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View Full Version : Military or flight school?


KTM1524
06-18-2018, 07:15 PM
Hello everyone,

I am a 24 year old recent college athlete graduate who isnít using his degree. I have always dreamed of flying and serving in the military. I eventually want to fly for an airliner/cargo such as Delta/FedEx. I am trying to get some advice on what would be the best possible route to get me there as quickly as possible to start gaining seniority. I have several friends who have joined flight schools and some who have joined military. As of right now I am considering joining the air national guard in Birmingham, AL as an officer (first getting my private pilots license for experience) and am also considering joining a flight school in Birmingham. I understand the air national guard is a 10 year commitment but I know that military based training is far superior to a flight school. I would not join the ANG just for the training as I stated earlier, I have always dreamed of serving, itís just that I am 24 years old and I know it takes a while to gain seniority. Just looking for some advice

Thanks


Excargodog
06-18-2018, 08:46 PM
If you have a reasonable chance of getting Air Force flight training through either the Air National Guard or the Air Force Reserve you ought to go for it. Yep, there will be deployments, etc., but most majors and regionals will put up with that. And having them pay you for learning to fly is often a whole lot better deal than you paying someone else.

rickair7777
06-19-2018, 05:43 AM
If you join the guard or USAF reserve for a pilot slot, you can still get work as a CFI and then a regional pilot when not on military duty. That way you can progress both careers in parallel without losing much seniority.

Actually since the military wings will get you hired faster at a top-tier major airline, the guard/reserve is probably the fastest way to a good seniority number.

Most of us who came from the military believe this is the best route, even though most of us didn't know that when we were kids.

Assuming you want to serve, but you already know that.


KTM1524
06-19-2018, 07:58 AM
If you join the guard or USAF reserve for a pilot slot, you can still get work as a CFI and then a regional pilot when not on military duty. That way you can progress both careers in parallel without losing much seniority.

Actually since the military wings will get you hired faster at a top-tier major airline, the guard/reserve is probably the fastest way to a good seniority number.

Most of us who came from the military believe this is the best route, even though most of us didn't know that when we were kids.

Assuming you want to serve, but you already know that.

Would you recommend getting my private pilots license before I sit down in front of an interview board? Iíve heard they like to see experience but sometimes too much experience creates habits that some military personnel donít like when teaching you to fly their way.

rickair7777
06-19-2018, 10:25 AM
Would you recommend getting my private pilots license before I sit down in front of an interview board? I’ve heard they like to see experience but sometimes too much experience creates habits that some military personnel don’t like when teaching you to fly their way.

PPL would probably be very helpful. In addition to piloting skills, it shows some ability to follow through, pass tests, etc.

There are RJ CA's who complete UPT... if you have a lot of experience, the trick is to focus on doing things THEIR way, not YOUR way (or the FAA's way). Previous experience will make it easier to learn, but you have to focus on LEARNING the new stuff. So your attitude and approach is important.

BeatNavy
06-19-2018, 11:45 AM
Would you recommend getting my private pilots license before I sit down in front of an interview board? Iíve heard they like to see experience but sometimes too much experience creates habits that some military personnel donít like when teaching you to fly their way.

Your PPL will help with your AFOQT pilot/nav scores, and definitely with your PCSM score, both of which have a fairly substantial weight with ANG/USAFR hiring boards (depending on the unit...some don't care that much about them). But certainly, the basic flight experience and commitment to finish it, as well as you knowing what you are getting into in the flight training world, means a lot. From my rushing experience, the PPL is almost required to get hired by fighter squadrons. I don't know anyone hired by a fighter squadron without it. My few bros in the heavy world have said most of their hires have at least PPLs as well, or at least a decent amount of flight time working towards it. I know some guys get hired without it, but I'd venture to say they are few and far between.

Regarding experience, the ones I've heard complain about "too much experience" are referring to guys who have several thousand hours who are set in their ways. But there are several airline guys with thousands of hours going through UPT right now. There's also one guard fighter squadron commander who told my bro that army pilots and often struggle going through UPT and have trouble unlearning old army ways. Point is, a PPL, and likely anything under 1,000 hours, isn't going to concern anyone.

Regarding the choice between mil and civ, decide what you want to do, and do that. If you busted your tail in the civ world, you could get your ratings and be at a regional in 2-3 years. It'll be peak hiring in 5 years or so, and you could likely get hired by a major at 29/30. If you go to the military, you'd be 25/26 when you start, and have competitive mins at age 30-33 depending on what you flew. The math could change with as many variables as there are. Age 67 could happen, a downturn could happen, who knows.

But when you are 35 sitting in an airliner having foregone the military route, knowing you'll be doing the same boring airline flying for the next 30 years, thinking to yourself, man, sure would be fun to rage around in an F16, it'll be too late then. Or when you are on a 4 day with a guy who was military, you hear his stories, and know you missed out on something you will forever regret. I have flown with a lot of guys who said "I was going to join the military, but..." or "yeah I wish I had done the military route, but I did X, Y, and Z and it just never worked out." I have yet to fly with a mil guy who regrets it. I have flown with many a civilian guy who does regret not doing mil. But only do it if you really want to do it, because a lot of the job sucks, especially these days.

PRS Guitars
06-19-2018, 02:07 PM
Would you recommend getting my private pilots license before I sit down in front of an interview board? Iíve heard they like to see experience but sometimes too much experience creates habits that some military personnel donít like when teaching you to fly their way.

Yes get the private certificate for sure, but donít wait on that to apply to the Guard. Start working on the PPC next week, and start working on your applications today. This is definately a great way to go.

headhunter
06-19-2018, 04:38 PM
First posting in the forum, but maybe my insights might help.


I flew F-16's and only accumulated a total of 994 hours (T-41, T-37, T-38, and Viper). But that all happened a long time ago: my last flight in the F-16 was April of 2002. I left flying for good, or so I thought, by serving out the rest of my commitment on the ground working with the Army and then getting out in 2005. After a couple of years bouncing around, I got a great job at Boeing in Mesa AZ working on the Apache. Zero plans to ever fly again.


Until this past Christmas when, out of frustration trying to move to the southeast to be closer to my wife's family, I started asking colleagues about going back to flying because you can commute to your job. Long story short: I got immediate interviews and offers with Envoy (who still haven't called me back because their training pipeline is backed up, or so I've heard) and then at ExpressJet. I'm typing this from the hotel room in Houston, one month into ERJ-145 training. No, I have not gone straight to the big show with a major carrier, but I don't want to at this point: I think a regional jet and regional type of flying is exactly where I need to be. I'll start applying to the big boys in earnest when I get an unrestricted ATP.


My point in all this is that I did not fly for 16 YEARS, and without even going to get recurrent, landed 2 offers at regionals. There are a couple of reasons for this: I did get my commercial multi rating with the FAA right after pilot training. But more importantly, I have military flight training. It is simply the gold standard. Of course, the hiring climate right now is pretty good, and I didn't even know it existed until 6 months ago.


And man do I have some stories from flying the Viper.


Going military is something that's a lot of hard work, but in time you will not regret it. It opens the doors to a lot of opportunities.

KTM1524
06-19-2018, 07:34 PM
Your PPL will help with your AFOQT pilot/nav scores, and definitely with your PCSM score, both of which have a fairly substantial weight with ANG/USAFR hiring boards (depending on the unit...some don't care that much about them). But certainly, the basic flight experience and commitment to finish it, as well as you knowing what you are getting into in the flight training world, means a lot. From my rushing experience, the PPL is almost required to get hired by fighter squadrons. I don't know anyone hired by a fighter squadron without it. My few bros in the heavy world have said most of their hires have at least PPLs as well, or at least a decent amount of flight time working towards it. I know some guys get hired without it, but I'd venture to say they are few and far between.

Regarding experience, the ones I've heard complain about "too much experience" are referring to guys who have several thousand hours who are set in their ways. But there are several airline guys with thousands of hours going through UPT right now. There's also one guard fighter squadron commander who told my bro that army pilots and often struggle going through UPT and have trouble unlearning old army ways. Point is, a PPL, and likely anything under 1,000 hours, isn't going to concern anyone.

Regarding the choice between mil and civ, decide what you want to do, and do that. If you busted your tail in the civ world, you could get your ratings and be at a regional in 2-3 years. It'll be peak hiring in 5 years or so, and you could likely get hired by a major at 29/30. If you go to the military, you'd be 25/26 when you start, and have competitive mins at age 30-33 depending on what you flew. The math could change with as many variables as there are. Age 67 could happen, a downturn could happen, who knows.

But when you are 35 sitting in an airliner having foregone the military route, knowing you'll be doing the same boring airline flying for the next 30 years, thinking to yourself, man, sure would be fun to rage around in an F16, it'll be too late then. Or when you are on a 4 day with a guy who was military, you hear his stories, and know you missed out on something you will forever regret. I have flown with a lot of guys who said "I was going to join the military, but..." or "yeah I wish I had done the military route, but I did X, Y, and Z and it just never worked out." I have yet to fly with a mil guy who regrets it. I have flown with many a civilian guy who does regret not doing mil. But only do it if you really want to do it, because a lot of the job sucks, especially these days.

Wow man this is great stuff! I really appreciate the reply. In regards to your third paragraph, it almost sounds like you are making it seem like going the civilian route would be quicker. But from what Iíve heard you actually have a chance to get on straight with a major and skipping regionals all together flying for military than you do civilian. Do you know of this to be true?

And for the fourth paragraph. As much as Iíd love to be an f-16 pilot. Iíve been told that itís tougher for guys flying those to be hired on by airliners. They would rather have guys flying larger frame aircrafts such as kc-135ís (which is at the top of my list), c-130ís etc etc. Plus I know making a career flying f-16ís for the military wouldnít be as good of pay as flying for airliners/cargo. Not that I am only wanting to do it for that reason, itís just I have a wife with expensive taste lol and I want to live comfortable. I may be wrong about them making good money flying for military so excuse me if I am.

BeatNavy
06-19-2018, 08:51 PM
Wow man this is great stuff! I really appreciate the reply. In regards to your third paragraph, it almost sounds like you are making it seem like going the civilian route would be quicker. But from what Iíve heard you actually have a chance to get on straight with a major and skipping regionals all together flying for military than you do civilian. Do you know of this to be true?

And for the fourth paragraph. As much as Iíd love to be an f-16 pilot. Iíve been told that itís tougher for guys flying those to be hired on by airliners. They would rather have guys flying larger frame aircrafts such as kc-135ís (which is at the top of my list), c-130ís etc etc. Plus I know making a career flying f-16ís for the military wouldnít be as good of pay as flying for airliners/cargo. Not that I am only wanting to do it for that reason, itís just I have a wife with expensive taste lol and I want to live comfortable. I may be wrong about them making good money flying for military so excuse me if I am.


Right now the civilian track may be faster to get to a major. May. Not everyone gets the call and plenty get stuck in the regionals for 5-10-15+ years. But there are 24-25 year olds getting on with legacy airlines right now (heard of 2 different 23 year olds as well). There are record retirements over the next 5-7 years, so timing right now has never been better to get on with a major airline, hiring at regionals has never been so open and uncompetitive (with a few exceptions in the 250 hour wonder era), nor has it paid so much. So a lot of people see the civilian route as the best way to go and the path of least resistance. But, yes, lots of people go straight from mil flying to the majors. Some mil guys go to regionals (low fixed-wing time, low currency/recency, etc.) As a guard guy, if you can get a ton of flight time in the first 5-6 years, you can be competitive and go part time guard/reserve and start an airline career, at least at the regionals and possibly majors. Timing to have competitive major minimums just depends on what you fly, how much you are flying, and what your resume looks like.

Flying fighters is absolutely not a disadvantage when applying to airlines. The caveat is most fighter pilots log about 1.3 hours or so per sortie, and on average fly less than their heavy counterparts, so it could take longer to build time. But all of it is TPIC high quality flight time, and every single one of my fighter pilot bros who has applied to a top tier airline (DL/UAL/AA/SWA/FDX) and has gotten a call from most of the places they apply to. If you have the fighter pilot box checked, you are in the competitive category by virtue of being in the club. AA's pilot application website literally has a box that asks you something to the effect of "are you or have you ever been a fighter pilot?" Clearly the time sheet in the app would show any fighter time, so I have to think checking that box separates the app from the rest or at least pushes it through the computer system for a person to look at. But there isn't a tanker or C130 box on that site.

The ANG/reserve network at the airlines is big, so that can help tremendously with hiring. The regional networks just don't seem as strong as the mil network. When everyone in a squadron works for brand X and Y, it's easy to get a bunch of LORs and chief pilot meetings with guys walking your stuff right in.

When you are choosing a career flying KC-135s vs C-130s vs F-16s (or any other airframe) vs airlines, you need to properly identify the career path. I assume you'd be going guard or reserve. Your career in the mil will pay the same being a heavy or fighter guy. You'd fly full time for a little while in the military, then go airline/part time guard. Regardless of what you fly in the military, your pay is the same, and your time commitments are similar. Fighter guys have a few more flying requirements they have to do for currency, so they probably average more days in the squadron than heavy part timers, but they won't make any less over their career than the heavy guys, generally speaking. Your competitiveness for DL/AA/UAL/SWA/FDX/UPS is pretty much a wash regardless of your airframe. The mil pilot hiring pool is being depleted daily, and most mil pilots are desirable to airlines.

PRS Guitars
06-19-2018, 09:03 PM
And for the fourth paragraph. As much as Iíd love to be an f-16 pilot. Iíve been told that itís tougher for guys flying those to be hired on by airliners. They would rather have guys flying larger frame aircrafts such as kc-135ís (which is at the top of my list), c-130ís etc etc.

Completely false...you should take whatever else this person told you through a filter, because they are misinformed. And honestly, you need to take everything through a filter pursuing this career. Often times people will put a lot of stock in what a wide body Captain has to say about getting an airline job, or an O5 or higher has to say about joining the military. These can be some of the most ignorant on the subject, because things have changed dramatically since they were hired (there are exceptions).

rickair7777
06-20-2018, 09:38 AM
And for the fourth paragraph. As much as I’d love to be an f-16 pilot. I’ve been told that it’s tougher for guys flying those to be hired on by airliners. They would rather have guys flying larger frame aircrafts such as kc-135’s (which is at the top of my list), c-130’s etc etc. Plus I know making a career flying f-16’s for the military wouldn’t be as good of pay as flying for airliners/cargo.

Somebody lied to you, not sure why they would do that.

Fighters are more challenging (mission complexity, multi-mission, aerobatics, etc), and also tend to be the most sought-after, and are therefore the most competitive platform for assignment. Between the competition to even get a slot, and the challenges of qualifying and completing initial flying tours, airlines understand that the lowest common denominator in fighters in generally higher than other communities, military and civilian. On the rare occasion when fighter pilots fail airline interviews or training, it's almost invariably an attitude issue, not flying or learning ability. You get some of that from active duty, but I would say probably never from guard guys (better mentors and climate).

Delta Echo
06-21-2018, 12:14 AM
Oh .... I can not say any advice, as I am in Hungary... but I hope you find your way.

I was in the army (as a girl), because I love military aviation.. I wanted to try them all...so I became communication officer and I had a lot of chance to fly on different aircrafts for photographing <3

(I was starting PPL as a hobby as civilian)
I loved military, really. Was the best time of my life.


Hello everyone,

I am a 24 year old recent college athlete graduate who isnít using his degree. I have always dreamed of flying and serving in the military. I eventually want to fly for an airliner/cargo such as Delta/FedEx. I am trying to get some advice on what would be the best possible route to get me there as quickly as possible to start gaining seniority. I have several friends who have joined flight schools and some who have joined military. As of right now I am considering joining the air national guard in Birmingham, AL as an officer (first getting my private pilots license for experience) and am also considering joining a flight school in Birmingham. I understand the air national guard is a 10 year commitment but I know that military based training is far superior to a flight school. I would not join the ANG just for the training as I stated earlier, I have always dreamed of serving, itís just that I am 24 years old and I know it takes a while to gain seniority. Just looking for some advice

Thanks

Work4life
06-21-2018, 09:26 AM
I flew fighters but have a slight different perspective than others on here. I absolutely cherish flying fighters and friends I’ve made along the way but if your goal is the airlines via military flying, the quickest way is to fly heavies. Remember, it takes a lot of 1.2 sorties to accrue 1,500 hours. Very few fighter pilots have 1,500 hours, even the 20 year types unless you were deployed/flew a ton of combat missions. Just like everything in life, it’s all timing. HR/airlines look at numbers and as much as fighter time is pure quality hours, you have to meet the minimums, which usually isn’t very competitive. Many of my squadron buds spent some time at the regionals before moving onto the majors.
In regards to fighters being more sought after than heavies.....yes and no. I’ve had several friends track select into T-1s when they could’ve selected T-38s. Many went onto fly C-17s and KC-10s without any regrets. To each his own. As I’ve said before, I thoroughly enjoyed flying with my hair on fire but 10-12 hour days behind the desk and deploying to the sand box for months at a time grew old fast. Pick your poison and choose wisely.

Sliceback
06-21-2018, 11:28 AM
The quickest way to the majors is probably civilian and then join the ANG.

Active duty military is not the quickest path.

rickair7777
06-21-2018, 11:45 AM
I flew fighters but have a slight different perspective than others on here. I absolutely cherish flying fighters and friends Iíve made along the way but if your goal is the airlines via military flying, the quickest way is to fly heavies. Remember, it takes a lot of 1.2 sorties to accrue 1,500 hours. Very few fighter pilots have 1,500 hours, even the 20 year types unless you were deployed/flew a ton of combat missions. Just like everything in life, itís all timing. HR/airlines look at numbers and as much as fighter time is pure quality hours, you have to meet the minimums, which usually isnít very competitive. Many of my squadron buds spent some time at the regionals before moving onto the majors.
In regards to fighters being more sought after than heavies.....yes and no. Iíve had several friends track select into T-1s when they couldíve selected T-38s. Many went onto fly C-17s and KC-10s without any regrets. To each his own. As Iíve said before, I thoroughly enjoyed flying with my hair on fire but 10-12 hour days behind the desk and deploying to the sand box for months at a time grew old fast. Pick your poison and choose wisely.

The quickest way to the majors is probably civilian and then join the ANG.

Active duty military is not the quickest path.

If you do fighters in the guard/reserve, you can also build time as a civilian pilot, won't take anywhere nearly as long as it would on regular active duty.

On active duty, you can also do a tour as an instructor pilot, and rack up a lot of quality time that way.

Excargodog
06-21-2018, 12:07 PM
On active duty, you can also do a tour as an instructor pilot, and rack up a lot of quality time that way.


"Quality" is in the eye of the beholder... :p

https://youtu.be/lG2kNL7CC-I

Sliceback
06-21-2018, 03:22 PM
If you do fighters in the guard/reserve, you can also build time as a civilian pilot, won't take anywhere nearly as long as it would on regular active duty.

On active duty, you can also do a tour as an instructor pilot, and rack up a lot of quality time that way.

The problem is the 2.5(?) year time going through training during which you get 250-300 hrs. At a regional thatís 2000 hrs. It depends upon ones resume before joining the ANG if itís a bump or a drag on ones advance to the majors.

rickair7777
06-21-2018, 03:37 PM
The problem is the 2.5(?) year time going through training during which you get 250-300 hrs. At a regional thatís 2000 hrs. It depends upon ones resume before joining the ANG if itís a bump or a drag on ones advance to the majors.

Worst case, it delays you by what two years? But you get to fly fighters... I wouldn't give up seniority for much, but that's probably on the list.

Sliceback
06-22-2018, 07:54 AM
Worst case, it delays you by what two years? But you get to fly fighters... I wouldn't give up seniority for much, but that's probably on the list.

Thatís the decision that has to be made. I took the risk. Cost me up to a year. Months matter, a year is a big deal. Itís at least a couple hundred thousand, might be over a $500,000 hit, but I enjoyed the heck out of it.

Work4life
06-22-2018, 10:48 AM
If you do fighters in the guard/reserve, you can also build time as a civilian pilot, won't take anywhere nearly as long as it would on regular active duty.

On active duty, you can also do a tour as an instructor pilot, and rack up a lot of quality time that way.

I did a RTU tour but my buds who were T-38 and T-6 IPs racked up a lot more hours obviously. Of course, T-1 guys racked up the most. The one downside of a UPT tour is the crappy location, Hell Rio topping the charts.:D
Btw, there are “white jet” reserve units at UPT bases incase you weren’t aware.

Airbum
06-22-2018, 02:16 PM
Worst case, it delays you by what two years? But you get to fly fighters... I wouldn't give up seniority for much, but that's probably on the list.

It was a easy decision for me also.

Adlerdriver
06-22-2018, 03:00 PM
Worst case, it delays you by what two years? But you get to fly fighters... I wouldn't give up seniority for much, but that's probably on the list.
:confused: I'm not sure this timeline and rationale is really making sense. Here's why:
Going to the ANG to fly a fighter while gaining seniority at an airline isn't going to happen quite as fast as it's being advertised.

That's because any brand new guy going into a fighter isn't going to be a part time, true traditional Guardsman for at least 3-4 years from starting UPT. He's going to be on full time active duty orders for UPT, IFF, FTU, MQT and then his seasoning time at his unit. Any unit worth a crap is going to put their new guys on full time orders for at least a year if not more of seasoning - hopefully more. After one year of full time flying as a fully checked out ANG fighter pilot, a top notch driver might be starting to become proficient as a wingman. An average guy might take longer. So, that's a minimum of 3.5 years from the start of UPT.

At the end of those 3.5 years, that pilot MIGHT have 500-600 hours of total time including all his student time. Not all of that will count as PIC time. So, at that point, he's not going to have the 750 hours required to get an RJ job. If he flies his ass off for another 6-months, he might get the extra 150 hours. That means the best case scenario is get an RJ job at the 4 year point from starting UPT and go part time as a marginally proficient wingman in a fighter squadron.

He's still not qualified to get a job at a major airline. So, unless he plans to make a career out of being an RJ pilot, getting and building seniority at that regional airline isn't of much benefit (other than getting an upgrade as a 121 Captain to continue to build PIC time faster than in his fighter).

So, I'm not really sure why everyone keeps talking about getting an airline job as a new fighter pilot to "build seniority" that isn't going to matter once he moves on to his desired job at a major airline. Build PIC time? Sure - that's valid. But if his ultimate goal is a major airline job, he's not going to be at that major, building seniority at anything close to the timelines folks are discussing here.

The bottom line here is this: If you want an airline job as fast as possible, don't bother trying to get a job with an ANG fighter unit. Go to a heavy unit or just stay civilian. Flying a fighter isn't a mission you phone in for the first couple of years to get your airline job and then do part time for grins on the weekend. It takes years to be truly proficient and then have the skills and experience to go part time and leave the fighter for possibly weeks at a time to go work at an airline. Most traditional Guardsmen have 10 years (2-3 fighter tours) or more flying on active duty before they join the ANG and juggle two jobs.

Delta Echo
06-25-2018, 12:47 AM
This situation sounds better, than in Hungary. Here your military flight hours are not valid in civil aviation.... :-o
I know people with thousand of flight hours starting a civilian PPL from zero...


Hello everyone,

I am a 24 year old recent college athlete graduate who isnít using his degree. I have always dreamed of flying and serving in the military. I eventually want to fly for an airliner/cargo such as Delta/FedEx. I am trying to get some advice on what would be the best possible route to get me there as quickly as possible to start gaining seniority. I have several friends who have joined flight schools and some who have joined military. As of right now I am considering joining the air national guard in Birmingham, AL as an officer (first getting my private pilots license for experience) and am also considering joining a flight school in Birmingham. I understand the air national guard is a 10 year commitment but I know that military based training is far superior to a flight school. I would not join the ANG just for the training as I stated earlier, I have always dreamed of serving, itís just that I am 24 years old and I know it takes a while to gain seniority. Just looking for some advice

Thanks

KTM1524
06-26-2018, 09:52 AM
:confused:

The bottom line here is this: If you want an airline job as fast as possible, don't bother trying to get a job with an ANG fighter unit. Go to a heavy unit or just stay civilian. Flying a fighter isn't a mission you phone in for the first couple of years to get your airline job and then do part time for grins on the weekend. It takes years to be truly proficient and then have the skills and experience to go part time and leave the fighter for possibly weeks at a time to go work at an airline. Most traditional Guardsmen have 10 years (2-3 fighter tours) or more flying on active duty before they join the ANG and juggle two jobs.

I appreciate your insight man. ANG is probably my best bet. I need to make some money while flying, and going 70-100k in debt flying civilian and having zero chance to get picked up by a major right out of the gate is not my first choice.

Adlerdriver
06-26-2018, 04:00 PM
..... it’s just that I am 24 years old and I know it takes a while to gain seniority.
Just to be clear - it takes a while to get hired.

Once you get that part out of the way, gaining seniority will happen just by being there and having folks ahead of you retire. But, I get it - the sooner you start that the better. Just keep in mind that spending some of your 20s and 30s flying a military aircraft rather than jumping straight into the airlines may be worth a little seniority sacrifice. I know it was for me.

I eventually want to fly for an airliner/cargo such as Delta/FedEx. I am trying to get some advice on what would be the best possible route to get me there as quickly as possible to start gaining seniority.
"Best possible route" isn't probably going to be the one that gets you there "as quickly as possible". Getting good training without paying for it may be worth not doing it as quickly as possible. That's for you to decide. As the hiring wave continues and pilots are in demand, going the civilian route may shave a couple of years off the military (ANG) process. Not all civilian applicants get hired at the earliest opportunity. You may end up spending the same amount of time gaining the competitive qualifications necessary to get hired at Delta as you would going the ANG path.

The other thing to consider is the airline industry is notoriously cyclical. It all looks like unicorns, ice cream and BJs right now but that can change in a flash. You may decide to put yourself into 6-figure debt and go full bore civilian for the fastest route to a Delta/FedEx cockpit. Just about the time you're ready to get hired, the economy could tank, another 9-11 event could happen, etc. Now you've got all these quals and nowhere to use them.

Take the ANG route and you've still got at least a part time flying job in that same scenario.

ANG is probably my best bet. I need to make some money while flying, and going 70-100k in debt flying civilian and having zero chance to get picked up by a major right out of the gate is not my first choice. All your reasoning makes sense. The most important being that you want to serve. Becoming a military pilot in any capacity is going to take a lot of work. If someone is only doing it to get an airline job, their chances of success and truly contributing to the unit mission are reduced.

Then there's the fighter vs heavy discussion. In my opinion, if you pursue and get hired by a fighter unit, you're doing that because that's what you want to devote the next 8-10 years of your life doing. At your age, once your finish UPT, all your other training and start flying regularly at your ANG unit, you're going to be at least 30 before you're getting truly proficient in employing that aircraft. So, I would recommend that if you decide to go that route, you put any airline pilot stuff wayyy on the back burner. It's definitely possible to get to a major airline from an ANG fighter. But, it's just not the fastest route and you've really got to keep your priorities in line until you've gained the required experience in the fighter.

Going to the Birmingham tanker unit or some other heavy unit may give you a little faster opportunity to start thinking about pursuing an major airline job. Even still, a heavy ANG unit is going to expect your number one priority as a new guy to be getting and staying proficient in that unit's flying mission. Early on, you're going to be a co-pilot which is going to mean no PIC hours that count for an airline job. Depending on timing and the unit's manning and your capabilities, you may not upgrade to Aircraft Commander (PIC) for a few years after UPT and all your training is complete. If you transition to a part-time Guardsman at some point, there may be a shot to grab an RJ job and maybe get to the left seat there faster than at your ANG unit. Lots of variables and it's all just guesswork at this point.

My point is, at age 24, if you go any flavor of ANG, I think you're going to be at least 30 before you might have the quals to apply to a major airline like Delta or FedEx. But, as you said, you'll get to that point without any debt from pilot training. If I were in your situation, I'd take the ANG option hands down. Just be ready to spend at least the rest of your 20's completely focused on your military flying rather than worrying about making it into an airline stepping stone. Airline stuff will happen soon enough and in the mean time, maybe the Mrs. can throttle back on her "expensive tastes". ;)

rickair7777
06-26-2018, 08:47 PM
:confused: I'm not sure this timeline and rationale is really making sense. Here's why:
Going to the ANG to fly a fighter while gaining seniority at an airline isn't going to happen quite as fast as it's being advertised.

That's because any brand new guy going into a fighter isn't going to be a part time, true traditional Guardsman for at least 3-4 years from starting UPT. He's going to be on full time active duty orders for UPT, IFF, FTU, MQT and then his seasoning time at his unit. Any unit worth a crap is going to put their new guys on full time orders for at least a year if not more of seasoning - hopefully more. After one year of full time flying as a fully checked out ANG fighter pilot, a top notch driver might be starting to become proficient as a wingman. An average guy might take longer. So, that's a minimum of 3.5 years from the start of UPT.

At the end of those 3.5 years, that pilot MIGHT have 500-600 hours of total time including all his student time. Not all of that will count as PIC time. So, at that point, he's not going to have the 750 hours required to get an RJ job. If he flies his ass off for another 6-months, he might get the extra 150 hours. That means the best case scenario is get an RJ job at the 4 year point from starting UPT and go part time as a marginally proficient wingman in a fighter squadron.

He's still not qualified to get a job at a major airline. So, unless he plans to make a career out of being an RJ pilot, getting and building seniority at that regional airline isn't of much benefit (other than getting an upgrade as a 121 Captain to continue to build PIC time faster than in his fighter).

So, I'm not really sure why everyone keeps talking about getting an airline job as a new fighter pilot to "build seniority" that isn't going to matter once he moves on to his desired job at a major airline. Build PIC time? Sure - that's valid. But if his ultimate goal is a major airline job, he's not going to be at that major, building seniority at anything close to the timelines folks are discussing here.



I believe that fighter experience, even just a little, will get you hired faster at a choice airline. Maybe with as little as 3000 TT, with most of that at a regional (might not even need regional PIC). So the timeline is not apples to oranges comparison with a civilian. It's better than AD because you dson't have to wait ten years to apply. Kind of a hybrid.

in fact, even though it takes a couple years longer, you might well get a really choice job which might never have happened as a pure civilian.

No guarantees, but on average fighter experience goes a long ways.

Adlerdriver
06-27-2018, 07:32 AM
I believe that fighter experience, even just a little, will get you hired faster at a choice airline. Maybe with as little as 3000 TT, with most of that at a regional (might not even need regional PIC). So the timeline is not apples to oranges comparison with a civilian. It's better than AD because you dson't have to wait ten years to apply. Kind of a hybrid.

in fact, even though it takes a couple years longer, you might well get a really choice job which might never have happened as a pure civilian.

No guarantees, but on average fighter experience goes a long ways.
I'm not going to pretend that there's no possibility an outlier might accomplish what you say.

I don't know what's happening at other airlines, but for now at FedEx, they have specifically said they have not found the need to hire anyone with less than 1000 TPIC.

I also think you're discounting the fact that major airlines understand the fighter training process and are going to look a bit deeper into someone's quals than simply whether they have a couple thousand hours of RJ SIC time and can check the fighter pilot box.

You're also ignoring the real fighter timeline. A mil guy still needs 750 TT to get on as an RJ first officer. As I already said, a zero to hero ANG guard baby isn't going to be at 750 TT realistically for at least 4.5 to 5 years into his ANG career (with prob around 500 of that being TPIC). 3000 TT is still a long, long way off at that point even by supplementing his ANG hours with RJ SIC time. I simply don't see this as the express lane to a "choice" airline job that you're saying it is.

I was active duty flying F-15s and it took me 9 years from the start of UPT to barely squeak past 1500 Total time for my ATP. A full time ANG pilot might be able to do a little better, but not by much.

The last factor is this idea that a new ANG fighter pilot is going to be able to rush out at the earliest opportunity and land himself an RJ job. I watched the new guard babies come back to my unit from UPT and FTU. They were the priority. If we could we flew them at least 3-4 times a week if not daily. When they weren't involved in mission prep or flying, they were in the vault studying. Our a/c, threat a/c, weapons capes, simulator training and the list goes on. It's a serious full time job. They don't get any better at it by walking away two years into it to go get an RJ job and start time sharing between the two. Once they're reasonably proficient as a wingman, the next push is to be a flight lead, then a 4-ship flight lead, mission commander, instructor pilot. There's always a new opportunity. Not everyone has to progress to the highest level, but going part time as a semi-experienced wingman one or two years after coming back to the unit from training isn't something most units are going to abide.

Anyone who pursues an ANG fighter pilot position with this as their agenda is making a big mistake, IMO. Most unit's with good leadership will never let this happen. For someone who wants a fast track to a major airline job, I would suggest there are better paths for everyone involved.

rickair7777
06-27-2018, 08:03 AM
I'm not going to pretend that there's no possibility an outlier might accomplish what you say.

I don't know what's happening at other airlines, but for now at FedEx, they have specifically said they have not found the need to hire anyone with less than 1000 TPIC.

I also think you're discounting the fact that major airlines understand the fighter training process and are going to look a bit deeper into someone's quals than simply whether they have a couple thousand hours of RJ SIC time and can check the fighter pilot box.

You're also ignoring the real fighter timeline. A mil guy still needs 750 TT to get on as an RJ first officer. As I already said, a zero to hero ANG guard baby isn't going to be at 750 TT realistically for at least 4.5 to 5 years into his ANG career (with prob around 500 of that being TPIC). 3000 TT is still a long, long way off at that point even by supplementing his ANG hours with RJ SIC time. I simply don't see this as the express lane to a "choice" airline job that you're saying it is.

I was active duty flying F-15s and it took me 9 years from the start of UPT to barely squeak past 1500 Total time for my ATP. A full time ANG pilot might be able to do a little better, but not by much.

The last factor is this idea that a new ANG fighter pilot is going to be able to rush out at the earliest opportunity and land himself an RJ job. I watched the new guard babies come back to my unit from UPT and FTU. They were the priority. If we could we flew them at least 3-4 times a week if not daily. When they weren't involved in mission prep or flying, they were in the vault studying. Our a/c, threat a/c, weapons capes, simulator training and the list goes on. It's a serious full time job. They don't get any better at it by walking away two years into it to go get an RJ job and start time sharing between the two. Once they're reasonably proficient as a wingman, the next push is to be a flight lead, then a 4-ship flight lead, mission commander, instructor pilot. There's always a new opportunity. Not everyone has to progress to the highest level, but going part time as a semi-experienced wingman one or two years after coming back to the unit from training isn't something most units are going to abide.

Anyone who pursues an ANG fighter pilot position with this as their agenda is making a big mistake, IMO. Most unit's with good leadership will never let this happen. For someone who wants a fast track to a major airline job, I would suggest there are better paths for everyone involved.

You know more about it than I do. But from the civilian perspective, there are plenty of highly qualified guys who have been at it for 20+ years and are not getting called because they have no way to differentiate themselves from the herd. Likely to change over the next few years, but when I was flying RJ's there was a sharp contrast between my civilian co-workers who going nowhere fast and the guys in my reserve unit who getting called like clockwork as soon as they got a couple years of recency and/or FW time at a regional. I never even flew with mil guys at the regional because my base was very senior... they were gone before they could bid in.

I guess I would caveat it by saying that mil experience will be more of a sure thing, and more predictable. A civilian RJ FO might get hired by DAL with 3000 hours TT and no PIC if he has the right "whole person" ingedients, or he might languish for 20 years, and then go to an ACMI after the kids are out of the house to try to make enough money to fund his retirement. Seen both, and everything in between.

Work4life
06-27-2018, 09:06 AM
Lot's of good advice but I'd side with Adlerdriver, mostly.
The fastest path to the majors is the civilian route in my opinion assuming the rosy future of the airlines remains unchanged. Everything in life is a gamble and cyclical, right? Using military flight training as a means to get to the airlines is a good option but there's a price for everything. I flew fighters on active duty but if I had to do it all over again, I'd choose to go guard/reserve mainly because you can just be a pilot, if you so desire. Many of my guard/reserve buds were guard bums during the airline downturn and were able to survive financially during the tough times.

As Adlerdriver have said, you'll spend most of your 20s getting proficient and advancing in the fighter world. You'll get 250-300 hours a year for about the first 2-3 years on full time orders while becoming a "seasoned" fighter pilot, which equates to approximately 600 hours in your weapons system. This means that you are flying 3-5 times a week. No community, especially the fighter world, wants stagnant/weak sisters so you'll have to work hard to progress - 2 ship lead, 4 ship lead, IP, and preferably EP. Once you are a seasoned pilot, you'll be able to fly less just to maintain your proficiency. I, for one, don't want a barely proficient wingman. It's not fair to others, especially to the troops that put their lives in your hands. There are a lot of requirements in order to stay proficient in a fighter unit which was one of the reasons why I didn't join the guard/reserves after I punched from active duty.
Depending on your civilian flight time/total time, your path to the majors will definitely take longer than someone who flys heavies in the guard/reserves. If you want to check the military box and be on the faster track to the majors, I'd look for a heavy unit. Just my 2 cents.

Adlerdriver
06-27-2018, 10:07 AM
I guess I would caveat it by saying that mil experience will be more of a sure thing, and more predictable. A civilian RJ FO might get hired by DAL with 3000 hours TT and no PIC if he has the right "whole person" ingedients, or he might languish for 20 years, and then go to an ACMI after the kids are out of the house to try to make enough money to fund his retirement. Seen both, and everything in between.
All good points. If you're saying an ANG fighter job might allow someone a competitive resume sooner or with lower total time than your average vanilla product of the civilian track, I think I can agree with that.

Aside from my issues with going part time as a low time fighter wingman, my only point of contention was the implication that the ANG fighter path is realistically a faster option.

Adlerdriver
06-27-2018, 11:27 AM
All good points. If you're saying an ANG fighter job might allow someone a competitive resume with lower total time than your average vanilla product of the civilian track, I think I can agree with that. Too late to correct above, but I didnít meaner to include ďsoonerĒ in my statement. That would make no sense based on my previous opinions.

KTM1524
06-28-2018, 06:49 PM
So from what Iíve read, the overall consensus on this thread is:

1. Military is the best possible route for the reasons of not going 100k in debt, getting top notch flight training and experience, and having the greatest chance to get hired on by a major in less time than the civilian route would take (may be wrong about that last point so correct me if I am)

2. Flying for a heavy unit would be much more beneficial for me. It would take longer to actually start flying fighters and I would get more hours flying heavies than fighters anyways. Therefore would make it longer for me to be able to eventually fly for an airliner/cargo.

3. Flying heavies gives me more multi engine time, which from what I understand, is more important than center thrust aircraft regardless of the mission complexity of fighters etc etc

I want to serve guys so donít think Iím just saying this just for the money, but like I said, Iím 24 and I need to start making money to support a wife and eventually a family. Having said that, does anyone know how much a heavy unit pilot flying full-time for ANG makes? Iíve researched online and had all different conflicting reports on it but nothing for sure.

Work4life
06-28-2018, 08:24 PM
So from what I’ve read, the overall consensus on this thread is:

1. Military is the best possible route for the reasons of not going 100k in debt, getting top notch flight training and experience, and having the greatest chance to get hired on by a major in less time than the civilian route would take (may be wrong about that last point so correct me if I am)

2. Flying for a heavy unit would be much more beneficial for me. It would take longer to actually start flying fighters and I would get more hours flying heavies than fighters anyways. Therefore would make it longer for me to be able to eventually fly for an airliner/cargo.

3. Flying heavies gives me more multi engine time, which from what I understand, is more important than center thrust aircraft regardless of the mission complexity of fighters etc etc

I want to serve guys so don’t think I’m just saying this just for the money, but like I said, I’m 24 and I need to start making money to support a wife and eventually a family. Having said that, does anyone know how much a heavy unit pilot flying full-time for ANG makes? I’ve researched online and had all different conflicting reports on it but nothing for sure.

1) Civilian track is the quickest way to the majors, in my opinion. Of course, you'd have to pay big dollars for training. If your goal it strictly getting on with majors in min time, I'd skip the military all together. Using the military to gain flying experience is great but Uncle Sam will get his money's worth out of you, active duty or guard/reserves. I don't bleed red, blue, and white but your desire to "serve" has to be greater than flying cool jets. Military life in general takes a toll on families. Remember, we are always at war somewhere.

2) You'd accrue flight time significantly quicker flying heavies vs. fighters.

3) There was a time this statement was true but not in this day and age. V1 cuts and single engine work is a no brainer. Airline flying is simple point A to point B flying. I don't mean to turn this into a fighter vs. heavy argument but leading a 4 ship mission in real combat is far more challenging than flying a Boeing or an Airbus from Dallas to JFK. When it comes to military flight time, I don't think the airlines care as long as you meet the minimums and have the desired turbine PIC hours in a fixed wing.

I hope your wife has a job that can put food on the table.:D The desire to serve is what you need in order to get through the tough times in the military, both as active duty and weekend warriors alike.
All I ever wanted was to be an airline pilot as a kid. In pilot training, I thought I wanted heavies so that I can get on with the airlines quicker. That is, until I flew with a reserve T-6 IP (former fighter pilot) who was also an airline pilot and the rest is history. Good thing I enjoyed pulling Gs and formation flying.;) I wouldn't change a thing if I had to do it all over again but if I were in your shoes, I'd choose a heavy unit. I'm no expert when it comes to the guard/reserves but I do know that you are on active orders once you start training (OTS, UPT, RTU/FTU, etc.) and until you are fully mission ready/seasoned pilot, which I'm going to guess is going to be about 3-4 years. As far as how much a 2LT makes these days, you'd have to look up the pay scales online which is readily available. When you get to UPT, I highly recommend living on base. You'll get a house instead of single officer's quarters since you are married, at least that was the case when I was there many moons ago. Hope this helps.

rickair7777
06-29-2018, 03:39 AM
1) Civilian track is the quickest way to the majors, in my opinion. Of course, you'd have to pay big dollars for training. If your goal it strictly getting on with majors in min time, I'd skip the military all together. Using the military to gain flying experience is great but Uncle Sam will get his money's worth out of you, active duty or guard/reserves. I don't bleed red, blue, and white but your desire to "serve" has to be greater than flying cool jets. Military life in general takes a toll on families. Remember, we are always at war somewhere.


Historically it's not that simple. It's been very hard to predict when, if ever, a civilian while get called. Unless you pick up a coveted but rare LCA slot, or have an affirmative action ticket, it's frankly a crapshoot. Also if you miss your "sweet spot" as a civilian your odds actually start to decline as you build more experience (depends on the major).

There are things you can do to improve your odds, but other than LCA nothing is much of a sure thing.

Current market forces will probably minimize the inconsistency, but it's still a risk. Military training will force you to become what airlines want (both pilot and whole person), and they will largely take it at face value... I can easily predict when most military pilots will get called based on their experience and currency.

Work4life
06-29-2018, 12:25 PM
Historically it's not that simple. It's been very hard to predict when, if ever, a civilian while get called. Unless you pick up a coveted but rare LCA slot, or have an affirmative action ticket, it's frankly a crapshoot. Also if you miss your "sweet spot" as a civilian your odds actually start to decline as you build more experience (depends on the major).

There are things you can do to improve your odds, but other than LCA nothing is much of a sure thing.

Current market forces will probably minimize the inconsistency, but it's still a risk. Military training will force you to become what airlines want (both pilot and whole person), and they will largely take it at face value... I can easily predict when most military pilots will get called based on their experience and currency.

The last time I checked, great majority of airline pilots are white males (me included) so let's not bring up affirmative action. Having said that, I don't believe in affirmative action especially in our line of work. It should solely be based on qualifications and desirability but I digress.
I agree with your statement regarding the "desirability" factor of a military pilot but I still don't think it's the quickest way to the airlines. Granted there are a lot more civilian trained pilots than military but through hard work, a solid plan, and networking, you can make it to the majors before 30. For a military guy, that's nearly impossible. The only way I can see this happen is to finish college by age 21-22, get picked up by a heavy guard/reserve unit, complete OTS and UPT by 23-24, fly your butt off and be on the fast track to AC/IP, AND then you may have a chance at landing a job at the majors before 30.
Military pilots are a known quantity and the airlines like that but with HR leading the hiring these days, they seem to focus more on diversity and community service rather than aforementioned qualities. Getting back on subject, all of my military buds who've separated/retired got on with the big 3, FedEx, Alaska, or SWA. I think the key is to keep your nose clean and be able to show progression on your resume.

headhunter
07-02-2018, 07:06 PM
So from what Iíve read, the overall consensus on this thread is:

1. Military is the best possible route for the reasons of not going 100k in debt, getting top notch flight training and experience, and having the greatest chance to get hired on by a major in less time than the civilian route would take (may be wrong about that last point so correct me if I am)

2. Flying for a heavy unit would be much more beneficial for me. It would take longer to actually start flying fighters and I would get more hours flying heavies than fighters anyways. Therefore would make it longer for me to be able to eventually fly for an airliner/cargo.

3. Flying heavies gives me more multi engine time, which from what I understand, is more important than center thrust aircraft regardless of the mission complexity of fighters etc etc

I want to serve guys so donít think Iím just saying this just for the money, but like I said, Iím 24 and I need to start making money to support a wife and eventually a family. Having said that, does anyone know how much a heavy unit pilot flying full-time for ANG makes? Iíve researched online and had all different conflicting reports on it but nothing for sure.


Another thing to keep in mind: you only have a limited time to join and fly for the military (although with their hiring problems at the moment they may extend the maximum age for signing up). In general, if you have any desire to fly in the military you can really only do that when you're young. You don't/won't see 35 year olds at UPT. Yes, the occasional ANG old guy shows up, but that's pretty rare. And as you mentioned, getting the best flying training in the world, and getting paid for it, is having your cake and eating it too.


And flying in the military will give you experiences you simply cannot get anywhere else. I have 28 free fall parachute jumps, glider time, fixed wing time, fighter time, a handful of helicopter rides (night low level on NVG's), and even an AC-130 ride at night shooting live rounds down at Eglin AFB. These are experiences I cherish and you can't get anywhere else; money can't buy them either. And you can always fly for the airlines later in life, like I'm starting to do now after some time in the Air Force and then a desk job for the last decade plus.

Adlerdriver
07-02-2018, 07:23 PM
.....like I'm starting to do now after some time in the Air Force and then a desk job for the last decade plus.
I think you had him until riiiiiiiight about here. :D

Albief15
07-03-2018, 07:16 AM
Pile on here....

What counts getting hired at SWA or FDX is not total time, but PIC Turbine. So...nothing WRONG with taking that C-130 or C-17 if that is what you want to do, and those missions have a lot cool things that come with the job.

At the same time, slowly build time 15-30 hours a month in your F-16, F-35, A-10 unit, etc if your heart wants that. In 3-4 years you'll have 500-1000 PIC turbine, maybe sooner if you deploy a few times. Get a regional job...upgrade in 1-2 years..and by year UPT grad + about 3-5 you'll have PIC turbine as a fighter pilot and more than likely in a CRJ or ERJ.

I don't know of any mil co-pilots with no PIC getting hired at majors, but it might be happening and I am just unaware. Thus--the first year or two in the Herc or KC-135 aren't moving the stakes that much faster. I'm not here to bash heavy flying--its a great job and if you want to be part of a good unit then go for it. Judging by the number of fighter Guard babies in the industry, however, I can say that if you WANT to fly fighter it won't slow your progression down that much, if at all. Its PIC turbine that counts, and you'll be logging that from day 1 in your A-10, and not long after that in any other fighter.

Work4life
07-03-2018, 10:11 AM
then a desk job for the last decade plus.

Ouch! Add to the list 10-12 hour days behind a desk doing mindless-made-up OPR fillers, non-flying extended deployments to the sand box, and back stabbing-ham fisted sticks trying to climb the ladder. Oh but, I cherish flying with my hair on fire that you can only experience in the military and of course, the camaraderie!:)

rickair7777
07-03-2018, 02:36 PM
Ouch! Add to the list 10-12 hour days behind a desk doing mindless-made-up OPR fillers, non-flying extended deployments to the sand box, and back stabbing-ham fisted sticks trying to climb the ladder. Oh but, I cherish flying with my hair on fire that you can only experience in the military and of course, the camaraderie!:)

You stayed too long...

Work4life
07-03-2018, 02:58 PM
You stayed too long...

4 years at the academy and 10 year commitment after wings, plus a few months. I consider myself lucky for not having to extend beyond my UPT commitment. Some of my buds weren't so lucky.

AirBear
07-04-2018, 08:47 AM
4 years at the academy and 10 year commitment after wings, plus a few months. I consider myself lucky for not having to extend beyond my UPT commitment. Some of my buds weren't so lucky.

I failed to check the commitment add-on when I took $500 in tuition assistance for my MBA program, cost me 6 extra months active duty. Expensive mistake.

When talking UPT and fighters vs. heavies keep in mind not all pilots in UPT will qualify for fighters. Back in 1982 it was maybe a little over half the class. No idea what it is today. And if going thru UPT with a Guard/Reserve Fighter unit, and the UPT instructors decide you're not fighter qualified then you have to scramble to find a heavy unit that'll take you. Otherwise you get the boot from UPT. Again, my info is pretty old so this may have changed, I'm sure others here can provide updated info.

Work4life
07-04-2018, 09:05 PM
I failed to check the commitment add-on when I took $500 in tuition assistance for my MBA program, cost me 6 extra months active duty. Expensive mistake.

When talking UPT and fighters vs. heavies keep in mind not all pilots in UPT will qualify for fighters. Back in 1982 it was maybe a little over half the class. No idea what it is today. And if going thru UPT with a Guard/Reserve Fighter unit, and the UPT instructors decide you're not fighter qualified then you have to scramble to find a heavy unit that'll take you. Otherwise you get the boot from UPT. Again, my info is pretty old so this may have changed, I'm sure others here can provide updated info.
Before my time, when everyone flew T-37 & T-38s, not everyone was FAR’d (fighter, attack, recon) and you had to be to fly single seat/fighters. FAIPs also had to be FAR’d. With the current curriculum, aka dual track, “FAR” qualification is determined at the end of T-6s. Assuming you are qualified to move onto the T-38 track, aka fighter/bomber track, you have to make another round of cuts in order to fly fighters. Some of my classmates ended up in B-52s and there’s nothing wrong with flying BUFFs but I can tell you that none of them were jumping for joy during assignment night.
As for guard/reserve fighter bound students, they have to finish in the top 50% in the T-6 phase in order to continue onto T-38s, at least that was the case during my time. In T-38s, they have to make the cut to fly fighters or they’ll wash you out. It was rare to see them wash out during the T-38 phase but it does happen. Attrition rates decrease as you progress through the different phases but as the saying goes, it’s not over until the fat lady sings. A few will washout of IFF, RTU, and even weapons school along the way.



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