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Information on my process of qualifying for ARMY OCS w/ Class 1A Flight Physical

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Thought I would share my experience for anyone who might be interested.


I started the process of qualifying for an officer-training program about 1 year ago - I first tried to qualify for an air contract with the Marine Corps but was medically disqualified due to a minor heart condition. After looking at some options I decided to give the Army a shot, which started about eight months ago. First was the ASVAB (118 GT, about 80 overall) then my initial military physical at MEPS. First time I went up they had some 'codes' wrong in my file and were unable to process me. I returned a couple weeks later, ended up having to get a waiver for my heart condition (tiny PFO) which took 90 days.


After my medical waiver was approved my recruiter scheduled an appointment to take the AFAST which was another couple of weeks. This was not so bad though as it gave me some time to study. I know many people, current pilots especially, are opposed to candidates studying - trust me it can help out a lot and I would strongly recommend that everyone at least master some of the sections. I probably spent about 10 hrs total, which included memorizing the complex movements and going over some basic principles of helicopter flight. I have about 20+ hrs flying time in a fixed wing aircraft and have studied proficiently for my FAA private pilot exam. This was somewhat helpful but not a game changer. Scored a 124, not a great score by any means but it qualifies me and certainly is better than the minimum. The complex movements ended up being the section that gave me the most difficulty. I was fortunate to have looked this section over before and again highly recommend that everyone does as well.


It took about 45 days to get an appointment for my flight physical at Hanscom Air Force Base. I live about an hour from here and about the same from the Naval base in Newport, RI, so I had some options. I arrived with an Army recruiter at 6:30 am, and the process begins by having you fill out medical forms similar to what you do with your recruiter prior to MEPS. I had to answer YES to a number of the questions, and for many of my explanations I simply stated 'refer to medical documentation'. This ended up being a huge problem as I would find out the flight clinic did not have my medical file and that they were unable to retrieve it from MEPS. I was told I would have to come back; in the end it did not make much of a difference as the x-ray technician was not in on that day which required a second trip regardless. Just be prepared to make a couple of trips to the flight clinic. This whole process has been difficult, time consuming and stressful but if you are not willing to go the extra step and do whatever it takes then you should not be considering joining the Army and certainly not to become an aviator.


The physical is pretty straightforward and really nothing to worry about. Hearing test, blood work, dental exam w/ x-rays, EKG, number of measurements and full eye exam. This was followed by a sit down with the flight surgeon and the majority of the time was spent discussing my heart condition. He was unaware of the Army guidelines for my condition and ended up having to contact Ft. Rucker about it.


I returned in a month, had my x-rays done and then another eye exam - this time with the air force staff. These included color vision and depth perception tests to name a few as well as an actual exam to check my eyesight. I was told that for this exam I was at 20/25 in my right eye (left eye dominant) and that in order for my packet to be sent up to Ft. Rucker I would have to get a pair of glasses and retest. Apparently, I missed one of the letters on the 20/20 line (O for a C) and even though I read every letter except two on the 20/15 line, had medical documentation stating my eyesight was 20/15 from two civilian doctors, and read better than 20/20 for their optometrist the month prior, I would still have to get a pair of glasses. To say it lightly I was ticked off. The good news was that Ft. Rucker told my flight surgeon that they were going to look favorably upon my heart condition and he confirmed what I already knew about it - that it was minor, very common to the extent where some MD's believe over 40% have it, et cetera. He also reassured me that I had nothing to worry about regarding my eye test, and that it was actually pretty common.


Went to lens crafters, and in under an hour and a couple hundred dollars later I was out the door with a new pair of glasses. The only advice I can give someone is to take their time on the eye exams, many of the tests do not have a time limit so take advantage of it so you do not end up in my position. There is no worse feeling than thinking you have great eyes and being told that you will need glasses to fly. I returned the next day, re-took the test and my packet was sent up to Ft. Rucker earlier this week. I am pretty optimistic that everything will go smoothly from here on out, although it may take a few extra weeks given my extensive medical history.


I am hoping to go in front of the board by August for acceptance into Army Officer Candidate School. I thought about WOCS but ultimately I am more interested in being a commissioned officer although flying is my passion and I hope to do everything I can to get an Aviation Officer slot from OCS.


If any one has any advice or questions please let me know. If I get accepted to OCS I am considering finishing my private pilot in the hopes that it will give me a better shot. I realize this is not rotary training but I think it will still go a long way. Rotary training is just too damn expensive and I am not far from receiving my certificate. Please let me know what you think.

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Just to preface, I'm a civilian helicopter CFI not an militrary pilot but if you want to fly helicopters for the Army you should reconsider getting some helicopter time.

For starters, do you even like flying helicopters? That is a huge commitment without even trying it. Also, any flight time goes to your interest and dedication to being an aviator. Finally, from what I have seen here in So. California, the cost is not that much more for helicopter time. Some fixed wing schools charge as much as $150 an hour without an instructor. That can work out to be over $200 per hour. You can find helicopter time for around $250-275 per hour total. Well worth it, in my opinion. Especially if you don't have any prior helicopter time.

That being said, if you can finish a rating that goes a long way toward showing dedication and carries some wieght, from what I've heard.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Your experience with the packet will prepare you for the life of a junior LT. I agree with BigBear about the "try it before you buy it" concept of rotor wing, but it's not necessary to get selected. Most people here do not have any hours. I only know one who has a RW licese and about three FW. Good luck.



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