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I'm curious as to how someone lands a pilot position within a federal agency such as the DEA, ATF, or FBI. Seems like one of those jobs that there isn't much info on. Anyone on here have any ideas? I'm guessing its the same as local law enforcement in terms of time on the street and all that?

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You apply when they have openings. ATF does not have an air wing. FBI has a very small air wing and consists mostly of single engine FW. They do have a very small number of helicopters. HRT has some 530Fs assigned to them. Although they do have some caravans located around the country for surveillance. The FBI pilots I've worked with were civilians but they do have agent pilots. FBI does use civilians sensor operators on those. They are referred to as Aerial Investigation Specialists.

 

Your best bet for Federal is with CBP. Fed agencies who have air units typically recruit for pilots directly.

Edited by Flying Pig
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  • 2 weeks later...

Any idea about DEA? If no one here knows I might try finding out since they are based right down the street from me. Also, one agency that surprised me was the State Dept has something like 150+ aircraft with over half being helos, not sure how they hire but I plan on figuring that out when I do my internship with the State Dept later in the year.

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DEA you come on as an agent and then put in for air support. I don't know that I've ever seen a DEA pilot recruitment. State Dept mostly uses a lot of contractors like DynCorp or AAR. The state department only has a a very small number of SD employed pilots.

Edited by Flying Pig
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As far as CBP (Customs & Border Protection) formerly (ICE) formerly (U.S. Customs Service Aviation Program) is concerned only hires "professional" pilots.

 

That is defined as having 1500 hours in either fixed-wing or rotorcraft. Additionally, there are a few specific requirements within the 1500 but most pilots meet them by the time they get the 1500 hours. Now as stated above, as long as there are plenty of pilot applicants with dual-rated and 1500 hours, that will be what they recruit. When that group dries up then, they will relax and not ask for dual-rated.

 

The big requirement is age, you must be "hired" before reaching your 37th birthday. As mentioned above, this is a federal law and almost NEVER is changed. All federal law enforcement, firefighters and air traffic control fall under this retirement plan of mandatory retirement at 57.

 

CBP wants professional pilots and will train them to be law enforcement agents. Where DEA, FBI, USSS and others hire persons to be agents and then as the needs of the agency requires, will let you fly.

 

CBP is by far the largest federal law enforcement aviation agency since the March 2003 with the merger of the 21 federal law enforcement agencies into DHS/ICE, later the air side was moved to DHS/CBP.

 

That merger brought together U.S Customs Aviation Program and Border Patrol Aviation to form what is now CBP Air Program with over 300 aircraft and 700 pilots.

 

Now this is a history of the federal side of the industry and I will let others explain about the state and local. Except to say that each agency can and does it differently but, all will do it one of the above ways, or use contractors, as have been mentioned.

 

Sorry for the long history lesson, but figured I'd fully explain.

 

Fly safe,

 

edspilot

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I don't think the Secret Service has an air unit. When they have needs they use local resources. PD, Sheriff or State Police. I've supported a few high end VIP missions and the USSS never had their own aircraft. I've also supported regular USSS investigations with aviation. No mention of them ever bringing their own. Either that or that used CBP assets

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In order to get hired by DEA you must be a U.S. Citizen with a four year degree and you must get hired before your 37th birthday. Keep in mind the hiring process typically lasts 18 months. Then you will wait for a class date at the academy in Quantico which lasts four months. After that you need to do two years as a street agent before you can transfer to the air wing. Typically this whole process lasts five years. I have heard Customs hired some P3 pilots at age 40.

 

After getting hired, going to the academy and doing your two years as a street agent, all you need is a Private Pilot license and a recommendation from your boss. Obviously more experienced pilots are preferred but not always available. Most DEA pilots have prior military or law enforcement experience but not all.

 

Once hired by Customs, you go to FLETC( Federal Law Enforcement Training Center) in Glencoe, GA for six weeks. After that you go straight into a flying assignment. Customs has a much bigger budget and therefore a much larger air wing than DEA.

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Hi all, some of this information is correct and some not.

 

I know as a fact you can be hired by CBP past 40. They have a waiver if you were prior military. You then are also able to stay past 57 until whenever your 20 years is up.

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That was no secret. If you qualify for veterans preference points or are a disabled vet then you can get hired on after 37. It's clearly states that in the hiring announcements. There are also announcements Ive seen where they have simply raised the minimum to 40 just because of the need.

Edited by Flying Pig
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If anyone has questions about CBP, I've completed all portions of the hiring process (dual rated) and am currently waiting for the next academy. Yes, it is currently open to all pilots, not just dual rated.

 

Checkout http://www.aptap.org/ for a decent forum that you could find answers to most questions.

 

I have contacted several current pilots, most enjoy the job.

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I got a chance to fly in/fly a CBP A Star last week. One of the best times I have had in a helo in a long time. Very impressed with CBP's facilities and people at the base I was at. I retire soon, but there is a bug in the back of my head to put in for the helo slots. My 2 cents...

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If anyone has questions about CBP, I've completed all portions of the hiring process (dual rated) and am currently waiting for the next academy. Yes, it is currently open to all pilots, not just dual rated.

 

Checkout http://www.aptap.org/ for a decent forum that you could find answers to most questions.

 

I have contacted several current pilots, most enjoy the job.

Probably a silly question as it specifically states the flight hours cannot be waived, but would applying if you are just short be pointless? I'm at 1300 hours, and thinking I would meet the required 1500 by the time the application process is finished.

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Probably a silly question as it specifically states the flight hours cannot be waived, but would applying if you are just short be pointless? I'm at 1300 hours, and thinking I would meet the required 1500 by the time the application process is finished.

It would be pointless. Copies of all your logbooks have to be submitted upon application and if they see you don't meet their minimums, you will not be considered for the hiring process. For now, i would get a resume prepared to submit as soon as you hit your 1500 hr mark.

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