USNA vs USAFA for flying

Discussion in 'Naval Academy - USNA' started by KNP, Oct 25, 2010.

  1. KNP

    KNP Member

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    USN or USAF? by Bob Norris

    Bob Norris is a former Naval aviator who also did a 3-year exchange tour flying the F-15 Eagle. He is now an accomplished author of entertaining
    books about US Naval Aviation including "Check Six" and "Fly-Off".
    .
    In response to a letter from an aspiring fighter pilot on which military academy to attend, Bob replied with the following.


    12 Feb 04

    Young Man,

    Congratulations on your selection to both the Naval and Air Force Academies. Your goal of becoming a fighter pilot is impressive and a fine way to serve your country. As you requested, I'd be happy to share some insight into which service would be the best choice.

    Each service has a distinctly different culture.

    You need to ask yourself "Which one am I more likely to thrive in?"

    USAF Snapshot: The USAF is exceptionally well-organized and well-run. Their training programs are terrific. All pilots are groomed to meet high standards for knowledge and professionalism. Their aircraft are top-notch and extremely well-maintained. Their facilities are excellent. Their enlisted personnel are the brightest and the best trained.

    The USAF is homogenous and macro. No matter where you go, you'll know what to expect, what is expected of you, and you'll be given the training & tools you need to meet those expectations. You will never be put in a situation over your head.

    Over a 20-year career, you will be home for most important family events.

    Your Mom would want you to be an Air Force pilot...so would your wife. Your Dad would want your sister to marry one.

    Navy Snapshot: Aviators are part of the Navy, but so are Black shoes (surface warfare) and bubble heads (submariners).

    Furthermore, the Navy is split into two distinctly different Fleets (West and East Coast).

    The Navy is heterogeneous and micro. Your squadron is your home; it may be great, average, or awful. A squadron can go from one extreme to the other before you know it.

    You will spend months preparing for cruise and months on cruise. The quality of the aircraft varies directly with the availability of parts. Senior Navy enlisted are salt of the earth; you'll be proud if you earn their respect.

    Junior enlisted vary from terrific to the troubled kid the judge made join the service. You will be given the opportunity to lead these people during your career; you will be humbled and get your hands dirty.

    The quality of your training will vary and sometimes you will be over your head. You will miss many important family events. There will be long stretches of tedious duty aboard ship.

    You will fly in very bad weather and/or at night and you will be scared many times. You will fly with legends in the Navy and they will kick your *** until you become a lethal force.

    And some days - when the scheduling Gods have smiled upon you - your jet will catapult into a glorious morning over a far-away sea and you will be drop-jawed that someone would pay you to do it.

    The hottest girl in the bar wants to meet the Naval Aviator.

    That bar is in Singapore...

    Bottom line, son, if you gotta ask...pack warm & good luck in Colorado.

    Banzai

    PS: Air Force pilots wear scarves and iron their flight suits.
     
  2. Spanky58ggpt

    Spanky58ggpt Member

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    One more option...

    It is also wise to consider the option of Marine Aviation as you make your choices...

    The Marine pilot gets the privelege of having his aircraft maintained by those who are trained to steal from the Navy unless of course you are in close proximity to Air Force personnel and then it is incumbent to "appropriate" from them because they have better stuff. They are resourceful to the point just short of incarceration.

    Marines know where they will be stationed...in a desert or in a swamp, the real estate no one else wants.

    The hottest girl in the bar will drop the Naval Aviator like a hot potato, as will the sweetest girl from the local church. They all like Marines. Just look at a set of dress blues.

    Enlisted Marines will fight with anything that moves, even each other. You will be responsible for keeping them out of trouble because they are responsible for keeping you alive and they will catch bullets on command to make sure that happens.

    You will be one of the few, the proud, the Marines!

    OOORAH!

    :beer1:
     
  3. Memphis9489

    Memphis9489 Parent

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    Who do you think flies those unmanned drones (i.e. Predators)?

    Air Force pilots! ... after completing flight school.

    Whoop-dee-doo!

    Not every pilot in the Air Force is an F-16 or F-15 fighter pilot.

    Unquestionably, Air Force flying (and life) is easier.

    Air Force is the "home team" and Navy, without a doubt, is the "away team." Playing a season of "home" games is easier than playing every game on the "road."

    Naval Aviation - "If it was easy, then everybody would be doing it."
     
  4. kp2001

    kp2001 USMMA Alumnus

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    I must give a little shout out to my friends from deployment: the US Air Force. Although in the past it has been historically true that the AF is more "home centric" than the Navy, with the current conflicts many of the "heavy" track aircrew are on some pretty insane schedules for deployment. Schedules like 3 mos gone, 3 mos home, or 6 mos gone, 6 mos home. As a Navy guy I actually felt bad for some of them with my 6mos gone, 18 mos home in a P3 squadron (about to change to 6/12 though).
     
  5. Mongo

    Mongo Banned

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    In the 'real' Navy, half those 12 months at home are taken up with workups, etc. In my 12 years of sea duty, I was at sea around 65% of the time. And loved it by the way.

    And another by the way. We NEVER felt sorry for the P-3 guys.
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2010
  6. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    One of my old warrants was a prior P-3 back-seater. It's hard to feel bad when you hear the stories about pulling the MAD out of the boom housing and cramming it full of liquor!

    Their squadron patch was Captain Morgan with his boot perched upon a Russian sub. Maybe you know the patch, Mongo? Either way, he claimed that when they landed, as soon as they were off the active runway the backseaters would all do a shot of the Captain. Apocryphal, perhaps, but it sure sounds like fun!

    Or Army enlisted folks... :thumb:
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2010
  7. Mongo

    Mongo Banned

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    A lot of unofficial patches around of which I am sure this is an example. Captain Morgain didn't even exist, I don't think, when I was active duty.

    Back when the Soviets were a threat, they had a job. The MAD gear was only really effective down around 100' and below. Twelve hours on station at 100' with the AC maybe asleep in the back on 2 engines to preserve fuel at night in bad weather made for some interesting flights. I understand that now most squadron SOPs now will not allow them below 200' (which is good for us helo drivers) and then only with both pilots at their stations.

    Then they went home to the O'Club and their BOQ. Kinda like the AF.
     
  8. wth51

    wth51 Member

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    Air Force vs Navy

    I am a Captain for a major US airline and have flown all over the world. I learned to fly in 1972. My instructor was a B24 pilot during WW2. My first flight as First Officer with a passenger airline, the Captain had flown P47s over Normandy on D-Day. I have been co-pilot for one of the original SR71 instructors. I have flown with excellent pilots from all branches of the service. It is just my opinion, but I have found that Air Force pilots are generally more detail oriented almost to the point of obsession. Navy and Marine pilots are more mission oriented. They will think outside of the box and get the job done. The military aviators that I work with are the finest human beings that you could ever be around. That is what I wish for my son, to be one one the best, an officer in the US military. After having said this, I hope my son goes to flight school at Pensacola.
     
  9. MomoftheMagik

    MomoftheMagik Member

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    Father-in-law was a tough old bomber pilot with the AF who saw action in two wars and trained young pilots for a third. He told my boys to "fly for the Navy", which is why mine is a Midshipman.
     
  10. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    wth51, I hope your son truly becomes the BEST of the best....and flies a helicopter :biggrin:
     
  11. wth51

    wth51 Member

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    Helicopters

    That is exactly what he wants to do! He has model helicopters all over his room. Helicopter books everywhere. He has been taking flying lessons for his private pilots license and I thought that would sway him toward fixed wing, No Way! Helicopters have way too many moving parts for me, but I keep my nose out of it. Who am I to try and change his dream. He has applied to all of the Academies and all of the ROTC programs and hopefully something good will happen. God Bless and good luck to all those here that serve and want to serve.
     
  12. Mongo

    Mongo Banned

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    Driving up to the Notre Dame game Saturday, my passenger, a P-3 weenie, out of the blue, asked me to explain the rotor hub/rotating swashplate assembly. No marker board, no paper, at least the semblance of one hand on the steering wheel (we were on the Jersey Turnpike). No way. Igor couldn't have done it.
     
  13. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    Haha...yeah...that's a fairly complex system with no visual aids!
     
  14. Spanky58ggpt

    Spanky58ggpt Member

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    And don't forget the young fellas that have to disassemble that system, evaluate all parts for serviceability, reassemble, rig and test to make sure it not only functions aerodynamically but doesn't vibrate you out of the seat. All helicopter guys are sick puppies (especially skid kids), but you have to admire guys who think they are flying when in reality they just beat the air into submission. :yllol::shake::biggrin::thumb:
     
  15. Memphis9489

    Memphis9489 Parent

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    I think this is exactly correct!

    Flying off an aircraft carrier, many miles out-to-sea (especially at night), is a less structured environment that tends to produce a culture of both survival and mission orientation.

    Also, since naval aviation is such a small segment of the entire Navy, it pretty much operates as an independent agency, policing itself and allowed to establish its own "rules" without too much interference from above. True - this tends to produce a few more "Mavericks." In the Navy, risk-taking and minor rule infractions are not punished as swiftly as it is in the Air Force. In some cases, it is tacitly encouraged because, oddly, it contributes to the culture of survival when many of those "skills" will be necessary.

    On the other hand, the Air Force is far more bureaucratic. There is always this sense that the "thumb" of the Air Force is pushing down on the pilot and watching his every step.

    A naval aviator is given a tremendous amount of latitude to make his own decisions. In fact, he is encouraged to do so! Unusual things happen more frequently. It's the nature of carrier aviation.

    I, too, am an airline pilot and have flown with all types in the past 25 yrs. They are all great pilots and very competent. However, I can pretty much tell a pilot's background by their mannerisms. It's neither bad nor good - it's just different.

    So - which is better - flying in the Navy or Air Force?

    That's impossible to answer and depends entirely on your personal temperament. Some people thrive (and need) the more structured environment afforded by the Air Force whereas others may feel stifled.

    And even the Navy is divided into different cultures. You are either a carrier aviator or not. The non-carrier aviators tend to be more like Air Force pilots.

    There is something about flying off and onto a carrier that produces its own culture. Unquestionably, it's more dangerous and there are a thousand ways to kill yourself even if you are not flying a combat mission. Sadly, I've been to more than my share of memorial services. I have also scared the crap out of myself on countless occasions. You never get "used" to it.

    You will more frequently feel uncomfortable as a naval aviator because you are kicked out of the "nest" a bit sooner and put into situations that you may question that your'e ready for. It can be very Darwinian - survival of the fittest.

    I once had an instructor pilot tell me - "Do you know why naval aviators are so good? It's because all the bad ones are dead." There is a lot of dark humor in naval aviation. You can either cringe from the danger or embrace it by laughing in its face.

    Enjoy these two videos:
    Part 1
    Part 2
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2010
  16. kp2001

    kp2001 USMMA Alumnus

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    Just to add another wrinkle:

    Many future naval aviators are completing primary at Air Force Training Wings and many future air force aviators are completing primary at a Navy training wing.

    You get a little taste of both, I've heard both great and terrible stories from both sides. One representational story of the differences between AF and Navy is in training:

    The Navy pretty much sets you out on your own during flight school. You study in your group, or alone, or whatever. You ensure that you have completed the ground requirements prior to being scheduled for the particular flight in the syllabus, etc and your graduation date can vary widely.

    On the Air Force side: you are pretty much kept in a ready room most of the day with the other student pilots. You study in there and the instructors are frequently there to ask questions. They ensure you are scheduled for everything and you pretty much know your graduation date within a small window the day you start.

    If you need more of the structured study time then you might think more air force, if you are more of a "I'll do it on my own" while drinking beers on Pensacola Beach, then consider the Navy :biggrin:
     
  17. kp2001

    kp2001 USMMA Alumnus

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    I think most of the "great deals" in the P3 community are gone. Now you get to live in a trailer in the desert. I would have taken the boat over my CHU in Iraq.

    But I think you are correct that the P3 lifestyle is more conducive to the home lifestyle than your typical CVW squadron or helicopter squadron. I only wish I got the storied $100+ per diem, instead I got the $3.50 :biggrin:
     
  18. SteveHolt243

    SteveHolt243 Member

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    Eh, usually when someone non-helicopter asks me a question like that I tell them it all works off black magic and pixie dust. It's close enough to the truth anyways...
     
  19. Apachecav

    Apachecav Member

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    US ARMY for Helicopters

    If it is Helicopters the young lad wishes to fly, then the ONLY REAL option is the US ARMY. No other program in the US Military can teach you how to hover on a dime and give nine cents change. Precision and attention to detail would put an Air force pilot to shame. You have to have this when you fly as close to earth as you can Without balling up your A/C. Or flying down a stream so low that your skids are dragging thru the water and Turns so tight that your rotor tips are trimming grass, and landing in LZs so closed in, that 2 inch saplings don't stand a chance. All this while streaks of lead punch holes in your ship.. It just does not get any better than this...I won’t even talk about the girls, don't want to make my Navy buddies blush:redface:....
     
  20. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    Sounds like a freshly minted lieutenant has joined the board...:thumb:
     

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