Jump to content

Flight hours- Active Duty vs. ARNG

Recommended Posts

To the Army Aviators in this forum-


I am currently a scholarship (federal) cadet at college in South Carolina. My dream is to branch aviation. One of the cadre members at my school is an Aviation officer in the National Guard and has become a bit of a mentor for me and has helped point me in the right direction in order to maximize my chances in branching aviation. One of his suggestions all along has been converting my campus based scholarship to a Guard scholarship and pursuing a commission in the National Guard and attempting to branch aviation that way. He has also said that can be easier, or less hard, to branch aviation through the National Guard than through Active Duty. I am well aware that Warrant Officers are the real pilots and get much more flight time than commissioned officers. However, since I have already accepted the scholarship, that route is out of the question for the time being.


My end goal is to make a career out of flying helicopters. My father owns his own helicopter business and I have been around them for the past 15 years or so and have really fallen in love with them. I have some turbine flight time but no certifications.


Since my goal really is to fly, the National Guard option has been looking more and more attractive. The aviation officer who has been helping me has even said that it could be possible to take a warrant officer flight school slot if I branched aviation through the National Guard (not sure if this happens often or is possible). However the only thing about the National Guard route that causes any hesitation is how much I would be flying. This brings me to my question:


How often do National Guard aviators fly, on average (I guess either a Guard FAC 1 pilot and/or a Warrant just out of flight school)? I understand the commitments for aviators are more than just the one weekend a month/ two weeks a year and have heard of the AFTPs. The National Guard aviation officer has said typically the aviators in his unit may fly 600+ hours/year on a deployment but has not really given me a straight answer as to the number of hours flown when they are stateside. I have read articles online on guard aviators retiring with 10,000+ hours after 40 years of service and some with only 2,500. I know it varies hugely by the state you are in/ aircraft you are flying, so if some sort of ballpark estimate is possible, that would be great. I have also heard that the Guard hires in house WOs to come on full time, but that that route should be a hope and not a plan.


Also, for active duty aviation officers, is it safe to assume the minimums are the maximums for flight hours, at least while you are not on deployment? I have heard that can also vary depending on where you are stationed/ what you fly.


I am just trying to go down this path with as much information I can.


Thanks guys!



Link to comment
Share on other sites



As an officer you are a leader first and a pilot second. You will be expected to do platoon leader tasks and maintain proficiency as a pilot. Most of our Junior Lt's on active duty do 6 months to a year in a maintenance company before they get to the flight company. You can then expect a year, mabye a year and a half as a platoon leader, PI until you get transfered to a staff position either at the batallion or brigade level. Your next flying position will likley be company command, most likley post (CCC) Captain's career course. As for flight time I do not see many captains with over 1,000 hrs of flight time unless they have multiple deployments.


Your questions are filled with hypotheticals, It's hard to determine what the best course of action will be for you because there are just to many variables. First off, I would choose whatever option will gaurantee you a flight slot.


For your situation this will probably be Gaurd. As far as flying, getting the most flight time? well, again that is dependent on so many variables, unit roster, mission, airframe, funding, your abilities ect..


I can tell you no gaurd AH64 aviator is going to fly 10,000 hrs, that isn't practicable for that airframe and mission in a stateside enviornment.


Active Duty vs. Gaurd? There is no definite awnser. This is because of units, deployments, missions, airframes. There is too many variables to determine what will get you more flight time. I have friends in the gaurd who had 1,000 hrs a year and a half after flight school. I have other friends who have only 500, 6 years later. Active duty is the same, some friends got lucky and have 2,000 hrs + some have 500 with no deployments, it just depends.


My advice to you is get to flight school any way you can, get your raitings and then network with a gaurd unit and find a flying job on the side while doing the gaurd job. You said your father owns a helicopter company? You will probably get more hours flying for him than for the Army.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yeah like Joe said. Too many variables to know for sure. I'd lean towards Active over NG though for hours. Yes you've got some 10,000 hr guys out there. I've worked with a bunch of them. They've been flying forever though and a lot of them combine their civilian flight time with NG time.


If you're trying to get a bunch of hours you need to go WOFT. Even then these days you won't get but 100-150 hrs a year. Unfortunately as a Commission guy you'll barely make your mins. Those mins vary by airframe but in 60s you'd be lucky to get 60-70 hrs per year.


As I've said before, none of my CPT friends went on to fly after their service. I still have some friends in now that are MAJ and LTC but I'm sure they'll go into the business sector as well after retirement.


Flying after the military isn't entirely out for Comission though. We have 16 pilots in our EMS program. Out of them, 11 of us are former military. Out of the 11 we have 2 former MAJs and the rest former WOs.

Edited by Velocity173
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites



Thanks for the information! It was very helpful. I need all I can get.


Just out of curiousity, what airframes did your friends in the guard with 1,000 hours after a year and a half fly?




My Guard friends flew 60's doing border security and then turned around and deployed to Iraq. Like most thing in life, timing is everything.


I would like to add that I agree with Velocity173 I do think Active officers will get more flight time but, I think your chances of getting a guaranteed flight slot are better in the guard.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...