I want to be the best pilot in the U.S. Armed Forces. Navy or Airforce?

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10-Year Member
5-Year Member
Nov 18, 2007
I am applying to both the Air Force academy and Naval academy. I really want to go to the air force academy because it will hands down provide a much better expierience for me then the naval academy. But career wise, who has a better flight program? The Navy or Air Force? Which one makes better pilots? Thanks again.
Someone's stirring a hornet's nest up here... (no pun to my name please!). The chances of getting a pilot slot are better at Air Force, most agree there. Who's the best? That's up to the pilots. Both Navy and Air Force have their share of weapons school grads, astronauts, etc. Don't go for who makes "better pilots," go for the life. Would you like to live on a boat for months at a time or live on a permanent base? AF has more family friendly conditions usually if that's what you're looking for. AF also offers more types of aircraft than navy, not everyone can be a topgun fighter jock. But back to the beginning, it will be YOU who decides how good of a pilot you become, not which service, they both offer great opportunities and training.

While people will say its very much more difficult to land on a tiny moving object than a solid 2 mile runway, how much does the landing and take-off really mean besides the pride factor if you can get the plane to do what's needed?

Couldn't have said it better myself, Hornetguy (In fact, I may plagarize your words on future threads and other forums).:biggrin:

But like I said before, I always felt that when I take off for a four hour sortie in bad guy land, I like to know that when I return, my home base is where I left it!
Ohh.....Horneyguy called it a boat.

If you want to land in the same place you took off...join the Air Force or the Army.

If you want to land on little stamp in the middle of the big ocean, join the Navy or Marine Corps.

If you want to land on a little ink spot on that little stamp, join the Coast Guard.

Please do not land your planes on my cutter...that will be messy for you and us.
I like playing with boats. ;) lol don't worry, I didn't forget about all of you. ;)
Hey man, i'm already the best pilot....

but seriously, do you want to live on a boat or on terra firma? The choice is yours. For the record... AF specializes in airpower obviously. Navy doesnt.

check it....

"Bob Norris is a former Naval aviator who also did a 3 year exchange Tour flying the F-15 Eagle. In response to a letter from an aspiring fighter pilot on which military academy to attend, Bob replied with the following.

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 in 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 ass 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


PS Air Force pilots wear scarves and iron their flight suits."
Bullet here with a funny story (and please forgive my getting off topic from the OP)...

Back in 04, I did a tour at the Joint HQ at Al Faw Palace in Baghdad. My primary office was at the "AF" bldg down the road from the main HQ located in Sadam's Water Palace. The AF bldg is one of the minor mini-palaces on the compound, a three-story mansion with a huge back patio overlooking a man-made lake. From the patio to the lake's other shore - about 275 yards. Being an AF guy, my immediate thought was "I bet I could hit a decent drive across that water hazard!"

Someone before me had left a couple of old clubs and a 5' x 5' piece of artifical turf. The perfect set-up! All I needed was some golf balls. Pima's Mom came through on that end. When I mentioned to Pima my idea, she wrote her mom (an avid golfer) about my dilema. A few weeks later, I started receiving hundreds of used golf balls from courses throughout central NJ (word got out fast that someone over there was looking for them). I made a tee out of old tubing and inserted it into the artifical turf mat (just like a driving range), and spent the afternoon working on my game with all the other AF types. (Some of my best photos from my time there show my perfect form as I drive one over the pond. "It's in the Hole!")

It became the joke of the theater. Once again, one of the first things the AF did was build a golf course! We tried to get some golf shirts made ("AFGC - Al FAw Golf Course"), but even if we made them, we couldn't wear them in theater. It is my understanding that everything is still there, and every AF Big Wig who has visited the Joint HQ has made it over to "hit a few over the pond").

So the AF tradition continues. First the airfield (Baghdad Intl, in this case), then the golf course.

When someone complains to me about the AF life versus the way they are treated in the sister services, I just give them one of my favorite quotes. From Indiana Jones and the LAst Crusade, "You chose poorly".:shake:
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And I've never ironed my flight suit!

And the only time I wear a scarf is in my flight suit pant leg at the O'club on a Friday night. It's kept there in case I'm asked to ref a crud match.
2600 hours in F-15Es, F-111s, and AT-38s. Instructor time in all.

Mission Commander of over 60 coalition aircraft in Operation Northern Watch, 4 times. Dropped ordinance on 9 different Iraqi targets. Shot at by SA-6s, 80 MM and 100 MM AAA.

Over 6 Red Flags, Mission Commander 10+ times there.

Yeah, I don't think I qualify as a possuer, and think I have the right to talk about flying fighters.

And I don't need to justify to you. I recommend you ask the rest of my fellow WSOs in the Strike Eagle community if they feel they're possuers as well. You won't like the answer.....
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It seems that this thread has gotten out of line. I am asking everyone to take a break and let the thread go back to it's original intent. If you have anything further to discuss, please use the private message feature.


Moderator - USAFA Forum
OK, let me clarify myself. I am an AF officer, first and formost. Second, I am currently flying in F-15Es, and have been off and on (between some staff jobs and some joint PME) since 1995. I flew F-111s before that. My badge says "Master Navigator", but call me one to my face, or to the face of any WSO, and you'll quickly be shut-down. We're WSOs, a part of the 2 man team that strikes fear int he heart of the enemy, and we ge insulted if you compare us to guys who sit in the rear of a muti-engine aircraft taking celestial shots (no offense to those who have doe this important job).

Spending the past 20+ years in a two person fighter, the title of "fighter jock" kinda gets melded between all of us, the guys in the front seat and the guys in the back. The SAMs and AAA I've ducked in bad guy land didn't make a distinction between the two guys in the jet (Achmed, make sure you only shoot the guy in the front seat. We don't want to waste our missile on the WSO!")

I've spent my career a part of a team. I've studied tactics, threats, and systems side by side with every squadron mate, pilot and WSO. I've had a fighter jock's callsign (which I had to earn from my squadron mates) for over 20 years (Wife and kids know that if they want to get my attention, they need to scream, "Bullet!") I've drank scotch, sang rude songs, insulted shoe clerks, fought other teams in crud, and gotten into "heated arguements" with other members outside of my squadron and community side by side with all my squadron mates the entire time. Bottom Line: I AM a fighter jock. It's an attitude and a mentality, and in my community it is a given.

Now, when a young man or woman has a question concerning the what it is like to be a fighter jock, even a pilot, I think I have the expereince and the credentials to accurately answer their questions. I have done nothing but give these kids posting here sound advise and honest judgement. I've given the same to young men and women I have commanded or lead over the past 20 years, to include authoring their recommendations for everything from applications to UPT, Weapon School, and the Thunderbirds. I know what it takes to succeed in the fighter community, and what the AF is looking for (I won't presume to tell anyone how to go about getting these slots from my sister services, except for some basic, general thoughts).

So, if I feel that I know what it's like to fly fighters, and what it takes to be a successful fighter pilot, it just comes from my years of experience working with and in this field.

Now that you made some accusations about my credibilty towards flying fighters, I have to ask, What did you fly?
Yeah, I don't think I qualify as a possuer, and think I have the right to talk about flying fighters.

Please correct me if I am wrong here, but in aircraft with a two-person crew, isn't the WSO really a co-pilot? Doesn't the WSO have access to controls and instruments, not to mention the training necessary to fly and land the aircraft if the pilot becomes incapacitated?
I will honor the moderators request to allow this thread to get back on track but my previous post still applies.
Bullet, why stoop down to the level of a bitter old man? We know and trust your judgement and don't think less of you for a minute.
Yo Bullet, I totally believed you were an Eagle drive from the start. Like Hornet said, we trust you.

Regarding that letter, I can't remember were I got it from off cybespace although I know its real......... for the record.
I've seen that letter several times cs and I hear that its legit from people based on their experiences.
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