Question: OTS vs ROTC - AF Pilot

Discussion in 'OTS/OCS/PLC' started by xjfan, Oct 14, 2016.

  1. xjfan

    xjfan New Member

    Oct 14, 2016
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    Hello everyone,

    This will be my second post. Please excuse if it has been answered before. If so, please provide link to post.

    My DS just started community college. This school does not have ROTC, local university does. The local university has a program: community college to university.

    My son wants to be an AF pilot. Not fighter necessarily, likes C130 or bombers.

    He's started the first college semester and is undecided weather OTS vs ROTC. (currently going OTS route)

    He has spoken to recruiter online and in person, he was told either path will work. University ROTC also indicates either path will work.

    A little background:
    Age: 18yr
    Major: Computer Criminology
    Volunteer: Good Will (lots of hours)
    Planning to start PPL. He's currently gathering information.

    For those who has currently been through the process or know someone who has recently been through the process.

    Which path is preferred? Is one better than the other?

    We're just trying to determine the best path to getting pilot spot.

    Please let me know if you need additional information.


  2. Pima

    Pima 5-Year Member

    Nov 28, 2007
    Likes Received:
    They are two different paths, but neither is better to getting a pilot slot. There are reasons to go either path. However, a couple of things to think about from each perspective.
    1. He will have to compete for a Summer Field Training spot as a sophomore on a national board level. The selection process is composed of several areas. Currently, the rate is about 93% for all candidates.
    ~ CGPA, AFOQT score, Physical Fitness Test (PFT) and Commanders (CoC) ranking.
    ~ A criminology major would be considered non-tech. The avg cgpa for a non-tech in the past few years has been @3.3/3.4
    ~ The CoC ranking is the biggest chunk. For that reason I would suggest he try to join his spring semester.

    NO SFT = most likely disenrollment from AFROTC, and chances of going OTS is almost non-existent. IOWS game over.

    2. AFROTC is not just about attending LLAB and doing PT. As a cadet you will have a job within the unit. As you progress through the program, the jobs will demand more time away from studies, which can impact his cgpa.
    ~ As an upperclassman aka POC cadets can spend 20+ hrs a week doing jobs within the unit, such as flight commander.
    ~ Joining as a sophomore would make him an AS250, he will compete against AS200's. However, the 200's will most likely have a job for spring semester as 100, and a job for the fall as a 200. CoC's give some fall jobs out for 200's in the spring for the 100's. Our DS knew as a 100 his fall job as a 200 prior to the end of his spring semester. CoC's can't bank on how many 250s will join in the fall, and there are certain positions that they want to have cadets with experience. IE. my DS was the flight PT instructor fall semester 200 yr. Why? Because you can't give a PT instructor job to a cadet on day 1 that has yet to take the PFT.

    3. Again AFROTC is not just about attending LLAB and PT. It is also about how much you give into it outside of LLAB and PT.
    ~ Many units will have military organizations, such as Honor Guard, Silver Wings, Arnold Air Society and Angel Flight.
    ~~ They are social groups that are made up with only AFROTC cadets. Each one is different. They meet weekly. They do philanthropic work. Yet, most importantly impo is it creates a bond between cadets.
    ~~~ However, see above regrading it is not just about LLAB and hrs away from studies which can impact your cgpa.
    ~ Many will have what is called GMC night, totally volunteer. It is done weekly where AS100/200/250s get together at the ROTC lounge, eat pizza, play foosball/xbox/Crud, watch movies for a couple of hours. This creates...bonding where they can talk to each other regarding their thoughts/emotions as a cadet in the same situation.
    ~ Some units will have POC mentors for GMC cadets.
    ~~ If they do have this program, an AS 300/400 will be teamed up with an AS100/200/250. The program is meant to be a person that the GMC can go to for guidance/venting or whatever off book. Again, it exists, but it is about how much you give into the program. It also reiterates how as a 300 (POC) it is not just about attending LLAB and PT, taking time away from studies.

    4. AFROTC cadets as a junior(300) in their spring year will be put up for the rated board. It operates pretty much like SFT selection.
    ~ SFT ranking will be part of the score.
    ~~ Higher they rank out of Maxwell (SFT), more points.
    ~ Flight hours will give extra points
    ~~ The more hours, the bigger the bump.
    ~ AFOQT score will be replaced with TBAS.
    ~~ Both are exams that at this point in your sphere of knowledge = an SAT/ACT exam. It is timed.
    ~ He must rank all 4 rated positions....Pilot, CSO, RPA and ABM.
    ~~ They can give you an RPA slot because point wise you missed the Pilot score.

    Now for OTS. It is totally different world.
    1. He will not be able to apply until he is a rising senior in college.
    ~ Nobody, absolutely nobody knows what the pipeline will look like in 2019.
    2. Flight hours like AFROTC will matter.
    3. The selection boards only meet 2x a yr.
    ~ USAFA and AFROTC will already be in their pipeline for that yr group.
    ~~ @ 4 or 5 yrs ago, they cancelled one of the boards, because they already had enough prospective O1 commissions via USAFA and AFROTC for that fiscal yr group. There was no need to hold 2 boards.
    ~~ Our friend's DS (son of an O5 retiree pilot) applied for the rated board. Selected pilot only. He was given CSO. Contacted the recruiter and was flat out told if he turned down the CSO slot he could never apply for pilot.

    There is also the option of going Guard. He would have to apply for the unit. It is more like a job interview. If hired, he would go to UPT knowing that he will come back to that unit and fly whatever airframe they fly. He will not be ADAF. Typically, he will be full time for x amount of yrs. at the Guard unit.
    ~ IOWS, unlike my DS (130J pilot) he will not move around like my DS. Dyess, Little Rock, Ramstein, Yokota are not in his future unless they have Guard or Reserve units stationed there.

    Now for my final thoughts.
    1. I am slanted towards AFROTC over OTS.
    ~ Camaraderie is one huge reason from a rated world aspect.

    There are only 4 UPT (pilot) bases. It is a very small world when it comes to the rated world. Think like 1000 pilots winging every year, @1/3 will be AFROTC.
    ~ My DS winged out of Del Rio. He arrived there on casual status and on day 1 he had 2 friends from his AFROTC unit that he knew personally for several years that were in different stages of UPT.
    ~~ UPT is a 2 step program. 1st step is T6s. After the T6 program they are tracked into the T38/1 program. They were able to tell him the ins and outs that they had already endured as a UPT student.
    ~ He actually had a 3rd friend from his AFROTC det., that arrived at the same time as he did. Thus, 4 of them were there. It continued throughout his 18 months at UPT. (5 months casual, 13 months UPT)
    ~~ Right before he winged, a GMC from his det. that he mentored for the last 2 yrs as a ROTC POC showed up. He was able to payback to that peer what the others did for him with being one of their 1st friends to welcome them
    ~~ Look up Del Rio aka Laughlin AFB, and you will see in the AF it is known as He** Rio. No lie, but there is basically nothing there in a 2 hr drive radius than the base.

    Just saying it can be hard at 1st to start life by yourself hundreds of miles away knowing nobody. OTS is short, @ 3 months compared to 3-4 yrs in ROTC. They come from all different walks of life. Some are just recent college grads, some are prior enlisted. Just like ROTC, some will go non-rated, some will go rated. Some in the rated will go UPT, some will go UNT or RPA. However, what will be the same as ROTC, is the class size will not be super huge.

    Our DS got married 1 month after winging, or 2 yrs after commissioning. Two of his groomsmen were in AFROTC with him and one of them was the one that was in his UPT class.

    2. Nobody at UPT cares about your commissioning source. It gives you no edge. The instructor pilots (IP) only care about how you handle the stick.
    ~ DS's top graduates out of his UPT class for both the T38 and T1 track were OTS grads.
    ~~ They were both prior Enlisted.

    Just saying get flight hrs., and if he can afford it get the PPL because that means a lot more than you can gather right now.
    ~ Edge for rated board. UPT students with a PPL skip IFT (pre-cursor training for UPT). PPLs usually require an FAA FC physical, and if he gets his PPL he will know that at the least he will pass the lowest level of the FAA FC physical. Having a PPL means he will have solo'd. Having a PPL equates to more hours of landing with cross winds, which is huge at a base like Laughlin, or Enid. Having a PPL means he will understand the importance of the bold for the pubs.
    ~ If he can find an instructor that was prior AF, than use them before another pilot. The reason why is many will say getting your PPL can also hurt when it comes to UPT. A retired AF pilot will teach the AF way. It is the way they were trained for years upon years. An instructor that got their rating by paying for it with no AF experience doesn't know what the AF is looking at regarding how they score check rides...aka staying alive at UPT.

    3. If he wants to be a pilot, than take the time and read Raimius's blog. Raimius is a poster here, so just search his name. His blog is his signature, it is a blue link you can hit. It starts off with life at USAFA, but eventually will go through life at UPT. He too was at Del Rio. It takes you through IFT and every stage of UPT. It is a true life aspect.
    ~ As a parent, if this is the life he wants. Read the UPT section. I am not going to lie to you. Stealth, and Fencer will tell you that for that 54 weeks it is a whole new world. You enter it as a parent wanting to talk to them often, or at least 1x a week. By the end, you steel yourself if the phone ID on a Weds. night shows their phone number. Why? Because check flights occur during the this going to be a good call or a bad call? Strange to say, but you are actually happy not to hear from them, because it means life is good! At least that was true for me.

    Now for the truest reality. I get he wants to be a pilot, but the fact is he is going to be an AF officer 1st, 2nd and last. They will not call him Pilot Xjfan. They will call him Lt. Xjfan. He will not fly 5 days a week once he is operational. Maybe 2x a week. The other 3 days he will be flying a desk.
    ~ I am not only a Mom of a C130J pilot, but my DH flew fighters for 21 yrs. Flieger, Stealth and Fencer will back me up on this.
    ~~ Exception = deployments. Deployments= tons of flying, but it also means months away from home and family. 4/5/6 months at a clip in a far away place that usually is not somewhere anyone would want to take a vacation to ever!
    ~~ Fencer's twins fly heavies. C130 and C5s. commissioned via USAFA in 12, same yr my DS commissioned via AFROTC.

    He will owe a decade plus of his life if he wants to become a pilot. If my math is correct, he is looking at 2032 before he can leave the AF whether he goes AFROTC or OTS. They OWN him.
    ~ Fencer's and my DS both winged out of Laughlin in the same class, and both got C130Js to Dyess. They never thought that RPAs were possibly in their future. However, the needs of the AF always come 1st. Until lately the AF was handing out RPAs after the 1st op tour from the 130, 5, 17 community. They could do it because they OWNED them, and the AF needs came 1st.
    ~~ Fiscal Yr 16 (runs 10/1/15-9/30/16) USAF announced that 2 of every class at every base, minus ENJJPT, would get an RPA out of UPT. @100 UPT students found out that even though they got a UPT slot, not an RPA school slot would now go RPA. Why? Because they OWN them.

    He needs to really answer 1 question, and 1 question alone. Does he want to be a pilot or does he want to serve in the USAF? If it is the 1st, than I strongly suggest that he spends time on looking at how to go Guard/Reserve. If he wants to be an officer 1st and is willing to be owned than ROTC or OTS is equal.
    ~ Have I said enough yet that they OWN you?
    ~~ Is he willing to be stationed in Abilene TX? Because that is the most likely 1st base he will go. How about the Pine Barrens in NJ?
    ~~~ Recruiters for OTS will sell you Ramstein, Hickham, Eglin, San Antonio, etc. The pretty pretty assignments. Yet, as far as I am concerned, that is a slim chance.
    ~~~~ Bullet was ADAF for 21 yrs+, retired in 08. Flew F15E and 111s. We are Jersey born. I loved every single assignment, but I will not lie...arrived at Mt. Home, Idaho, and saw the sign of Hub of Elmore County, 8K people and about died. Seymour Johnson, NC, hub of Wayne County (just got Olive Garden and Harris Teeter in 2014, no Panerra yet) was not my idea of seeing the world. However I loved all of them.
    ~ Mt. Home, I got to see Boise. Enjoy the Snake River. Something people like me that got to enjoy would say is a gift to experience.
    ~ Goldsboro, is a close drive to the beach.

    The beauty of both assignments, is not about being in BF Egypt. It is where you learn to live without chain restaurants and being a part of a community. However, if you can't embrace being in a small town atmosphere and resent the fact that the closest BMW/Lexus/Volvo/Acura dealership is 70 miles away, than rethink this life
    ~ JMPO, and I am not lieing when I say those BF Egypt assignments were the absolute best compared to the ones like the Pentagon where members lived in a city.

    FWIW, on a good day there has never been 100%, 90%, 80%, best day it is 70% that will wing out of UPT when you add in everything (IFT, T1, than T38/6). The groomsmen that went through AFROTC with my DS, and UPT, did not wing. He washed out 3 weeks before winging. He is now an O3 non-rated ADAF officer.

    Sorry for the novella, but I hope it helps in planning the future. Feel to free to pm me.
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2016
    Mayville-Cardinal likes this.
  3. xjfan

    xjfan New Member

    Oct 14, 2016
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    Thanks for all the info. DS and I have been lurkers for a while and really enjoy your post. Along with others on this forum. He was set on going OTS but was having second thoughts. Based on his research, he thinks AFROTC increases your changes a lot more than OTS.

    As for his major, it's what he really enjoys. He's not interested in engineering, which we've been told, the AF prefers.

    He understands ROTC and OTS are both paths to the same destination. It was more of which path provides a better chance.

    We'll discuss later today specifically what he really want to do. Be a pilot or serve in the USAF.

    Just to mix things up... Last week, Marine Corps recruiters were at his college. They approached him, and explained the Marines are also looking for pilots.

    Thanks again....
  4. Pima

    Pima 5-Year Member

    Nov 28, 2007
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    They are all looking for pilots because there will be a pilot shortage due to airlines hiring at a fast the threads here regarding this aspect.

    My DS was a non-tech major (govt/poli sci dual major with International Relations).

    Tech will give you an edge, but it is not the be all end all. Nor does it mean as a tech aka STEM major you will wing out of UPT. It really comes down to a lot more...academics. sims, check rides. living in a pressure cooker for a year.

    Marines are a totally different world. I can be wrong, and kinnem can correct me, but as far as I know you have to go through their Marine course (PLC) even if you commission via ROTC. AFROTC, you commission with a pilot slot and a PPL you go to UPT as long as you pass the FAA FC1.

    PT (physical test) for AF is nowhere near Marine. PT in the ADAF world is run 1 1/2 miles @ 7 - 7 1/2 minute mile....not a 3 mile run like Marines .

    AF has the most fixed wing airframes compared to any other branch. If he wants rotor (helo) AF is not his best choice.

    Now, let me be honest, straight up truth, the following comment bothers me in many ways.
    JMPO, but he has to walk in with the knowledge that be it ROTC in any branch or OTS/OCS he will serve 1st as a military officer and secondarily a pilot.

    Just saying it is not one or the other. It is both. If he wants to be a pilot and a pilot only. Get ready to spend tens of thousands of dollars out for his ATP rating so he can go directly commercial. He will spend years climbing up the ladder for the airlines due to flight hours.
    ~ Airlines love military pilots because they have the hours and experience in stressful situations.

    Not saying if you pay for the hrs, get the multi engine rating, ATP, FAA FC1, that they will not be a left seater later than any military pilot. However, what I am saying is that financially there will be a difference. Networking there will be a difference.
    ~ Financially, he can pay for that multi-engine rating. Hours upon hrs. AD members have it after their 10 yrs.
    ~ ~ He will most likely spend yrs flying puddle hoppers from Dallas to Abilene to get the hrs. Many AD members skip that step. They apply to AMerican for right seater 737 with 10 yrs and 8K heavy flight hrs via the military while your DS applies with 9 yrs American Eagle and 6000 flight hours, well being an employee is usually not going to give you an edge when they look at it overall.
    ~ Take a look at how little they make at first as a commercial airline pilot. It is scary.
    ~~ Our DS has many years to go, but he is now saving every single penny he can because he knows if he bolts at the 1st option, he will not make a lot for the 1st 5 yrs. He is married and will be having his 1st child next month. Never in his mind as an 18 yr old did he think at 26 he would be married, own 2 cars, a house and have a baby on the way. Yet, here he is. My DIL will not be working once our granddaughter is born because they can afford for her to stay at home. Honestly, I think if he went puddle jumpers via the airlines that would not exist.

    This is not an easy life in the military. It is a great, amazing life, but it requires more than being a bus driver in the sky or a line number. It demands you to devote your life to them 24/7/365.
    ~Bullet, my DH served 21+ yrs. We owned 5 homes, moved 11 times. Lived in CA, NM, ID, England, NC, AK. NC, KS, VA. NC, plus we would ive back in NJ while Bullet was at schools ( 3 times for at least 3-6 months). Kids went to no fewer than 9 schools (k-12). Our favorite anniversary dinner was at a Denny's while we moved from NC to AK...not the fancy ones just him and I, but the one where we were starting a new adventure when they were 5, 3 and 1.
    ~ I spent more important dates with my military friends (spouses) or my family than I have fingers and toes on my body.
    ~~ DS1 (C130J pilot) was Communed in the Catholic Church when Bullet was deployed. DD's 1st Father Daughter Dance had my FIL stand in for Bullet because he was again deployed. Bullet took DS2 as a 5 mo. old for Halloween and was not home again until he was 7 (deployed every yr at that time). I could go on and on, but I think you get the drift.

    Do I regret or resent any second? NO! Do my kids? NO! Or at least not what I can see.
    ~ DS1 is an O3 in the AF now (commissioned 2012). His wife is also an AF brat.
    ~ DD's 1st job choice was to teach for the DoD in Europe....didn't get it, but keeps applying.
    ~ DS2 is a Bio Chem major and applying for govt. jobs instead of drug companies.

    They had hatred toward us as young teens...I hate you because you are making me move again. However, when they got to college it all changed. All of the sudden it was thank you! Their friends were amazed because for my kids when the Iditarod happens they have memories of being at the starting line. They remember living through a tornado in KS. They have gone to the beaches of NJ, VA and NC because that is what we did on the weekends wherever Dad was stationed. They are probably closer to their cousins than most kids because when Bullet could take leave we went home for 2-3 weeks and saw them everyday and did sleep overs. Same is true for their relationships with their grandparents.
    ~ Think about it. If you see them every Sunday for 2 hrs, that is 104 hrs a yr. You take it for granted that next week you will see them. 3 weeks, and you condense a years worth of time together. You make memories, like going to the park. Reading a book together. Buying ice cream from Cold Stone, eating it outside and talking instead of going into the fridge and pulling out Good Humor ice cream cones and than it in the kitchen!

    Sorry for going off track, but I really think it is important to see the bad and the good. AD military life is not for everyone. If he doesn't want to be an officer 1st and foremost, than I would say pay for his multi engine rating and go commercial.
    ~ See my last post ...there has never been 100% of UPT students wing! However, there has been 100% of UPT students being OWNED by the branch, EVEN if they bust/wash out of UPT.

    Getting into the weeds now, but if he does not wing, be it USAFA, AFROTC, OTS, they will send him to an FEB....Flight Evaluation Board. They can turn to him and say...FLY be free, you owe us nothing! Or they can say, you will now be an Intel/Maintenance/MP, etc officer for the next 4 yrs.
    ~ Just saying for the umpteenth time...they OWN you.
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2016

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