Looking into a flying career in military

Sosai88

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Jul 30, 2017
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I had few questions i was hoping to get answered. I am trying to go to college and join ROTC to get a pilot slot in military. I have a problem which branch to choose. My main goal is to serve the country for few year until my commitment is over and then I will decide to leave for civilian route or stay. But i want to have the option of leaving and becoming a civilian pilot.
First option is Air Force but i don't lile the culture but i have heard is where you get the most flying time which would help you after military.
My 2nd option is the Marines. It's my favorite one Because i love being part of one of the best trained military force in the world. The only problem is that i heard there is a good chance you fly helicopters. Would that effect my dream of being pilot after military? What are chances of me flying fixed wing or a jet? I will work really hard and try to finish at top of my class .Do you build solid flying hours in Marines?
And of course there is also Navy but I'm not that interested right now but I am willing to hear things about it that would make me change my mind.
 

Stealth_81

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What is it that you don't like about the Air Force culture? Air Force flying time varies wildly depending on which airframe you end up with after winging. Some transports get 400+ hours a year on a regular basis. B-2 pilots might only get 40-50 hours a year actually flying the B-2. They have to fly companion trainers (T-38) to keep their hours high enough to remain current. The commitment for an AF pilot is 10 years after earning your wings, so about 12 years after you graduate college and start flight school. Navy and Marines is 8 years after winging. Are you going to be committed to that amount of time, which is more than "few" years?

Stealth_81
 

Capt MJ

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Military pilots, all services, are all cool in their own way. Some just think they are cooler than others. I am married to a retired nasal aviator (as he and my b-in-law both name themselves as Phantom, Tomcat and Hornet guys). DH thought the SAR helo folks were very cool after a night launch ended with him and his jet parting ways prematurely, with a sea bath included.
 

USMCGrunt

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Go Marine Infantry. Lots of rides on helicopters and Ospreys (often generally close to where they were supposed to take you) and in circumstances as frequent as a blue moon you will get to see jets drop bombs in the vicinity of the target.
 

Pima

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The commitment for an AF pilot is 10 years after earning your wings, so about 12 years after you graduate college and start flight school. Navy and Marines is 8 years after winging. Are you going to be committed to that amount of time, which is more than "few" years?

I would also add that Navy pilot training is longer. Our DS graduated AFROTC in May, started UPT in April (11 months after commissioning). Winged 54 weeks later. Meanwhile our friends DS (USNA grad) commissioned in May, started UPT 4 weeks later and winged 3 months after our DS. Just saying if the AF pipeline speeds up and you start UPT within a few months of commissioning you are not really looking at a couple of years, but only a year longer due to the fact that it is common for 2 yrs to winging in the Navy once you start UPT.

I am with Stealth, what part of the culture don't you like? My DH flew F15Es, our DS flies the C130J. Their missions are very different, which can change the culture.
 

Hurricane12

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The missions of the Air Force and the Marine Corps are very different. I'm not too spun up on the Air Force to speak intelligently about it, so I'll stick to my lane:

Marines, largely, support Marines with a tight tactical focus. In garrison, I'm a ten minute drive from the infantry guys' part of Camp Pendleton. On deployment, they live in the next stateroom down. I live, eat, work out, and talk daily with guys who I could support in combat. Everything we do (operationally or in training) centers around how best to support them. This is ultimately true for every platform in the Marine Corps, whether it involves ordnance delivery or not. I don't necessarily go for the notion of every Marine a rifleman/every Marine Officer a rifle platoon commander, but there is definite "buy in" with the ground guys. I'm not supporting some random dude on the other end of the radio, it's the guy I ate breakfast with that morning.
The Marine Corps puts more of a burden of officer-ship on its pilots than any other service than the Army. You are responsible for a lot as a pilot that seems at best tangentially related to flying. The only non-aviator officers in my squadron are the maintenance Warrant Officers/the assistant Maintenance Officer and maybe an intelligence officer. This has its pros and cons, and means that the logistics of running a squadron almost completely falls to pilots.

To some of your other points:
-Flight hours in every service and every platform can be feast or famine. Right now, Marine jets are hurting and helos are booming. A couple years ago, the reverse was true. It all depends. Typically, yes, you will stack up mad hours as a heavy pilot. To me, the idea of sitting in the cockpit for 12 hours staring at nothing flying over the ocean sounds like death.
-Your chances of flying one thing or another are dependent on a ludicrous range of factors: timing, luck, hard work, what instructor you get for a particular flight, what time of year you show up, and the Voodoo of pilot manning that is continually tweaked by HQ USMC in Quantico and wherever in the Air Force. I know good, hard working guys who got their last chance in flight school. It happens. Work hard and be a team player, make it known what you want without being a dick, and you will likely get something that will make you satisfied.
-Helos get a bad rap with the wannabe crowd on here. This is silly, because helicopters are awesome. I fly an aircraft that now is capable of almost every function of Marine Corps aviation. It happens to have rotors on top. There are also former helo pilots flying for the airlines, if that's your bag. It's a more difficult road but it's possible.

Kids on here get wrapped around the axel about flying something to set themselves up for going to the airlines. This is dumb. You have the rest of your life to fly bigass boring planes.
 

Pima

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Kids on here get wrapped around the axel about flying something to set themselves up for going to the airlines. This is dumb. You have the rest of your life to fly bigass boring planes.

1,000,000 % agree! You know what the AF calls airline pilots? Bus drivers in the sky!
 
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