Cactuswren

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Joined
Mar 25, 2021
Messages
10
Hello! I'm trying to decide between USAFA and USNA (a good problem to have, but an incredibly difficult decision) and wanted to get some experienced input on how close to the action I would be as a pilot in the Navy. And, well, what are my chances of being selected for a pilot slot? I'm leaning AF at the moment because I know the chances are higher of getting one, but if Navy/marine pilot experiences are more rewarding then it may be worth the risk. Also... As a pilot, are you stuck on the ship for 6 months, or does your life look different from the typical navy officer in that regard?
 

OldRetSWO

USNA 78/parent 11/BGO for >25yrs
10-Year Member
Joined
Aug 27, 2010
Messages
3,697
Hello! I'm trying to decide between USAFA and USNA (a good problem to have, but an incredibly difficult decision) and wanted to get some experienced input on how close to the action I would be as a pilot in the Navy. And, well, what are my chances of being selected for a pilot slot? I'm leaning AF at the moment because I know the chances are higher of getting one, but if Navy/marine pilot experiences are more rewarding then it may be worth the risk. Also... As a pilot, are you stuck on the ship for 6 months, or does your life look different from the typical navy officer in that regard?
Like anything else, "it depends". Pilots CAN be deployed on a ship for 6 months at a time BUT, (until COVID), those six months often include a number of port visits to crappy places like the French Riviera, Australia, Hong Kong, etc. Some Naval aviators pilots do not deploy aboard ship, they deploy to land bases just like the Air Force.

As for which service has more of a chance of getting a Pilot Slot, I don't know where you're getting your info but USNA gets a lot of Aviation slots and a person who wants one NOT getting one is not really common.
 

jobu122

Member
Joined
Mar 9, 2021
Messages
27
From Bob Norris. Navy pilot who also flew F-15 in an exchange tour. It’s funny but very true. Wrote this to another young Jedi contemplating the same thing.


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.
 

usnabgo08

USNA 2008/BGO
15-Year Member
Joined
Jul 15, 2007
Messages
2,219
As OldRetSWO stated, a lot is dependent. Depends on what theatre you are in, depends on your platform (aircraft), depends on missions/operations (influenced by current geo-political strategic objectives). There typically is very high demand for the capabilities that an aircraft carrier and carrier air wing (aircraft deployed to a carrier) bring, so sometimes that could be one of the first options a Combatant Commander or Joint Force Air Component Commander might tap into. There is also quite a bit of support from Naval air land-based assets. Overall, I was actually quite amazed how much Naval aviation provides to the joint force...a lot more than what I would have expected.
 
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flieger83

Super Moderator
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Messages
5,262
Ah..I've seen that comparison many times...it's funny; clearly written by a navy pilot with an agenda.

"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."

Okay...you'll do all that in the AF too...the only thing you won't do is be catapulted off a deck and you won't spend much time in Singapore. Aside from that...eh.

Oh, and the hottest person in the bar (male or female) in the USA, Europe, etc., will want the AF pilot. In Singapore they don't know any better.
(fights on)


Steve
 

helmsdown

5-Year Member
Joined
Feb 2, 2017
Messages
326
Hello! I'm trying to decide between USAFA and USNA (a good problem to have, but an incredibly difficult decision) and wanted to get some experienced input on how close to the action I would be as a pilot in the Navy. And, well, what are my chances of being selected for a pilot slot? I'm leaning AF at the moment because I know the chances are higher of getting one, but if Navy/marine pilot experiences are more rewarding then it may be worth the risk. Also... As a pilot, are you stuck on the ship for 6 months, or does your life look different from the typical navy officer in that regard?
Ah..I've seen that comparison many times...it's funny; clearly written by a navy pilot with an agenda.

"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."

Okay...you'll do all that in the AF too...the only thing you won't do is be catapulted off a deck and you won't spend much time in Singapore. Aside from that...eh.

Oh, and the hottest person in the bar (male or female) in the USA, Europe, etc., will want the AF pilot. In Singapore they don't know any better.
(fights on)


Steve
I'm not a pilot but I'd wager money the closest you'll come to action is inserting ground troops into a hot LZ or medivacing those same troops. The next would be close air support in a helicopter gun ship or an A10. The hottest girl in the bar might not want you but some ground pounders will buy you a drink.
 

WT Door

Member
Joined
Dec 25, 2019
Messages
594
Ah..I've seen that comparison many times...it's funny; clearly written by a navy pilot with an agenda.

"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."

Okay...you'll do all that in the AF too...the only thing you won't do is be catapulted off a deck and you won't spend much time in Singapore. Aside from that...eh.

Oh, and the hottest person in the bar (male or female) in the USA, Europe, etc., will want the AF pilot. In Singapore they don't know any better.
(fights on)


Steve
Leave it to the “go fast” pilots to extoll the virtues of their community and service. I give them their props; they can talk with their hands. Indeed, they are smooth. Navy and Air Force jet pilots, when at the bar, transfer the conversation to the hottest girl by saying “I’m tired of taking about me. Now you, can talk about me”. Jet pilot paradigms tend leave out the rotor heads that exist within their services. There are more helicopter pilots in the Navy than there are jet pilots. Helicopters can land on a variety of Navy ships in addition to aircraft carriers. SWOs love us. Sunrises and sunsets are wonderful from the cockpit in either service. It’s a shared thing. Helicopter pilots are an appreciative lot. Perhaps it’s because they don’t have ejection handles in their machines. Here was Harry Reasoner’s take on helicopters back in the ‘70s:

"The thing is, helicopters are different from planes. An airplane by its very nature wants to fly and, if not interfered with too strongly by unusual events or by a deliberately incompetent pilot, it will fly. A helicopter does not want to fly. It is maintained in the air by a variety of forces and controls working in opposition to each other and, if there is any disturbance in this delicate balance, the helicopter stops flying; immediately and disastrously. There is no such thing as a gliding helicopter."

"This is why being a helicopter pilot is so different from being an airplane pilot, and why in generality, airplane pilots are open, clear-eyed, buoyant extroverts, and helicopter pilots are brooding introspective anticipators of trouble. They know if something bad has not happened it is about to."
Helo pilots.jpg

Good natured banter aside, I have nothing but respect for those that served, are serving and will serve.

Extra:
How big a tip does a jet pilot leave at the bar during happy hour? 20 cents, a pair of dimes (paradigms) ;).
 

flieger83

Super Moderator
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Joined
Jul 26, 2008
Messages
5,262
Leave it to the “go fast” pilots to extoll the virtues of their community and service. I give them their props; they can talk with their hands. Indeed, they are smooth. Navy and Air Force jet pilots, when at the bar, transfer the conversation to the hottest girl by saying “I’m tired of taking about me. Now you, can talk about me”. Jet pilot paradigms tend leave out the rotor heads that exist within their services. There are more helicopter pilots in the Navy than there are jet pilots. Helicopters can land on a variety of Navy ships in addition to aircraft carriers. SWOs love us. Sunrises and sunsets are wonderful from the cockpit in either service. It’s a shared thing. Helicopter pilots are an appreciative lot. Perhaps it’s because they don’t have ejection handles in their machines. Here was Harry Reasoner’s take on helicopters back in the ‘70s:

"The thing is, helicopters are different from planes. An airplane by its very nature wants to fly and, if not interfered with too strongly by unusual events or by a deliberately incompetent pilot, it will fly. A helicopter does not want to fly. It is maintained in the air by a variety of forces and controls working in opposition to each other and, if there is any disturbance in this delicate balance, the helicopter stops flying; immediately and disastrously. There is no such thing as a gliding helicopter."

"This is why being a helicopter pilot is so different from being an airplane pilot, and why in generality, airplane pilots are open, clear-eyed, buoyant extroverts, and helicopter pilots are brooding introspective anticipators of trouble. They know if something bad has not happened it is about to."
View attachment 8519

Good natured banter aside, I have nothing but respect for those that served, are serving and will serve.

Extra:
How big a tip does a jet pilot leave at the bar during happy hour? 20 cents, a pair of dimes (paradigms) ;).
Oh, I've taken the cyclic and collective in hand...and "danced the skies...like a drunk on ice skates!" It was...educational.

Of course, that's how my classmate, the rotor head, er, helo driver described his short nap during a BFM ride I took him on. He said it was very...interesting.

As for tips at the bar? Surely you jest...we normally turn down payment from the staff; the honor of serving us is usually sufficient.
 
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