying to stress to you that the idea of I can only succeed or want to do 1 thing is not what the AF wants. The idea that you can juggle everything is what they deem as the ultimate candidate.

    My guess is that you want to be a pilot for the AF. I suggest you read Raimius's blog (his tag line is a link to his blog). I think Stealth, hornet, Raimius, fencer and myself would all agree from a hindsight perspective of what it takes to wing out of UPT. It is simple...being able to juggle 6 balls at one time.
    ~ 1. flying. 2. Sims. 3. Academics. 4. Social life. 5. Sleep. 6. Dusting yourself off when you fail---you will fail.

    If right now you can't juggle school, sports, a pt job/volunteer and flying 1-2 hrs a week than UPT will eat you up alive even with a PPL.

    I know I am being harsh, but you are currently at letter A, and UPT is letter M. If my post causes any angst to you than you need to address your angst.

    I want you to succeed and defend this great nation, but I must say it...you can do it all, job, school and ppl, yet, I feel like you are already giving an excuse.
    ~ I can't do school, run track and get my PPL at the same time. That to me is an excuse of why I won't do it, and something that the AF will not want.

    Again, read Raimius's blog. Fencer, Stealth, Bullet, Hornetguy and myself will say that is the life. That is why you need to juggle more balls.

    Granted at your MoC interview having a PPL might look great, but here's the thing...a PPL is no longer unusual. You might go up against someone like my DS that does not have a PPL, but has solo'd while juggling a rigorous course load, a higher ACT/SAT, volunteer hours and working a PT job.
    ~ Lifeguarding was his job, but it was athletic too, unlike being a cashier at Target. USAFA requested a letter from his boss at the Y describing in detail his requirements for his job.
    ~~ IE every month he had to dive into the 10ft section of the pool, retrieve a 10 lb weight within 60 seconds and exit without using a ladder. That was only 1 of 3 tasks he had to do on a time test.

    Just saying, welcome to the real world of what your peers will be submitting on their resume, and now ask yourself if we are being harsh when we say that a PPL while not doing a sport is something outstanding or we are saying you need to do both?
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2016
  11. Daretodream

    Daretodream Member

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    Getting a pilot's license takes time. My DS tried to do it starting in March and came up just short on his final flight for the license. However, it was because of a 2 week delay due to mechanical issues on a plane and weather. He could have made it. If you start now and then devote a lot of time to it after your senior season then you can get it done. Especially, if you use holiday and off days from school to double up on the flights. The license is nice, but the high school sports would likely carry much more weight on the application.
     
  12. usafa2022

    usafa2022 Member

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    Thanks for the replies everyone. Skipping xc for flight training was just an idea I was throwing around, not a major decision I have to make or anything like that. I should have made that more clear in my first post. After thinking some more about this, I came up with a progression that I could follow over the next year that I think should give me a reasonable chance at getting my PPL done without sacrificing any other activities.

    @Pima I'm aware of the fact that I will need to be able to "juggle six balls" to get through UPT; right now I just have two really heavy balls (academics and sports) to juggle, and what I proposed in the OP would be like exchanging one of these balls for another of roughly equal weight. What you're saying, as I read it, is that I should try juggling three of those balls (the third being flying) to see if I can handle it, because I'll have to juggle six at UPT eventually. So I may as well throw that third ball in there and see what happens.
     
  13. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Yes, that is indeed what I am saying, because my DS did juggle all 3 and none of the balls dropped. There will be someone like him as your competition.
     
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  14. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

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    PIMA is right... you have to be able to juggle ALL the balls, successfully. Many have suggestions for this.

    As a mom, I strongly suggest you get a big planning book (NOT on the computer, this is something you WRITE IN {because writing is a different skill than typing}), and USE IT. Schedule everything. Stick to the schedule.

    For their senior year, we had big wall calendars for all the kids in the family room, going four months out. That it was on the wall was for mom and dad, and other family members whose services might be necessary (borrow car, doc appointments, vacations, etc). My kids were home schooled with a full high school load, plus took between 10 and 16 credits per semester at the local university (stuff difficult to do at home: physics lab, etc). They fenced all the time, plus tournaments, and had 20 hr per week jobs and a daily paper route from 5:30-7 a.m. YOU can do it; but it does take some planning. Become a good planner.
     
  15. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ Member

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    Ditto planning comments by fencersmother.

    If you are app-inclined, teach yourself Trello. It's a free app, designed to help with multi-tasking, project management. Syncs across all devices. You can keep it to yourself or open up portions to other users. Add lists, links, spreadsheets, photos, etc. I learned the app a few years ago when managing a large remote team who were always on the road and hard to corral for even Skype biz meetings. Team liked it because they could upload or update stuff on their own sked, and it would sync, send me a notification. It allowed me the God's-eye view of multiple projects with varying timelines and due dates. It's like having a large status board with living stickies.
     

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