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What pilots fly more, regular commissioned officers or warrant officers? (ARMY)

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All input is welcome here but the way I was explained this when asking this question to a former Army aviator was "due to other leadership roles, a regular commissioned officer in the Army who is a pilot fly's less (on average) than a warrant officer pilot in the Army. Commissioned officers who are pilots are leaders first, pilots second and while warrant officers are leaders they are more so considered to be technical experts in their field."



I mention this because one of the questions that I envision coming up at my boards interview is " Why do you want to be a Warrant Officer as opposed to a regular commissioned officer?" I don't want to give anyone a bad impression by simply responding with "oh I heard warrant officers get to fly more" but as someone who is passionate about aviation, this is partial true. I completely understand this question merits an individually based response, I just wanted to prepare for it as much as possible. Any thoughts are appreciated.


Thank you,


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Nothing at all wrong with that question, assuming you answer it professionally.


Here is my personal reason for having gone warrant instead of RLO.


While I appreciate the leadership role that RLOs have, I understand that their flight duties are secondary to their command roles. We certainly need good leaders, especially ones that know and understand aviation. I also understand that warrant officers are leaders, but generally more in a mentorship, training, and advisory role. I don't mind supervising others, and feel I have been successful at it, but I prefer training and mentoring others to perform a task directly related to supporting the commander, not being the commander. For me, that happens to be flying helicopters. For my personality, it simply happens to be a better fit.


Now don't steal that.....unless you mean it. But it's a legitimate answer to a legitimate question.


And yes, warrant officers do fly more than RLOs. It is actually fairly equal in the first few years of service, but after the first few years the career paths tend to diverge. Warrant officers are more likely to remain in flying roles, though not always.


Many, many, Army aviators fly more than their civilian counterparts. Civilians tend to fly more in the beginning (if they are successful as a CFI and then that first tour gig, etc). But civilian flying also tapers off quite rapidly, especially if one chooses to go the air ambulance route - which seems to be where many would like to go. I started as a civilian, went military, and am now back to civilian (also Guard). I have more hours than most of the people I started civilian aviation training with (or that were training at the same time). If you get deployed as a new aviator you can rack up 500-700 hours in a year. You'll also get a lot if you go to Korea on a tour. If you get a tour at Rucker after either of those, you're looking at another 300-500 hours per year for another 3 years. Instructors at line units also fly a lot.


The funny thing about hours. You fight for hours to get to a certain number. Then you get that certain number and you don't care so much. But then you end up flying more than you did when you cared about it. I fly 70-80 hours per month right now. I'm happy to do it but I don't need it anymore and wouldn't care if it was half that.


Yes, new Army aviators sometimes find themselves fighting for flight time. That is not across the board. Some of it is luck of the draw. But it is not unusual to see a CW2 with 2000 hours. Personally (and I've flown both civilian and military), I feel that 2000 hours in twin engine turbine aircraft, with plenty of time in actual instrument condition, and plenty of NVG time is worth more than 1000 hours of CFI time, 1000 tour or gulf time, and perhaps an NVG course for the first air ambulance job.


That went way past your original question, but there's not shame in an honest answer as to why you'd rather be a warrant than an RLO. How about this, "Hey, my passion is flying. I am not necessarily passionate about being the commander in charge. I am willing to sacrifice a little in pay to focus on what I am passionate about. That is supporting the troops by manipulating the controls."

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Your experiences are showing. Flight school instructors, tours, GOM, and utility-fire especially in season- fly a lot. People doing CFI work are generally hustling to get out of that job (not all and more power to those few that don't, but...), tours are one step above CFI and most leave or try to leave that job within five years (2000-3500 hours later...awesome. Burn-out and monotony come calling...not awesome). Those that don't leave to GOM (well, not now as they aren't hiring), HAA, corp, public sector, or utility, stay in that biz because they love the area.


But that is 50-60 percent of the industry (and mainly what the experienced pilots shy away from...). HAA and public sector, how much you think they are flying? Not more than a tracked PC (you PIs don't count). Another 20% of the market (GOM) isn't healthy and isn't hiring new, so it doesn't count either.


Best part of military aviation (outside of service to your country and fellow joes)? The lack of a $75,000-$250,000 bill to get you through to CFI. My respect to the civilian pilots--that is a true love of flying to incur that cost. And actually something more pain in the arse than the warrant officer recruiting process.


OP-RLOs are generalists that at times in their career can approach the level of competence of their warrant counterparts. BUT, they will do time (a lot of it actually) not in the line company. Warrants are specialists and as they progress (PIC and especially track), they become true subject matter experts in their chosen field. Hence the difference. One (RLOs) can do a lot of exciting things not really related to aviation. One (warrants) stays in that aviation track pretty much the entire career and maintains the resident expert knowledge that the rest of Army Aviation relies upon. Wordsmith that accordingly and you'll be fine with your answer.

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The information given to you by the previous posts is great advice! I just had my battalion board a few weeks ago and the question of "why warrant over commisioned" came up. I went with the straight forward answer, "I was told that warrant officers receive more flight hours than commisioned and I believe that would be more beneficial to me more my post Army career since I believe I will want to continue as an aviator." They seemed impressed with that answer and still gave me a high recommendation. Just make sure you shoot straight with em. Best of luck with your board! Hope that helps.

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For future reference, the doctrinal correct answer to that question is "Sir/Ma'am, of the two available career tracks as an Army Aviator, I feel my mechanical aptitude, and personality are better suited to specializing as a technical expert, rather than the broad range of skills required to develop as a future battalion commander."

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