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Day in the Life: Fighters and Heavies

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Day in the Life: Fighters and Heavies

Old 12-15-2007, 01:29 PM
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Default Day in the Life: Fighters and Heavies

Hey guys, ive got a few questions for the fighter and heavy pilots out there. What is your typical day like at work?? When you get up in the morning, what do you expect to do?I have read many posts while i snooped on this forum about paper work and paper work and then maybe some flying, but is that really what it is like? Again this question is for both heavies and fighters, would like to hear about both jobs from those who really know.
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Old 12-15-2007, 02:16 PM
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Try more snooping...and try searching over at baseops.net
They also have a forum and your questions might get better answered over there.
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Old 12-15-2007, 03:13 PM
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The answer depends mostly on where you stand with respect to years of service, not type of aircraft. A junior officer (2-8 yrs) can expect to fly more than a department head (11-14 yrs) who can expect to fly more than a CO/XO (16-18 yrs). Just a general rule of course, always exceptions.
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Old 12-15-2007, 05:50 PM
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Now a days the P-3 community does fly much. More paperwork then flying. Also with the CWO program that takes more JOs out of the cockpit. AF is the way to go if you like flight time.
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Old 12-15-2007, 06:22 PM
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more hours in the AF??? dont know about that....if u want hours, be an instructor at navy or usaf upt. otherwise, hours are slim in the CAF(combat air force)....except for when deployed. 3 years of flying f-16s w/o a deployment got me just over 500 hours. we did go thru ccip and not fly much then however.
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Old 12-15-2007, 06:55 PM
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Well since no one has weighed in on the the USN pointy nose side here you go:

Once you finish 3 yrs of traning(2 yrs training command/1 yr FRS) you'll get assigned to a VFA squadron either in Oceana, VA, Beaufort, SC, Lemoore, CA or Whidbey Is, WA(F/A-18G) or Atsugi, Japan for 3 years.

While there are no 'set' hours, day to day ops for the most part while not deployed are pretty standard 0730-1700ish. Of course you may brief earlier than that and fly later than that on any given day. Most day's you'll fly once perhaps twice. Normal sortie length is 1.0-1.5 depending on the mission. Briefs are usually 2 hours prior to launch and debriefs are usually complete 1.5 after landing. Certainly there are exceptions to those times.

You also have to figure in your ground job. You'll either work a ground job in OPS/Maintenance/Safety/Training. Each job is a bit different from a time requirement standpoint, but suffice it to say you're busy. The QOL in a squadron largely depends on the front office and department head leadership as well as the fellow JO's in the squadron. They will either make your life miserable or make it fun/enjoyable to be there, that is purely a crapshoot. One other factor to consider is whether you are in a single seat squadron or two seat squadron. 2 seat squadrons basically have twice the aircrew for the same number of ground jobs. Some argue that there is less work, others argue the opposite. Over to the two seat guys to answer that one. That's a double edged sword and you have to deal with the WSO's. Bottom line 10-12 hour days are pretty routine for 3 years. Expect to be deployed for at least 1 total year of that three minimum.

When you're on the ship, life is just the same, BUT you're on the ship! Days tend to get longer and blend in. On the ship you'll fly once a day when the air wing is flying sometimes twice. One paragraph can't give you the wallet sized photo of the big picture.

As for hours. Most guys will leave their first fleet tour with around 900-1000TT. The beauty of that is, once you leave the FRS all of it is ME PIC.

Your options from there are to be assigned to any of multiple training and production sources(FRS, Training Command, Weapons School, TOP GUN, Test Pilot School, etc.) as an instructor where you will build even more time, and not deploy. Some of those jobs are very laid back, alot of home time while others are very busy and time consuming but also very rewarding(totally depends on your niche/desires)

If you're looking for a job that just allows you to fly and go home, I would look elsewhere, and definitely not look in the military.

Hope this helps.

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Old 12-15-2007, 06:56 PM
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My response was posted twice
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Old 12-15-2007, 09:33 PM
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Great post by Bdger
Bottom line: Military flying is not just a flying job.
That said, where else can you fly fighters? I can try to describe a fighter pilots career but none of them are the same. It all depends. You want to reference some books but unfortunately none come to mind. Hopefully, 1 yr at pilot training, 6’ish months to learn to fly the fighter and then it’s off to an Ops tour. You will probably work 10 hours a day. Sometimes you will work longer because you had a great week and flew a lot. The paperwork is still there when you return. In two seat fighters, there are obviously more people to get the work done. Sometimes you will fly 3 times a week. When you are lucky and in surge ops, you may fly 3 times a day. That typically doesn’t occur often.
In the military there is a lot of other training that is required to make sure you are capable of doing your wartime job. There are exercises/training to make sure you can operate in a chemical environment, shoot a weapon (well), water survival, land survival, operating in a hostile environment, studying the enemy, knowing your own Combat Air Forces capabilities, types of weapons/missiles, etc.
Yes, there can be a lot of paperwork. Depending on your attitude and the leadership personalities it is offset by camaraderie and flying jets! Each person in the squadron will do an office job: scheduling, weapons, mission planning, safety, standards and evaluation, life support and multiple other leadership positions. Eventually you will have people working for you and write evaluations. This too will take time in your busy schedule. We take great pride on taking care of our people. Just like any job, you will work with all types of people and some will require more mentoring than others.
Again, if you are lucky, you will experience flying in many parts of the world and exercise your skills against other air forces…Singapore, Thai, Australian, Japanese, Korean, German, British, Dutch, French, Italian, Turkish, etc.
A fighter ops tour probably averages 500 hrs every 3 yrs and an instructor job at a training base probably more (unknown).
Kind of a long answer to say it depends. I work very long hours but love flying fighters.
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Old 12-15-2007, 09:36 PM
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Fly fighters......long flights in left hand turns ****ing in a bag.

Fly heavies......long flights in left hand turns ****ing in a toilet and drinking fresh coffee...

Both have pluses and minuses.
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Old 12-16-2007, 07:40 AM
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Fighter squadron - scramble to the be the first guy to show up in the morning (around 0630 or so) so you can be the one to open the vault in the morning. All other squadron mates can fret how you're getting a leg up on them and try to figure out how to counter your devious moves.

Heavy squadron - Just try to beat your flight cc or DO to work. Show up sometime around 0830 and hope someone got there before you to start the coffee maker. Sit around and fret about where you're going to eat lunch.

Fighter squadron - Make work to do from 0630 to 1300. Eat a candy bar at your desk while reading the 3-1. Work, work, work from 1300-1700. Get your brief together for the next day's flight, prep your boards and beg your IP for words of wisdom from 1700-1900. Sit around and wait for everyone else to leave so you're not the first guy out the door. Don't want anyone to think you don't work hard or want it bad enough.

Heavy squadron - surf the internet from 0830-0930. Do your actual office job from 0930-1130. Make announcement on PA system where the lunch push is going to, maybe Hooter's, maybe the mall food court, maybe TGIFs. CiCi's Pizza is always a favorite. 1145-1330 lunch. 1330-1400, walk around with a piece of paper in your hand and a determined look on your face. 1400-1530, go to the gym. 1530-1545, check the board to see if you're flying the next day. You are? Cool. 1545, go home. Don't forget to grab the extra flight cap and extra set of car keys you left on your desk when you went to the gym, you'll need them the next day and you don't want anyone seeing them after 1700, as it'll give the trick away.
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