USAFA vs. USNA Aviation

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by tiger50, Aug 29, 2011.

  1. tiger50

    tiger50 Member

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    Hey Guys,
    I am an aspiring Air Force Academy cadet. As the son of a military officer, I find myself living in several locations. Right now, I live at a Naval Base (My father is not Navy, he is Army). I have met with a Naval Officer and he has ran through the Aviation career track for the Navy. It had me thinking about the differences and statistics of Naval and Air Force Aviation. I was hoping you guys could help me out.

    Which academy gets more flight slots? It's been driving me crazy! I have been thinking about the Naval Academy and the Air Force Academy and their differences in the aviation program. I'm sure many of you out there who want to go to an academy want to have more career opportunities. Which branch will give aviators more aviation-based jobs. For example, if I wanted to be an astronaut further down in my career, which branch would I have the best chance in? I do not mean to sound haughty or selfish, so please don't take my questions wrong. I am a Junior in High School and am going to be finishing up my PPL course in October, the month I turn 17. I am just trying to balance out the USNA and the USAFA. Education will come first for me, and by the looks of it (no offense) the USAFA has a better program to my liking for what I would like to major in. The Naval Academy and the USAFA are all great, but which one should I pick? I hope you guys can help me out! God Bless and Thank You!
     
  2. hornetguy

    hornetguy USAFA Cadet

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    Easy answers: USAFA has many more slots (>500 a year) for pilots. As far as Astronaut, you can look at stats, but I don't think either one is better. What matters more is your flight career, going to one of the test pilot schools, and other factors that you can't really determine at this point.

    What you should really look at is which service you like better. Why? A) you want to be happy as a pilot in that service. Does Naval/Marine aviation or USAF aviation look like a better choice to you? Less chance at fighters in USAF than Navy/Marines. B) If by some extenuating circumstances you lose your pilot slot or cannot get one, which service suits you better in terms of other career paths and culture.

    IMO, these are the best question to be asking right now in terms of your concerns.
     
  3. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    Realize a couple things. First, education is the shorter part of your future as an officer. USAFA is four years, but you will spend more than that on active duty. For that reason, I would pick which service you would rather serve in, rather than which academy (since many of the degrees are similar). That, and your choice of major is likely to change! (Ask me how I know! :shake:) Next, the Air Force is more focused on flying than the Navy (hence the name). For the Class of 2010, USNA sent 230 to Navy pilot training, and USAFA sent 520 to UPT. I don't know how USMC aviators figure into the USNA stats. No one can guarantee how things will be in 4-5 years, but recent averages have been about 50% of USAFA grads going to UPT, so that's pretty good if that's your goal.

    For LONG term dreams, it's hard to say. USNA, historically had more grads go into space, but USAFA got a late start (first class graduated in 1959, and most people are picked up by NASA after 15+ years of service). Also, you need to figure out the other aspects. Mission specialists have to be TOP scientists in their field. Pilot/Commanders are usually experienced test pilots (i.e. the top pilots, and have engineering degrees). Add to that, the selection rate is very low, and timing plays a big role (will the US have an active manned spaceflight program when you hit that age?). All points to ponder, and things you have marginal control over, at best. I don't mean to shoot down that dream (hey, somebody has to be selected or the program wouldn't exist). Just realize it is a LONG and complicated road.

    So, how does that affect you? Well, you need to figure that out. I would advise picking the service you want to serve in (also considering what you would want if your medical status changes, and you cannot fly for the military).

    Also, read the first few posts here: http://www.serviceacademyforums.com/showthread.php?t=15173&highlight=naval+aviation+force+pilot
    (Realize that current deployments are busy for all services, so some units are gone at least as often as they are home, in all services.)
     
  4. BruceRTalbot

    BruceRTalbot Member

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    Are you looking at the right numbers? What is more important, the total number of flight slots or the percentage of flight slots? You may wish to consider the Coast Guard Academy. Did you know Coast Guard Academy has a higher percentage of graduates going to flight training than the Air Force Academy? Did you know Coast Guard flies, jets, jet-props, helicopters and drones? Did you know Coast Guard Academy grads have been astronauts? Did you know that ALL flight slots are open to women in the Coast Guard? Be sure you look at all your military service options including the Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point.
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2011
  5. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Actually, I think the question should be what you want to fly.

    Let's be real and honest. If you want to fly rotor, AF is not the way to go. If you want to fly fighters, CG, Army will not be the path to walk.

    As others stated, Hornet and Raimius, your career is going to be more than flying. Even fliers step out of the plane to advance their career. No flier flies everyday of the week for 20 yrs., even when they are operational they will have a desk job.


    You need to understand that so many cross roads are in front of you, and the hurdles you must clear will either open or close doors regarding that Astronaut goal...let's be honest again, NASA is hanging on by their teeth right now.

    To become that astronaut you will need to graduate UPT, and not everyone does. You will need to get ACCEPTED to TPS, not everyone does. You will need to be ACCEPTED by NASA, not everyone does.

    SO before you put that cart in front of the horse, ask yourself, what you will do in that branch if the worst case scenario happens.

    OBTW Bruce, the AF has had female pilots in every airframe, including fighters (combat) since the early 90s. Col. Jeannie Flynn. Not trying to attack, just saying for the AF, that issue is a non-issue.

    I have the utmost admiration for the CG, and think that their jobs are pretty cool, intense, and never get the respect they deserve.
     
  6. Mongo

    Mongo Banned

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    Educate me.
     
  7. Packer

    Packer Member

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    From USCGA sight:

     
  8. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    We are diverting the thread, because we are losing sight that the CG mission will not be the same as AF or Navy.

    The posters needs to ask what he wants as an AD flier. If pulling people out of water is your dream, than CG is probably a better fit than AF or Navy, because their primary mission is combat or combat support. Yes, they do pull them out, but the larger % is combat.

    If the thought of living overseas doesn't appeal to you, than I would suggest you scratch AF or Navy off the list.

    If flying off a boat gets your adrenaline running, AF needs to be cut.

    OBTW, We have a friend that is with NASA. He was in Bullet's FTU class, and it took him 20 yrs to get up into space. He was selected for TPS in 1993, NASA 1998, and went up in 2010. So even if being an astronaut is your goal, understand, that you won't do it as an O3, or an O4, on the best day it will be O5, but most likely O6, or in chronological age, about 45.

    Like I said, cart/horse!
     
  9. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    The numbers posted in this thread don't add up. I'm willing to bet that more than 50%+ of USCGA grads do not become pilots. As Packer's numbers point out, even if you include people who apply later, that is still a max of about 100 per year. What is the USCGA graduating class size?
     
  10. tiger50

    tiger50 Member

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    I believe it to be around 300 usually.
     
  11. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    So going off of the CGA website, a cadet would have a 1 in 30 shot straight out of the CGA to get a UPT slot. Later on they would have to compete for a 1 in 3 shot, and would actually be older. That is still less than the 1 in 2 straight out of the AFA as a newly minted 2nd Lt.

    Do the Math!

    For the OP who wants NASA, both AF and Navy are going to have a TPS, does the CG have that, or would the CG officers have to compete with the Navy to get that slot? Obviously they go UPT with the Navy, so I am guessing, they don't have TPS.
     
  12. Mongo

    Mongo Banned

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    Very few Navy are ever stationed overseas.


    In the past and present system, TPS is only required for NASA Pilot slots. One has to have tacair experience to compete here so CG would not be eligible. The ways to Mission Specialist are many and varied. I think operating the arm was limited to Mission Specialists who had graduated TPS (NFOs, rotary, prop, etc).
     
  13. hornetguy

    hornetguy USAFA Cadet

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    Typically when a poster is asking about USAF or Naval Aviation they have a very specific set of aircraft in mind and USCG aircraft are typically not in that mix. If they wanted helos, then they should consider, though Army and Navy have many more helos. If they want C-130s, I would tell someone to steer away from USCG and go AF since the likelihood of getting one is higher in the USAF. Everything else is not on the USCG list. Also, all flight billets are open for women in the USAF so far as I'm aware.

    I have a lot of respect for the Coasties and those on here, but sometimes I feel like there are those that act like the third child jumping and going "I'm here too!" When it comes to aviation, better to argue the unique mission, not the aircraft or number of flight slots.
     
  14. Mongo

    Mongo Banned

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    So my guess is that the CG needs an absolute maximum of 70 or so total new pilots each year from all sources. In the past they have robbed liberally from the other services. Not sure if this program is as active as it once was though.
     
  15. Mikeandcris

    Mikeandcris Parents of 2014 Grad and F-15 Pilot

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    USAFA versus.....

    Why pick USAFA over Navy? Two words: Pitching decks. Actually, I have no germane information to add to the conversation, but I did see the National Geographic special on aircraft carriers and the part about "pitching decks" was pretty intense. You can find it on youtube.
     
  16. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Or Mike here are 2 other reasons.

    1. You like landing an aircraft on a size of a postage stamp on a football field.

    OR

    2. You prefer that the runway moved while you were gone doing your mission!

    Just wanted to add levity!
     

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