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How to be a military aviator

Old 01-15-2023, 01:32 PM
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Since I was a child I wanted to fly in the military. Unfortunately life events didnít allow me to as I got distracted with other things. Now im 23 finished college with a bachelors (non stem) have all my CFI ratings and almost 900 hours. I want to at least attempt to join because I know I will regret it later. I know from a financial prospective and how close I am to 1500 that this would be a bad idea, but itís not about the money.

Whats the path, how is it done, and do I have a chance to join the military as a pilot. I would prefer the navy/marines/ Air Force. But if that doesnít work out I might try army aviation in the guard. Is there some sort of guide or way to get advice about this?

Thank you everyone.
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Old 01-15-2023, 02:02 PM
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I'm former Navy but you're absolutely not too old at 23. I joined post-college at 26 through OCS, which is definitely on the "old" side at the time but they have since increased the minimum age to apply for a pilot slot. Tailhook Navy was awesome and I have zero regrets but if your goal is to eventually be an airline pilot I'd look closely at the Guard. I won't speak much to the Guard because it's not my background but we had Guard guys in my AA indoc that were in their late 20s. If you go Active Duty military then you're looking at a minimum of 10 years before you can plan an exit or transition to the reserves. Guard you basically get hired by a unit, you'll be active duty for a period of time to get your quals etc., and then you can transition to being a part timer and go get that airline gig. If you want more info on the Navy side of the house feel free to PM me. You're basically going to go the Officer Candidate School route, find a Officer Navy recruiter, start the application process (don't apply for anything other than pilot, even when they try to talk you into anything else), and then wait for the board results.

I cringe recommending this site because it's like APC for the Navy with all the same bitterness and lack of good info at times, but https://www.airwarriors.com/community/ can be a good source of nuggets of info and is better than APC for the Navy / Marine side of the house.
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Old 01-15-2023, 02:07 PM
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Originally Posted by BigKitten229180 View Post
Since I was a child I wanted to fly in the military. Unfortunately life events didnít allow me to as I got distracted with other things. Now im 23 finished college with a bachelors (non stem) have all my CFI ratings and almost 900 hours. I want to at least attempt to join because I know I will regret it later. I know from a financial prospective and how close I am to 1500 that this would be a bad idea, but itís not about the money.

Whats the path, how is it done, and do I have a chance to join the military as a pilot. I would prefer the navy/marines/ Air Force. But if that doesnít work out I might try army aviation in the guard. Is there some sort of guide or way to get advice about this?

Thank you everyone.


For active duty Air Force:

https://www.airforce.com/careers/detail/pilot


There are other options:

https://www.wikihow.com/Become-a-Pil...National-Guard

https://afreserve.com/a-step-by-step...-an-afrc-pilot
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Old 01-15-2023, 02:45 PM
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Youíre earlier than I was. Like the above poster I commissioned at 26. Use the internet to locate your nearest officer recruiter and reach out via the link(s) on the page. Theyíll meet with you and discuss the path forward. Navy and Marines will guarantee you a pilot position (should you finish training) if you meet the criteria, so make sure to establish the fact that you are interested in an aviation pipeline. Also look into the ASTB if youíre looking to start studying for the aptitude test. Itís certainly changed since my day, but Airwarriors will likely be able to steer you in the right direction when it comes to test prep.
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Old 01-15-2023, 08:25 PM
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Thank you everyone for the info,

what kind of qualifications did you have before you joined?
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Old 01-16-2023, 09:50 AM
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Originally Posted by BigKitten229180 View Post
Thank you everyone for the info,

what kind of qualifications did you have before you joined?
Iím presuming youíre talking about flight qualifications, but correct me if Iím wrong. I had basically nothing outside of about 10 hours in a Piper Cherokee. Some guys had a ton of flight experience, though most had little or none prior to starting.

There used to be something called IFS (Introductory Flight Syllabus) where you flew 25 hours up to solo in a 172 prior to starting flight school. Not sure if thatís still a thing.
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Old 01-16-2023, 10:26 AM
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Not here to pitch the Army or anything like that, as I would have absolutely preferred a different service if it had been an option. BUT if it doesn't work out for you and you do have to settle for the Army it's not the worst thing in the world. I spent almost a decade as an active duty Army Aviator. There was one hard year, and a couple mediocre ones, but overall I had a good time flying for the Army. I think the guard is the way to go for someone in your shoes *if* that's a road you decide to go down.
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Old 01-16-2023, 07:48 PM
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Originally Posted by BigKitten229180 View Post
Since I was a child I wanted to fly in the military. Unfortunately life events didnít allow me to as I got distracted with other things. Now im 23 finished college with a bachelors (non stem) have all my CFI ratings and almost 900 hours. I want to at least attempt to join because I know I will regret it later. I know from a financial prospective and how close I am to 1500 that this would be a bad idea, but itís not about the money.

Whats the path, how is it done, and do I have a chance to join the military as a pilot. I would prefer the navy/marines/ Air Force. But if that doesnít work out I might try army aviation in the guard. Is there some sort of guide or way to get advice about this?

Thank you everyone.
Go air guard (note: most here referring to the "guard" are referring to the air guard, not the army guard). Find a unit you like, either based on geography and where you want to drill, or your airframe (or depending on your location, both). Get in touch with the unit, it's usually as simple as emailing them through their public website to introduce yourself and register your interest. They'll usually refer you to a recruiter and/or invite you to come by and visit them on a drill weekend when everyone is in. First impressions are important and this is a great chance to meet the squadron bros, see if you like it, and let them see if they like you. If you get an offer, you'll go on active duty for a few years and get OTS, UPT et al., done and get qualified, then you will transition into "part timer" in the SELRES and you can go back to a full time civilian career. No other service/option is as flexible as the air guard. Army guard is getting more flexible now that they aren't deploying constantly, but that should be your last resort because there are very few fixed wing opportunities available for army guard aviators and you'll most likely go RW and then have to do an RTAG transition which will delay your 121 career compared to going straight into a heavy, building TPIC and applying to airlines as a C-17 aircraft commander while still in your 20's.

Trust me, I wish I had done it this way in retrospect. In the current hiring environment you could start at one of the big three while still in your 20's and put in a 40+ year airline career (and the seniority that comes with that) plus a concurrent guard career and military pension, and if you're ever furloughed in the 121 world, you can leverage your guard career to go active duty for a few years and keep flying while your airline holds your spot, like a lot of my bros did during the last recession. Guard flying is a great backup that gives you enormous job security.
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Old 01-16-2023, 09:02 PM
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I joined the AF at age 29, was also a CFI.
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Old 01-17-2023, 03:41 AM
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I'd try for ANG, USAFR in that order. Do part time mil while also progressing your civilian career so you don't miss all of the retirement wave.
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