Military pilots, looking for info for my son

Discussion in 'Hangar Talk' started by Country Flier, Apr 16, 2021.

  1. Country Flier

    Country Flier Pre-takeoff checklist

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    So my son is about to graduate from a reputable college with a bachelor's of marketing degree. He has been working for a cell phone company for the past 3 years while in college, has received several promotions, and he is currently a regional manager overseeing retail sales in three states, making decent money. The experience has actually taught him that he may have picked the wrong career, as he now states he does not like what he does. His whole life, he has always been attracted to the idea of joining the military...and the other day, he mentioned he is considering joining the military as an officer. Which brings me to my (and his question), as I know absolutely nothing about the military. He has always had somewhat of an interest in flying, and asked me how one would become a pilot in the military. He is a bright, ambitious kid, but is that even possible for someone with a degree in marketing? Is one branch better than the other for such a choice? Any information is appreciated. Thanks in advance.
     
  2. EvilEagle

    EvilEagle Cleared for Takeoff

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    I just retired from 21 years of flying F-15C's for the USAF. PM me if you or he have specific questions.

    Google is your friend here - have him go to flyingsquadron.com/forums and start reading (not asking questions first; just read) they have asked and answered almost every question on those boards over the years. Bogidope.com is another good resource.

    Good luck!
     
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  3. Country Flier

    Country Flier Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Awesome! I had no idea sites like that existed, that's a great help! Thanks!
     
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  4. SoonerAviator

    SoonerAviator Final Approach

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    Excellent advice that works for just about every intellectual inquiry known to man.
     
  5. PPC1052

    PPC1052 En-Route

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    Just be sure your son tells them it was always a dream of his to be a blue falcon.
     
  6. kgruber

    kgruber En-Route

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    I flew with a guy that married the base commander's daughter. The BC sent him to flight school!!
     
  7. Pugs

    Pugs Line Up and Wait

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    The Navy/Marine/Coast Guard equivalent is https://www.airwarriors.com/. As EE says, read and search there. Pretty much every question has been answered over time.
     
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  8. Country Flier

    Country Flier Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Thanks! Good stuff! My google searches seemed to only turn up Reddit questions.
     
  9. Sac Arrow

    Sac Arrow Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Bro do you even lift
    Pretty much every other one of my friend's dads growing up was a Navy fighter pilot, so I knew what it was about by an early age. The problem was I didn't have even close to good enough eyesight to be one at the time I was old enough to be one.
     
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  10. Pugs

    Pugs Line Up and Wait

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    That's the reason I, and virtually every other Naval Flight Officer of my era, was an NFO instead of an Aviator.
     
  11. Pugs

    Pugs Line Up and Wait

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    And should he wonder USAF or Navy there is always the Bob Norris letter (all in good inter-service rivalry fun, either will be a great choice). :)

    12 Feb 04
    Young Man,

    Congratulations on your selection to both the Naval and Air Force Academies. Your goal of becoming a fighter pilot is impressive and a fine way to serve your country. As you requested, I'd be happy to share some insight into which service would be the best choice. Each service has a distinctly different culture. You need to ask yourself "Which one am I more likely to thrive in?"

    USAF Snapshot: The USAF is exceptionally well organized and well run. Their training programs are terrific. All pilots are groomed to meet high standards for knowledge and professionalism. Their aircraft are top-notch and extremely well maintained. Their facilities are excellent. Their enlisted personnel are the brightest and the best trained. The USAF is homogenous and macro. No matter where you go, you'll know what to expect, what is expected of you, and you'll be given the training & tools you need to meet those expectations. You will never be put in a situation over your head. Over a 20-year career, you will be home for most important family events. Your Mom would want you to be an Air Force pilot...so would your wife. Your Dad would want your sister to marry one.

    Navy Snapshot: Aviators are part of the Navy, but so are Black shoes (surface warfare) and bubble heads (submariners). Furthermore, the Navy is split into two distinctly different Fleets (West and East Coast). The Navy is heterogeneous and micro. Your squadron is your home; it may be great, average, or awful. A squadron can go from one extreme to the other before you know it. You will spend months preparing for cruise and months on cruise. The quality of the aircraft varies directly with the availability of parts. Senior Navy enlisted are salt of the earth; you'll be proud if you earn their respect. Junior enlisted vary from terrific to the troubled kid the judge made join the service. You will be given the opportunity to lead these people during your career; you will be humbled and get your hands dirty. The quality of your training will vary and sometimes you will be over your head. You will miss many important family events. There will be long stretches of tedious duty aboard ship. You will fly in very bad weather and/or at night and you will be scared many times. You will fly with legends in the Navy and they will kick your ass until you become a lethal force. And some days - when the scheduling Gods have smiled upon you - your jet will catapult into a glorious morning over a far-away sea and you will be drop-jawed that someone would pay you to do it. The hottest girl in the bar wants to meet the Naval Aviator. That bar is in Singapore.

    Bottom line, son, if you gotta ask...pack warm & good luck in Colorado.

    Banzai

    PS Air Force pilots wear scarves and iron their flight suits.
     
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  12. Jumpmaster

    Jumpmaster Line Up and Wait

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    Uh - don’t forget Army Aviation. Good opportunities as well.
     
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  13. 35 AoA

    35 AoA Pattern Altitude

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    Short(ish) answer.....he needs to contact an officer recruiter. Since he is already done with undergrad, he'll need to do OCS/OTS (service specific names) since the academies and ROTC are off the table at this point. That recruiter will walk him through the necessary steps to go from here to there. Good news is that the services have all increased their max age for pilot candidates over the last few years. There will be some form of an aptitude test, a medical evaluation, and of course they will take his college grades, professional career since, and other stuff into account. If selected, he would go through OCS/OTS and be commissioned at the end, then begin flight school (assuming he had been selected during the application process for that career field). His major in college really doesn't matter as long as his grades and the rest of his app are competitive. I know plenty of guys who came from underwater basketweaving degrees to doing great things in grey fighter aircraft. Has no bearing on one's ability to succeed in flight school or the rest of their career. He might be out of luck if his dream were Test Pilot School down the road, but it shouldn't be an obstacle to flying in the military in general. Hope that and the other aforementioned info helps.
     
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  14. Country Flier

    Country Flier Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Thanks, we will, and that's good news for him. He does have good grades (maybe a 3.7 or so...I know he is always honors and the Dean's List), he's physically fit (works out often, no vision/hearing problems) and he's a good test taker (high SAT scores and such) so, so far, so good. I've been passing along the info and he is reading it all.
     
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  15. EvilEagle

    EvilEagle Cleared for Takeoff

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    Man, I wish I had joined THAT Air Force...

    The Navy Shapshot (apart from the flying off boats part) sounds exactly like my 21 years in the USAF.
     
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  16. MarkH

    MarkH Pre-takeoff checklist

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    This information is old, so it may be worse than worthless. I know the AF especially is significantly more willing to train pilots now than they were 15 years ago, but as I understand all pilot spots are still pretty selective.

    When I was in college the first time (2006-2010) I considered going AFROTC to become a pilot (I wanted to fly C130s). When I spoke with the recruiting officer he bragged that 2 of the 9 graduates from the previous year who went out for a pilot commission received them. That raised some alarm bells so I did more research. In that research I concluded that the 7 other graduates were stuck in an 8 year contract doing something other than what they planned to do when they accepted that scholarship. At the time about 10% of ROTC grads who requested flight school were sent there, and the number was even lower without ROTC, but (as I understood it) the contract was better without ROTC (iirc, it was 8 years for ROTC flight school or no, but no ROTC was a 8 year contract with flight school and 6 year if you didn't make the cut).

    So I concluded that the odds of becoming a military pilot were too low to sign the contract on. But, I found some other information that made me plan to join the military after college anyway (I didn't join, because I dropped out of college and wasted my 20s).

    The Coast Guard (at the time) had a higher percentage of pilots in their ranks than any other service. Most of them were not military pilots, but for some reason the Coast Guard had more service members (as a percentage) with pilots certificates of some sort (civilian or military) then AF, Navy or Army. My plan was to apply to the Coast Guard to fly Ospreys and if I did not get the commission then I would fix planes and use the on base training to get my civilian pilot certificate.

    My plan didn't work out, but if your son wants to fly more than he wants to fly fighters, this may be worth looking into. At the very least, he needs to know the odds of getting a commission he wants, have a plan if he doesn't, and completely understand the contract before he signs on the dotted line.
     
  17. 35 AoA

    35 AoA Pattern Altitude

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    Does the USCG fly Ospreys? That would be news to me. But I agree......they could certainly be another option. They do some really cool flying on both the FW and RW sides. They also have a lot more cool duty stations than we have in the Navy, or really any of the other services.
     
  18. MarkH

    MarkH Pre-takeoff checklist

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    They don't but at the time there were plans floating around for them to buy some. I think those plans were canceled by some Osprey training crashes that happened around that time.
     
  19. 35 AoA

    35 AoA Pattern Altitude

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    Interesting........would probably make sense given their mission set. Don't remember hearing about it back then, but I also missed the memo a couple years ago that the Navy was training the first folks.....and then I ran into a crew at a local lunch spot in VA beach, wearing otherwise USMC patches, but with shoulder rank insignia. Turned out they were standing up the first V-22 det of the COD world.
     
  20. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Not something I’d recommend for the commissioned route. That is at least if he wants to fly. WOFT is a whole other story but not the path I’d recommend for the OP’s son with a degree in hand.
     
  21. Pugs

    Pugs Line Up and Wait

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    That's been around a lot of years and Bob's experience pre-dates the post Desert-Storm deployed USAF for the most part(and you and I!) . He was a Tomcat guy who did an exchange tour flying Eagles. https://www.avweb.com/features/bob-norris/
     
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  22. Aviator305

    Aviator305 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Look up the Afterburn podcast. Plenty of conversations between fighter pilots regarding career, flying, safety, and even one post-accident analysis that I’ve come across so far. The one about the fatal F-16 crash last year was very insightful regarding changes in training (not as much of it due to $$$).
     
  23. Sluggo63

    Sluggo63 Cleared for Takeoff

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    Let me step in with another option. Look at local Air National Guard/Air Force Reserve units. I did 9+ years Active Duty, and another 16 in the Air National Guard. It may not be exactly what he's looking for, but there are some definite benefits to ANG/AFRES life. If I had to so it again, I would seriously consider going ANG right out of college with a flight slot. You go to flight school knowing what your path is going to be, you go back to a unit where you'll be probably for your career (could be good, could be bad depending on the unit) and you build a tight network of friends/coworkers. Guard life allows you to have a career outside of the military (whether it be an airline gig or something else) while still serving your country and doing some pretty neat flying. Even if you wanted to do the military full-time, there are options in the Guard/Reserves for full time positions, and even with the full-time slots, there is an ability to somewhat strongarm away some of the more BS Active Duty nonsense. Although that ability is getting less and less from what I hear.

    Drop me a PM if you're son is interested in learning more.
     
  24. jayhawk74

    jayhawk74 Pre-Flight

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    Another possibility is flying for the Air Guard or Air Force Reserve. All the benefits of flying for the military without the Active Duty transfers and non-flying assignments. So I would recommend he get in contact with his local unit.

    Looks like I posted this the same time as Sluggo63
     
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  25. Sluggo63

    Sluggo63 Cleared for Takeoff

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    Great minds... ;)
     
  26. Country Flier

    Country Flier Pre-takeoff checklist

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    After reviewing the information, he now likes the ANG/AFRES route as well. He's thinking of applying to a local A-10 unit.
     
  27. German guy

    German guy Cleared for Takeoff

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    OK, I know this will make me win the 'jerk of the day award' but anyways...

    Frankly, if he only had 'somewhat of an interest in flying' and is not even 'bright' and 'ambitious' enough to fire up Google and do some own research, I am not sure if becoming an aviator is the right path forward for him.
     
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  28. Sluggo63

    Sluggo63 Cleared for Takeoff

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    Local is good. Some advice from someone who did a lot of pilot interviews for my ANG unit:

    1. Don't limit yourself to one unit. Scatter your applications all over. Yes, you may want to be a A-10 or F-16 driver. But put your apps in to the local KC-135 and C-130 units as well.
    2. At least get your PPL. You're probably not going to be competitive without it. At least, in our unit having a PPL (or being very close to getting it) was a prerequisite for applying. The more ratings, the better, but at least a PPL.
    3. Don't go to the base's recruiter. That's where everybody (who is not a pilot) is going to point you to. These guys and gals do great work, but flying jobs are beyond them. Every ANG unit is going to have a pilot POC for pilot hiring. That's who you need to contact. Ask if you can come in a visit during a drill weekend. Meet some of the pilots, show your face. Make your name familiar to them so when it comes across the desk, it rings a bell.
    4. This is a long-term option, but ANG units like local guys/gals and they like even more people in the unit already. There are plenty of pilot I know who joined the unit (either as enlisted or officer) with the sole goal of eventually applying to the UPT board. Bonus points if you're in a carrier field that interacts with the pilots on a regular basis (life support, maintenance, intelligence, etc.). When we got a UPT applicant who was a crew chief, life support tech, etc., we knew them. We had gone TDY/deployed with them, and knew whether or not they would be a good fit in Ops. I was in a tanker unit. We had enlisted Boom Operators that we worked and flew with on a daily basis. When one of these Booms applied to UPT, first, we knew about long in advance. We knew they were getting their degree finished up, and working on their PPL. We knew how they were as Booms and a pretty good idea of how they would be a pilots. They were nearly a shoe-in when they put their application in. This isn't to say that it's necessary to join the unit. We hired plenty "off the street," it's just an option.

    Sorry if that was a bit convoluted, but I was just trying to throw some thoughts out there. Let me know if you or your son have any questions.
     
  29. Sluggo63

    Sluggo63 Cleared for Takeoff

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    Meh. I wouldn't worry about it. I was a UPT instructor in the late 90s when the AF was hurting for pilots. I had plenty of Lieutenants who were planning on being engineers or Intel walk into my flight room only because they were at their ROTC detachment and their OIC came up to them and asked them if if they wanted to be pilots. They shrugged and said, "sure, I guess." Ninety percent of them did really well, enjoyed flying and went on to have great careers as a pilot. Sometimes you don't know what you don't know.
     
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  30. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Yep, not everyone had exposure to military aviation when they were young. Some, “see the light” late in life. I grew up around it knew exactly what I wanted to do when I was in junior high / high school. Took 10 years longer than planned but never lost sight of the prize. As Mover says, “make them tell you no.” They told me no a few times! :)
     
  31. Warlock

    Warlock Cleared for Takeoff PoA Supporter

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    Commissioned Army even as an Aviation Officer like me (First OBC class after creating the new Branch) in the early 80’s is not a real Aviation career past the rank of Captain...but in my quest to stay in the Cockpit I was the guy who reverted to Warrant Officer (CW2) then preverted back to Captain when they found out my parents were married...and later declined promotion twice to LTC to stay in Aviation units. Not your normal or suggested route to military career. My suggestion is always Air Force...and I have spent time on Navy boats to evaluate that side of the equation as an Army Aviator
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2021
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  32. Pugs

    Pugs Line Up and Wait

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    No man will be a sailor who has contrivance enough to get himself into a jail; for being in a ship is being in a jail, with the chance of being drowned... a man in a jail has more room, better food, and commonly better company.

    Samuel Johnson 1709-1784

    I was a slow learner. :D
     
  33. EvilEagle

    EvilEagle Cleared for Takeoff

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    I just retired from the ANG. The competition for fighter slots is at an all time high. There are good and bad things about going ANG off the street. It's likely not going to be a stroll into the local A-10 unit and they have a slot waiting for him. He needs to get the AFOQT and TBAS tests scheduled and he needs to study - a LOT. The competitive folks applying at our unit had 90+ scores across the board. Don't let him think that only the pilot/nav portions are important.

    It's a good road, but in many ways it's harder to get a fighter right now in the ANG than on AD. Also make sure he knows what he'll do after his seasoning days run out; A-10 units especially have very few full time positions.
     
  34. 35 AoA

    35 AoA Pattern Altitude

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    I'd personally rather start flying fighters on active duty. Our model (the USNR) is different than the ANG in that we don't take new guys without prior active duty flight experience. So maybe my own experience is putting a lens on my perception. But I just don't know how you would be any good being a part time fighter wingman with a few hundred hours......or how you would ever overcome the learning hurdle that awaits. Maybe the answer is your deployment time (which is something we don't really have in the Reserve Naval Air, other than a couple specific squadrons)? Maybe it is just more of a time commitment than I have assumed?
     
  35. sourdough44

    sourdough44 Pattern Altitude

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    Yes, I’ll go with the advice above. Just a few things to hedge his bets. He should get started with some type of flight instruction, now. One needs to cast a wide net.

    I’d give some thought to joining the Guard or Reserves, that could be a flying unit, or not, even enlisted, to get things rolling. That would all help down the road, with any military flight program. Of course be aware of the commitments & terms should he sign in the dotted line, it’s not just the ‘commies for Mommy’ thingy.

    I don’t know how the openings are now for military flight programs, normally one gets current info from the Officer recruiter.
     
  36. Sluggo63

    Sluggo63 Cleared for Takeoff

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    Herbivore here. I’m not sure, but I think with our pointy-nosed sister ANG unit down in Atlantic City, anybody coming off the street got a couple years of “seasoning” orders which essentially had them full-time to keep them from being Blue 4 on the wing. I don’t know if that’s true for all ANG fighter units though.
     
  37. 35 AoA

    35 AoA Pattern Altitude

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    Yeah I guess my question was more towards what happens after seasoning/orders. A guy/gal 2 years out of the FRS/FTU doesn't have a lot of experience. In my community, that is the moment they are in the prime for their initial flight lead upgrades. But the jet and the tactics are nowhere near mastered at that point. I'd just think that throwing in a lot of time out of the jet at that point in one's career would be really detrimental. Again, I am by no means an expert in the ANG world and I am just asking questions......would love to hear the thoughts of those of you who have been in the guard and experienced it.
     
  38. EvilEagle

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    Yep, super hard to get quality young guys. It's really hard to make people understand that after 3 years of the pipeline and 3 years (roughly) of seasoning orders, that a young fighter pilot is still not very good. (6 years into full-time flying) There's such a depth of knowledge and skill required that it is hard for most folks to believe you when you tell them. In the F-15/F-16/F-22 world of the ANG we always (F-15), often (F-22) or sometimes (F-16) have an alert commitment. Having an alert detachment gives more than double the full time positions of a non-alert unit like A-10's. Even with all the extra jobs, sometimes we can't keep our new pilots on full-time orders as long as we'd like. Sometimes that means that they have to go fly something else because they aren't good enough to be a safe "part timer". As a traditional guardsman (aka "part timer") you still need to fly a minimum of 8 sorties per month so it's not like the old commercial of 'one weekend a month, two weeks a year'.

    Any young ANG pilots need to understand that there will be a very real possibility that just about the time you are on the cusp of getting enough experience to be good at something, you may be out looking for a full time job somewhere else.
     
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  39. 35 AoA

    35 AoA Pattern Altitude

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    Thanks Evil, that explains a lot. I imagine that your really talented and motivated guard babies do fine. But that would be a hard spot to be in. We have the same deal in terms of time commitment (minus the deployments)......100 flight hrs/ year minimum, which like you guys, adds up to a lot more than the TV commercial stereotype that most non-aviators think the reserves are (though it is largely true for our "non-hardware" guys). Because I'm local, I fly 1-2 times per week, every week, and do a couple detachments a year. Which means I work my (currently non-airline) job like 9-10 hours/day the rest of the week to account for that lost day or two. If my current employer didn't literally build both of our steeds and have some interest in me keeping up my expertise live, I don't know what they would say. I know that they weren't aware this was a typical flying reservist's schedule :) They've been super accommodating though. I know the real job + fun job mix is a little easier to handle on the 121 side though.
     
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  40. Pugs

    Pugs Line Up and Wait

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    Pugs
    Yep, when I was in the reserves I heard a lot of the "but I thought you were the one weekend a week guy now" from friends and family. Having a full time engineering career and flying in the Reserves left very little time for much else in my life. 100 hours a year was compliance but I had well over 1000 hours in the jet when I went reserve and have I have no idea how someone with less could stay competent at those hours a without a solid hour and experience base. Red Flags, PROA fleet support, China Lake projects and whatever else needed EW support meant at least a week away once a quarter plus 4 recalls in 10 years. Except for missing the flying I was happy to retire!
     
    35 AoA likes this.