Career as an Military Pilot

EASuperhornet

New Member
If someone were to consider a career in the military as strictly a military aviator, what should that person do, if there is a list of things to do...hmmm i know this is kind of vague, but to make things less complicated, say that person was me :), I'm 22, i have no military affiliation once so ever, but i would like to fly...

what sort of aptitudes must i posses, and is the military looking for?
when i say military, i mean entire armed forces... which brings me to another point. I'm not the type to cut corners, or look for a loop hole in the system, but the only way i could best describe what i'd like to say is, where would there be a better chance to be qualified to fly, any equipment really, choppers, slow movers, or fast.. a10's be cool, but i understand you never get to chose, it all depends on your grading and competitive edge...

hmmmm...some of the pilots out there today, what type of guys or women are they? i mean are they geniuses, or hard workers, and are motivated in their line of work? this has always puzzled me..and i ponder frequently whether the armed forces shape good pilots, or good pilots shape the armed forces?

-Air National Guard?
-Air force?
-Army?
-Marines?
.. etc?

I'm obviously considering a career, at least an academic career in aviation technology, i'd just like to know what i'd need to do to assure im on the right path to where i want to be....


I know firstly what i need to do is get an AME medical test done, but im not sure whether there's a difference if its level 1,2, or 3... I'm sure the FAA will waiver me for a pass due to my minor asthma issue...

step two, im not sure, go for a private license, and do all the courses for commercial, or do i go right into an air force academy after i get a bachelors degree, or before... this is all very confusing to me as you may all have figured out (my posts throughout the website seem to be me flip flopping from A & P license, aviation technology major, and professional piloting), im really trying to make all the best career choices, without any mistakes... i may be a perfectionist..i dunno.. or maybe a lost soul.. lol!
 

Hacker15e

Dunning–Kruger Observer
First off, make sure you consider going after a career as a military pilot carefully. Remember that military officers are "officers first" and pilots second. This means that even as a winged aviator, there is always a chance you could spend your time in the military other than in a cockpit. It could also include you being on the ground in Afghanistan carrying an M-4 and riding around in a HMMWV with the Army! It's a 10 year commitment minimum...think about that.

So far as the type of people who fly in the military -- they are all types. They're all college graduates, of course, and most of them are self-starters who are very motivated. They're not abnormally smart -- just as smart as any other career field that has a Bachelor's Degree as a prerequisite for entry. There are people with all different types of education -- there are General Studies majors, liberal arts and social sciences degrees, all the way up to PHDs in physics...and everywhere in between.

I think the "armed forces shapes good pilots", because the USAF, at least, could not care less about your piloting skills outside the realm of what you will learn as a military pilot (can't speak for the Navy/USMC or Army). All student pilots start at the ground floor, and 4,000-hour ATPs have to go through 100% the same training as a 0-hour newbie. There is frankly very little that transfers from being a civilian pilot into the realm of being a military pilot, so the attitudes and aptitudes are generally a result of the culture and the training obtained in the military.

A lot of people who want to fly for the military have two misconceptions about what to do in order to get there.

#1, they think they need a lot of flight time or ratings. Again, the USAF doesn't particularly care about a LOT of flight time or ratings. The AF does care that you took the time/money to get a rating, and that you have the aptitude to at least fly general avianion aircraft. So, with that in mind, having a PPL and up to 200 hours will help you in the initial selection process. Anything beyond that isn't really a benefit.

#2, they think they need a particular type of education -- usually an engineering degree or attending the USAFA. As mentioned earlier, there are USAF pilots with all different types of degrees from many different schools. There are also three different ways to get your commission -- USAFA, ROTC, and OTS -- and you should see which one fits your situation best. Bottom line, having good grades and being a well rounded person with athletics and community service will do much more for you than going to a particular school or having a particular degree.

So, recommendations for you. Go back and read some of the threads here to mine them for information. Go read the forums at baseops.net and at airforceots.com for similar information.

Cool avatar, by the way.
 

MDPilot

Well-Known Member
First off, Military physical standards are much higher than FAA standards. For instance, if you actually were diagnosed with asthma, any history of such is disqualifyng for a USAF Class I, II and III flight physical.

Disqualifing: "Asthma of any degree, or a history of asthma, reactive airway disease, intrinsic or extrinsic bronchial asthma, exercise-induced bronchospasm, or 1gB (Immunoglobulin E) mediated asthma"
Air Force Instruction 48-123 http://www.e-publishing.af.mil/shared/media/epubs/AFI48-123v3.pdf
 

youngflyer

Well-Known Member
First off, Military physical standards are much higher than FAA standards. For instance, if you actually were diagnosed with asthma, any history of such is disqualifyng for a USAF Class I, II and III flight physical.

Disqualifing: "Asthma of any degree, or a history of asthma, reactive airway disease, intrinsic or extrinsic bronchial asthma, exercise-induced bronchospasm, or 1gB (Immunoglobulin E) mediated asthma"
Air Force Instruction 48-123 http://www.e-publishing.af.mil/shared/media/epubs/AFI48-123v3.pdf
Very true. I can legally be a captain of and aircraft that can hold 400+ people but I can not be a military pilot due to my refractive error in my vision being to large as opposed to the FAA 1st class medical where 20/20 corrected and some other very minor things are what is important. I understand that the USAF and other military branches dont need pilots right now, but that is a little bit odd..... Anyways, I am quite happy going the civilian route!:)
 

mjg407

Well-Known Member
First off, make sure you consider going after a career as a military pilot carefully. Remember that military officers are "officers first" and pilots second. This means that even as a winged aviator, there is always a chance you could spend your time in the military other than in a cockpit. It could also include you being on the ground in Afghanistan carrying an M-4 and riding around in a HMMWV with the Army! It's a 10 year commitment minimum...think about that.

So far as the type of people who fly in the military -- they are all types. They're all college graduates, of course, and most of them are self-starters who are very motivated. They're not abnormally smart -- just as smart as any other career field that has a Bachelor's Degree as a prerequisite for entry. There are people with all different types of education -- there are General Studies majors, liberal arts and social sciences degrees, all the way up to PHDs in physics...and everywhere in between.

I think the "armed forces shapes good pilots", because the USAF, at least, could not care less about your piloting skills outside the realm of what you will learn as a military pilot (can't speak for the Navy/USMC or Army). All student pilots start at the ground floor, and 4,000-hour ATPs have to go through 100% the same training as a 0-hour newbie. There is frankly very little that transfers from being a civilian pilot into the realm of being a military pilot, so the attitudes and aptitudes are generally a result of the culture and the training obtained in the military.
Well said hacker. It's the same in the Navy/Coast Guard/Marines. Note, all Coasties, squids, and jar heads go through the exact same flight training, and from what I understand, initial training is now the same for Navy/USAF.
Guys with prior flight time start off strong, but once your in the middle of your initial training, everyone is about equal. Also note that civilian training is vary different from military training. Day one you start to land the T-34. The next few flights are spining, HAPLs and LAPLs, no lazy 8s or turns on a point. Also the pace of training is intense, IE the Firehose. All the training is front loaded and puts a lot of pressure on you to either suceede or fail.
 

EASuperhornet

New Member
Very informative indeed, and i will mine around the forum, for further information. thank you for your time.

P.s: the avatar is sweet, i like my signature better though, i put a lot of work into it. the UH-60 blackhawk and fast ropers and rotor wash took me a while to create on photoshop.
 

HercDriver130

New Member
To me the biggest difference in GA and Military training... is that there are just so many "do overs"..... When I went thru UPT over 20 years ago you were NEVER more than three flights from being the Mess Officer. You literally could be out of the program in as few as three flights. there was no doing it forever until you get it right, they expected a certain level of performance in a rather short time period. We called them "hooked" flights or busted flights ... but you either me the performance standard set down for that flight or you didnt... there was very little getting it right the next time.
 

EASuperhornet

New Member
First off, Military physical standards are much higher than FAA standards. For instance, if you actually were diagnosed with asthma, any history of such is disqualifyng for a USAF Class I, II and III flight physical.

Disqualifing: "Asthma of any degree, or a history of asthma, reactive airway disease, intrinsic or extrinsic bronchial asthma, exercise-induced bronchospasm, or 1gB (Immunoglobulin E) mediated asthma"
Air Force Instruction 48-123 http://www.e-publishing.af.mil/shared/media/epubs/AFI48-123v3.pdf
hmmm...that doesn't sound very promising =/
so even if im not dependent of my ventolin inhaler, im still disqualified... i mean doesn't the military know i didn't chose to be this way, i was born with it.. its like a woman saying "thats it, its so..." and you replying "I was born like this," so she would work with it.
in otherwards couldn't, wouldn't the military work with it? i understand its a $#million dollar piece of machinerey.

To hacker: im really not in the loop with the lingo, aka "PPL, ATP, etc." but from what you expressed to me that the minimum commitment is 10 years. I figured 5 minimum, least thats what it is in canada. I could apply for the Canadian Air force, but i thought that the US there'd be a little more leway.

Also how can someone in the air force be on the ground with an m-4, in a humvee fighting in "iraq,afghanistan, Iran,etc." aren't AF only for the air?
 

EASuperhornet

New Member
To me the biggest difference in GA and Military training... is that there are just so many "do overs"..... When I went thru UPT over 20 years ago you were NEVER more than three flights from being the Mess Officer. You literally could be out of the program in as few as three flights. there was no doing it forever until you get it right, they expected a certain level of performance in a rather short time period. We called them "hooked" flights or busted flights ... but you either me the performance standard set down for that flight or you didnt... there was very little getting it right the next time.
I know what you mean... i watched this show on PBS about canadian airfoce flight school, in regina, and they pretty much got 3 tries at it, and thats being nice. one guy failed the centrifuge, came back a year later, and passed.
 

frog_flyer

FredFlyer
hmmm...that doesn't sound very promising =/
so even if im not dependent of my ventolin inhaler, im still disqualified... i mean doesn't the military know i didn't chose to be this way, i was born with it.. its like a woman saying "thats it, its so..." and you replying "I was born like this," so she would work with it.
in otherwards couldn't, wouldn't the military work with it? i understand its a $#million dollar piece of machinerey.

To hacker: im really not in the loop with the lingo, aka "PPL, ATP, etc." but from what you expressed to me that the minimum commitment is 10 years. I figured 5 minimum, least thats what it is in canada. I could apply for the Canadian Air force, but i thought that the US there'd be a little more leway.

Also how can someone in the air force be on the ground with an m-4, in a humvee fighting in "iraq,afghanistan, Iran,etc." aren't AF only for the air?
Your asthma will disqualify you from flying in the AF. Period.

This is kind of like when a woman says "I don't want to" and you say "awww, comon baby!" The answer is still no.

Best of luck.
 

b3181981

Well-Known Member
are an american citizen? if not you cannot become an american officer until you are a citizen. you can join the enlisted as a alien but not the officer corp
 

Dreampilot

Well-Known Member
I can understand that it really sucks but unfortunately when it comes to aviation in the military, they can be picky.
 

Hacker15e

Dunning–Kruger Observer
Also how can someone in the air force be on the ground with an m-4, in a humvee fighting in "iraq,afghanistan, Iran,etc." aren't AF only for the air?
Nope.

There are USAF personnel doing all manner of jobs in all types of places. There are even boat drivers in the USAF! There are all kinds of different USAF people on the ground in a combat zone, such as Security Forces, Logistics, Pararescuemen, Combat Weather, Combat Controllers, etc.

As an example, a fighter/bomber pilot can be assigned as an Air Liaison Officer (ALO), who is attached to an Army unit. He is that unit's primary advisor for air support, as well as a qualified Forward Air Controller (Terminal Air Controller by the current terminology). When I flew in Iraq during the "Shock and Awe" initial invasion in 2003, several of the forward air controllers I talked to on the ground were F-15E aircrew that I knew personally who were on a tour as an ALO.

The point of the statement is that just because you are trained as a "pilot" doesn't mean that the AF cannot use you wherever it pleases -- often in jobs that have absolutely nothing to do with flying.
 

frog_flyer

FredFlyer
Hacker, speaking of you buds that got ALO'd: did they chalk it up as a good experience, or was it more of a "hang myself" assignment?
 

EASuperhornet

New Member
Your asthma will disqualify you from flying in the AF. Period.

This is kind of like when a woman says "I don't want to" and you say "awww, comon baby!" The answer is still no.

Best of luck.

lol! thats really funny =)
well i guess it is just my bad luck being born with this =/
i hope this doesn't exclude me from the back seat..:yar:
 

EASuperhornet

New Member
When I flew in Iraq during the "Shock and Awe" initial invasion in 2003, several of the forward air controllers I talked to on the ground were F-15E aircrew that I knew personally who were on a tour as an ALO.

The point of the statement is that just because you are trained as a "pilot" doesn't mean that the AF cannot use you wherever it pleases -- often in jobs that have absolutely nothing to do with flying.
Your a military pilot...oh geese i'm overwhelmed... i highly respect you!
You have such an awesome job, whats it like to fly? i've seen so many videos even some videos when they were top secret...but i had to keep that secret until it became "not secret" lol! VX-9 China Lake baby! i.e: superhornets rule!!

i dunno if ur allowed to speak of the shock and awe mission, but what was it like...
 

Hacker15e

Dunning–Kruger Observer
Hacker, speaking of you buds that got ALO'd: did they chalk it up as a good experience, or was it more of a "hang myself" assignment?
It completely depends on how you're yardsticking "good".

Overall, the time spent out of the cockpit sucked.

Most of them, however, felt they had a much greater understanding of how the Army worked and that they were better prepared to support them when they got back in the cockpit.

Those who have been on the ground during major combat operations have been both scared crapless and highly enthused, depending on the situation.

I think that overall most found it a positive experience, but mostly because they had to do it anyway.
 

Hacker15e

Dunning–Kruger Observer
i dunno if ur allowed to speak of the shock and awe mission, but what was it like...
Stories best told over a beer or three.

Overall, I have to say that it was one of the three or four defining moments of my entire life. I've never been more terrified, more excited, more sad, or more proud during the time I was deployed and flying combat missions there. It made me take my entire life into perspective and readjust what was important and what was not.
 

MikeFavinger

Hubschrauber Flieger
Hacker, speaking of you buds that got ALO'd: did they chalk it up as a good experience, or was it more of a "hang myself" assignment?
ALO-ing is a great character builder for Air Force Officers! Welcome to the suck, suckers!

Seriously though, I've worked with some ALOs and they were all great. Some actually liked the Army lifestyle.
 

mjg407

Well-Known Member
ALO-ing is a great character builder for Air Force Officers! Welcome to the suck, suckers!

Seriously though, I've worked with some ALOs and they were all great. Some actually liked the Army lifestyle.
I heard they were lost. couldn't understand why the cable was out in the tent.....:D
 
Top