Active Duty, Reserve, Guard Confusion

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by Qwelt, May 19, 2014.

  1. Qwelt

    Qwelt New Member

    May 19, 2014
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    I am extremely confused about the difference between Active Duty and Reserves. I have read that USAFA grads are commissioned as reserve officers rather than regular officers-- does this mean they are in the Air Force Reserves and not the Active Duty Air Force?

    Also, can an Active Duty Air Force officer who is not a pilot switch into the ANG or Reserves after the 5 year commitment and become a pilot? Can an Active Duty Air Force pilot switch into the ANG or Reserves and continue to be a pilot? I have heard that the ANG only hires pilots from a civilian or ANG enlisted applicant pool, but why would they not take pilots who have already been trained in the Active Duty Air Force?

    As one larger, overarching question, is the Air Force Academy still the very best way to become a fighter pilot, or can the the ANG or Reserves give a better chance?

  2. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator 5-Year Member

    Jul 26, 2008
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    First, don't worry about the "commissioned as a reserve officer versus a regular officer." This goes back over 100 years; when I graduated we were all regular officers...then some years later, everyone was commissioned as "reserve" officers and had to wait until they were being considered for promotion to major to be named "regular" officers. It's a legal definition; nothing for you to worry about. Upon graduation you are in the "active duty air force" as opposed to the "air force reserve command (AFRC)."

    The second question: after 5 years switching from active duty non-pilot and picking up a pilot training slot in either AFRC or ANG? First, I'm going to make a guess: if a graduate of USAFA didn't quality for UPT upon graduation, the odds are probably pretty long against qualifying after 5 or more years of service. And then there's the age limit creeping up.

    Can an active duty pilot switch to either AFRC or ANG? Absolutely! That's how a large number of AFRC pilots enter their units. ANG units also hire active duty pilots, but both AFRC and ANG like to "grow their own" as well. But you can definitely move from active duty to either AFRC or ANG as long as you find a unit that has the plane you fly (or is willing to cross train you) and is willing to hire you.

    Lastly...the very best way to become a fighter pilot. That would be to be number 1 in your UPT class, regardless of where you graduated college from. And by number 1 I mean when you finish T-6's and are moved to T-38's. Then you finish #1 in T-38's...and then you pray that there is a fighter in the aircraft assignment in the drop that you get! There might be 8 of you in T-38's...and when the drop comes: 3 FAIP's (T-6 or T-38 assignments), 2 B-1B's, 1 B-2, 1 B-52, and a C-17. Oops! No fighters! Yes, that can happen. Or it might be your lucky night and there will be 3 F-16's, 2 F-15E's, 1 F-15C, 1 F-22, 1 A-10. It's all dependent upon the needs of the AF at that time.

    USAFA '83
  3. raimius

    raimius 10-Year Member

    Jun 9, 2006
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    Well, there is no guaranteed way to b a fighter pilot. It just depends on where you want the selection to take place. For active duty folks, it is during UPT. The top students have the best shot at getting what they want. There is usually at least one fighter per class, but that's not a guarantee.
    The other way would be to go Guard or Reserve and be hired by a unit that flies fighters. That way, as long as you do decently at UPT, you'll have that job upon getting qualified. The selection there is finding a unit willing to hire you that flies fighters (and them continuing to fly fighters...some units get switched to things like Reapers or transport aircraft.)
  4. E.Cadet.18

    E.Cadet.18 Member

    Mar 25, 2014
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    What does it take to be number 1 in your UPT class? Is it based on a GPA type system or another scoring system? Is your rank mainly dependent upon classroom/book work or actual hands on training/flying? If it is a combination of both, approximately what is the percentage ratio of class:practical (for instance: 60% classroom:40% hands on training). Thanks for any insight.
  5. buffalo

    buffalo USAFA 2013 5-Year Member

    Dec 17, 2008
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    Class ranking is a combination of your check ride grades, daily ride grades, flight commander's ranking, and academic grades.

    As flieger and raimius have said, if you want fighters, work hard to get to the top of your class. My class just tracked for phase three last week. Out of 25 students in the class, five went to T-38s.
  6. aggie83

    aggie83 5-Year Member

    Oct 8, 2008
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    Not to take away from striving to guarantee a top spot for tract select and drop, but sometimes, the top graduates don't even want the fighter/bomber track, so you could conceivably not be as highly ranked as you need to be to get T-38's and still get them.

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