Becoming a pilot

Discussion in 'ROTC' started by Oldsalt, Jan 15, 2018.

  1. Oldsalt

    Oldsalt 5-Year Member

    Sep 26, 2012
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    There are a number of ways to do this via the military. Below are some examples, they are not all encompassing. I have not included some small programs that have specific desired outcomes. The majority of military pilots start down one of the below paths.
    This thread does not address each Services selection process. Only 20% of Naval Aviators fly pointy nose aircraft, AF is about the same. Realize this when signing up. If all you want to do is fly tactical aircraft, go guard or reserves. They only way to guarantee an outcome.
    Also in the Navy/MC switching communities (helo to fighter) is very rare.
    It is less rare in the AF but not common. Switching aircraft within community in the AF is not unheard of. (Viper to Eagle)
    Do your own home work.

    1. Service Academies:
    Navy/MC and AF. If you are physically qualified you will get an opportunity to go to flight school. (There are some years that a few bottom feeders in the class don't get their choice, but that is not common.)
    Navy/MC allows you to select pilot only, don't get pilot, you can select another community, ships or subs for example.
    AF is more complicated, but generally, you will get a shot at flight school.
    Army. Usually goes to folks in the top 30 percent of the class.

    2. ROTC:
    Navy/MC same as the Academies. There are some examples of people getting drafted(generally for subs) but the better you do in school, the less likely that will happen.
    AF has the rated process. You commit to serving in a rated position. Better you do, better your chances. But they can assign you a position you may not want. Again, not common, but it happens.
    Army is training officers to lead soldiers. Getting AD aviation goes to top performers and Army selection process is a hybrid. You have to compete for active duty first. You could align with a reserve unit that will let you fly to increase your chances.

    MC has the PLC program and OCS.
    PLC: You sign up while in college and can get an aviation guarantee. Stay physically qualified, complete Bulldog in one or two summers, graduate, complete TBS and you will go to flight school.
    OCS: Same as above but you do Bulldog and TBS back to back then to flight school.
    You can earn an aviation slot out of Bulldog or TBS, but it is usually very competitive.

    Navy: You sign up for a flight slot, go to OCS, graduate and start flight school.
    AOCS (officer and a gentleman movie) no longer exists. All Naval officers go through the same program, but you know where you are going pilot/NFO/sub/ship... before you start.

    AF: You sign up for a rated position. You may not get pilot. PIMA will have to explain in detail.

    AANG/ANG/Airforce reserves.
    DO THIS!!! If all you want to do is fly, do this!
    You know what you will fly and where. You can do it part time or full time.
    The standard path includes enlisting while in college. Graduate and apply for a home grown position. Home grown positions go to folks based on their reputation in the unit. Go to flight school, get trained, return and fly whatever unit your unit flys.
    The one downside, your unit may switch aircraft. Fargo was one of the most decorated Viper units, they are flying drones now.

    Some units have home grown slots that go to people off the street. These type of selectees generally have their pilot license, but there are some that don't.

    Again only a summary. Do your own homework.

  2. Humey

    Humey Member

    Jun 21, 2016
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    My son got a pilot spot at AF Rotc so I can give a little more detail. From what I hear about AF Academy, if you want to be a pilot and you medical qualify, you get the spot. As for ROTC, if you want to be a pilot, you apply for a rated position. There are various Rated positions including pilot, RPA (drones), a Navigator position and a couple of others. I dont remember the other two and since we are talking about pilots, I will have you look up those. Everyone in AF Rotc gets ranked. Their are several elements in how you get ranked and some of them are weighted more than others. They include, GPA, PT score (physical training), Commanders rating, AFOTQ test scores (imagine SAT test with aviation and navigation questions) and the TBAS test which is computerized basic aviation skills test. The interesting thing about the AFOTQ and TBAS tests is that they are combined to give you the PCMS score. The AFOQT test gives you different scores based on the portion of the test. There is a pilot score, a navigation score, verbal and etc. In order to calculate the PCMS score, they take the Pilot score (my son got 95 out of 99), the TBAS score along with any flying hours you may have, add salt to it and come up with a new score. I am kidding on the salt, it just that no one seems to know what how they calculate the score. So for example, after my son took the TBAS test, he was awarded a 70 on the PCMS score. That means between his 95 on the pilot section of the AFOQT along with his TBAS score, he received a 70. However, when he added his 201 flight hours, he wound up with a 98. There is one other score they take into account. During the summer between ending sophomore year and entering Junior year, the cadets go to AF Field Training in Alabama ( I think they call it LEAD today) for 20 days or so. The number of days each year is different as they are reducing the number of days needed to attend. The cadets are rated there also and is included the ranking calculation. So in the end, it is the PCMS score, GPA, commander rankings, Field Training score and and PT score. After all that, a board reviews the cadets package and awards a ranked job based on his scores. The cadets typically give a list of rated jobs they want, so if they ask for a pilot spot, they may wind up with a RPA position which was their second choice on their list. Or they may not qualify for any of the rated positions. After that, they then need to qualify medically and that is where some people lose their position as they fail their medical tests. When people lose these pilot spots, it opens up more spaces so the guy or gal who got a RPA spot initially for example, will be given the option to move up to a pilots position. If i screwed up on anything let me know.
  3. Pima

    Pima 10-Year Member

    Nov 28, 2007
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    Just a correction. It is the PCSM not the PCMS.

    The other rated spot is the ABM = Air Battle Manager. ABMs fly around in AWACs and they are people that support air and ground for coordination.
    ~ ABMs are deployed A LOT and due to this fact they have few that volunteer for this position.

    Unless something has changed, and it very well could have. The flight hours are added to the TBAS score alone. They than add the AFOQT and the TBAS to get your PCSM.
    ~ It is important to understand 2 things about these exams.
    1. The AFOQT can only be taken 2x and the test dates must be 180 days apart.
    ~ There are study guides for the AFOQT. As stated before the AFOQ is akin to the ACT. It is timed and has 4 sections. Pilot, Nav., Eng and Quantative. In the exam there will be things like spatial awareness.
    2. The TBAS does not have any study guides. Cadets are told that they are not allowed to discuss what is on the exam with other cadets.
    ~ It is typically held at an AFB educational center if possible.
    ~ This is when you bring your flight log with you.
    ~ Even as little as 20 hrs will allow you to get a bump in your score.

    I do not recall the exact breakdown for the OML. However it was something akin to 50% CoC, 20% AFOOT/TBAS, 15% GPA and 15% PFA I am pretty sure my % are off, but you can get at least a clue of how it will figure out.
    ~ The CoC % will be the largest and include how the cadet ranks within the unit and how they did at SFT. They are given x points for their ranking,
    ~ It might be now that the COC is lower and they bumped up the other areas.

    As stated if picked up for pilot you will go for an FAA FC1 physical at Wright Pat AFB during the summer of your rising senior yr. It is a 3 day trip. If you fail this exam they will send you to the non-rated board in the fall.
    ~ There are different levels of the FAA FC. Pilot is the highest level of exam.

    It is not necessarily true that they will pull you from let's say RPA to Pilot if slots open. This aspect occurs if when your rated slot drops in the spring it says you are an alt. for pilot. IE you may get RPA and that is it. You may get pilot alt., but at that time you are going RPA. Our DS's friend was an alt. He found out in Mar., that a pilot slot opened and was given it.
    ~ This occurs because they have ranked them out and just like scholarships or appointments they have a historical % in mind that will medically not qualify, thus they now have the list already ranked out for them to move over to the pilot world.
    ~ Again, they may have switched things up since that time, so I heed to younger posters to correct my info.

    As far as ANG or the Reserves go for AF this would be the last path I would recommend anybody ever thinking about. It really is akin to being hired by any company. It is insanely competitive.
    ~ A. They have to have a job opening
    ~~ Not every unit will have a job opening all the time.
    ~ B. You will interview for the position
    ~~ Sometimes networking will play into the situation.
    ~ C. Unless something has changed you will owe them several years before you can become a weekend warrior.
    ~~ As stated you enter UPT knowing what airframe you will end up with. You will go through that and than the airframe training, and then report back to your unit, where you go full time in the beginning.

    Many ADAF pilots will go Guard or do Palace Chase when they get the chance to bolt at the 10 year marker as added income to their very low airline pay. Thus, see above regarding a job opening.

    Hope that helps.
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2018
    Oldsalt likes this.
  4. Humey

    Humey Member

    Jun 21, 2016
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    THANKS, I will fix it. Oops, I cant edit my original post