Pilot Slots at AFA

kittkatt

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May 16, 2016
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While I know that AFA grads are allocated a certain number of pilot slots and that a cadet's OM score (with GPA being a key factor) is hugely important, do an AFA cadet's prior logged flight hours, pilot ratings, etc. factor into pilot slot assignments (as they do for AFROTC folk, Guard/Reserve applicants, etc.)? And if so, do AFA cadets who participate on the flying team, for example, have an advantage over, say, cadets who are IC athletes and whose spare time is invested in activities other than building flight hours and adding extra ratings? I guess my question is whether a AFA cadet's flight experience goes into his/her official OM score.
 

fencersmother

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It usually boils down to this: if you've got the grades, top half of the class, and want a pilot slot, it is yours to lose. Previous flight experience doesn't usually make much difference.
 

kittkatt

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It usually boils down to this: if you've got the grades, top half of the class, and want a pilot slot, it is yours to lose. Previous flight experience doesn't usually make much difference.
Thanks, that's what I had assumed. By excluding prior flight experience from a cadet's OM score that keeps things more equal among the AFA cadets. To the extent that any advantages (or, candidly, disadvantages) arise from prior flight experience they would be confined to UPT.
 

AFrpaso

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The "OM" (Order of Merit?) score your referring to is known as OPA or Overall Performance Average. Flight experience does not directly impact the OPA, but can allow for a cadet to have more responsibility/leadership experience which boosts MPA (military performance average) and subsequently OPA. Of course athletics can have a similar and sometimes better effect (increased PEA, physical education average, and potential for leadership which increases MPA).

When it comes to big AF pilot slot selection there is what is known as the PCSM score which does include flight experience, the AFOQT, the TBAS (and more?). From my understanding, and that understanding is limited, nearly all cadets get a minimum qualifying PCSM score and move on. Flight experience gives an edge in the PCSM, but not a substantial one. In fact, I have never heard of someone missing a pilot slot because of a low PCSM score (it was always low OPA or medical disqualification).

Do what you find to be personally more fulfilling. Do well in school. Don't sweat this kind of stuff now as there will be countless opportunities to be counseled on the intricacies of career path selection.
 

Stealth_81

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Outside of any "official" advantage to being on the flying team, there is an advantage to it if you are interested in ENJJPT. Selection for ENJJPT from USAFA is mostly based on OM, but there is also a component to the ranking that comes from the airfield commander's evaluation. The members of the flying team as well as glider IPs and any others who have a lot of "face time" with the airfield commander have an advantage in that and tend to be ranked higher. Other than this there is no advantage to flight hours.

Stealth_81
 

MidwestDad

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To summarize good input above:

It won't hurt but sure won't compensate for not being in top half of your class [or better] . . . focus on academics and physical fitness and OM/OPA will follow.
The airmanship program is a great fringe benefit of USAFA but not the prime path.
 

RedDragon

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Pilot slots went very deep on the OM at USAFA for the Class of 2017 and reportedly will for 2018 as well. Son had a friend who was ranked in the last 4th of the class who is heading to UPT.
 

Christcorp

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Usually, not always, the academy can't seem to get enough to fill the slots, and additional slots are given to rotc. See,s that 80-90% say they want to fly when they enter the academy. But after realizing what they've gotten into, many decide they don't want a 10 year commitment. Like mentioned. If you graduate and are medically qualified, a pilot slot is yours if you want it.
 

BlahuKahuna

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I mean...there's been a pilot (and RPA) wait list for the last couple of years. If you're in the bottom 20-30% of the class, you're rolling the dice with whether or not you'll end up on the pilot wait list.

The "all-in" rated selection system makes it a little more complicated, and you could end up with a different rated option (RPA, ABM, or CSO) than the one you initially wanted. You'll stay on the wait list for your top choice, but there's no guarantee you'll get a pilot slot from there, giving you a choice: choose your second choice rated position, or give up on rated to enter non-rated selection.

It's not tremendously difficult to get a pilot slot from USAFA, but it's really not yours "if you want it." The pilot wait list was pushing 50+ cadets even into the spring.
 

Humey

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The "OM" (Order of Merit?) score your referring to is known as OPA or Overall Performance Average. Flight experience does not directly impact the OPA, but can allow for a cadet to have more responsibility/leadership experience which boosts MPA (military performance average) and subsequently OPA. Of course athletics can have a similar and sometimes better effect (increased PEA, physical education average, and potential for leadership which increases MPA).

When it comes to big AF pilot slot selection there is what is known as the PCSM score which does include flight experience, the AFOQT, the TBAS (and more?). From my understanding, and that understanding is limited, nearly all cadets get a minimum qualifying PCSM score and move on. Flight experience gives an edge in the PCSM, but not a substantial one. In fact, I have never heard of someone missing a pilot slot because of a low PCSM score (it was always low OPA or medical disqualification).

Do what you find to be personally more fulfilling. Do well in school. Don't sweat this kind of stuff now as there will be countless opportunities to be counseled on the intricacies of career path selection.

My son is AF ROTC so it can be different, but his PCSM went from 70 to 98 because he had over 201+ flight time. From what I read, at least for AFROTC, the PCSM was important and many of the people who got a pilot spot (including my son) had a high PCSM and a pilot license. Medical disqualification comes after they receive their spot. My son and three others who had received a pilot spot went to Wright Patterson to get their pilot medical exam and my son was the only one who can continue on.
 

BlahuKahuna

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AFrpaso has good info. For USAFA, it's only required to have a qualifying PCSM score (I want to say it was 25, but don't quote me.) Having a higher score doesn't make a difference when it comes to getting a pilot slot, as it only matters if you qualify. I've heard of a few people who need to take the TBAS/AFOQT again or get flight hours in order to get the minimum PCSM score, but like AFrpaso said, it's very rarely the biggest obstacle someone faces for the pilot slot.

PCSM does play a role in ENJJPT selection from USAFA, but they really do look at the whole package. Not everyone is offered the opportunity to apply for ENJJPT-that itself is based on class rank. Anecdotally, I've seen people with mid-30 PCSM scores selected for ENJJPT because they had a solid class rank and leadership background.
 
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