USAFA or USNA? Objective advice requested

Discussion in 'Naval Academy - USNA' started by falcongrad, Apr 10, 2017.

  1. falcongrad

    falcongrad USNA Dad/Air Force Grad

    Mar 28, 2017
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    With 5 days before decision day my DS is seeking all data he can consume to make decision. He does want to fly and despite the great heritage and prestige of USNA and the great support of USNA from Annapolis, USAFA flight options are very strong. Any advice is appreciated. Thank you.
  2. kappapa

    kappapa Member

    Jan 30, 2017
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    From what I have heard from my ROTC friends, AF is looking for more fighter pilots because of recent decreases of squadron retention. So if he wants to fly, the AF is the AF. But, Navy does have great flight options as well. Tell him to go with what his heart says, where he will be happy is key to overall mental health and success at any SA.
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  3. BDHuff09

    BDHuff09 5-Year Member

    May 26, 2012
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    Your son wants to fly right now, but what would happen if it turns out that he isn't able to due to medical reasons. Or maybe he gets to the Academy and decides he doesn't want to do the 10 year pilot commitment. Would he rather have a job in the Air Force or the Navy/Marine Corps? Would he rather be work in Security Forces, be a Missileer, or a Weather Officer? Or would he rather be an Infantry Marine, Submariner, or SWO?
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  4. Old Navy BGO

    Old Navy BGO 5-Year Member

    Jan 5, 2012
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    +1 -- almost verbatim with what my BGO told me long ago. Maybe less of a factor now with Lasik, etc., but back in my time, almost half of those that entered wanting to be a pilot didn't have the chance because of eye sight and other medical issues. My BGO (a Naval Aviator) explained that USNA had many more service selection opportunities, including a solid career path as a Naval Flight Officer. (In many communities, the NFO has the same command opportunities as the Pilot). Of course things may have changed , but the Air Force is dominated by pilots.

    In addition, I think its been said here before --the decision should be based upon which service DS wants to serve in, not which Service Academy. Navy and Air Force have distinctly different cultures.
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  5. usna1985

    usna1985 10-Year Member

    Jun 9, 2006
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    I disagree a bit with Old Navy. IMHO, the SA is also important b/c it's where you'll spend 4 years of your life. And if you hate it, you may quit and never get to see the differences in the services themselves. If you end up staying for only 5 yrs on AD (obviously a pilot owes more), nearly half of your total commitment was at the SA.

    USNA is in Annapolis -- a decent town that is right outside the Yard. You're close to B'more and DC. The Springs is also a great place, but the Academy is a bit outside of the main town. It's not super close to much else, other than terrific skiing! As to how the two schools compare in terms of life as a mid/cadet . . . don't have sufficient knowledge of USAFA to opine but I suspect that the SAs too have different cultures.

    The Navy is a seagoing service. During your time at USNA, you'll spend a decent amount of time learning about sea-related stuff (e.g., damage control, navigation) and being at sea (mostly during the summer). If you chose to fly (and are selected), chances are good you'll be assigned to a carrier-based squadron. So, if you don't like the water, you might not enjoy your time at USNA and, upon graduation, will have to hope you get Marine ground or one of the relatively few aircraft that is land-based (e.g., P-8, C-130).

    USAFA cadets obviously spend their time more focused on flight/aviation types of things and, if memory serves, there are numerous opportunities to fly as a cadet -- something that's pretty limited at USNA.

    Agree that DS must consider what happens if he can't be a pilot or even an NFO. It's not so much eyes today as other stuff. Knee gets blown out, for example. Also, what if you aren't selected for pilot? USNA has a broader range of warfare specialties upon graduation but the opportunities to do "staff" type jobs (intel, supply, aviation maintenance) are essentially nonexistent unless you're NPQ. In the USAF, there are pilots and everyone else. That said, there is a much greater likelihood of doing what I call "staff" jobs (missiles, intel, etc.) even if you are physically qualified. That is NOT to denigrate those jobs -- rather to indicate they are more static in that you're not on a ship, aircraft, sub, leading men/women in ground forces, etc.

    In any event, DS can't go wrong . . . unless he picks USAFA. Just kidding. :D

    Though the USN definitely has better looking uniforms.:p
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  6. USNA_Dad2019

    USNA_Dad2019 Member

    Dec 26, 2014
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    I understand USAFA has approximately 520 flight slots available each year. This info was difficult to glean from their website so I had to resort to searching the web for numbers. Between the Navy and Marine Corps there are roughly 420 flight slots per year, so lets say 100-120 fewer spots then Air Force. Now the question becomes, how many people that go to USAFA want to fly versus USNA. That gives you a better standard, what percent that commission that want to fly actually get flight slots. Again numbers are difficult to find, but best estimates on the data I could find are a little less than 70% of USAFA flight wannabes get flight slots. At Navy, admittedly with fewer slots, that number hovers at a little better than 90%. So the flight competition at USAFA is probably greater than you would find at Navy.

    If you don't get a flight slot at Navy, the remaining opportunities are much broader than you find at Air Force. However, this is all just my two cents worth. You can't go wrong at either SA, the only wrong answer is Army! ;) And I agree with usan1985, the Navy uniforms are way better looking!
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  7. pleber16

    pleber16 USNA 2016 5-Year Member

    Nov 28, 2012
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    As far as selection goes from USNA, as long as you are medically/physically qualified and haven't done something to make the senior aviators on the Yard say "Absolutely not, we do not want him/her" you have a very high chance of getting aviation. Anyone I know who got turned away from aviation was for a medical/physical reason.

    In regards to flight school, despite the fact that we fly the same aircraft for Primary, how the services go about doing it seems pretty different. My understanding is that it's much more regimented for the AF. They are required to be in 12 hours a day whether they are scheduled for a flight or not with mandated studying on base. Currently, if I'm not scheduled for a flight or duty on any day, I call in in the morning to let them know I'm still alive and the rest of the day is mine to manage how I please. Navy is also very much "study and get the knowledge down first, then we can go fly." AF is more fly first, the knowledge will come with it. Again, anything AF side is just what I've been told, mostly by Navy IPs. But anything flight school related Navy side, I can give you a pretty decent answer for.