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What does the military route consist of? Do you go the the recruiter and say, "I want to fly Helicopters." I imagine you could do that. But not very likely are they going to shove you into a pilot's seat.

So, you talking boot camp. Years of grunt work, maintenance crews, brown-nosing, and eventually someone might notice you and give you a shot at some training?

How likely is it that you get to do what you actually want to do, and how long does it take to get to that point?

I would assume it is not a fast-track type of route. At least four years of service, obviously...

 

I guess I am looking for a true to life scenario of someone who may or may not be thinking of going the military route to achieve their pilot license. Without having it being sold to them by a recruiter. (Apologies to any recruiter who may be on this form...)

 

What can you tell me from your experience about the path to becoming a heli pilot through the military?

 

Thanks

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As for personal experience I will throw in my two cents. My dad is a Army black hawk pilot and I have been working on getting my WOFT packet done.

A recruiter is going to tell you to join the Army first, then try for flight school because a WOFT packet is a long process with slim chances for civilians. Joining then going pilot might be a good choice if you don't have a strong application, or you can just keep building a packet up and keep trying.

The thing you need to consider if you go as non WOFT and just get another MOS you WILL need a senior pilots recommendation. So this is something to consider when picking an MOS, since the more pilots you are around the easier and better recommendations you can get them from.

Both routes are good for different situations, and both end up at the same place, but being in the Army first gives you a much better shot.

You can only take the AFAST ONCE, unless you fail it the first time. Then you can take it once more. but that is it. People says, oo don't study its an aptitude test your not supposed to study. Well technically yes that is true it is an aptitude test, but study your balls off. You get one shot at the test and you might as well do as best as you can.

One thing I can tell you from father and I's experience, if anyone tells you for some reason you cannot apply they are lying. My dad was convinced he was not eligible to apply for about 2 years, to find out it was just a big fat lie to keep him where he was. Anyone can put in a packet, and its a rolling acceptance so once its done most likely there will be a board selection soon.

If you go the street to seat way, you need to keep on it. The recruiter won't be to concerned with you if he can't get you to go in for another MOS. So keep on his/her ass about it and check everything yourself. Get the numbers you need and follow up on everything, its your responsibility. If its what you want to do you need to make the calls and get things going, otherwise your in for a world of hurt.

Also keep copies of all your stuff, if the Army gives you a paper you copy it and don't loose it, because you can be sure as sh*t they will.

If you decide on street to seat and refuse to go another MOS first, you should start doing whatever you can to build a resume up. Volunteer, meet the right people for recommendations, whatever you can.

Thats about all I have to say. I've been at it for like 7 months thanks to Muprhy's law, whatever can happen, will happen. If you want it, don't give up, just keep trying until you do. Eventually if you don't give up you will get in.

Most packets get started but never get done. The guys who want and get in are the guys putting in the packets.

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What does the military route consist of? Do you go the the recruiter and say, "I want to fly Helicopters." I imagine you could do that. But not very likely are they going to shove you into a pilot's seat.

So, you talking boot camp. Years of grunt work, maintenance crews, brown-nosing, and eventually someone might notice you and give you a shot at some training?

How likely is it that you get to do what you actually want to do, and how long does it take to get to that point?

I would assume it is not a fast-track type of route. At least four years of service, obviously...

 

I guess I am looking for a true to life scenario of someone who may or may not be thinking of going the military route to achieve their pilot license. Without having it being sold to them by a recruiter. (Apologies to any recruiter who may be on this form...)

 

What can you tell me from your experience about the path to becoming a heli pilot through the military?

 

Thanks

 

I know a lot of states' national guard units are hurting for aviators - may want to look into that route.

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One thing i find wierd, the Army does NOT requite a collage degree to be considered for WOFT. But all three of the National Gaurd recruiters i've talked to swear to fly NG you must have 64 collage credits (i dont remeber the exact number of credits.... it was 60+)

Are they mistaken, or does the NG play by a different set of rules??

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I have a four year degree. National Guard seems a little more up my alley.

I was exploring the National Guard website. And the video they had with the UH-60 pilot, the guy said after training he was a mechanic for four years before he was chosen to go to flight school. Bummer. So, I am assuming you cannot choose 15A as you MOS right off the bat. Or even if you do, you may not actually get to be in that MOS without being a mechanic or other MOS first?

I know I could get CFI in four years (if not 1 year) in the private sector, having funding being the only issue. National Guard would get me there much more cost effectively, but at a much slower pace.

Hm. A lot of options. A lot of questions.

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I have a four year degree. National Guard seems a little more up my alley.

I was exploring the National Guard website. And the video they had with the UH-60 pilot, the guy said after training he was a mechanic for four years before he was chosen to go to flight school. Bummer. So, I am assuming you cannot choose 15A as you MOS right off the bat. Or even if you do, you may not actually get to be in that MOS without being a mechanic or other MOS first?

I know I could get CFI in four years (if not 1 year) in the private sector, having funding being the only issue. National Guard would get me there much more cost effectively, but at a much slower pace.

Hm. A lot of options. A lot of questions.

 

Officially, the NG has no "street to seat" program. I know one person that did it out in CA, but it was a bit of a drug deal. He knew someone who was a recruiter going into flight school, thus knew the officer strength manager, and helped him out.

 

It doesn't require 'brown nosing' but it definitely helps if you've got an aviation MOS, because you get to know the people that you'll be working with, and the ones that are going to help you get to flight school. (In my case, our company training officer, and the BN S1 (personnel) took a liking to me for some unknown reason and really helped me out.)

 

If you're going to go the NG route, I would definitely suggest a maintenance MOS. Something with a shorter AIT. 15T for blackhawk mech, for example. If worse comes to worse, you can at least try and become a crewchief for a while while you wait for a slot to open up. At least you'll be flying. It also gives you a leg up once you reach your advanced aircraft in flight school, because you're already familiar with the aircraft systems. 15T school isn't as long as say, 15N (Avionics Mech) which I did.

 

It only took me 3 1/2 years, and that includes 9 months for initial training, and a 15 month mobilization that came up in the middle of my application process.

 

 

 

Make sure the military is something you can commit to. It's a lot of hard (but rewarding) work to go through the whole process to be enlisted, nevermind military flight school. Yes, once you're there they do their best to make sure you make it, but it's not without work on your part.

 

oh...Don't do it just for your 'pilot's license' on the other side, either. You'll likely end up severely disappointed with military life, and the eventual deployment.

Edited by CharyouTree
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As far as I know if you want to fly as fast as possible, the Army is still the best option. You can either go as commissioned or Warrant. Commissioned make more money but supposedly don't fly as much as a Warrant.

 

A time line for Army flight if you are accepted into a flight program is about

2 months basic

1 month of officer training

and about 2 years of flight school

 

I think this is basically the only way you can get a straight shot from joining to flying. Plus Army get the best helicopters and if that's what you want to fly then I'd go for state of the art.

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Ok, the info you provided earlier was pretty good but this post points out that you are on the outside looking in (not a bad thing at all) so let me put some of this into perspective.

 

As far as I know if you want to fly as fast as possible, the Army is still the best option.

 

It is simply an option. Not necessarily the best option. There are multiple programs that will guarantee you flight training in the military. The Navy has one, the Marine Corps has one, the Coast Guard has one, and of course the Army has one. However, you have to work to get into those programs. If you don't qualify for those programs you can also compete for a flight slot in OCS. If you don't get a flight slot during OCS in some services you are going to be relegated to whatever they decide you will do as an officer. Other services will allow you to continue to compete for flight training until you make O-3.

 

By the way thrilsekr, you do not need to be enlisted before doing any of it. You simply tell the recruiter that is what you want to do. Most go OCS direct to flight school.

 

You can either go as commissioned or Warrant. Commissioned make more money but supposedly don't fly as much as a Warrant.

 

That is of course Army specific and very true. They are two different paths. One (commissioned) is designed so that the focus is leadership and you will have, at max, two opportunities (platoon leader and Company Command) to focus on flying and even then it will be secondary to your job. All other times you will be on staff with little flying opportunity. As a warrant officer you can be in a line unit your entire career. Both have their pros and cons. If you compare commissioned pilots in other services to warrant officers in the Army you will see that in most cases they are comparable in how much they fly or that the other service pilots fly even more.

 

A time line for Army flight if you are accepted into a flight program is about

2 months basic

1 month of officer training

and about 2 years of flight school

 

Really? that is a big change from when I went through. It was basic training then 6 weeks of WOCS, Commissioned officers had a split basic course, after OCS. Then flight school was at max 40 weeks long. What did they add to flight training to add more than a year? I know there is some wait time but that is a bit much. If you do flight training in another service, flight training can be 1 1/2 to 2 years but it much more drawn out than Army flight training due to how they schedule training events.

 

Plus Army get the best helicopters and if that's what you want to fly then I'd go for state of the art.

 

That is a matter of opinion. The OH-58D has been in the Army inventory longer than I have been in the service (20 years) as has the UH-60, CH-47 and the AH-64. There have of course been updated models but there are some really cool helicopters out in the world that have truly state of the art stuff. Don't get me wrong, most of those Army aircraft do the job very well but it is not due to being state of the art. Heck, my CG helicopter has stuff on it that I wish I had on any Army aircraft I had flown. I can program the aircraft to fly a three degree approach to any point I want and it will fly the approach and come to a stable 50 ft hover at the bottom and that is 20 year old technology as well.

 

If you want to fly in the military, just be happy you get the opportunity it is very competitive no matter what the aircraft. The aircraft you fly is irrelevant.

 

Good luck to all who are trying to get into any flight program.

Edited by dolphindriver
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Really? that is a big change from when I went through. It was basic training then 6 weeks of WOCS, Commissioned officers had a split basic course, after OCS. Then flight school was at max 40 weeks long. What did they add to flight training to add more than a year? I know there is some wait time but that is a bit much. If you do flight training in another service, flight training can be 1 1/2 to 2 years but it much more drawn out than Army flight training due to how they schedule training events.

 

Just an update. I graduated WOCS in late November. They are telling us that we should expect to be here for approximately 2 years. There are a lot of bubbles right now. Hope this info helps.

 

Blake

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So how long is the actual training now? 40 weeks of training stretched into two years is a lot of waiting. I had a 6 month wait between WOCS and flight training. I also to the AH-64 transition immediately after that and I still wasn't there two years. That must suck if you are just sitting around for about a year if the amount of training is still the same.

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An Apache is one of the best attack aircraft in the world, fixed wing or rotary. But, it has less navigation equipment than a low end 30 year old Cessna. The Coast Guard/Navy MUST fly over water into bad weather. The Air Force does deep penetration CSAR/insert/extract. What do you think their capabilities are? If you want to talk about 160th, then yeah that's state of the art. What the Army has is a lot of airframes & a really good chance to employ them in actual combat. If that's not why you're looking at the Army, look elsewhere.

 

Army specific...

Commissioned & WO fly the same amount early in your career. There is a point after a commissioned officer has completed company command that they will begin to see less flight time & more staff/command duties while WOs with the same time in service will continue to fly the same amount forever. That point is after you would have already served out your initial duty obligation & when you're looking to make it a career. If you come to that point as a commissioned officer & don't like it, no problem, you're free to revert to WO at any time & still retire at your highest grade held. That happens often. Commissioned officers make ever so slightly more money than WOs, but also has extra duties and expenses that balance it all out.

 

The flight training process in the Army is pretty much the same as other services. A future WO heading to WOCS should plan to be at Rucker for as long as two years. That includes WOCS, SERE/Dunker, all the phases of FSXXI (which includes AQC), and then WOBC. Commissioned spends less time at Rucker (14-18mos), but they show up there with OCS/ROTC/USMA (which is at minimum twice as long as WOCS) and 7wks of BOLC II.

 

For National Guard, there is no street to seat/WOFT program. You MUST enlist in some other MOS & complete AIT prior to applying for WOCS. The only alternative is you may enlist for OCS, and accept WO1 rather than 2LT upon graduation. That's what we do to pick people up off the street. Rather than taking a chance on not making it and doing their time in an enlisted job of their choice, they'd rather go to the longer OCS process and take the chance of not getting picked up & ending up an infantry officer. The other thing with the guard is you know your airframe before flight school, cause it's tied to the unit you're assigned to. You don't have to worry about competition at Rucker, just do your job & come home with wings.

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I start BWS on Tuesday and I got to Rucker before Thanksgiving of last year. Graduated WOCS last Feb, so I'll be on hold for my advanced when I hit 1 year out of WOCS. I heard rumors they changed the hold time for 64's from 6-8 months to indefinite so who knows.

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If you come to that point as a commissioned officer & don't like it, no problem, you're free to revert to WO at any time & still retire at your highest grade held. That happens often.
Reverting to WO doesn't happen that often. It happens more often in the NG, but for it to happen in the RA requires that the officer receive approval to apply from his losing career manager. Lately, I have not heard of any successful attempts to do this, especially since the introduction of the retention bonus for CPTs, although that program has now ended.
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Just a technicality, I know, but you cannot "revert" to something you've never been before and some WO's find the expression insulting. When a RLO becomes a WO, s/he accepts an appointment.

 

I don't know about active duty, but as a reservist, the process was simple enough. It took about 3 months from the day I submitted my packet to the day I took the oath and pinned WO1.

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It's reverting to a lower grade, not something you've been before. And WOs get annoyed by anything that makes them feel like they aren't secretly better than every commissioned officer that's ever lived. It's called reverting.

 

I'm full-time in the guard, so that's my base of experience, but more than a third of our WOs are prior commissioned guys. If you're MAJ or even LTC that isn't going to make that next grade, then reverting is a good call. The other category we get is Guard OCS grads don't have to have completed degrees, so if they don't get it done in time for CPT, then they revert.

 

The best route in big Army though is to go WOFT, then look at OCS after a couple years. Then you'll fully understand what each side is about, you'll stay flying a couple extra years, and you're guaranteed AV.

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The personnel management systems in the Guard and Reserves are different animals compared to the active service. I recommend any statements about experience with personnel actions include which part of the service each individual has experience with. To say that, "Converting from RLO to WO is easy," or, "...happens often..." is very subjective. One or two instances neither defines easy nor often, and experience with personnel actions in the Guard and Reserves does not equate to experience with personnel actions in the active service.

 

The only converted RLOs I've come across, with one or two exceptions, were W-4/W-5s who retired/are preparing to retire. I met one WO1 in '98 at Rucker who had been an O-3 and coming back on AD to fly the AH-64. Other than that, I can't recall having come across too many.

 

In my experience, you are more likely to see a WO who wanted more say in what happened to him, or the opportunity to prove he could lead better than the leaders previously appointed over him (or maybe it was a shot at more money), who gets or has a degree and then goes to OCS, than you are to see a RLO who converts to WO.

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To say that, "Converting from RLO to WO is easy," or, "...happens often..." is very subjective. One or two instances neither defines easy nor often, and experience with personnel actions in the Guard and Reserves does not equate to experience with personnel actions in the active service.

 

While my experience is certainly anecdotal, there's nothing subjective about the process. Any Reserve RLO aviator who wishes to become a WO merely needs to contact HRC in St. Louis and obtain and submit an Application for Appointment.

 

Again, as I stated in my prior post, that's for a reserve officer. I cannot speak for active duty.

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Commissioned & WO fly the same amount early in your career.

That is way different than when I was in. LTs and CPTs flew significantly less than WO1s and CW2s since the LTs and CPTs were doing staff jobs as there were only a few platoon leader and company command positions and they rotated through those and even when they were platoon leaders and Company commanders they didn't fly as much as the WOs.

Edited by dolphindriver
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I believe I said my base of experience is guard focused, with halfway decent understanding of reserve, but just incidental knowledge of how active duty works it.

 

On active duty, it's much easier to promote at the field grade level, cause a lot of your year group is gone by then & they can promote you to a range of vacancies on the other side of the country/world.

 

I'm in a big state with more opportunity than most, which means I have most of a CAB here. That's one COL slot, three LTCs, and a handful of MAJs. That means I may have to transition airframes/skill-set just to promote, may have to move for my part-time job 300 miles for at least five days a month. If I get stuck in that staff role, driving across the state 2-3 times a month, and I'm never going to get promoted... I can 1) keep doing it for no good reason; 2) get out; or 3) revert to WO. What would you do?

 

Meanwhile, our units are desperately short of pilots, cause while we're funded to train some of our own, we're reliant on folks coming off active duty to make up the difference. That's not happening right now cause they don't want to deploy anymore. So, if I'm HRC/NGB faced with losing a pilot or letting them revert to WO where we're much shorter, and out of a field grade slot we can promote someone else to... What do you think they're going to do?

 

There is a little to it administratively, but it's just paperwork & it gets approved cause it's best for everyone.

 

Now, about flying hours... on active duty, a commissioned officer outside PL/CO would fly just a bit better than minimums, while a WO would burn the thing up. In the guard/reserve, everyone flies minimums, cause that's all the funding they give us.

 

As far as the ground job getting in the way... that job is for drill. You come in during the week to focus on flying. It's distinctly different time blocks. For full-time guys, they fly around the ground job, but obviously have to maintain minimums.

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I have a couple of prior commissioned officers in my class but neither of them were aviation prior to becoming warrant officers. One was infantry and the other was intel. I can't say what the norm is or anything as I'm new to Army aviation, this is just what I see. Hope it helps.

 

Blake

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