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View Full Version : Should I Enlist First


robspenc
05-29-2018, 08:14 AM
I recently visited the ANG unit (fighter unit) in my hometown. The pilot who I talked to strongly recommended enlisting in the ANG after I graduate high school in one year. This would be the only way to get a pilot slot in this unit specifically because they only hire from within. Though, is it truly worth it to enlist when many units take guys OTS after they graduate college?

Would love to hear your opinions!

Thanks


F4E Mx
05-29-2018, 08:44 AM
You are asking if you want to be a fighter pilot in a typically laid back Guard unit or take your chances after OTS and UPT and maybe wind-up in a blizzard in a God-forsaken Dakota airbase staring at an antique B-52 frozen to the ramp? Tough choice.

rickair7777
05-29-2018, 08:45 AM
If a local pilot in that unit said so, there must be at least some truth to it. It's certainly true in at least a few units.

It's not true system-wide, so you could just rush other units after college. But you would probably get a real leg up by being enlisted in a particular unit if you really want a slot in that unit.

But you have to make sure you shine, any performance or inter-personal hiccups could torpedo your chances at any unit, since your CO will have to endorse you for a commission of any sort in any branch if you're enlisted. You would need to hold yourself to officer standards from day one, even if other enlisted folks don't.


robspenc
05-29-2018, 09:13 AM
Thanks for your feedback!

If I enlist in my local guard unit and I never get a pilot slot in that unit, then would being prior enlisted be helpful when applying to other units?

rickair7777
05-29-2018, 09:24 AM
Thanks for your feedback!

If I enlist in my local guard unit and I never get a pilot slot in that unit, then would being prior enlisted be helpful when applying to other units?


Yes, assuming your CO gave you a good endorsement.

Sliceback
05-29-2018, 11:02 AM
If you don't get a slot you'll probably be asked about why you didn't get selected or they'll ask behind the scenes "what's the deal with this guy?"

robspenc
05-29-2018, 11:38 AM
If you don't get a slot you'll probably be asked about why you didn't get selected or they'll ask behind the scenes "what's the deal with this guy?"

The guy made it seem like if I met the basic qualifications I would have a good shot. He himself is on the hiring board.

BeatNavy
05-29-2018, 11:55 AM
The guy made it seem like if I met the basic qualifications I would have a good shot. He himself is on the hiring board.

So many variables. Impossible to know your quals, what the interest rate is in the unit from other applicants, how many slots they have or will have, whether or not you'll pass an FC1, etc.

When I was rushing, most people told me to apply to as many places as possible, and eventually I could transfer if I wanted to. Most guys I met rushing were applying to a lot of units. I know a couple who applied to one unit and got picked up. I know some who enlisted first, and eventually got picked up. I know some who enlisted first and never got picked up and were rushing other units as their time was coming up. So it's all over the map.

Hard to give advice based on your unique situation, and you are better suited to make the decisions for yourself since we know nothing about you, your unit, etc. There is one fighter unit I rushed that used to only hire from within the unit. They had a really high washout rate for the guys they sent to UPT, and so they changed the policy to accept external applicants. So that could happen right after you enlist and are working on your degree. Commanders change every couple years, and so do their hiring practices/policies. You're 5 years out from having a degree...a lot can change in that time. Will you be able to get your degree while doing your guard job if you enlisted?

Enlisting in a unit can absolutely help get you hired to fly there, or potentially be required. It can give the bros a chance to get to know you. It gives you more access to the unit and its people than any external applicant. It can also hurt your chances if they don't like you or if you don't fit their mold. Lurk or ask on baseops.net forums and get some more opinions. Good luck.

robspenc
05-29-2018, 12:05 PM
So many variables. Impossible to know your quals, what the interest rate is in the unit from other applicants, how many slots they have or will have, whether or not you'll pass an FC1, etc.

When I was rushing, most people told me to apply to as many places as possible, and eventually I could transfer if I wanted to. Most guys I met rushing were applying to a lot of units. I know a couple who applied to one unit and got picked up. I know some who enlisted first, and eventually got picked up. I know some who enlisted first and never got picked up and were rushing other units as their time was coming up. So it's all over the map.

Hard to give advice based on your unique situation, and you are better suited to make the decisions for yourself since we know nothing about you, your unit, etc. There is one fighter unit I rushed that used to only hire from within the unit. They had a really high washout rate for the guys they sent to UPT, and so they changed the policy to accept external applicants. So that could happen right after you enlist and are working on your degree. Commanders change every couple years, and so do their hiring practices/policies. You're 5 years out from having a degree...a lot can change in that time. Will you be able to get your degree while doing your guard job if you enlisted?

Enlisting in a unit can absolutely help get you hired to fly there, or potentially be required. It can give the bros a chance to get to know you. It gives you more access to the unit and its people than any external applicant. It can also hurt your chances if they don't like you or if you don't fit their mold. Lurk or ask on baseops.net forums and get some more opinions. Good luck.

Thanks for your help. I have talked to about 10 air force pilots and asked them what to do and they all give me a different answer. I will check out the baseops.net forums.

Stimpy the Kat
05-29-2018, 12:20 PM
That's pretty good. (?)

If you asked 10 Pilots the same question and got only 10 different answers...That's better than average.

You should have gotten a MINIMUM of 11 different answers.

I'd check some of those guys credentials... You sure they were ALL pilots?

:)

Stimpson

robspenc
05-29-2018, 12:49 PM
That's pretty good. (?)

If you asked 10 Pilots the same question and got only 10 different answers...That's better than average.

You should have gotten a MINIMUM of 11 different answers.

I'd check some of those guys credentials... You sure they were ALL pilots?

:)

Stimpson

I am exaggerating a little bit. I am just saying they all had varying answers because most of them got to where they are by doing different routes. I am sure they were pilots, I have met them all in person.

SaltyDog
05-29-2018, 04:15 PM
I recently visited the ANG unit (fighter unit) in my hometown. The pilot who I talked to strongly recommended enlisting in the ANG after I graduate high school in one year. This would be the only way to get a pilot slot in this unit specifically because they only hire from within. Though, is it truly worth it to enlist when many units take guys OTS after they graduate college?

Would love to hear your opinions!

Thanks

My only real advice is "Be to stupid to quit". Amazing how far one can get by not quitting.
Calvin Coolidge (30th President of the US) said it more eloquently

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

― Calvin Coolidge

My two cents on direct subject:
Its worth it if the record demonstrates that in fact the folks who enlist specifically to be picked up largely make it successfully as fighter pilots back in the unit.
Find out if any of the current pilots in the unit went this route. Pretty clear of they are all external or local enlisted then fighter pilot. A few may have eventually transferred to another Guard unit because of civilian job demands etc. You should be able to inquire with the pilots to determine these answers.
40 years ago I was in same shoes, good friend did this and enlisted after HS in his local fighter Guard unit. He was then picked up upon college graduation to become commissioned and went UPT. I went active. Don't regret my path, but he had a great time and still a terrific path.
Great journeys going forward!

Sliceback
05-29-2018, 06:01 PM
Enlist because you want to. There are no guarantees in life. If you enlist just because you want a pilot slot and don't get one how will you feel about your enlistment?

If it's a local unit and the enlistment lasts as long as you are in college, and you're interested in the enlisted job, it can be a very good deal/plan.

Many units don't require prior enlistment. Does enlisting slow down your overall goals? Does your current plan make you a competitive candidate for other units? If no will you be the most competitive candidate at your local unit?

Being enlisted in a unit can be a big plus. Prior enlisted service is also an overall plus at other units. But that's just part of the puzzle. My old unit picks the best candidate, to include out of state with no prior service, vs candidates they don't select that may be in state and have prior service. They've done very well with the candidates they've chosen.

bizzlepilot
05-30-2018, 09:24 AM
My old unit picks the best candidate, to include out of state with no prior service, vs candidates they don't select that may be in state and have prior service. They've done very well with the candidates they've chosen.

Exactly this. I have been on several hiring boards at my unit, and we've hired a bunch of good people from very different backgrounds. Some from out of state prior enlisted, some enlisted from our unit, and some from off the street. It totally depends on the person. That being said, when I interviewed a couple maintainers from my unit I already knew what type of person/worker they were which helped one and hurt one...

Rama
05-30-2018, 09:36 AM
One plus about enlisting is it starts you're 20 year clock sooner.
There are a number of benefits for retirees, particularly if you live in an area with a large military presence.

Delta Echo
06-07-2018, 04:06 AM
Awww... I was not fighter pilot but I spent 2 years in the army, very close to aiplanes and helicopters, and really just loved it :D


I am exaggerating a little bit. I am just saying they all had varying answers because most of them got to where they are by doing different routes. I am sure they were pilots, I have met them all in person.

Work4life
06-07-2018, 08:47 AM
Sounds like your goal is to fly fighters and the good thing is, there are a few options. There are lot's of good advices here and I'll throw in my 2 cents. I was on active duty but I wish I had known about the guard/reserves when I was in high school. Everything is a crap shoot in life as you know. As someone said, enlist to serve because things may not work out as planned. The guard/reserve likes to send people to SUPT from within the unit but they also need to be "fair" and select folks off the streets. Definitely rush with other units.
Another option is active duty. The Air Force is short of lots fighter pilots right now and that's a whole new thread. Few of my friends chose T-1s when they could have selected T-38s. Normally, you would have to score in the top 10-20% in T-6s to select the T-38 track but that number has been a moving target these days. For guard/reserve fighter types, they have to finish at least in the top 50% in T-6 phase, at least that was the rule when I was in pilot training. Remember also that the T-38 is the fighter/bomber track and the key word here is "bomber" so you can end up in a BUFF or any other bomber...why not Minot! Now, there's nothing wrong with flying BUFFs as they do some cool flying but it may not be your cup of tea. I'm just saying.
I've always dreamed of being a fighter pilot and I feel very fortunate. The best advice I got from a former fighter pilot as I was growing up was, join to serve and fly because it's your passion. All of my friends really enjoyed their weapons system and even the ones who went screaming and kicking learned to enjoy the flying and their mission. Each aircraft/mission has its ups and downs but the best part of being a military pilot is the camaraderie and life long friends you'll make. Strapping into a pointy nose jet and pulling more Gs than you can handle is also plus!:D

EN1990
06-09-2018, 06:06 PM
I recently visited the ANG unit (fighter unit) in my hometown. The pilot who I talked to strongly recommended enlisting in the ANG after I graduate high school in one year. This would be the only way to get a pilot slot in this unit specifically because they only hire from within. Though, is it truly worth it to enlist when many units take guys OTS after they graduate college?

Would love to hear your opinions!

Thanks

Go to college get your degree.. prior enlisting is a waist of your time (I was 5 years prior enlisted) Also don’t set your mind only to Air Force, the Marine Corps offers a guaranteed flight seat after OCS... the options are still the same as the Air Force too; fighters, heavies, rotors, and the Ospreys... Prior service looks ok, but that is really waisted time. Besides you can still become a pilot in the military until 28 or 29 anyways you have lots of time!!

Merle Dixon
06-11-2018, 07:57 AM
Go to college get your degree.. prior enlisting is a waist of your time (I was 5 years prior enlisted) Also don’t set your mind only to Air Force, the Marine Corps offers a guaranteed flight seat after OCS... the options are still the same as the Air Force too; fighters, heavies, rotors, and the Ospreys... Prior service looks ok, but that is really waisted time. Besides you can still become a pilot in the military until 28 or 29 anyways you have lots of time!!

CORRECT! Right now in AF SUPT, we have tons of “off the street” (young men/women, 2LTs, college grads with some flight experience that applied to numerous Guard/Reserve units, got hired, went to Officer Training School and are now SUPT students). 2/3 of our Guard/Reserve student pilots have zero prior military experience. Earn a bachelors degree, study like hell for the AFOQT and apply to every single guard fighter unit in the country.

Beware the Navy and the Marine Corps. In the AF, you are guaranteed a pilot training slot BEFORE you sign your life away and go to OTS. There is no pre-gaurantee in the Navy or Marine Corps prior to signing your life away and attending OCS.

Edit.... avoid active-duty like the plague. Go Guard.

Good luck!

rickair7777
06-11-2018, 08:15 AM
Beware the Navy and the Marine Corps. In the AF, you are guaranteed a pilot training slot BEFORE you sign your life away and go to OTS. There is no pre-gaurantee in the Navy or Marine Corps prior to signing your life away and attending OCS.


This is very true for the USCG, but historically there were usually aviation contracts available for the USN/USMC. Why would they remove that option now with pilot attrition ramping up?

Merle Dixon
06-13-2018, 03:26 AM
This is very true for the USCG, but historically there were usually aviation contracts available for the USN/USMC. Why would they remove that option now with pilot attrition ramping up?

There are aviation contracts, AFTER OCS, no guarantee. In the AF, you are offered a pilot training slot before you attend OTS.

BeatNavy
06-13-2018, 09:24 AM
There are aviation contracts, AFTER OCS, no guarantee. In the AF, you are offered a pilot training slot before you attend OTS.

If you apply off the street to become a naval aviator, get selected for OCS, you can sign a contract to get a pilot slot before you go to OCS.

https://www.airwarriors.com/community/index.php?threads/pilots-contract.31466/
https://www.airwarriors.com/community/index.php?threads/pilot-slot-guaranteed.38281/

rickair7777
06-13-2018, 10:05 AM
If you apply off the street to become a naval aviator, get selected for OCS, you can sign a contract to get a pilot slot before you go to OCS.

https://www.airwarriors.com/community/index.php?threads/pilots-contract.31466/
https://www.airwarriors.com/community/index.php?threads/pilot-slot-guaranteed.38281/

That's what I thought, always been that way, last few decades anyway.

Merle Dixon
06-14-2018, 05:00 AM
That's what I thought, always been that way, last few decades anyway.

OK, my bad.

F4E Mx
06-14-2018, 10:54 AM
Only problem with the Navy is the very real possibility (probability?) of winding up as a helicopter pilot and later having to play the game of which airlines, when, will accept the helicopter time toward meeting hiring criteria.

You can certainly get screwed with the active duty USAF as well. Seems the best bet is to go the USAF guard route.

rickair7777
06-14-2018, 11:11 AM
Only problem with the Navy is the very real possibility (probability?) of winding up as a helicopter pilot and later having to play the game of which airlines, when, will accept the helicopter time toward meeting hiring criteria.

True, but there have been numerous Navy helo pilots in my last several reserve units and ALL of them are at big-six airlines now. They can commonly get some T-34 IP time, that and/or a year or three at a regional will do the trick. Not the end of the world.


You can certainly get screwed with the active duty USAF as well. Seems the best bet is to go the USAF guard route.

Yes, if you're hell bent on military and then airlines, go guard first, then USAFR. That way you get to pick your platform (or at least it cannot pick you), and you can progress both careers in parallel.

AirBear
06-14-2018, 11:37 AM
Yes, if you're hell bent on military and then airlines, go guard first, then USAFR. That way you get to pick your platform (or at least it cannot pick you), and you can progress both careers in parallel.

Another advantage of Air Force Guard/Reserve is you'll have lots of airline pilots in the unit who can give you references and LOR's to help get an interview.

Montey
06-30-2018, 08:06 AM
Enlist, get school paid for, network, get degree/upt slot. Lots of ways to get to the end. Have you thought about ROTC ?

Montey
06-30-2018, 08:07 AM
Another advantage of Air Force Guard/Reserve is you'll have lots of airline pilots in the unit who can give you references and LOR's to help get an interview.

^^^This^^^

rickair7777
06-30-2018, 08:17 AM
Another advantage of Air Force Guard/Reserve is you'll have lots of airline pilots in the unit who can give you references and LOR's to help get an interview.

Yes, and this would apply even if you don't eventually get a mil pilot slot.



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