Why Be A Fighter Pilot?

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by John41057, Mar 15, 2013.

  1. John41057

    John41057 Member

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  2. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    The AF does have a shortage of fighter pilots. IMO, a lot of that had to do with force management and how they selected people. A few years ago, some classes were down to 1 or 2 fighters out of 7-8 T-38 students. Also, a fair number of T-38 students were dropping Predators. Tracking T-38s became a risky decision for people. If you were not the #1 student, you might not even get a manned aircraft!

    Flying in general takes a lot of work, but the study involved in weapons and tactics intensive flying is even greater. A good number of student pilots realize they don't want the lifestyle of a fighter pilot (lots of 12 hour days, less flight time, and a generally intense atmosphere). Others just don't enjoy yanking and banking.

    That said, I think over half my UPT class put T-38s first.
     
  3. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    Fighters definitely have some drawbacks. Bit then, so do heavies. I have a few friends who flew galaxies and others. They seem to be gone for a few days then back for a couple. My fighter friends liked being home with family and my heavy friends like seeing 90 countries in their 20+ year career.
     
  4. John41057

    John41057 Member

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    Fighter Pilot

    Hi
    I was talking to my DS and for the first time he said he was not sure if he wanted to become and air force pilot. He said he was concerned with the extra commitment and then after 10 or 11 years being told it was time to leave. He said the thought of a air force career was attractive. The though of being 32 and told he was not needed to finish his 20 plus was not. He is very concerned that with the way things are progressing more and more officers will not be allowed to get to retirement if they want to stay in. He does not want to be 30+ looking for a new career. Does anyone know what percentages of officers looking to make 20+ are not allowed to?
    Regards
    John
     
  5. Hurricane12

    Hurricane12 USNA 2012

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    *WARNING: I'm not USAF*
    The threat of being forced out before you want to is very real (see: USMC "career designation" boards).

    If your son goes to an Academy, does well, and serves for 10-11 years as an Air Force Officer and pilot...odds are he will do okay on the civilian side. I know of (anecdotally) MANY people who have done just fine on the other side of the fence coming off AD at 32+.
    If he's doing well as a pilot and an officer, he probably doesn't need to worry too much about being forced out anyway. If he's not allowed to stay on active duty, he may be allowed to stay in the reserves or transition to the Air National Guard.

    Also, if your son is worrying about a career and staying in after his initial pilot commitment as a candidate, he probably should bring his focus back in a little bit. At 17-18, the idea of essentially signing off the next ~15 years of your life is pretty scary and intimidating. I've been there and a lot of posters here have been as well.
    But there's a lot that changes between 17 and 32. I can't speak on the back 10 years of that, but my perspective on a lot of things has changed after only four years at an Academy and less than one year on active duty. I can't imagine how much my priorities will have changed as a senior Captain/junior Major.
    Your son may decide to not be a pilot, to not fly fighters, that he doesn't like the Air Force and doesn't want to stay in, that he wants to focus on his family...etc. The manning requirements might swing around and a whole other host of things out of his control may happen as well.

    So, in short, this is stuff he doesn't really "need" to be worrying about right now. Trust me, I get it, but that's all so far off it's a little out of his wheelhouse.
     
  6. EagleDriver

    EagleDriver Member

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    I was never concerned about "retirement"...as young 22 yr old...I was only focused in graduating from UPT etc...and landing a fighter...I lived day by day being the best "legend in my own mind" fighter pilot. At the sametime, I heeded my Sq. Co...advice to us young Lts...go to night school and get a Masters degree...it was good insight on his part to advise us young O2s. Before
    I knew it...my initial commitment was over but I stayed on to continue honing by skills as a combat pilot etc...FWS graduate....finishing my Masters in Business...I left active duty after 14 yrs but got on with my local National Guard Unit...bringing the experience of numerous deployments etc...finishing my career with enough years added on with the Guard Unit to retire...and now a Check Airman with the largest local airline in the islands. So what I'm saying is: although its great to think far ahead about what you want to be or at in your life...I think its important to live life now and be the best and enjoy what you do...yes it important to plan ahead and get that coveted advanced degree and credentials etc...I think my career advanced to where I want to go and do only because i built a reputation as someone who is a hard worker and good at what i was tasked to do and beyond. I've instilled that in my son and I know he is focused about being happy and taking whatever is given or earned with appreciation.
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2013
  7. aglages

    aglages Parent

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    This is the first I've heard of this. Perhaps only 45% of officers commissioning from USAFA have chosen pilot as their first AFSC choice, but only 45% qualified? Seems very low. .
     

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