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Old 12-19-2016, 06:03 PM   #1
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Default Questions about ANG pilot civilian jobs

I apologize for how rudimentary these questions are but I would greatly appreciate it if someone could break things down in a simple fashion for me. This post came out to be a lot longer than I expected so I bolded my main concerns in case you don't want to read the entire thing.

I'm a lifelong military aviation enthusiast and I have an interview next month with the New York Air National Guard (the 109AW in Schenectady) to fly C-130s. I am also applying for the Air Force's Active Duty accessions rated board, but those results won't be out until March. I have spoken with a few Guard pilots and tried to do as much research as possible about the Guard pilot lifestyle. The majority of people parade the Guard lifestyle over the Active Duty lifestyle, but I am trying to determine how feasible the Guard life might be for my specific circumstances.

I've read that Guard pilots with non-aviation civilian jobs tend to have a really hard time managing both careers and generally end up only doing the bare minimum Guard requirements, and being a pilot as a civilian career is generally a better fit. It seems that flying for a regional airline (and eventually possibly a major) seems to be the civilian job of choice to complement being a Guard pilot.

1. My first concern is getting qualified to be a regional airline pilot in the first place. I have practically zero flight time right now (12 hours of dual instruction) and I know that I wouldn't have a lot of time built up after UPT and the C-130 FTU and will need to build a lot more time (by flying with the Guard and/or buying my own time and ratings) as well as an ATP certificate before I would meet the minimum requirements (let alone be competitive for a job). Does anyone happen to have a ballpark figure for the number of hours one might accumulate through UPT and the C-130 FTU and figures for what one would need to have a decent chance of getting hired for a regional? And although I know it varies significantly between units and changing budgets, missions, politics, etc., does anyone have an estimate of how often many hours are typically flown each month (non-TDY and non-deployment) in a Guard Airlift Wing?

2. My other concern is about proximity to work. It is my understanding that the airports at which regional airline pilots begin legs are called 'domiciles', but please correct me if I'm wrong or if there's more to it than that. It looks like the nearest domiciles to Schenectady are LGA, EWR, and JFK, which are all around 160-180 miles away. Based on pure mileage, it seems like living roughly halfway between NYC and Schenectady wouldn't be unbearable, but I'm from central Texas and am assuming that traffic will be a nightmare and that paying for parking and public transportation somewhat near the airports is going to be extremely expensive and time consuming. I know that regional airline pilots sometimes rent crash pads and stay in the area for a few days at a time instead of commuting every day, but that sounds like a significantly worse quality of life than being an Active Duty AF pilot, where at least I know I'd get to see my wife and son at the end of every day if I'm not on TDY or deployed. Am I overestimating how much of a sacrifice (in both time and money) this would require?

3. If it sounds like being a regional pilot in this situation wouldn't be a great fit, does anyone have any tips for other jobs (aviation-related or not) that are accommodating for the Guard pilot lifestyle? I guess this question also applies to the period of time that I'll be building hours before being eligible to apply for airline jobs. I have a background in digital marketing.


I am married and have a son and also have quite a lot of debt (although I'm hoping to put a huge dent in the debt during UPT since I'll be on Active Duty orders and will be eligible for SCRA benefits), so financial stability is a big concern for me. I would (at least in theory) love to work my way into a full-time Guard position eventually if the possibility arises, but I know there's no guarantee. And I would like to bum as much as possible, but since my financial situation is pretty urgent having dependents, it seems like a bit of a gamble, especially since my wife will likely need to go back to school for a few years to gain lucrative employment (liberal arts degree and not much experience past entry-level jobs; she got pregnant right after getting her undergrad).

I'm extremely excited about this interview and hope that flying for the Guard is a feasible option for me, but I'm wondering if Active Duty might be a better fit for my specific circumstances. However, if offered the Guard slot, I'd really hate to turn it down not knowing if I'm going to get selected for the Active Duty accessions board (and I'll be 28 in April, so pretty soon I'll be age critical and I imagine I'll have a really hard time applying for either). Could anyone offer any insight regarding the specific concerns I mentioned above and/or any general advice?
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Old 12-19-2016, 06:37 PM   #2
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If you've got a shot at a Guard slot as an "off the street" hire, make THAT your primary job.

You will make three times the annual pay of an RJ copilot as a 2Lt on active orders.

PLUS: medical for you and the family is free.

Buying hours on your own? Good grief. Within two years of starting UPT, you should be able to get the limited ATP.

You know...the ATP would allow you to take a huge pay-cut by making the Guard your part-time gig, and the regional your big concern...

My advice:

1. Make the Guard your only concern for now.

2. FINISH all the training. Lots of guys start, then fail...sometimes it's because they have distractions, or unrealistic expectations.

3. Get as much AD time as you can get. Build flight time, experience....and pay down your debts.

4. With that done....you can worry about an airline job.
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Old 12-19-2016, 07:20 PM   #3
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That sounds great to me! I want to fly with the Guard as much as possible and would hope to get a full-time position eventually. I honestly don't have a ton of interest in flying for the airlines in general, I just figured it would be a good complement to flying with the Guard. I'm mainly just concerned about making enough money to support my family, and the uncertainty of bumming worries me a little.
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Old 12-20-2016, 03:35 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mb1685 View Post
I apologize for how rudimentary these questions are but I would greatly appreciate it if someone could break things down in a simple fashion for me. This post came out to be a lot longer than I expected so I bolded my main concerns in case you don't want to read the entire thing.

I'm a lifelong military aviation enthusiast and I have an interview next month with the New York Air National Guard (the 109AW in Schenectady) to fly C-130s. I am also applying for the Air Force's Active Duty accessions rated board, but those results won't be out until March. I have spoken with a few Guard pilots and tried to do as much research as possible about the Guard pilot lifestyle. The majority of people parade the Guard lifestyle over the Active Duty lifestyle, but I am trying to determine how feasible the Guard life might be for my specific circumstances.

I've read that Guard pilots with non-aviation civilian jobs tend to have a really hard time managing both careers and generally end up only doing the bare minimum Guard requirements, and being a pilot as a civilian career is generally a better fit. It seems that flying for a regional airline (and eventually possibly a major) seems to be the civilian job of choice to complement being a Guard pilot.

1. My first concern is getting qualified to be a regional airline pilot in the first place. I have practically zero flight time right now (12 hours of dual instruction) and I know that I wouldn't have a lot of time built up after UPT and the C-130 FTU and will need to build a lot more time (by flying with the Guard and/or buying my own time and ratings) as well as an ATP certificate before I would meet the minimum requirements (let alone be competitive for a job). Does anyone happen to have a ballpark figure for the number of hours one might accumulate through UPT and the C-130 FTU and figures for what one would need to have a decent chance of getting hired for a regional? And although I know it varies significantly between units and changing budgets, missions, politics, etc., does anyone have an estimate of how often many hours are typically flown each month (non-TDY and non-deployment) in a Guard Airlift Wing?

2. My other concern is about proximity to work. It is my understanding that the airports at which regional airline pilots begin legs are called 'domiciles', but please correct me if I'm wrong or if there's more to it than that. It looks like the nearest domiciles to Schenectady are LGA, EWR, and JFK, which are all around 160-180 miles away. Based on pure mileage, it seems like living roughly halfway between NYC and Schenectady wouldn't be unbearable, but I'm from central Texas and am assuming that traffic will be a nightmare and that paying for parking and public transportation somewhat near the airports is going to be extremely expensive and time consuming. I know that regional airline pilots sometimes rent crash pads and stay in the area for a few days at a time instead of commuting every day, but that sounds like a significantly worse quality of life than being an Active Duty AF pilot, where at least I know I'd get to see my wife and son at the end of every day if I'm not on TDY or deployed. Am I overestimating how much of a sacrifice (in both time and money) this would require?

3. If it sounds like being a regional pilot in this situation wouldn't be a great fit, does anyone have any tips for other jobs (aviation-related or not) that are accommodating for the Guard pilot lifestyle? I guess this question also applies to the period of time that I'll be building hours before being eligible to apply for airline jobs. I have a background in digital marketing.


I am married and have a son and also have quite a lot of debt (although I'm hoping to put a huge dent in the debt during UPT since I'll be on Active Duty orders and will be eligible for SCRA benefits), so financial stability is a big concern for me. I would (at least in theory) love to work my way into a full-time Guard position eventually if the possibility arises, but I know there's no guarantee. And I would like to bum as much as possible, but since my financial situation is pretty urgent having dependents, it seems like a bit of a gamble, especially since my wife will likely need to go back to school for a few years to gain lucrative employment (liberal arts degree and not much experience past entry-level jobs; she got pregnant right after getting her undergrad).

I'm extremely excited about this interview and hope that flying for the Guard is a feasible option for me, but I'm wondering if Active Duty might be a better fit for my specific circumstances. However, if offered the Guard slot, I'd really hate to turn it down not knowing if I'm going to get selected for the Active Duty accessions board (and I'll be 28 in April, so pretty soon I'll be age critical and I imagine I'll have a really hard time applying for either). Could anyone offer any insight regarding the specific concerns I mentioned above and/or any general advice?

That unit has a ton of funding to do the mission they do. If you get hired and want a fulltime guard job you will likely get one. You will do deployments to the "ice" a couple times a year. They fly hard down/up there and it is some really cool flying that no one else in the world will do. Don't even think about the regionals. You will have no problem building time/getting paid if you get hired. There were a lot of AA NYC based pilots there last time I deployed with them (5 yrs ago). Good luck, I am a tad bias, but the guard is THE BEST way to learn to fly/build hours. Get through UPT/FTU/Seasoning, become a technician or guard bum. Go to major in a few years. Works good.
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Old 12-20-2016, 06:45 AM   #5
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Listen to these guys. I started same way. Do your best at every school you attend, leave every option open. Go back to your squadron and volunteer to fly everything and anything. Be #1 on your squadron scheduler speed dial for last minute dropouts. In 2 years you'll be a AC and 2 years later competitive for majors. Skip regionals and keep a small nest egg when $ goes dry (like it does every year). It never lasts too long so don't panic and go get job like everyone else. As usual, a month later $ returns and then your only show in town available to bum.

Enjoy bumming. SERIOUSLY! Now that I'm at the majors, I can honestly say it was the best years of my life. When else can you just leave for 4 week vacation without having to ask anyone and/or just have any day you choose off. I never missed any important life event, unlike now.
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Old 12-22-2016, 06:35 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mb1685 View Post
That sounds great to me! I want to fly with the Guard as much as possible and would hope to get a full-time position eventually. I honestly don't have a ton of interest in flying for the airlines in general, I just figured it would be a good complement to flying with the Guard. I'm mainly just concerned about making enough money to support my family, and the uncertainty of bumming worries me a little.
Understand that.

You are correct that it will be hard to manage and excel at a traditional civilian job/career while serving in the guard/reserves (assuming you're "in it to win it" long term)

Things to consider...

- You typically can't be a military pilot (including technician) for your entire working life, unless you get promoted to general (in which case you won't be doing much flying, or have been doing much flying for many years). How long you can stay depends on getting promoted, and you won't know for sure until you get there.

- The airlines are ramping up to a 10+ year period of literally UNPRECEDENTED hiring and pilot demand.

Keep an eye on the airline situation and don't rule it out. You don't want to be 50 and facing looming unemployment and wishing you were a senior widebody captain making $300K with employment to age 65 or 67 (which you could have been). Don't take this hiring boom for granted, it will not last forever (I lived through the last one, was a bit slow on the uptake and missed it).
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Old 12-26-2016, 02:07 PM   #7
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Thank you very much for the replies! It definitely sounds like there are a lot of things to consider and no easy answer/plan. I will continue to brainstorm but also try not to overthink it so that I can take it one step at a time and focus in the near future on acing my interview.
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Old 12-26-2016, 03:51 PM   #8
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Why would he be unemployed at 50 if he didn't go to the airlines?

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Old 12-26-2016, 07:18 PM   #9
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Technically, ARTs face "discontinued service" at 55, often their FERS minimum retirement eligibility age which could be 57. Times being what they are, most ARTs are offered waivers to 28 years of commissioned service (30 years, if O-6) to age 60, the statutory age limit for officers below the grade of M/G.

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Old 12-27-2016, 04:05 AM   #10
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If I were in your position I would focus on getting a UPT slot and then concentrate on completing training. The rest is so far in the future as to be irrelevant at this point.
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