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mike0331

Another ARNG thread (Input from New Englanders would be great)

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Hey all,

 

So I have decided I definitely want to be a pilot in the ARNG. I am a resident of MA, and I am looking at MA and NH.

A little relevant background. I am currently halfway through with Law School at a good school that I expect will allow me to get a job pretty easily. I will be 28 the summer I graduate, but think now may be a good time to get started on the process, as I understand there may be a couple different routes.

 

I joined the USMCR out of highschool as an 0331 (Infantry - Machinegunner) in 2008, and was in Helmand, Afghanistan in 2011. I was going to try to lat move to the army and then put in a WOFT package when I got back in 2012, but my unit wasn't really playing ball, and then I got promoted to Corporal, got a bunch of responsibility, was a Sergeant a year later, and finished out my time as a Squad Leader. I checked out of my reserve unit in 2014 when I completed my undergrad degree, and due to a career planner messing up my IRR extension, I just recently dropped from the iRR. I am entirely out at this point.

I have a few questions from here.
1. As I understand it, I can sit for the SIFT as a civilian, is this accurate?

2. Is the only way to become a WO aviator to first enlist in a unit and then put in a WOFT package? I don't really want to be a grunt again and then hope I get accepted for WOFT, so if this is the only option, can I check into an air wing unit and essentially OJT while I wait for my package to be approved rather than get sent to some maintenance school?

3. Is there a contract commissioned aviator route for the guard? As I understand it, if I found a slot like this I could do the State's version of OCS throughout my last year of law school, and then go straight to BOLC at Rucker after I take the bar (about 18 months from now, so long as I schedule it right).

4. I took a "groupon" flight lesson in an R44 and I loved it. I am in law school, so I don't have the money to take flying lessons regularly, but I am someone who likes to over-prepare so I do plan on trying to log 8-10 hours over the next year. If I land a well paying summer internship, then I would probably take more. Is there a type of training in R22s I should ask for that would maximize the value as far as preparing myself for WOFT? I have a very thorough and knowledge of aviation, helicopters, etc, but obviously virtually no experience short of having gone up with friends in fixed wing and this one R44 flight (and being in the back of CH53s in the USMC).

 

Not too concerned with the career vs guard thing. I've done the whole reservist thing and I understand there may be more of a time commitment here. That's not a problem. I understand, my wife understands (she is also a veteran), and everyones onboard. This is something I am going to do barring any unforeseen circumstances. At this point it is just figuring out the best way to make it happen.

 

Of course if any of you guys are pilots in MA or NH, I'd love to buy you coffee.

 

Thanks for all the help guys,

 

Mike

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I was just selected through the ARNG, so I'll chime in with my experience. Others here will still be much more knowledgeable, however.

 

Almost all states require you to enlist before submitting for the board. And most have a TIS requirement as well. I was fortunate enough to know a few aviatiors that lobbied to the Warrant Officer Strength Manager on my behalf and I was allowed to go before the board right after I enlisted and before I had gone to BCT/AIT. I still have to go to AIT, but start the pipeline right after.

 

Try to make some contacts and let them ask around to see if it's possible for you to do a route similar to mine if that interests you. Make contact with your WOSM and see what he or she says. You sound like you'll have an impressive resume so they won't be taking a huge risk on you.

 

But I think the OCS route sounds better for you if they can find a guaranteed flight slot for you instead of it being based on the OML. Once again, that may come down to just knowing and impressing the right people.

 

Good luck.

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I have a few questions from here.

1. As I understand it, I can sit for the SIFT as a civilian, is this accurate?

2. Is the only way to become a WO aviator to first enlist in a unit and then put in a WOFT package? I don't really want to be a grunt again and then hope I get accepted for WOFT, so if this is the only option, can I check into an air wing unit and essentially OJT while I wait for my package to be approved rather than get sent to some maintenance school?

 

1. Yes, you can sit for the SIFT as a civilian but an enlisted recruiter will have to fill out the test request form for you.

2. You can go before the Board before you even enlist in some places. That's what I did. It seems to be somewhat unusual but talk to your WOSM and see what they say. If they'll allow it in your state, it means you'll already be picked up for WOFT before you even sign on the dotted line. I'm in NY, so your mileage may vary.

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Thanks and much appreciated. Working on making some inroads with aviators. I know a handful of guys in the infantry in my state, not sure if that helps for LORs. This includes a good friend who is finishing up his 20 and being encouraged to go for 1st Sgt, and another who is a company commander. I also have a lot of officer friends from Law School, and I'm sure i could reach out to my previous chain of command from the USMC, although I am getting pretty far removed from it at that point. I do have access to my last fitness reports recommending retention and so forth.

I think the BCT thing wouldn't be required anyway due to my USMC experience, but maybe I'm wrong. I'm not generally averse to doing aviation maintenance for a year or so, but I don't think it will be as easy to swing 14-16+ weeks MOS school for that, than hangout for a couple years, then do the WOFT thing. If that's the only option, I'll do it. I actually have a genuine interest in aircraft mechanics, but I'm going to be 28 at graduation from LS, and I don't want to completely blow up my chances of a stable civilian career. I have also been giving some thought to LE, and a lot of departments have age caps there as well.

 

I'll be reaching out and at least trying to schedule a SIFT. I've been harassing an ARNG recruiter for a few months now, and still nothing from him. I will probably need to retake the ASVAB eventually again. My score from 2007 when I enlisted in the USMC was 99 AFQT and 145 GT. I'm confident I can do well, although I'll need to brush back up on math, as there isn't much of that in law school.

 

Vision question: My vision has been stable since I started college, and I believe it is 20/20, but my left eye may be drifting into the 20/30 range. I don't have and have never had corrective lenses, and I'm pretty sure it's 20/20, but my right eye is definitely clearer at distance. Are the vision requirements still somewhat lenient, or would I still need to fork over money for lasik? I remember reading somewhere uncorrected was allowed to drift as far as 20/50, that could be bad intel though.

 

Also working on cardio again... I go to the gym regularly, but I've pretty much not run since leaving the USMC.

 

Thanks

Mike

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Thanks and much appreciated. Working on making some inroads with aviators. I know a handful of guys in the infantry in my state, not sure if that helps for LORs. This includes a good friend who is finishing up his 20 and being encouraged to go for 1st Sgt, and another who is a company commander. I also have a lot of officer friends from Law School, and I'm sure i could reach out to my previous chain of command from the USMC, although I am getting pretty far removed from it at that point. I do have access to my last fitness reports recommending retention and so forth.

 

I think the BCT thing wouldn't be required anyway due to my USMC experience, but maybe I'm wrong. I'm not generally averse to doing aviation maintenance for a year or so, but I don't think it will be as easy to swing 14-16+ weeks MOS school for that, than hangout for a couple years, then do the WOFT thing. If that's the only option, I'll do it. I actually have a genuine interest in aircraft mechanics, but I'm going to be 28 at graduation from LS, and I don't want to completely blow up my chances of a stable civilian career. I have also been giving some thought to LE, and a lot of departments have age caps there as well.

 

I'll be reaching out and at least trying to schedule a SIFT. I've been harassing an ARNG recruiter for a few months now, and still nothing from him. I will probably need to retake the ASVAB eventually again. My score from 2007 when I enlisted in the USMC was 99 AFQT and 145 GT. I'm confident I can do well, although I'll need to brush back up on math, as there isn't much of that in law school.

 

Vision question: My vision has been stable since I started college, and I believe it is 20/20, but my left eye may be drifting into the 20/30 range. I don't have and have never had corrective lenses, and I'm pretty sure it's 20/20, but my right eye is definitely clearer at distance. Are the vision requirements still somewhat lenient, or would I still need to fork over money for lasik? I remember reading somewhere uncorrected was allowed to drift as far as 20/50, that could be bad intel though.

 

Also working on cardio again... I go to the gym regularly, but I've pretty much not run since leaving the USMC.

 

Thanks

Mike

 

Distant visual acuity must be 20/70 or better and near vision acuity must be 20/40 or better, both correctable up to 20/20.

 

I have a guy at my unit who is a prior service 0331 who is now a CW2. Would be happy to put you in touch with him about his route if you would like. We are in the Carolinas.

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If you wouldn't mind feel free to PM me his contact info.

I'm definitely within those vision parameters, though I may need to see if I need/can get glasses for distance. I've never had or needed them. I may be 20/20, I just know my left eye isn't as strong as my right. I did pass the smallest line at the RMV a couple months back, so maybe it's fine.

Mike

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So I'm prior service as well. I've been in the Air National Guard for 11 years. Illinois is saying per National Guard Bureau you cannot be "civilian" or "street to seat" as prior service. There is another candidate in the process with me who is being allowed to enlist as a 09W (Warrant Officer Corps) allowing the Army to get her school dates lined up right as she is enlisting because she is non-prior service. I on the other hand, am going to have to enlist as a 15T (Blackhawk Mechanic) and then the Army is going to FRB (Force Requirements Branch) me into 09W after I complete basic training. I will not be going to AIT. The only reason I am going to basic is because I am Air Force. I don't think you will have to do basic training. You might be able to enlist as a random MOS and be FRB into 09W. Anyway, if you have any questions e-mail me at gudavand@gmail.com. I hope everything works out for you.

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Just going to post my response here in case it's helpful to anyone else down the road.

RE enlisting as a random MOS... I think the easiest way to do that would be to enlist as 11B since I wouldn't need AIT coming from the 03 side of the USMC. That said, I would rather spend 3 months learning something new RE aircraft and being stuck as a mechanic than I would being a grunt again. As far as infantry goes, if I were going to stick with that, I'd just go back to my old USMC reserve unit. I loved my time there but it was time to move on.

As far as what you are doing, what sort of guarantee do you have that the army will FRB you to an 09W? Is that something you can get in writing?

Also, not sure if prior service makes as much of a difference if I'm not even currently IRR.

Another question... being that I'm 18 months out, now is not too soon to start figuring this out, is it? From what I understand the SIFT is good forever, and I am hoping to take it early Feb if the guard can figure it out.

Thanks

Mike

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Short answer:

Contact your WOSM. They will have the correct answers to your questions or refer you to the OCS recruiter for your state. They will also help you get to the SIFT and flight physical and build your packet.

If t required that you be in the Guard before submitting your packet, enlist as something 15 series. Preferably 15R, 15T or something "repairer". The schooling you'll get from AIT for that MOS will help you tons when you get to advanced airframe section of flight school as long as you're flying what you were trained to work on.

 

Also being a 15 series will put you in the hangar around pilots and high ranking Warrants that you can interview with for a LOR. A CW5 LOR will hold a lot more weight to the board, for ARNG, than an officer's letter will.(assuming you go Warrant and not OCS)

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Thanks. I'll work on reaching out to WOSMs and OSOs in MA and NH in the coming weeks. I think UH-60s are the primary airframes around here with one exception to my knowledge. I'm primarily interested in dustoff/medivac just cause those guys (and PJs) were awesome overseas, but Ill take what I can get and Ill be happy just to fly.

 

Semi-related question: Apart from training, what Stateside missions would a guard pilot in an air ambulance unit be involved in, since that seems to be whats around here.

 

Mike

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mike0331 I am going to be enlisting next week sometime. I will let you know how the process goes for me. I haven't seen anything in writing but I know the WOSM is building my packet for WOFT right now. I've also got the First Sergeant and lead for Recruit Sustainment Program in Illinois helping a recruiter build my enlistment packet. I went and did SIFT and got a Class 1W physical on my own from Ft. Leonard Wood. I also did all of my letters of recommendation and interviewed with the SAO (State Aviation Officer) in Illinois and received a Letter of Acceptance for the state. With that being said, even if I don't have guarantees in writing I doubt I will be getting screwed out of a flight spot. But then again, I will let you know what happens to me.

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Thanks. I'll work on reaching out to WOSMs and OSOs in MA and NH in the coming weeks. I think UH-60s are the primary airframes around here with one exception to my knowledge. I'm primarily interested in dustoff/medivac just cause those guys (and PJs) were awesome overseas, but Ill take what I can get and Ill be happy just to fly.

 

Semi-related question: Apart from training, what Stateside missions would a guard pilot in an air ambulance unit be involved in, since that seems to be whats around here.

 

Mike

My local unit has done about five rescues in the great smoky mountains national park this year. A lot of medevac helicopters help with disaster relief, flood rescues come to mind.

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Sounds more productive than Marine Corps infantry when stateside haha. Thats pretty cool that even in peacetime they get to do their job.

 

Mike

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Just to update. Spoke with my recruiter and he said he would be able to put me in the OCS route if that's what I decide to do. I think I am going to aim to have him try to get me something for this summer if I can do the state OCS thing. That should wrap up right around when I finish law school if I started this summer. I'm still working to get a SIFT scheduled. I've been starting to look through the study material between studying for law school exams. I know this guy from prior to him being my recruiter, so I'm giving him a bit more trust than I would a random recruiter. I am having a sit down meeting with him after finals... and if it seems like this is going nowhere I'll say thanks and head straight to a WOSM (which I still may do in other states). I do want to give him a chance at this point since he said he's taking care of it.

Another couple questions came to mind

1. How long after they request the SIFT until you can/have to take it? I am targeting the late jan/early feb time frame for study purposes.

2. Ive heard that going through as a guard pilot can result in you being sent home from Rucker in the bubbles. Is this something that can be requested? I own a house up here, and my wife will not be able to be with me the entire time if I end up going in 2018, so if possible I'd rather not just hangout down in AL during the bubbles. From what i understand this may have to do with the State saving money.

 

Thanks all

 

Mike

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Mike,

 

In my experience, being in the AF while I scheduled my own SIFT and Flight Physical (I know you are going through a recruiter), you literally schedule the test when you want it. There wasn't "requesting" on my end. You call the testing center (Guess your recruiter is going to set that up for you) and ask for availabilities and schedule the test.

 

Not sure about your second question. I was under the impression most Guard units try and rack and stack your schools so there are no bubbles. Guard units try and stack your schools so you do not have to be sent home. They obviously aren't going to pay you to sit in Alabama. Either way, I ship out for BCT Jan 25th and then I will have a better answer for you when I graduate.

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Thanks. So I'm still in touch with multiple states. I think I may be a little ahead of the game as I have 18 months left in school, but I'm still working to get the SIFT scheduled. One state has told me I must be enlisted in their state before they will even take me to sit for the SIFT/flight physical. This state also told me I could enlist as a 15U and start drilling at the unit to get my packet setup, and could delay AIT for up to 2 years. I'm obviously skeptical of this, as I can't afford to be plucked out of law school for AIT. My state is still working on it... I've been slow on chasing these guys down due to finals right now.

I spoke with a regular army recruiter as I am still giving some consideration to active duty, and he told me he could probably schedule me for a SIFT. I was clear that I am finishing LS first, and that I am leaning Guard... he said that's no problem.

 

I'm going down to meet with a friend at his unit in another state in a few weeks, and bringing my wife so he can explain to her what it's all about. Also setting up meet and greets at a couple other states. One state's Guard recruiter did say that I could set it up so I come home in any bubbles. I'm hopefully going to have civilian employment lined up by this point as well.

 

Have fun in BCT. Glad I never have to do that again... although I guess WOCS will involve some games.

Mike

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You will want to live VERY close to your aviation support facility (i.e.: where the aircraft are). Being M-day sucks if you have to commute. You can interstate transfer later, but both states will have to play ball. I'd use that (location) as my primary consideration if I were you, and if you have to jump through more hoops to get in with that state, then so be it.

 

If you're seriously planning to be a lawyer, I'd advise against going to OCS. You will have to commit a lot of time to your primary job, a lot of time to being an aviator, and a lot of time to your officer duties. You can do it if you don't care much about your family, but I'll tell you that unless you're full-time in the guard, being an officer in the guard means a lot of time at work. It's not that hard to get a full time job as an officer in the guard if you're any good, but your law career will suffer.

 

Spend your money flying if you want to, but it's not really important in the scheme of things. Guard units are looking to hire the people that are going to contribute to their organization. Rucker will make you a pilot, whether you're any good at it or not. I'd go meet with the Chief Command Warrants of each of the states around you, and while you're there go scope out the housing and law firms around the facilities with your spouse. That'd be the best use of your time.

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So I am about an hour and a half from both units in my state, the unit in NH, and the unit in CT. I am probably looking at a job in or around Boston when I graduate, and later I hope to move up to southern NH. This is entirely unrelated to guard stuff, and completely related to my wife and I wanting to live in NH, not wanting to have to commute into the city, etc. The legal market is decent in NH, but not like it is in Boston. For this reason, NH is my primary choice. If we move to NH we would be 30-45 mins from the guard unit most likely.

As far as taking an active duty position is concerned, I'm hoping I like practicing law, but if I love flying as much as I liked my 1-hour lesson in an R44, then I would probably consider leaving it behind. If I take any more flying lessons, they will probably be fixed wing as it's significantly cheaper to learn and rent.

 

The additional responsibilities of being a comissioned officer is a good point I didn't really consider. I also seem to keep getting pointed back towards Warrant for other reasons. I know by the time I got out of the USMC even as just an enlisted Sergeant I had "homework" outside of drill. Also we frequently got stuck on Friday AM --> Sunday, or Thursday night --> Sunday drills. As I understand it pilots are expected to fly a couple additional days a month in addition to the drills?

 

Somewhat unrelated question: Are there deployment/short-deployment opportunities for pilots in the Guard?

 

Mike

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Another thing to consider if what aircraft you might prefer. I'm not big on the Chinook, so I would personally go with a state that has hawks.

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I believe with the exception of one of the 4 units around me which has Blackhawks and Chinooks and even some fixed wing, they are all Blackhawks. Personally I'd be happy just to fly anything, BUT I do like the mission of the Blackhawks, especially given a lot of local units are air ambulance. Having been a grunt I have an appreciation for Dustoff (as well as Pedros). I understand the Chinooks offer some great capabilities as far as altitude, speed, and mountains go, which is pretty cool.

Mike

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Mike, I am in sort of a general situation as you now.

 

I got ahold of the WOSM from Florida and found that they are over strength in aviation. While Florida was the best option for me because I'd be going to the main campus at Daytona Beach, it won't work right away.

 

So I've contacted the Maryland WOSM and they have open slots for WOFT. They would want me to do a year of service in the guard, but the regulations that he gave me give an exception to the policy - a letter of exception from the Adjutant General. Already working on that and looking at the people I know to see if they know anyone.

 

My second option is contacting Arizona, as Embry-Riddle has a satellite campus in Prescott.

 

Third option is Virginia NG, closely tied with Maryland as Embry-Riddle has another campus at Andrews AFB and I have family not too far away. Haven't heard anything back from the Virginia WOSM. I guess if Virginia and Maryland fall through I will look at Arizona as a last option and if that doesn't work I'll just complete my degree and go active.

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Unfortunately I am bound by location. Fortunately that includes 3 states. From talking to all the states around me (and i still need to reach out to WOSMs, though the strength numbers at the moment would be a bit premature given my 18 month timeline), if they want me I can at least get in the pipeline. It seems I may have better luck some places than others to faster route to WOFT. I'm also prior service, so I am under the impression I can check in, put a packet together and get it submitted, and they will delay AIT until I get picked up for WOFT. This is just one state though, and it would be a bit of a handshake deal. I loved my time in the Marine Corps, but that's because I got everything in writing. I know plenty of people who have had "deals" work out about as much as you would expect. Not too many admin guys in the Marine Corps signed up with the intention of being staple-gunners.

Mike

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Mike,

 

I recommend you getting fixed wing ratings if you have the time/money, if flying is a passion. Get your private ticket then go after instruments. It'll likely be the most bang for your buck in developing skills quickly. It will also be very useful down the road (for instance, you might be able to commute to the AASF in your airplane; one of our guys does).

 

H-60 minimums are 96 hours per year, split into two periods. That's 8 hours per month, or 4 two hour flights per month, and you'll want more than that when you're just starting out. I don't know about the NE states, but we have one or two drills with no flights due to admin requirements, and then you have to consider that once you're out of progression, you're the least likely one to fill a seat. So even if you can make every drill, you might only fly 2-4 hours per drill, which means you need to plan on flying once a week to be proficient on an AFTP. Mind you, a two hour flight will take at least 4 hours out of your day. This is also why I recommend living close to the airfield.

 

One last suggestion: talk to the NY ANG rescue squadron (101st RQS) at Westhampton, NY. We've got an RQS here, and I absolutely would love to do their mission (but there are other issues which are keeping me from seriously attempting the move).

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Unfortunately Westhampton is about 4 hours from me, with no traffic. I know NH has the White Mountains, not sure how often NG is used for rescues up there.

 

I emailed a local flight school (10 mins from me) about rates for fixed wing today. There is a well known and regarded flight school at a towered airport about 35 minutes away. I've heard there are benefits to learning at a towered airport, so unless this local place is very competitive with their rates, I may just go there. I figure getting some radio procedure and airport formalities down would be nice. I can probably afford an hour at $160 every 3 weeks or so, more if I get a well-paying internship this summer. I also wouldn't mind getting 4-5 more hours in a helicopter prior to all this just for my own comfort. Besides as I understand it, if I wanted to rent an R22 from a local airport after being a licensed helicopter pilot, they require some R22 time anyway.

 

Mike

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