Any USAFA Grads Who Became Fighter Pilots?

BBF2003

USAFA C/o 2025
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I'm a junior in high school beginning my application process to USAFA. My goal is to become a fighter pilot for the USAF. I wanted to know what the process is like to become a fighter pilot (or USAF pilot in general) upon graduation of the academy.

Also, I had questions about my "resume" and high school sports. I'm relatively new to this site, and would appreciate if someone could refer me to that thread. Thanks.
 

AROTC-dad

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IF you are fortunate enough to receive an appointment, dogged enough to commission, and fit enough to qualify medically to enter UPT, there is no guarantee of what airframe you will be assigned to.

So you can hope for fighters, but you should be prepared for tankers. And don't forget you could still end up a missileer.

For sports, and your resume, start with this thread.

Key take-way: Do not confuse team sports as being related to fitness. It is all about the team-work and cohesiveness of working together to accomplish a mission.
 
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BBF2003

USAFA C/o 2025
Joined
Sep 18, 2019
Messages
165
IF you are fortunate enough to receive an appointment, dogged enough to commission, and fit enough to qualify medically to enter UPT, there is no guarantee of what airframe you will be assigned to.

So you can hope for fighters, but you should be prepared for tankers. And don't forget you could still end up a missileer.

For sports, and your resume, start with this thread.

Key take-way: Do not confuse team sports as being related to fitness. It is all about the team-work and cohesiveness of working together to accomplish a mission.

Thanks. I was on my school baseball team for two years, and frankly I was not having fun, and when I realized that, I simultaneously realized that I could use that time to improve my academics. I’m looking I to joining my schools swim team next semester. Do you per chance know if one semester of off sports will seriously impact my chances ?
 

AROTC-dad

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Do you per chance know if one semester of off sports will seriously impact my chances ?
Probably not "seriously." Excellent SAT/ACT scores, class rank, and GPA plus leadership examples are the most important characteristics. However MOST successful appointees have varsity letters and are Captains of the team.

Here are the stats for USAFA class of 2022. You can simply compare yourself to the class. Keep in mind that you should also have a plan B, if you don't get in.
 

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BBF2003

USAFA C/o 2025
Joined
Sep 18, 2019
Messages
165
Probably not "seriously." Excellent SAT/ACT scores, class rank, and GPA plus leadership examples are the most important characteristics. However MOST successful appointees have varsity letters and are Captains of the team.

Here are the stats for USAFA class of 2022. You can simply compare yourself to the class. Keep in mind that you should also have a plan B, if you don't get in.

Thanks. I appreciate your response.
 

zachtx

5-Year Member
Joined
Mar 4, 2013
Messages
97
Skipping ahead and assuming you get a appointment, pilot slot, and commission...it might sound cheesy, but my best advice for getting a fighter (or other aircraft of choice): be #1 in your UPT class and hope the cards fall your way. There are never guarantees, but that'll get you close. A lot is changing in the UPT structure right now with class size, how track select works, and drops are always dependent on FTU manning and NDAA budgets. There are plenty of threads explaining the UPT timeline, but the short and dirty is that Phase I (academics) and Phase II (T-6) performance determines who get's their choice as far as T-38, T-1, and TH-1. Getting a T-38 slot is required to be fighter eligible, and then those 6 months of performance will let you be racked & stacked against your peers (could be 2 other folks, or could be up to 9), then your dream sheet will be lined up with what the folks at headquarters think we need...and assignments are given. My class had 10 students get chosen for the T-38, and then 4 were given fighters; but, 3 classes after us (approx 2 months) only had 5 students in the T-38 and only 1 got fighters. It ebbs and flows. There's a lot of luck and timing involved.

For reference to how drops have been going, feel free to click through 13 years of historical data: http://www.flyingsquadron.com/forums/topic/4486-track-selects-and-assignment-nights/?page=124
 

BBF2003

USAFA C/o 2025
Joined
Sep 18, 2019
Messages
165
Skipping ahead and assuming you get a appointment, pilot slot, and commission...it might sound cheesy, but my best advice for getting a fighter (or other aircraft of choice): be #1 in your UPT class and hope the cards fall your way. There are never guarantees, but that'll get you close. A lot is changing in the UPT structure right now with class size, how track select works, and drops are always dependent on FTU manning and NDAA budgets. There are plenty of threads explaining the UPT timeline, but the short and dirty is that Phase I (academics) and Phase II (T-6) performance determines who get's their choice as far as T-38, T-1, and TH-1. Getting a T-38 slot is required to be fighter eligible, and then those 6 months of performance will let you be racked & stacked against your peers (could be 2 other folks, or could be up to 9), then your dream sheet will be lined up with what the folks at headquarters think we need...and assignments are given. My class had 10 students get chosen for the T-38, and then 4 were given fighters; but, 3 classes after us (approx 2 months) only had 5 students in the T-38 and only 1 got fighters. It ebbs and flows. There's a lot of luck and timing involved.

For reference to how drops have been going, feel free to click through 13 years of historical data: http://www.flyingsquadron.com/forums/topic/4486-track-selects-and-assignment-nights/?page=124

Thank you for the detailed reply. I appreciate it.
 

Old Navy BGO

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As others have pointed out...there are not guarantees, and the needs of the Air Force (Navy ,. Marine Corps, or Army) will always supercede your own desires. If you are interested in attending a Service Academy, your first objective to be to SERVE as an officer in the Military, not necessarily "be a fighter pilot." All the stars have to align properly to get there-, i.e. admitted to Service Academy, graduate, be selected for flight training, and then get the platform you want. You do have some input into how those stars align, ie. and present a good mix of leadership, academics, athletics for Admissions, and then excel in everything you do. (Used to be in Navy flight training, the #1 person in each class was virtually guaranteed to get what he/she wants, they would move heaven and earth to make it happen; everyone else was subject to needs of the Navy)
 

BBF2003

USAFA C/o 2025
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Messages
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As others have pointed out...there are not guarantees, and the needs of the Air Force (Navy ,. Marine Corps, or Army) will always supercede your own desires. If you are interested in attending a Service Academy, your first objective to be to SERVE as an officer in the Military, not necessarily "be a fighter pilot." All the stars have to align properly to get there-, i.e. admitted to Service Academy, graduate, be selected for flight training, and then get the platform you want. You do have some input into how those stars align, ie. and present a good mix of leadership, academics, athletics for Admissions, and then excel in everything you do. (Used to be in Navy flight training, the #1 person in each class was virtually guaranteed to get what he/she wants, they would move heaven and earth to make it happen; everyone else was subject to needs of the Navy)

Understood. Thank you
 

Pima

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I am going to add some more things.

Apply for the AFROTC scholarship as your back up plan.
~ Every year on this forum there will be a poster (appointee) that got injured in late spring, making it impossible for them to be medically cleared by I Day. However, they would be by the 1st day of school at a traditional college with AFROTC. Keeping the scholarship allows you the ability to stay on track without the financial burden. These posters are called "medical turnback" IOWS, USAFA says we will re-admit you as a Doolie next yr if your injury is resolved.

Attending USAFA will NOT equate into getting a fighter, and as others have stated the needs of the AF will always take precedent. My husband was an F15E WSO for 21+ yrs. In his time in the ADAF, he saw the ebb and flow. When there was RIF the pilot pipeline came down to even if you were #1 in the class you were not getting a fighter, since they didn't need any. A few years later they didn't have enough pilots and they actually started giving out age waivers for UPT.

Our DS is an ADAF pilot (C130J) Like his father he is and AFROTC grad. His yr group 93% nationally were selected for UPT if they asked. His det., had 100% selected.

The thing is once you get to UPT they could give a rats arse regarding your commissioning source (USAFA, AFROTC, OCS). They had 7 go T38 and 21 go T1. Number 1 and 2 got fighters out of the 38s. The remainder got airframes that started with the letter A or B. Number 1 was a prior E that commissioned OCS (he got a 16). Number 2 was an AFROTC grad (she got a 15E). Just saying this to illustrate that being a USAFA grad has no play in the UPT world.

My opinion is that IF you can afford and have the time pay for some private pilot hours. It will help you in many ways. Everything from learning how to fly the stick to deciding if this dream is what you have imagined.

Finally, please think about this long and hard. You are probably 16. If you get UPT and wing, you will be looking at 34 when you can leave the AF at the earliest....yes, 34, almost 2 decades from now! During those yrs in ADAF do you know what they call a pilot that has 10 yrs in and makes O4 compared to an intel officer with the same amount of time in? Major. Point is you will always be an AF officer 1st.

Oh I forgot, 1 more last thing. Don't walk in believing you will fly 5 days a week. That is not the reality. You will be given a desk chair to fly when you are not flying. Usually you will fly maybe 2x a week in the fighter world, the other days you will be at your desk in the scheduling shop, the weapons shop, as flight commander, etc. This is also true in the heavy world (Cs) As stated my DH flew fighters for 21+ yrs. In the end when he retired as an O5 he had a total of 2400 hrs. A fighter mission is usually @90 mins. To make rank you will step out of the jet. For him he did schools and a desk assignment along the way for a total of 5 yrs., so when you do the math of 16 yrs of operational flying assignments, he avg 2x a week. Our DS as a heavy pilot with 5 yrs operational in is already way past my DH's hours. Heavy missions are not calculated in minutes, but in hrs. IE they don't say it was 300 mins.
 

BBF2003

USAFA C/o 2025
Joined
Sep 18, 2019
Messages
165
I am going to add some more things.

Apply for the AFROTC scholarship as your back up plan.
~ Every year on this forum there will be a poster (appointee) that got injured in late spring, making it impossible for them to be medically cleared by I Day. However, they would be by the 1st day of school at a traditional college with AFROTC. Keeping the scholarship allows you the ability to stay on track without the financial burden. These posters are called "medical turnback" IOWS, USAFA says we will re-admit you as a Doolie next yr if your injury is resolved.

Attending USAFA will NOT equate into getting a fighter, and as others have stated the needs of the AF will always take precedent. My husband was an F15E WSO for 21+ yrs. In his time in the ADAF, he saw the ebb and flow. When there was RIF the pilot pipeline came down to even if you were #1 in the class you were not getting a fighter, since they didn't need any. A few years later they didn't have enough pilots and they actually started giving out age waivers for UPT.

Our DS is an ADAF pilot (C130J) Like his father he is and AFROTC grad. His yr group 93% nationally were selected for UPT if they asked. His det., had 100% selected.

The thing is once you get to UPT they could give a rats arse regarding your commissioning source (USAFA, AFROTC, OCS). They had 7 go T38 and 21 go T1. Number 1 and 2 got fighters out of the 38s. The remainder got airframes that started with the letter A or B. Number 1 was a prior E that commissioned OCS (he got a 16). Number 2 was an AFROTC grad (she got a 15E). Just saying this to illustrate that being a USAFA grad has no play in the UPT world.

My opinion is that IF you can afford and have the time pay for some private pilot hours. It will help you in many ways. Everything from learning how to fly the stick to deciding if this dream is what you have imagined.

Finally, please think about this long and hard. You are probably 16. If you get UPT and wing, you will be looking at 34 when you can leave the AF at the earliest....yes, 34, almost 2 decades from now! During those yrs in ADAF do you know what they call a pilot that has 10 yrs in and makes O4 compared to an intel officer with the same amount of time in? Major. Point is you will always be an AF officer 1st.

Oh I forgot, 1 more last thing. Don't walk in believing you will fly 5 days a week. That is not the reality. You will be given a desk chair to fly when you are not flying. Usually you will fly maybe 2x a week in the fighter world, the other days you will be at your desk in the scheduling shop, the weapons shop, as flight commander, etc. This is also true in the heavy world (Cs) As stated my DH flew fighters for 21+ yrs. In the end when he retired as an O5 he had a total of 2400 hrs. A fighter mission is usually @90 mins. To make rank you will step out of the jet. For him he did schools and a desk assignment along the way for a total of 5 yrs., so when you do the math of 16 yrs of operational flying assignments, he avg 2x a week. Our DS as a heavy pilot with 5 yrs operational in is already way past my DH's hours. Heavy missions are not calculated in minutes, but in hrs. IE they don't say it was 300 mins.
Thank you for this. I want to be a pilot for the USAF, fighter or not. I want to attend the academy because I know it's a challenging yet rewarding route to where I want to go and what I want to do. What is the ADAF? My high school does not have AFROTC. Is there any way you can summarize AFROTC scholarships for me? I don't know much about ROTC. Thanks in advance.
 

justdoit19

Proud parent of an ANG, USNA X2, and a MidSib
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ADAF - active duty Air Force
AFROTC -Air Force ROTC program in college. You can find all sorts of information online, go there for summaries and info. Scholarships for direct entry from high school exist, as well as scholarships that can be awarded after entering the ROTC program.

Actually, in addition to their individual websites, here is a post with a good overview. He is army, but the overview is similar for all branches.

 
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BBF2003

USAFA C/o 2025
Joined
Sep 18, 2019
Messages
165
ADAF - active duty Air Force
AFROTC -Air Force ROTC program in college. You can find all sorts of information online, go there for summaries and info. Scholarships for direct entry from high school exist, as well as scholarships that can be awarded after entering the ROTC program.

Actually, in addition to their individual websites, here is a post with a good overview. He is army, but the overview is similar for all branches.

Thank you
 

txfwindian

Parent of USNA C/O 2025
Joined
Aug 6, 2019
Messages
1,182
I am going to add some more things.

Apply for the AFROTC scholarship as your back up plan.
~ Every year on this forum there will be a poster (appointee) that got injured in late spring, making it impossible for them to be medically cleared by I Day. However, they would be by the 1st day of school at a traditional college with AFROTC. Keeping the scholarship allows you the ability to stay on track without the financial burden. These posters are called "medical turnback" IOWS, USAFA says we will re-admit you as a Doolie next yr if your injury is resolved.

Attending USAFA will NOT equate into getting a fighter, and as others have stated the needs of the AF will always take precedent. My husband was an F15E WSO for 21+ yrs. In his time in the ADAF, he saw the ebb and flow. When there was RIF the pilot pipeline came down to even if you were #1 in the class you were not getting a fighter, since they didn't need any. A few years later they didn't have enough pilots and they actually started giving out age waivers for UPT.

Our DS is an ADAF pilot (C130J) Like his father he is and AFROTC grad. His yr group 93% nationally were selected for UPT if they asked. His det., had 100% selected.

The thing is once you get to UPT they could give a rats arse regarding your commissioning source (USAFA, AFROTC, OCS). They had 7 go T38 and 21 go T1. Number 1 and 2 got fighters out of the 38s. The remainder got airframes that started with the letter A or B. Number 1 was a prior E that commissioned OCS (he got a 16). Number 2 was an AFROTC grad (she got a 15E). Just saying this to illustrate that being a USAFA grad has no play in the UPT world.

My opinion is that IF you can afford and have the time pay for some private pilot hours. It will help you in many ways. Everything from learning how to fly the stick to deciding if this dream is what you have imagined.

Finally, please think about this long and hard. You are probably 16. If you get UPT and wing, you will be looking at 34 when you can leave the AF at the earliest....yes, 34, almost 2 decades from now! During those yrs in ADAF do you know what they call a pilot that has 10 yrs in and makes O4 compared to an intel officer with the same amount of time in? Major. Point is you will always be an AF officer 1st.

Oh I forgot, 1 more last thing. Don't walk in believing you will fly 5 days a week. That is not the reality. You will be given a desk chair to fly when you are not flying. Usually you will fly maybe 2x a week in the fighter world, the other days you will be at your desk in the scheduling shop, the weapons shop, as flight commander, etc. This is also true in the heavy world (Cs) As stated my DH flew fighters for 21+ yrs. In the end when he retired as an O5 he had a total of 2400 hrs. A fighter mission is usually @90 mins. To make rank you will step out of the jet. For him he did schools and a desk assignment along the way for a total of 5 yrs., so when you do the math of 16 yrs of operational flying assignments, he avg 2x a week. Our DS as a heavy pilot with 5 yrs operational in is already way past my DH's hours. Heavy missions are not calculated in minutes, but in hrs. IE they don't say it was 300 mins.

Hi Pima: would you please expand on your remarks about being a Major vs Air Force Officer after 10 years of service. I am not from any military background, so couldn’t understand the comparison. I do understand that O-4 is a major rank is army and in Air Force.
 

Humey

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I will give you a Rotc perspective although I imagine its the same for the academy. Once you get selected for pilot training, you will have a full physical that will last about 2-3 days. If you pass this, you will be elegible for training. Once you graduate, you will be sent to one of the four flight training schools. There is Vance in OK, Columbus in Mississipi, Laughlin in Texas or Sheppard (Texas) which is actually the training base for Nato pilots including Americans. That is harder to get into as they take those with the high scores. As a Rotc graduate, you wil be sent to one of these bases anywhere from 1 month to 1 year after graduating college. I hear that those who graduate the academy get maybe 2-3 before they have to their base. Once on base, most student pilots go on caual duty. This is the time before you start your classes. This can be anywhere from 1 month to 2 years depending on the circumstances. I know one person who waited 2 years although he had unusual circumstances like his training plane being grounded twice and his wife giving birth. My son arrived in Mid June and started classes in August. During casual duty, some people do absolutely nothing while others get some duties. My son duties was to make Jalepano popcorn and answer some phones maybe 2-3 a week. Once training begins, you will do some academics and then eventually fly the T-6. Its a prop jet plane. After period of time, everyone will graduate from that plane and be split between the T-1 and the T-38. The T-38 is fighter type plane where all of the fighter and bomber pilots come from. However, training with the T-38 doesnt guarantee you will fly a bomber or a fighter. The T-1 is like a Gulf Stream and everyone who graduates from that planes either flies, transports, tankers or passenger planes. Prior to graduating UPT, you will hand in your wish list of which planes you wish to fly. Then the Air Force will completely ignore what you want and select a plane based on what is available and what they think would be good for you. If it happens to match your wish list, great, and if not you are out of luck. As others have said, the better you do at UPT, the better the plane selection. If you are #1, you have a better chance of getting the plane you want. There is a third outcome by attending UPT. Instead getting a plane, you become an instructor otherwise know as a FAIP. You get to teach either the T-6. T-38 or T-1. This last for about 4 years. The one good thing about this is that you get to select your next plane although someonewho teachers a T-6 or T-1 probably isnt going to get a figher plane. I dont think its 100% in any case. I doubt you say I want a F-35 and you will automatically get it. One further point, if you go to Sheppard known as ENJPPT, everyone flies the T-38 and while it seems like many of the T-38 graduates do fly fighter/bombers, they dont all do so. As PIMA mentioned before, once you get to UPT, no one cares how you comissioned although the Rotc guys and AFA guys make fun of each other. The student who won the most awards at graduation was someone who commissioned through OTS
 

raimius

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There are no guarantees for Active Duty student pilots, as far as which aircraft they will get. Air National Guard students are hired by a specific unit, so if that unit flies fighters, that's what the student will get (assuming they pass). If you are dead set on fighters, ANG is probably the way to go, although that route has other issues (full-time vs part-time, etc).
Also realize, your goals might change. I know one guy who got an incentive flight in an F-15 and puked/dry heaved the entire flight. He described it as the worst hour and a half of his life--which pretty much helped him decide that he did not want to fly fighters. For me, I realized about halfway through USAFA that I would rather fly helicopters, due to the missions they get.
 

BBF2003

USAFA C/o 2025
Joined
Sep 18, 2019
Messages
165
There are no guarantees for Active Duty student pilots, as far as which aircraft they will get. Air National Guard students are hired by a specific unit, so if that unit flies fighters, that's what the student will get (assuming they pass). If you are dead set on fighters, ANG is probably the way to go, although that route has other issues (full-time vs part-time, etc).
Also realize, your goals might change. I know one guy who got an incentive flight in an F-15 and puked/dry heaved the entire flight. He described it as the worst hour and a half of his life--which pretty much helped him decide that he did not want to fly fighters. For me, I realized about halfway through USAFA that I would rather fly helicopters, due to the missions they get.

Thank you for the input.
 

Pima

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@txfwindian O4 is a major and they usually make it at 10 yrs. The point is that as an ADAF officer with the same rank they don't address you as Pilot txfwindian or Intel txfwindian (your career field), but Major txfwindian, proving the point that you are an officer 1st and a pilot 2nd.
 

Pima

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While we are talking about airframes, nobody addressed the RPA world aspect at UPT. Again, it is a pipeline/needs of the AF issue.
Yes, at Randolph there is an RPA school, BUT if they are not pushing enough pilots out of there, than they will than grab them from UPT.
A couple yrs back only 6 weeks out from winging out of UPT, HQ ADAF announced that for the next X months, every class at every base (excluding ENJJPT) would have 2 RPAs drop from the T1 track. I think they needed 100 more RPA pilots, or @ 10% of UPT students. Want to take a guess how shocked and upset they were to find out that they were not going to be to an airframe schoolhouse, but instead to RPA schoolhouse. They never saw that coming, but it did.
 
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