10-Year Member
Nov 28, 2007
Please allow me to re-introduce myself (with a nod to the Rolling Stones. Old Group for you young folk, you’ll hear them on the oldies station). My name is Bullet. I am Pima’s husband, a proud father of 3, and an AF Lt Col currently stationed in NC. I graduated (years ago) from the University of Maryland with a science degree, and was commissioned through its ROTC program. I am also a Weapons Systems Officer (WSO) with over 2600 hours of time flying in F-111s, AT-38s and I am now currently flying in the F-15E. I am intimately familiar with the capabilities and missions of almost every aircraft currently (and some past) in the US military’s inventory and I am intimately familiar with what the AF is looking for as to requirements, attitude and qualifications of someone looking to become an AF aviator.

It was Pima who found this site. You see, just like you, my son is applying to the USAFA for the class of 2012 (fingers crossed). Just like you, we had questions on the process and used the internet to search for answers. When she showed me the fine young men and women like yourselves, plus the tons of parents and people willing to help find your answers, on this site we readily jumped in. During the course of my time here, I have come across numerous posts from young men and women like you inquiring about a career in aviation, particularly the glamorous position of flying fighters. Being intimately familiar with the community and the life, I gladly replied with advice. Usually with encouragement, sometimes with humor, but ALWAYS with honesty and integrity.

Some on this site have been confused as to how I qualify to give such advice. I mean, what does a WSO know about flying? Was I misrepresenting my qualifications? Suffice it to say that if ANYONE on this site found what I was saying offensive, or in some way disingenuous, please accept my humblest apologies. But also, please allow me to explain myself, and perhaps it will be a great lesson to all of the young men and women inquiring about starting a military career on the MISSION of the military, something that each of you should become familiar with if you’re choosing to pursue a career living it.

So, what is a WSO? We’re the guy who sits in the back of fighter aircraft (think Goose in “Top Gun”, but there is more to my job in the air than just tapping the gas gauge). I just happen to be lucky enough to be flying in that outstanding MacDonnell Douglass (now Boeing) product, the F-15E (same manufacturer as the Navy’s and Marine Corp’s F-18). Now, what do I do? Well, to lay some bad information to rest: yes, we do have a second set of controls (stick, throttle, rudders) in the back seat, meaning I have gotten to pilot this wonderful bird. In fact, during the course of my career, I would venture a guess that I have hundreds of hours actually “in command of the jet”, through all types of phases and portions of flight. (Although I won’t admit to actually taking off and landing, as doing so is against regulations and would get both me and my front seater in trouble :smile: ). I had to take command in emergencies, unforeseen circumstances (traffic popping out of nowhere that only I saw: “I have the jet!”), and in the course of being an instructor in the aircraft, I’ve taken the controls away from a student or young pilot who is not putting the jet where it needs to be (to include in the middle of BFM, think dogfighting).

Piloting a fighter is a skill, which hopefully some of you will get the chance to learn. But is landing the jet the important part of the sortie? (Not about to get into the debate over the skill of landing on a carrier. It’s a pointless argument, usually conducted by those who have never strapped into an ejector seat.) What everyone currently serving in the military knows, it is MISSION ACCOMPLISHMENT that counts. And in that area, a WSO is an important part of the team. See those neat videos in the news, showing a bomb taking out a bunch of terrorists about to mortar some US ground forces. That’s a WSO just like me controlling that system and guiding that bomb in. The Strike Eagle is an awesome machine because we work together to get the mission accomplished. We’re appreciated for that by our fellow aviators, the pilot in front. Look at a current squadron picture, and you’ll see us together in front of our jet. Not separated into two groups, pilots and WSOs, but all of us mingled together, men and women a team, and each of us giving our best fighter jock pose in our flight suits (which is our every day uniform). As a team, we make the enemies shiver in their sleep, praying that we would just go away. The mission is what counts in the aviation community, and each of us (pilot and WSO) treats everyone equally as a part of that team. For the Strike Eagle community, which is really where it counts, I am a fighter jock. So, if I make comments about living the fighter jock lifestyle, it’s only because my brothers and sisters in the Strike Eagle community consider me one, and I tend to be proud of it.

But what does this mean to you? Well, if you have that burning desire to one day slip the surly bonds, I do have the experience and the familiarity on what it takes to succeed in that life. I’ve helped a bunch of young men and women, just like you, pursue that goal, offering advice and encouragement, and in many cases in the course of my leadership duties, by writing their recommendations that gets them into that endeavor. If you have questions on what it takes to have a career as a successful officer (I may be a flyer, but I’m an officer first), I’m always ready to reply. So, if you want to talk to someone who has “been there, done that (got the T-shirt, in fact a whole collection of them from all four corners of the world) and is still doing it”, I’m all ears (or in this case, all fingers as I type away at my keyboard). Can I offer experience about getting into an SA, notso much and you'd be better off asking someone else. Got a question about flying, I'm all yours!

So now you know the whole story, and can see that, yes, I can provide you with some valuable experience and information. I will be proud to help you reach your dreams, and isn’t that what this site is all about?

Again, my name is Bullet. I am an AF officer and a WSO, and damn proud of it!:thumb:
Last edited by a moderator:
Thanks for the informative introduction and for all the help you've given to young folks in pursuit of their dreams. I look forward to your contributions here.

Whether or not you are a :rolleyes: 'real' pilot :rolleyes:, if you are ever in the vicinity of DCY you are more than welcome to join me for some sightseeing in a Cessna. I'm sure you will give me some good pointers! :thumb:
Welcome. If you consider taking the Commish up on his offer..... first better check for parachutes or some such.
It's OK, if the Commish gets incapacitated for some reason, I'll just take the controls and land the plane myself. :biggrin: :biggrin: :biggrin:

But only after doing some loops to music first!


BTW Commish, did u mean DC? I visit the area often, and would love to take you up on the offer. I'll even pay for the gas. I'll be the one in the flight suit!

Oh, this is theraputic!:biggrin: :biggrin:
How can you fly the plane as a lowly WSO?

I only thought real pilots could fly planes?

They actually let you touch the controls of the jet?

Wow. Those pilots must be crazy. Only they know exactly what goes on inside the cockpit, how could you know anything about flying from the back seat?

Not a problem. And I apologize if it came across I was "posing".

Tell you what, let's pour each other a drink, and I'll be glad to share war stories with you. I'm sure you have some great ones from your day!

While we're there, I promise to preface all my words to you with "Nav to Pilot, Nav to Pilot, Over." :biggrin: :biggrin:
Welcome. If you consider taking the Commish up on his offer..... first better check for parachutes or some such.


Will it help to know that we renew the bailing wire and bubble gum at each annual? :screwy:
Uh... depends on who "we" is doing your annual. :yllol: 5 more hours & my kid will get his private license. I think I'm more concerned that you look out for him. Can't bank worth a darn! Still. After months & months. Then again... maybe he does it on purpose to see if I reach for my barf bag.....
Well, that was an interesting read. I wish there weren't members who felt the need to sqeeze that out of you. For those members who did need that, I wonder what their helo flying classmates from the Class of 1969 would think of that tone. The person I'm thinking of has come off very supportive of every branch of the military. Some conduct in here has been disappointing, however that disappointing conduct was not your own Bullet.

Maybe we should reintroduce everyone to make sure nothing is assumed.

Just remember who pulled Maverick from the ocean after his crash.... "You have let him go sir, you have to let him go.