Hear, hear on this one. Though my background is Navy, the comments above ring true in terms of the rocky road to test pilot or just plain pilot, no matter the color of the patches on your zoombag.
After 13 years of sponsoring USNA midshipmen, here are some real-life snippets:
- Hotshot double-major aero and electrical engineer, graduated in top ten of class, dead set on Navy jets, great all-round mid, got down to flight school, aced the ground stuff, wasn't so hot in the cockpit. Got helos, because out of his section, there were only 2 jet seats, which went to the top grade-getters. USMC happened to open up their pipeline for Navy student pilots to crossover to Marine jet. Over 80 applied for 12 seats; he got one. Now a happy pilot with much shorter hair. He can still shoot for TPS as a Marine pilot. But --- he's gotta be the ace guy in his squadron and compete with all the other ace guys and gals out in the Fleet.
- Roommate of midshipman above, average grades, wanted Navy jets, got NFO instead. Got down to Pensacola, enough had washed out, DORed (dropped on request) or other stuff, he was offered pilot, jumped at it. Special note, used to drive roommate crazy by playing video games till really late. Guess who was a lot better in the cockpit? Breezed through flight school with top grades, another happy jet guy. Could care less about TPS, he loves his plane, the mission and the gut-wrench of night-time carrier landings in a pitching sea.
- Midshipman with excellent grades, company commander, got Navy pilot during fall service selection. During winter/spring solo training in Cessna, realized flying was just not his thing. Did the honorable thing instead of pressing on through pride and asked to be re-assigned to surface warfare. Now the top-ranked lieutenant and navigator (one of the highest-profile jobs on a ship) of a destroyer out of Pearl Harbor. A happy camper, infinitely more happy in that leadership setting, a better fit.
- Midshipman high enough in the class to get Navy pilot. Went down to Pensacola, did fine in basic, got assigned to helos and just hated it. Asked to DOR and be reassigned, Navy was doing "force shaping," so they released him from his active duty commitment. Found a job through one of the numerous junior officer placement groups out there, now works for United Airlines in his hometown of Chicago as a ground operations manager, getting his MBA at night paid for with his veterans' benefits. A door closed, but windows do open.
- Midshipman got Navy air, was doing well, headed for jet training, had all the right USNA academics, grades, etc., for success. Got a hernia during pipeline which dq'ed him from anything with a g-suit. Now happily flying EP-3 out of Washington State.
- Midshipman with 4.0, astro and mechanical engineering double major, company commander, arrived at USNA with not only pilot's license but instrument, multi-engine and instructor ratings at age 18. Did internships at NASA during summer leave blocks. Built rockets for fun. Has had his eyes set on astronaut since he was a pup. During 2/C year pre-comm physicals, a condition was discovered preventing him from flying as a Navy pilot. It can be controlled with medication which pilots can't take, but he was commissionable. Submarine service snapped him up. He did a Master's at MIT in nuclear space propulsion right after graduation, did his submarine pipeline, now a happy sub camper. Made enough money from his sub bonus to buy his own plane.
I have several more, but you get the idea.
Moral of the story? It's perfectly fine to have a plan for something specific, and to have short, mid and long-range plans. Something called "life" tends to act on your plans. Most importantly, be sure you have the desire to serve as an Air Force officer, period, and are prepared to be flexible enough to serve in a variety of ways.