Your Military Experience

mjg407

Well-Known Member
I see a lot of threads on "How do I become a XXX pilot", or "Military Flying What is it like?". That being said, I would like if possible to start a thread here, kind of one stop shopping for the curious, and if possible, MODS can we pin this thread? What do you all think?
 

mjg407

Well-Known Member
I'll start off. I always wanted to fly for the Navy since I was a kid. Got picked up for a NROTC Scholarship, thought you had to have an engineering degree to become a pilot (not true) Graduated and was commissioned in 1991. As a Junior I took the AQT/FAR and was accepted for a pilot spot. I was pooled for 11 months due to budget cutbacks and began AI (Aviation Indoc) in April of 1992. Selected props because I planned on serving my time and punching my ticket and going to the airlines...... more later. Joined my first P-3 squadron, had a blast, learned leadership (in charge of a 100 maintenance folks) and finished up that tour with the top job in the squadron as the Stan pilot. Decided for an unconventional career and went back to a second squadron (This time in the Reconnaissance version of the P-3), and decided to stay in. From there I stayed flying until I left for the civilian world which is the exception. My thoughts now in retrospect are the benefits are/were amazing now looking back from the civil perspective. The pay also is solid, and as many of us in the civil world now see, layoffs were not an option if you performed. Also, you receive a housing allowance which is tax free. Cons, it's tough on the family life. I spent three Christmas's in a row in the desert, and if I stayed in was looking at 18 months on the ground in AFG/IRQ (not flying), followed by 2-3 years on a ship in Japan.
Safety is really one of the highest priorities. Standardization is incredible. The training and recurrent training is always challenging. Cons is that even in the squadron, you don't fly that much (a 300 hour year is good), but the flying is fun. I've been places and done things I never would have done.


Next:
 

bunk22

Well-Known Member
What the hell, I'll add my stuff. Doesn't seem to be many military folks on this website.

About half way through high school, I decided I wanted to fly for the military. Now I had wanted to be a pilot since as long as I could remember but flying for the military became a goal as a sophmore/junior in High School. Unfortunetly, up to that point, my grades were barely adequate so I worked hard to get good grades my last two years. I was able to at least get into a local state school but not good enough for an NROTC scholarship, which I had set my sights on as the best way to earn a commission. I did pick up colleg program however. Good thing I was motivated for I went to Cal Poly Pomona while drove at least 2 days a week for NROTC drill/classes etc. That was a 100 mile round trip in LA traffic. I did that for 4.5 years, crazy. I worked hard my first two years in college and picked up a 2 year NROTC scholarship. I was a business major so the extra classes required by the scholarship put me 2 quarters behind. I picked a student pilot slot and was commissioned in March 93.

There was a long wait due to pilot pools in Pensacola, so I was stashed at Top Gun in San Diego. I started Aviation Pre-flight Indoctronation (API) in Oct 93 and blew my knee out the second day, surgery two months later, med down for 6 months after that. I was stuck in P-cola the entire time so when I was med-up, I requested to go to Corpus Christi, Texas for primary. I checked into VT-27 in Aug of 94. I came into the program wanting jets and if not jets, at least fly off carriers. I was never a high academic achiever and didn't do so well in API. Certainly below average. Not much better in primary for ground school. However, once I started flying, that's where I made ground. I was lucky in that I didn't have to study very hard; stay up all night studying or work in groups to prepare for flights. I did have issues with partying though. Flight school is one of those times in life where the only pressure is to earn your wings and other than that, your life is your own. There were party's, bars, wingings, every weekend...be it Corpus or P-cola. I partied my ass off, maybe too much. Anyway, at selection, you put down your choices, of which you had three. I put Jets, E2/C2 and P-3's. I figured, if was going to fly Navy, might as be off carriers. I really didn't want E2/C2 but you got jet time with that community and thought, that would be not so bad. Sure enough, I selected E2/C2 and was not happy. I was #6 out of 15 and there were 5 jet slots. Sometimes in life, success is doing what you have to do and not what you wanted to do.

I went on to VT-31 to fly T-44A's then followed on to advanced flight training at VT-4, flying the T-2C Buckeye jet trainer. VT-4 and the T-2C was absolutely one of the best times I've had in the Navy. Remember, no ground job, get to party and fly a little, old hot rod like the T-2C. I CQ'ed on the USS Kitty Hawk in July 96 and earned my wings the same month. Reported to VAW-120 in Oct 96 and picked C-2A's over the E-2C. Unfortunetly, I spoke up about a medical problem and ened up being med down for 9-12 months, no flying. That was really the result of a inept flight doc but I'll save that story for another day. I finished VAW-120 in July 98 and reported to VRC-30 the same month.

VRC-30 was flying nights to the boat at the time and spending the entire deployment on the ship. For those who don't know, C-2A's (COD's) historically would follow the ship around, staying on shore and never trapping at night. For 5 years, that changed at VRC-30 and we did just the opposite. I'll never miss night traps but I'm glad I did it for a short time. Without a doubt the hardest thing I've ever done as a pilot.

After VRC-30 I was supposed to go to VT-9 and instruct in T-2C's but those orders were pulled at the last minute and I mean last minute. I went to VAW-120 as an IP in the C-2A. Hated every minute of that tour. VAW-120 is run my E-2 NFO's and generally, a sorry bunch. From there, went to VRC-30 again....I love southern California, grew up there. After that tour, I wanted to keep flying so I chose to come to Pensacola for my current job. I turned down both the T-45 and T-6 to fly T-34C's but the job I've got is great. One of a kind in the Navy. I'm my own boss, come and go as I please, fly as much as I want, etc. Nobody looking over your shoulder, a rarity. Quality of life was more important than aircraft. I'm in charge of the prep school for Royal Saudi Navy pilots.

I've now got 4 years left and to remain in P-cola and fly what I want, which is T-6 Texan II's, I have to volunteer for an Iraq tour, a GSA. I should hopefully get 3 year orders flying the T-6 until retirement. I've got a rare career path in that it looks like I'm spending the majority of my 20 years in the cockpit. Not the norm anyway. My old CO's, coming from the 80's/90's were 5000 hour guys who never left the cockpit. The Navy has moved away from that. They want joint officers, with JPME quals, joint tours, out of the cockpit tours. You can fight to stay in the cockpit like I did but it will most likely cost you O-5, like it did for me. I knew it but chose my path. I'm extremely happy where I'm at currently and hopefully things will work out where I can retire in P-cola flying the mighty T-6 Texan II and move on to bigger and better things down the road. I'll always have the experience of the fleet, the ports, flying into a dozen different countries, some not so nice and almost 600 carrier traps with over 100 at night (left and right seat). That's just experience you can't and won't get anywhere else and I'll always treasure it. I'm also half way through with my masters from ERAU, of which the Navy is paying 75% of the bill. I'll get that 20 year retirement as well (hopefully), so I've got that going for me as well. I'm crossing my fingers :D
 

Velocipede

New Member
Here's my story from 30 years ago, if it helps.

I graduated from college in 1976 and got a job as a Quality Control Inspector in a can factory. I went to Hawaii to visit my cousin in the Army. His house was on the beach just under the arrival corridor for Ewa Field. As I was sitting on the beach watching the Navy planes and helos come and go, I figured "they need pilots to do that, I'll bet."

In November I went to the Navy recruiter, in March I was in AOCS. I got commissioned and went to Corpus Christi to await flight school 3 months of work in base ops and I checked into VT-27 to learn to fly in the T-28. My goal was to stay in Corpus and fly the T-44.

At the time, they were still Carrier Qualifying in the T-28. If you got helicopter orders, you could volunteer to CQ in the T-28 then fly E-2/C-2s. That was the plan if I couldn't get P-3 or C-130 orders. Well, the Navy thought differently. The week I came out there were 0 jet orders, 5 prop orders and 1 helo order. Since it was the end of the fiscal year and all the other guys were married, had kids or P-3 enlisted experience, it was cheaper to take the only single guy and write him helicopter orders. That was me.

So, I checked out in Helos and went to San Diego to fly H-46s. After my sea tour, I got orders to NAS Pt. Mugu and they checked me out in the C-12. 1985 rolled around, I tried to get out and go to the airlines, but I didn't have enough fixed wing time. So I pulled my resignation and became a TAR. Flew a tour in the Convair 580 and the DC-9.

Got my airline job after that.
 

granlistillo

Well-Known Member
:D - Just providing an alternative, bro! If I wanted to ridicule you I have ample material to choose from considering you were in the Navy. ;)
Field Grade Navy retired and a bad ass fire bomber...


Nothing much to ridicule there imvho.
 

granlistillo

Well-Known Member
huuuuuaah
just got off a long trip brotha. If I REALLY thought you were serious, I would have used single syllable words to communicate...


Just kidding
 

MikeFavinger

Hubschrauber Flieger
huuuuuaah
just got off a long trip brotha. If I REALLY thought you were serious, I would have used single syllable words to communicate...


Just kidding
I was going to say... if I had used any more smilies I'd have to consult a teenaged texter for assistance!

And Army guys can go up to two syllables... you must have been thinking of Marines. :D
 

skidz

Well-Known Member
I'll sum up my career in the navy in a few words. I'm pretty good at flying desks and wrenches :crazy: I hope you don't mind us enlisted folks chiming in here for a bit. :)
Nice to see some guys here spending some quality time at VAW 120. That was my first squadron. I went to VRC 40 after that and then got stuck here in my present command in New Orleans.
Military does provide some awesome opportunities for young guys. I managed to get my degree and my flight certificates while on duty, and generally learned a lot about aviation. Unfortunately, I joined rather late at the age of 26 so no matter how hard I tried to get a flying job it just did not work out for me. The cut off age is really low, they denied my age waiver even with me having a degree, security clearance and solid evals.
Anyway, it was a good experience. If I was only a few years younger I think I would have had lot more success. I'm thinking about getting out after getting my CFI and more flying experience. The way it is right now I kind of feel like I'm hitting the glass ceiling, although it's probably not exactly true, but it just feels like that.
For all of you young guys planning to join the military, I can only say go for it, it's a good experience. For the older guys, especially the ones with the family, get ready for it, it's not always fun.
 

granlistillo

Well-Known Member
And Army guys can go up to two syllables... you must have been thinking of Marines. :D
:D right USMC
They understand ooorah kinda like huah... But I think some of that persuasion lack a sense of humor. When I was in Navy AOCS many many moons ago, I had a USMC drill instructor. He did not find it at all funny when one of my classmates who had a brother at the USAFA who sent him a care package with "USMC = a bunch o' #######" plastered on the cover. I think I spent the day in the sand pit doing pushups for that little interservice stunt...:D
 

granlistillo

Well-Known Member
OMG,
40 yrs old married with kinderen and I have been "censored"!!!!

I would never use the "p" word gratiously, 'cause my wife whup my backside. please do pardon.
 

BillErvin

Peddling as fast as I can
In the mid 70's I spent two plus years on active duty as a corpsman with ANGLCO and Recon Marines, they have a few more brain cells than your average Marine. Then the Navy sent me to VA-147... talk about culture shock:D Got a lot of crap about my gold jump wings from the pilots....I just reminded them who held there shot record:bandit: Got out after 5 years. Joined the Army Reserve, mostly because there were no Navy units anywhere near where I lived. Spent 17 years with 12th and 19th Special Forces Groups (19th is actually Nat Guard) There was just something about jumping out of perfectly good airplanes that appealed to me:nana2:

I retired as an E-8 a few years after Gulf War I. I did have some folks call me and try to get me back in for Afghanistan, I convinced them they didn't want an old out of shape medic climbing the hills around Kandahar.
 
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