Pilot - RPA marriage

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by Cadette20, Jun 6, 2018.

  1. Cadette20

    Cadette20 New Member

    Jun 6, 2018
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    I am a rising 2dig Cadette. I have been dating this guy for awhile now and who knows if it will work. I am dead set on being a pilot and he is dead set on RPAs. I was just curious if there are couples out there that are RPA and Pilot married couples out there? If so I would like to know your story and how hard it was to go through training apart.
  2. Humey

    Humey Member

    Jun 21, 2016
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    It would be very helpful if you were both stationed in Nevada
    Cadette20 likes this.
  3. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator 10-Year Member

    Jul 26, 2008
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    Time for honesty here...a "traditional pilot" and an "RPA pilot" will be a tough joint career.

    Take a look at the options...where are the RPA's at and what are the options? MQ-9's and RQ-4? Okay...where are they?

    Beale AFB, CA
    Grand Forks AFB, ND

    Creech AFB, NV
    Shaw AFB, SC
    Holloman AFB, NM
    Tyndall AFB, FL

    There may be a few more locations for RPA crews to be based; no RPA's there, just the mission command elements.

    Now...match those to "airplane" bases...Beale AFB? The venerable U-2 but you don't get that out of SUPT. And as one that has tried the Dragonlady (briefly, I opted out when CinC House said I should not do it)...it's a b**** to fly; the mission is awesome, the mission tempo is VERY busy. Grand Forks...in the old days it was a bomber/tanker base; now...no other aircraft.

    Creech...Nellis is fairly close but that's not an initial assignment base for a pilot. Shaw...F-16 base...Tyndall...F-22 base...Holloman...nothing...

    In short...you've got a large gap of area for assignments. In North Dakota...203 miles west of Grand Forks lies Minot AFB...B-52 base.

    This would be a challenge...nothing is impossible; my wife and I endured one base apart, one conflict apart (desert storm) before she decided she was done flying for the AF and went back to the engineering field in the civilian world. I flew with a pilot who's wife was always based "about 500 miles away" for most of their careers. They hit 20, both Lt Col's, and said "time for us" and they retired. Last I heard they were loving life like newlyweds!

    It can be done but both must be very honest about the challenges.

    USAFA '83
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  4. zachtx

    zachtx 5-Year Member

    Mar 4, 2013
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    The easiest places for you to both go would be a) Nellis/Creech in Las Vegas with the HH-60 & MQ-9 or b) Cannon AFB in lovely Clovis, NM. AFSOC flies multiple FW aircraft and MQ-9s out of there, but other than those, from what I can tell, joint spouse assignments would be tough to come by. I know RPAs are stationed at a few other locations, but from what I have seen, most Lts start their career at either Creech or Cannon. You may be able to pull the joint spouse card and be sent to Laughlin for UPT, while he does his training in San Antonio.
    Cadette20 likes this.
  5. fencersmother

    fencersmother 10-Year Member Founding Member

    Oct 10, 2007
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    I love that our OP entitles (her)self as "Cadette."
    THParent, 2018DAD and Cadette20 like this.
  6. bsa07eagle

    bsa07eagle 5-Year Member

    Jun 24, 2009
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    Some good friends of mine are stationed at Cannon. They got married a few months ago now, one is an RPA pilot and the other flies C-130's. It does help a bit being in AFSOC because they will both probably alternate between here and Hurlburt Field FL.

    Cadette20 likes this.
  7. cb7893

    cb7893 5-Year Member

    Dec 6, 2011
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    Let me give you an example of a two officer marriage @Cadette20 . They are both Army so the situation certainly isn't exactly analogous. This is simply meant to share one military couple's approach.

    This involves my DS, Army 1Lt and his soon-to-be Army 1Lt DW. They were a year apart in the same AROTC battalion. They were married shortly after he went AD and she was in her final year of school. He had discussed with us the possibility of them getting married, but we were not informed until after they'd pulled the trigger. With both of them so busy, there was no time to plan a real wedding, which my DW still can't get over. DS and DIL are two strong personalities, one an irresistible force and one an immovable object.

    Without expressing this notion, I believe they understood that one's 20's are in many ways the most consequential time in a young person's life. It is the time when a person builds a skill set. Whether one is a professional pilot, a neurosurgeon, a plumber, or a SEAL, those specific skills are learned and honed in one's 20's. It is a perfect time marrying an educational foundation, youthful curiosity, physical stamina and a desire to go out and actual accomplish something. They concluded that if they both went AD and tried to stay together, that one of their two paths to the future would be affected negatively. All of this was thought out ahead of time before making the decision.

    DS went AD several months after commissioning, spent 16 weeks in Basic Officer Leadership Course, then off to the ME for 15 of the next 16 months. In the meanwhile, DIL finished school, commissioned into the Army Reserves (branched Finance Corps), and started a job in which she is thriving. DS is based in FL on the Redneck Riviera, she in the Wasatch Range in UT. If one likes the beach and the mountains--they receive 400" of snow per year--it is about perfect. I can't tell you how many days a year they get to spend together, but I can tell you that they plan as many as possible. Yes, there are separation issues. She takes care of the house they bought and AIRBNB from time to time. He just misses her. More than once, he remarked while in the ME, "I just want to get back and see ******."

    Several months ago, DS had to begin thinking about his promotion to Captain and making decisions that would potentially extend his his Army career by two years and probably reduce their time together. When I discussed it with him, i.e. listened to what he had to say and kept my mouth shut, he said quite clearly that ****** could nix the whole thing. She didn't. He is preparing diligently for his next step. She received a good promotion, gets to take her dog to work and couldn't be happier. On the surface, they may appear to be selfish. Each is concentrated on his/her own path to the future. I can tell you, however, that they are devoted to one another and truly enjoy the other's success. (I would also add that DS got the better end of this whole bargain.)

    Each marriage is different, but they all have something in common, whether a prolonged separation is likely or not. You and your partner have to be completely honest about your long term goals and what you are or aren't willing to sacrifice. You have to be supportive of the other's success. If you can do that and truly say "That's the one. I can't let him/her get away," then the rest is just details.

    Best of luck in whatever you do.
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