USCG Pilot vs. USAF Pilot


New Member
Mar 3, 2022
Hello, my name is ---------, currently I am a sophomore with expected graduation obtaining a bachelor's degree at the University of Wilmington North Carolina in 2024. I have always had a strong aspiration of flight of any kind and have felt the calling to join a branch of the military pertaining to flying. Although my dream is to fly fighters in the Air Force I have recently looked into the Coast Guard and have fallen in some interest towards their duties as helicopter pilots. I would like some input and maybe some advice going forward with my process if possible. I was told by my local officer recruiter for the Air Force to call back the summer prior to my senior year to see what they can do as far as obtaining a pilot slot in the USAF. Any suggestions or advice between the two would be greatly appreciated!

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Trying to get into the AF through OCS is really hard at this point. It should lighten up in the future but understand, most of the military branches including the AF, get most of their officers first from the academies, second from Rotc and third from OCS. That also holds true for pilot spots. The AF academies get around 550 spots, Rotc gets around 450 and OCS gets the rest if they need any. The last couple of years has been tough to get into OCS. Besides having a lesser number of spots, it's also more competitive. You are going to have to compete with everyone else wanting to join the AF through OCS. So depending on how well you did in college and all of the other factors they look at, you will have to decide how well you look compared to everyone else. I personally don't know what other things they look at besides GPA, but i am sure its all over the internet.. The one advantage you have is that you can state that you only want to get into the AF if you get a pilot spot (assuming that is what you want). If you do get into the AF and go to UPT (pilot training), i think it isn't that hard to get into helicopters if you want it. At my son's class, only one person wanted helicopters and he got them, but that is more anecdotal than fact . No idea how the Coast Guard works. I would assume Coast Guard helicopter pilots are more active than AF pilots because their responsibilities are year-round while AF pilots either train or fight. I have no idea what AF helicopter pilots do on a daily basis but i have to imagine Coast Guard is actively doing rescues and patroling and all that fun stuff.
So a few different avenues you can take:

1. For the Air Force, it is difficult to go to OTS as a pilot. Do people do it, of course. It is just competitive. After OTS, there is no guarantee for any particular airframe via the Active Duty Air Force. You go to Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT), fly the T-6A Texan II and you are assigned an airframe based on in order: 1. Needs of the USAF 2. Grades 3. Your preferences. You then proceed to follow-on training in that track.

2. Research Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard units that fly what you want to fly. This is the one way you can choose where you serve and what you fly. The unit will send you UPT and you will then receive training in that unit's airframe.

3. For the Coast Guard, the main ways into the USCG are via the Academy, OCS, and their direct commission programs. Most pilots are from the Academy or other services and a few from OCS or direct commission programs. OCS for the Coast Guard is competitive like the USAF, but you do not join with a particular job for the USCG. Flight spots are given to OCS classes, but there are only a few and are competitive. The Coast Guard likes for officers to have operational experience outside of aviation, so it is common to see pilots who did a tour on a cutter (ship) or served as a pilot in another service before coming over. So if you don't get aviation right away, it is not too difficult to get after serving for a bit. Like the USAF, you aren't assigned a platform until after the first part of flight school. The factors apply for selection: 1. Needs of the USCG 2. grades 3. preferences.

I'd go find a recruiter for the Coast Guard too and see what they say.
There are also direct commission aviators (DCAs) in the Coast Guard, but that would involve going into another branch, going to flight school, flying, applying to join the Coast Guard, probably taking a 1 or 2 pay grade cut, and then going to an appreciated OCS-like thing. I don't think people really plan to do this... I think they just really at some point they'd rather fly with the Coast Guard. I remember seeing a few Army DCAs who took cuts from O-4 to O-2 so they could fly with the Coast Guard. They stood out with the bronze star medals.
Make sure to get a heavy [transport] if you go Air Force...why? They have a bathroom on-board instead of using a piddle pack.
On the B-52, everyone pees standing up. I mean everyone. As for other bodily functions, while allowed, it is highly discouraged. Let's just say that one guy who broke the unwritten rule received the callsign of Brownie
On the B-52, everyone pees standing up. I mean everyone. As for other bodily functions, while allowed, it is highly discouraged. Let's just say that one guy who broke the unwritten rule received the callsign of Brownie

Can you further explain how "everyone" pees standing up? Is there special equipment or a training video?

Brownie ? That's kind....I heard the standard moniker is now "Amber Heard" or "Grumpy".