Slot selection at UPT

Discussion in 'Life After the Academy' started by pilot2b, Feb 21, 2012.

  1. pilot2b

    pilot2b Candidate Appointee

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    It's commonly said that only the top students have a realistic shot at tracking into the T-38, and ultimately into fighters. About a year and a half ago when I was at Columbus AFB for a week mingling with some of the UPT students, it seemed that not many (at least compared to what I expected) intended to put down the T-38 and eventually a fighter at the top of their wish list.

    In fact, the only person I heard mention that he wanted fighters was a single zoomie.

    Does anyone (bullet, flieger...?) know what percentage of UPT students want to fly fighters and put that at the top of their list?

    :tomcat:
     
  2. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

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    Great question but I am sorry to say, I don't know the answer. :frown:

    "Back in the day" when I went to UPT, on the first night there was a reception (I was at Columbus AFB) and we all "met and mingled" with folks: IP's, wing staff, city officials, etc. And we all discussed what we "wanted" to fly.

    I'd bet the VAST majority of my class wanted to fly fighters. Of course, there were a couple of "caveats" then:

    a. The classes were bigger; we had two flights and a total of 57 folks.
    b. About 90% of our class was from USAFA; fighters were like a symbol of "manhood" amongst the guys.

    Interesting...MOST of the non-USAFA guys that were NOT foreign nationals, wanted heavies. And they were uniformly more successful in getting their first choices than were the rest of us! :eek:

    And my last comment...as a guy that was HEAVILY blessed in that during my career I've been qualified in trainers, fighters, and heavies...there is NO bad flying job! Each and every one of them has a unique mission with unique demands and will challenge the best pilot!

    Steve
    USAFA ALO
    USAFA '83
     
  3. Stealth_81

    Stealth_81 Super Moderator Moderator Founding Member

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    Our son's class has 20 students in it. 13 are from USAFA, two Guard, two Reserves, two Saudis, and one ROTC. They have been told to expect 6 or 7 of them to get T-38s. Since the Saudis and one of the Guard guys will get 38s, that only leaves 3 or 4 for the rest. However, son said that there are only 3 in the class who have said that they definitely are shooting for a T-38. The rest are either going to try for a heavy or don't have a preference (so they say).

    The class that just graduated at Laughlin had 7 in their class of 22 who tracked T-38, and of those they got one fighter (F-16) and one bomber (B-1). The other T-38 guys got MC-12s (two of them), one got AC-130U, one got a C-17, and the other got a T-6 FAIP.

    Stealth_81
     
  4. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    That class didn't start with 22. Some people tracked to different bases--1 to Rucker and 4 to Corpus Christie. Plus, wash-backs and wash-outs.

    Generally, more people put -38s first than get them. It is not the whole class though. Also remember that what people want and what is available will vary by each class. If I remember right, 10-15 people in the class put -38s first, but only 7 got them.

    Also, people's preferences change over time. I know a couple people who where dead set on -38s that did not put it first. I also know a couple people who put helos first, but decided half-way through.

    Some people realize the "yank and bank" style of flying isn't for them. Others like the idea of traveling the world. Some want crew aircraft. Some started to learn more about the lifestyle of fighter pilots, and had second thoughts. Others learned just how much fun aerobatics is...
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2012
  5. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    Some people (like Raimius) wake up and realize that airplanes are for rookies!
     
  6. legof16

    legof16 New Member

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    Right now there is a big difference between the number of people that actually want to fly fighters and the number that are willing to put it down on their sheet following T-6's.

    I went through UPT 22+ years ago and back then, just about everyone wanted a fighter. Competition was often cutthroat with each person constantly asking how you did on this or that ride.

    Today, things have changed for a number of reasons. I just spent the weekend with the commander of one of the UPT squadrons and we were talking about how it has changed.

    Here are a couple of problems with the current system. To pick a fighter you have to track in the T-38.
    1) T-38 is definitely harder, the washout rate is significantly higher than that of the heavy track. You could have been the #1 student in the T-6's, and know that you will easily get through the Airlift/Tanker track. If you choose to go T-38's and you wash out. It's all over, you don't get to go back and go through the Airlift/Tanker track. You are removed from training. That can be an immediate career-ender for some. People that already have a family and a vested interest in definitely maintaining a job are often putting down the Heavy Track for this reason.

    2) If you do get through the T-38 Track, your chances of getting a fighter are still quite limited. Right now the AF is selecting first assignment "Predator: pilots, MC-12 Pilots, and other assignments such as (I read in one of the posts above) AC-130's, etc. With the cutback in fighter wings as we draw down again, there will be very limited fighter slots.

    3) If you get a fighter slot, there is a high probability that you will not stay in fighters, or flying, for your career. First, You will first have to get through FTU (initial training in your fighter). This can be up to 7+ months for fighters. If you wash out here... again, it can be game over. I saw several people wash out not to return to flying anything. Some, if they were lucky, were able to transfer to another aircraft... but it's a craps roll.

    If you do make it through RTU, you will arrive at your first base as a wingman. Depending where you are, you can expect to be at that base for 2-3 years. When you PCS (Change bases), many people found that they were leaving the Fighter world to be ALO (Air Liaison Officers with the Army, Reaper (Unmanned aerial vehicle pilot, MC-12 pilot, etc). 6+ years ago, this wasn't a big problem, you went off did your tour in another weapon system, and then came back to your Fighter. Unfortunately, because of the drawdown, currently, many people are not returning to fighters. Once the Unmanned Vehicle guys have you... it is a fight to get back. If you don't return to the F-16 within 5 years, you will never go back as it required a a whole FTU course for an inexperienced pilot (which is where a lot of wingmen or new flight leads are after 1 tour). Bottom line - I saw several talented fighter pilots sucked out of the F-16 never to return.

    The pilots at UPT will be straight up with you about all of these type issues. The bottom line is that if you select T-38's with the dreams of flying a fighter, you have a much higher chance of washing out, 2) If you make it, a small chance of getting a fighter. 3) If you get a fighter, you have a probably 30-40% chance that after 1 or 2 assignments you will be shipped off to the UAV world with a difficult road ahead of you to stay in Fighters for 20 years like we used to in the past.

    The UPT Squadron Commander says that all these issues weigh heavily when it comes time to select which track you want to go. Now days you are really rolling the bones to get a Fighter and stay in it. If that is what you want, my best advice is do the best you can at every single thing you can. We used to laugh at quarterly awards and the initial schools like SOS (Squadron Officer School), etc. Nowdays, those are discriminators to a lot of things (such as if you are in a fighter, staying in it).

    Hope that helps, this thread was kind of old, but I'm up and can't sleep so thought I'd throw a couple words in.

    Cheers
    Lego
     
  7. hornetguy

    hornetguy USAFA Cadet

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    I'll chip in just with the experiences of a few of my classmates who just finished T-38 training. One was T-38s in Laughlin, two out of Columbus. In both sets, the T-38 classes only had one fighter drop and one bomber drop. The rest of their classes were MC-12s, C-17, and KC-135s. My friends got MC-12 and KC-135s. They were all a bit disappointed.

    BUT, things are happening in the AF right now that may change this whole equation within the next five years. Don't bank on the current system staying like this for long.
     
  8. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    Or be smart and fly like a big boy in a rotary wing chariot of death.
     
  9. pilot2b

    pilot2b Candidate Appointee

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    You mean that loose formation of nuts and bolts? :yllol:
     
  10. Nateman15

    Nateman15 Member

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    One of our commissionees is headed off to ENJJPT, so i ask...

    Where does ENJJPT fit in with all of this? It is quite hard to find details about drops and washouts and such. Is ENJJPT more difficult than UPT?
     
  11. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Nate,

    You are missing a component even for ENJPPT. IFS.

    One hurdle at a time. You can't go UPT if you bust IFS.

    Curiosity, why do you want ENJJPT? Fighter guarantee?
     
  12. Nateman15

    Nateman15 Member

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    Pima,

    Thats a valid point. I just see that ENJJPT is almost more "prestigious"? What really makes it different?

    The higher caliber of ENJJPT really intrigues me. If I really want to go the fighter path, I feel like ENJJPT is my best bet.
     
  13. hornetguy

    hornetguy USAFA Cadet

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    Not necessarily is the short answer.
     
  14. sprog

    sprog Member

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    I don't even think there is a fighter/bomber guarantee out of ENJJPT anymore. There used to be, for sure, but I'm not sure that is still the case. Check out baseops.net and ask over there.
     
  15. hornetguy

    hornetguy USAFA Cadet

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    It is not a guarantee anymore. Their last drop was pretty darn sweet, but previous ones looked an awful lot like all the other UPT drops. But it is always changing. In four years who knows what they will have chosen to do with it. Heck, they may not even have the program then!
     
  16. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    Traditionally, ENJJPT got more fighter slots, but that's only partially true now (compared with people who get T-38s). What ENJJPT does get you these days is the T-38 and associated drops. That means the percentage of fighters is going to be higher than those who enter JSUPT at Laughlin, Vance, or Columbus.
     
  17. hornetguy

    hornetguy USAFA Cadet

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    However, another consideration is that you may have several classmates at the other three bases who do not want T-38s or their associated drops reducing that pool which is generally not the case at ENJJPT.

    Regardless, all you can control is your own work. If you aren't bringing your best, it doesn't matter which program you go into. Without nabbing those top spots, you will be at the mercy of the system.
     
  18. skt

    skt Member

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    Another pilot slot question

    At our local parents meeting, a parent of a 2011 grad indicated that if you wash out of UPT, they can choose not to offer you another assignment in which case you are required to pay back the cost of the Academy education. He said that some of his son's friends are in that situation right now. Did he misunderstand his son's explanation (or perhaps I misundertood him) or is it true that, if you wash out of pilot training, you may be required to "pay back" just as if you willingly didn't go forward with your 5 year commitment?
     
  19. hornetguy

    hornetguy USAFA Cadet

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    Yes. One of my best friends is in that situation. He is fortunate to have been picked up to become a sheriff while his wife is still active duty. He has to pay back, but they still are saying no to paying the government so the worst the government sans do is garnish 15% of his wages.

    However, this is highly unusual and happened as the USAF was desperate to get rid of people.
     
  20. Eagle 1

    Eagle 1 Member

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    I'm just curious, does anyone have any insight about going helos out of UPT?

    My plan is to fly Pavehawks for CSAR but there's not much information I can find about the process other than helo pilots go to Fort Rucker.
     

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