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TheGreatSantini 03-12-2019 12:49 PM

The Good
Ok.. so I went on a tirade and whined for an hour. So there must be some good. Well there is.

We have some good aircraft:
AS-350: Dual FADEC, A/C, XM Weather, great helo
UH-60 L/M: full glass, painted black, lots of power and just a baddaxx helo. Good missions.
MEA/King Air 350/C-12: Well good and bad.
Good: ProLine 21, new aircraft, good sensors
Bad: poor performance (slow, underpowered)

Bad aircraft:
PC12: good plane, only have 2 or 3 nationwide
C-206: junk
EC-120: cool looking, underpowered, no FLIR

The mission: tricky topic. There is definitely a mission. Plenty of bad guys on the land border, on boats and even planes. We have some cool programs that pilots can volunteer for. Comm stuff, airborne snipers, tactics stuff. Mostly underutilized but once a year you may support the Superbowl, or some other high visibility event. TDYs as I mentioned before can be a lot of fun. Stay in a good hotel, catch bad guys, eat good food, fly over new terrain, repeat for 10 days.

Guns: if you like guns, we have guns and plenty of ammo and range time. We go to the range 4 times a year, and the shooting is decent. Its not the military style of robotic shooting. Fairly tactical and usually fun.

VFR flying: one of the best parts. We rarely fly IFR. The job is VFR looking for stuff. This is not the airlines, with the autopilot on, talking to ATC and grandma in the back. This is often NVGs, or at night. Looking. Doesn't always pay off, but when it does, it feels good. A good car chase, or drug bust. Flash bangs, car wrecks, or chasing something or someone. The flying can be very good.

People: we do have some good people. Lots of different backgrounds and some really good pilots. Fighter guys, helo guys, freight guys, or guys who learned in BP. Most of us fly two different aircraft. You may fly the helo in the morning, and get a call out to fly the C-12 that evening.

So the flying part is good. But that only about 15 hours of the week. Its the 30-40 hours in the office that frustrates most of us.

But there is a dark side to the flying too.....

TheGreatSantini 03-12-2019 02:17 PM

The bad
So I mentioned the good. Now the bad.

Schedule Changes: I have no idea what my schedule will be in 2 weeks. And whatever is posted has a 50% chance it will be changed. My wife doesn't make dinner anymore unless I tell her Im on the way home,

Seniority: We have absolutely no seniority. Except the rate we earn leave. Besides that.

There is no seniority for
your schedule
your days off
your vacation days
what aircraft you fly
who go TDY
when and if you PCS
what you will do tomorrow at work
any position in the office (training, instructor, firearms)

So a pilot with 30 years and age 56 just jammed worse then a new pilot with no quals.

Vacation Time and Days at Work:
This is interesting. After a few years many of us prior military will earn 8 hours Vacation Time.

Here are all the benefits you may be eligible for. Per year.
26 vacation days (work days NOT calendar days)
10 paid federal holidays ( you will likely worth half of them)
15 paid days for guard or reservists
13 days paid sick leave (plan on using 5 per year)

That's 10 weeks of excused and paid work or 42 weeks.

42 weeks x 5 days = 210 work days per year or 17 days per month.

so you say.. hey, that's about what a SWA flies. Well not really.

That's 17-20 days per month your entire career. Remember. No seniority. No moving up. No long haul. No bidding reserve.

Your last year WILL be as painful as your first year here.

Ohh.. but we sleep in our own bed every night?

Well not so fast. We do often go TDY to garden spots like Tucson or McAllen, and at home we often work nights. So that means working until midnight. Driving home. Sneaking into the house at 1am. Sleeping in your own bed, then having everyone in the house wake you up at 7am when they go to school.

Its not terrible. But it must be considered.

How do others do it??

12 hours on, 12 hours off. 7 days on 7 days off
Wow.. 7 days off in a row sounds nice.
Sleeping during shift sounds nice too.

Almost forgot. The flying. We have become very focused on flight hours. Don't know why. Maybe its the pilot shortage. Competing with USCG or plain stupidity. But flying circles over the same stretch of desert or water gets old. We aren't doing overnight trips to Cancun with 20 hour layovers. It can be 6 hours in the same 20x20 mile box. With little to zero hope of actually accomplishing anything because the weather is marginal, nobody on the ground, or just no real intel. Just "patrolling".

About as exciting as driving a fire truck around the Sahara desert looking for a house fire.

Good friend is a fireman. They stay in shape. They are meticulous about keeping their equipment in top working order and they sleep and rest when there is no fire. That truck goes to fires, schools and the local Applebees. When there is a fire, they are ready and so is the equipment. We fly to fly, land tired, then go back up flying because somebody may have seen a fire.

Computer Systems: I swear there is some sick IT jokester at our HQ. We constantly change travel systems, nobody seems to know how to work out the bugs, HR is absolutely no help. Our systems are probably our number one enemy. A day doesn't go by that somebody in the office has some sort of IT based issue. An error message, locked up, cant figure it out. Whatever. It is incredible the amount of lost time we spend battling our own computer systems. Our IT systems:
flight logs
DHS training
Im sure I forgot one. Mind boggling how poorly they function.

Like someone said. You can be the highest paid single engine piston pilot in the entire country... before your divorce.

hindsight2020 03-13-2019 10:16 AM

As has been highlighted before, folks do these BP related jobs (and yes I'm pointedly lumping everyone under the BP banner, I know AMO hates that) because they have ties to the local area. Being paid GS-13 to live in proverbial McAllen, Sierra Vista et al is all about local ties, not a flying progression worth putting up with those places. Most of the folks I knew in Del Rio (non-pilots) were doing it for a lateral to other agencies. That either would take years or their loved ones would give up on them. It's the reason we could never hire ARTs in my AFRC unit down there and the command finally wised up and knocked it off with the ART nonsense. Even AGRs go unfilled in this hiring environment, or they get filled by airline guys topping off their retirement then they're gone.

I certainly was about to geo-bachelor my family by moving them to bona fide civilization, in order not to lose them if I didn't get a transfer in time for the kid to turn school age. That took me 7 years of my life. I ain't getting that time back, and I'm certainly never doing that again, my life is finite after all lol.

Only the local-tied would be copacetic with that mediocrity, and from their perspective you really can't beat a GS-11 thru 14 in these places, compared to the median income on these places. So sure, a good reason as any for someone in that situation, but it's just not a good setup for most who are not local tied, especially in this aviation hiring environment. To each their own.

kaputt 03-14-2019 08:36 PM

Iím curious why CBP doesnít bring down the hiring mins, considering their manpower shortage and especially that youíll really only be able to fly a piston single or RPA.

You donít need 1500, or even 1000, to fly a C206 in a law enforcement capacity. I believe USFW and the National Parks will hire law enforcement pilots at 500 hours.

Wrj1996 03-19-2019 04:35 PM

Birmingham duty location
I'm halfway along the hiring process and my application shows my applied duty location in Birmingham, AL. Does CBP have a base in Alabama?

Bandit612 03-27-2019 07:09 AM

Too Old...
Has anyone been successful into getting into AMO while retired over the grade of O-4? Recruiters are saying not possible without disability points for veterans preference due to being (way) over 40.

Shifty101 03-31-2019 11:38 AM

Originally Posted by Bandit612 (Post 2790940)
Has anyone been successful into getting into AMO while retired over the grade of O-4? Recruiters are saying not possible without disability points for veterans preference due to being (way) over 40.

If you are a retired 0-4 or above, you must have a disability letter from the VA, of 0% or more, in order to get the age waiver. In 1978, the Civil Service Reform Act amended the employment preference for retired officers by denying it to those retiring at the rank of major (O-4) and above.

hgc223556 04-04-2019 06:54 AM

100 hour currency requirement
Just saw on the main page CPB is waving the 100 hours within the past year requirement for applicants. Between the experience requirement reductions, no more dual rating, and this recent additional reduction in minimum requirements, I really am curious of what the organization will look like in 1-2 years.

Also, given the most recent comments on here, am curious if there would be any benefits to rolling CBP OAM into Border Patrol or some other restructure that would increase the quality and capability of the organization.

All that said, crazy time to be a pilot given the strength of the economy, airline industry, and bargaining power rated aviators have within the industry depending on ones goals.

Lastly, appreciate everyones' candor on here.

TheGreatSantini 04-06-2019 08:38 AM

Originally Posted by Wrj1996 (Post 2785890)
I'm halfway along the hiring process and my application shows my applied duty location in Birmingham, AL. Does CBP have a base in Alabama?

To answer your question. No, we dont have an air unit in Birmingham, AL. What we do have are incompetent and lazy people in our HR department. Not all, but enough. They cant even get your applied location correct.

When HR cant get the simple things correct, just guess how your pay and benefits will be.

Nobody in AMO is accountable, except line pilots. I've never heard leadership take any responsibility for anything. Its never their fault. Its not IT or HR.

Good luck with that application. Just a taste of what you will experience for 20 years. Unpaid travel claims, downright incompetence.

Please share your experience getting that corrected.

Does AMO HQ read this forum? I hope so.

BAJ135 04-06-2019 01:12 PM

Originally Posted by TheGreatSantini (Post 2797503)
Does AMO HQ read this forum? I hope so.

Donít kid yourself no one at HQ cares.

This on the other hand is interesting.

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