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toucan

Most warrant's i've been talking to have been such a drag...

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I was selected to attend WOFT this past March and I was so incredibly happy to be able to pursue this as a career. It's an opportunity that I probably wouldn't be able to take advantage of anywhere else but the US Army.

 

Being in aviation currently, I've spoken with quite a few WO's about what to expect in the future. About 80% of them always have something incredibly negative to say about their experience. "All we do is additional duties", "LOL you think you're gonna get actual flight time", "LOL fridge fund nerd", "LOL 8 year ADSO", "LOL OPTEMPO".

 

Is it really that bad guys? I have plenty of experience dealing with additional duties, granted I've done it as an NCO and not an officer. Plenty of experience with high optempo. Is it really that soul sucking to be a pilot in the Army? I've seen nothing but negativity from active WO's and it's incredibly disheartening. I understand that the Army has a way of making most things suck and I understand there's a reason that retention has been atrocious for the past few years, but it just sucks to have people downplay what I think is a great opportunity for me.

 

Is this legitimately something to be concerned about or is it just a very vocal minority being incredibly negative? Anyone have any positive stories to share about their career as an aviator?

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It is just about that bad. Let's say you fly more than your minimums and log 150 hours a year. That equates to about three hours a week of flight time, so roughly six hours total of actual pilot stuff with planning, pre/post flight, etc. The rest of the 40+ hours each week will be spent doing everything else that is not your job.

 

Yes you get to fly a cool helicopter but there's still all the rest of the Army BS to deal with. Being a proficient pilot is one of the Army's last priorities for your career.

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Meh. Soldiers and sailors have been complaining forever. It's what we do. We like to one-up each other to see whose job sucks the most. It's a military ritual. 200 years ago some private was complaining about his commander. "@#%^!% Washington. That m$%^4 F%^&% made us row across the river in the middle of the freezing winter!"

 

Just don't get caught up with it everyday, all day. That is bad for your own mental health as well as the unit.

 

You are going to have additional duties. Do well at them and you'll get recognized. RL progress, fly, know the aircraft and mission. Become a PC. Track IP, MTP or ADSO. Take control of your own career.

 

I have. I average 150-200 hours a year. I could fly more, but I have a lot of additional duties. And sometimes those duties suck. I have them because I have proven that I can do them well. Most of the time these duties are challenging and rewarding.

 

IP/IE/SP/MTP/ME

Facility QC Supervisor

Company SP

 

I also liaison with the Navy and schedule and plan deck landing quals quarterly.

post-2481-0-35464700-1560683170_thumb.jpg

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It will vary wildly depending on your unit. Yes you will have additional duties. When you get them is what changes. At my unit, we dont give them over until you are RL1 and kinda found your feet. Ill trade PBO/Supply to be the fridge b*tch any day. Heres the thing though. Whatever additional duties you get, own it and make it better. Additional duties are what will write your OER until you are tracked. Stay positive, crush your additional duties and you will probably be looking at PC well before your peers who dont. For the flying portion as a reference, in the past 12 months in garrison Ive logged 240 hours while balancing PBO/Supply and making PC. Yes it sucks at times but its also opened up doors and opportunities because of the high visibility additional duty that it is. Ive done them all so if you have any questions going forward, let me know.

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I'm glad I wasn't the only selectee to notice the low morale. Every time I look at anything on reddit about Army aviation, all the warrants just seem to complain. All of the pilots I know in person are 160th, so I haven't really gotten much of a view into the regular Army. I might try for 160th, especially if Regular Army is as bad as they are all saying.

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Well I'll chime in with some MI fixed wing perspective.

 

1. Flight time. You live to deploy. You fly while deployed. The bulk of your hours usually come when you are deployed. When you're back home, you'll probably fly between 100% and 150% of your minimums. That equates to somewhere around 150 hours a year. Or like The Dude said, about 3 hours of flying a week. This need to deploy/high op tempo can stress a family out bad. Between all the TDY's, training exercises, gunnery, field work, and actual deployments, a lot of time is spent away from home. This obviously has a direct statistical correlation to divorce rates. Get your whole life ripped out from under you a time or two and you're bound to be bitter about it.

 

2. The other 40+ hours of your week. Well, this is going to vary wildly. It depends on your command climate, your air-frame, your fellow aviators/friends, your mission, your additional duty, how well you are liked, and what duty station you get, etc. I am pretty much in S6 for life. I love it. I wholeheartedly look forward to going in to work every day. I like the split between 2-3 flights a week and the rest spent dealing with tech issues and the rest of comm life. Other people see their additional duties as a means to an end, or a necessary evil in order to enjoy flying. Yeah, if I got stuck in ALSE, or TACOPS, or S1, I would definitely not enjoy it as much. Oh, and with all the rules, regulations, and additional craziness that the Army does, it definitely sucks some of the fun/relaxation/exhilaration out of the flying you do get to do.

 

3. Why warrants are so salty. Well, I have many theories on this, and they all apply some of the time in certain cases. Warrants were most often prior service of some kind. Many of them wanted forever to fly but a lot of them saw it as a means to stay in the military but instead of doing whatever crappy job they had before, they could serve out the remainder of their time doing something potentially fun (aka flying). They also like the idea that warrants are supposed to be able to get away with way more than a typical soldier should be able to. (It's every E4's dream to be able to skip PT, formations, etc at will, and have no adverse consequences). The reality is that there are two types of warrants, there are aviation warrants, and then there are tech warrants. Tech warrants are rare. They have a very specific skill set. A CW2 typically will only work with captains (O3's) and above. Company commanders, BN XO's, BN CDRs. A CW3 pretty much only deals with/reports to MAJ's and above (and is at a brigade level). CW4 forget about it if you aren't an O5. Combine that rarity with how that command structure works, and warrants get to do whatever they damn well please because everyone knows they know their lane inside and out and you don't want to piss them off. That is what most branches think warrants are. But then we have this little (fairly large) side of it that is aviation. You have 1LT's giving orders/being platoon leaders for CW2's and CW3's. 1SG's that key in on that and don't give aviators the same level of clout that they would as a tech warrant. You often have as many warrants in a flight company as you do lower enlisted (we have more). That 1LT who has no idea what they're doing is writing your OER as a CW3 with 14 years in the Army. That same LT is blowing up your phone because you aren't at PT or some dumb training meeting. Aviation warrants want to think they're tech warrants, but we aren't. We try oh so hard, but we are viewed in my opinion in many cases as flying privates. This makes a great deal of us salty as hell.

4. Next we have the pay issue (this applies much more to fixed wing than rotary, but it still applies to them as well). Warrant's get paid dirt compared to their commissioned counterparts. An equivalent time in grade CW3 and a CPT with the same amount of time in service, well, that CPT makes about 30k more a year when all is said and done. This happens, yet warrants are rooked/conned into doing many of the same jobs/same responsibilities as their commissioned counterparts. Warrants occasionally serve as platoon leaders, XO's, BN S1's, S6's, deputy commanders and even commanders of forward footprints. They want us to go to the same useless types of advanced courses that don't really give much college credit or hold any weight if you're trying to complete a bachelors degree (which all aviation warrants want if they want to eventually be airline pilots). Yes we are the only ones that qualify for the bonus, but that bonus barely brings us up to what our commissioned counterparts make normally, and we have to sign our lives away for 3 years. So, that explains that portion.

5. Ah yes, the degree portion. So, I'm going to get some nasty-grams and some hate for this, but here I go anyway. Warrants are cheap labor for aviation. The only way the Army can get away with this and still keep pilot applicants flooding in is the lack of a degree requirement. At the end of the day that's the only real difference, because the Air force has command track officers and technical track officers that only do flying related stuff. The Army could do the same thing, it would just cost a lot of money. Now for the part that will get me the hate mail. Aviation warrants as I've said are typically prior service. Most of the aviation warrants I've met that aren't street to seat have been in the military since they were 18-20 years old. They don't have an appreciation for how the real world works. They never went to a real college (no online BS doesn't count, you don't get exposed to new people, experiences, you bullshit your way though 50 forums and do some tests and poof there's a degree). They've never had to pay for civilian insurance, they've never had to worry about losing their job next week, they've never had to work in a group project with an LGBTQ Hindu snake whisperer, or worry about getting a raise, or stress about moving expenses (I get it, it can still be stressful but the military greatly reduces that with $$$), and they genuinely don't appreciate how shitty being a regional airline pilot actually is. They suffer from a severe, chronic case of grass is greener syndrome. This portion of their negativity you will just have to learn to get past or take lightly. The other things I've mentioned are valid complaints, but the lack of perspective is just something you'll have to deal with as a warrant officer in aviation.

-The positives. I can't speak for my rotor-head brethren, but I can speak for MI fixed wing. We have tons of training opportunities, tuition assistance, the best education program offered in the world (GI Bill), spouse education benefits, bush pilot school, upset recovery, airborne, air assault, whatever dumb school you can think of, if you spin it right and talk to the right person, you can get it! You'll meet some of the best people and friends you could ever hope to find in the seat next to you, on deployments, sleeping in tents (or hotels :D ). You'll literally get millions of dollars of training, new life experiences, benefits, friends and a hell of an adrenaline rush.

Your results may vary, everyone's journey is different. You could fly your 60 over a nude beach and have everyone cheer. You could get shot in the ass and have a nasty case of PTSD every time you sit down on the shitter and here a pop. You might fly a general in the back that writes you an LOR to a sweet gig at Boeing. You may get divorced after you walk in on your wife cheating on you with your best friend. Or you may go to experimental test pilot school and end up in NASA's astronaut program. There's probably a statistically relevant chance that you will have a negative experience in the Army as an aviator. The green weenie doesn't discriminate, but you can sure armor up with a positive attitude and good choices to at least lessen its wrath. Take the opportunity kid. Make the most of it. Give it what you have and don't let the negative nancy's beat you down. Just know it won't all be roses and rip its. PM me if you have any questions.

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Aviation warrants as I've said are typically prior service. Most of the aviation warrants I've met that aren't street to seat have been in the military since they were 18-20 years old. They don't have an appreciation for how the real world works. They never went to a real college (no online BS doesn't count, you don't get exposed to new people, experiences, you bullshit your way though 50 forums and do some tests and poof there's a degree). They've never had to pay for civilian insurance, they've never had to worry about losing their job next week, they've never had to work in a group project with an LGBTQ Hindu snake whisperer, or worry about getting a raise, or stress about moving expenses (I get it, it can still be stressful but the military greatly reduces that with $$$), and they genuinely don't appreciate how shitty being a regional airline pilot actually is. They suffer from a severe, chronic case of grass is greener syndrome. This portion of their negativity you will just have to learn to get past or take lightly. The other things I've mentioned are valid complaints, but the lack of perspective is just something you'll have to deal with as a warrant officer in aviation.

 

 

This is definitely true. No matter how much the Army might suck it’s still a pretty well paid job with exceptional job security. A month of paid leave, usually a 4 day weekend each month, the ability to just say you won’t be at work because something came up and no one cares, etc....it all goes a long way and is generally under appreciated. Could it be a lot better, yes, but it could also easily be worse.

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Going on a rant here. From what I've seen there are 3 types of Warrant Officer in a unit.

 

1. Careerists. They want to retire in the Army, they at least pretend to like the position they're in, and always support the command. Other WOs would say they "drank the Koolaid." Whatever, they just like what they do.

 

2. Fencers. These folks don't necessarily love the whole package, but they can see both sides of the fence. They're going to do the job, grumble a bit, but for the most part you'll see "quiet professionalism" from them.

 

3. Suckers. These folks made a miscalculation, and instead of owning their choice they're going to whine about "how it should be" over and over and over. To anyone who will listen. They're going to drag the Fencers into the mud, and they're going to make life difficult for the Careerists. Whenever a new person walks into the room you can watch these folks gather like mosquitos to a bug zapper to fill their ears with how bad the unit is.

You're going to see this in any career field that will tolerate it.

Anyways, I had a few distinct periods in my short Army career that I'll break down for you.

1. Flight school. This was an exciting time for me. I was new to the Army and incredibly excited to be on a track to fly for a living. I was amped about serving my country and enamored with the history of Army Aviation. I truly enjoyed my time at Fort Rucker, had a great group of friends, and worked hard/played hard.

2. The Combat Aviation Brigade. Getting to my first duty station was also exciting. RL progression, training for Afghanistan, deploying, all were good times. I really enjoyed my first few years in the unit and learning to fly as a scout pilot. Then we got back from deployment and I had the worst year of my career. Full of downs, it was miserable. But once that year was over things picked back up and I was able to enjoy the last year and a half in the CAB. There were some stupid things and frustrations, but overall I still really enjoyed my unit and the job.

3. OC detachment at NTC. This was the best overall job I had in the Army. I had one additional duty and flew a lot. I went to work, went home just about every night, and had a set schedule that I knew of a year in advance. There were very few surprises. The flying was excellent. The cohesion was nothing like a go-to-war unit though, it was more like a civilian job where everyone showed up then went their separate ways. But hey, my wife and I were starting a family and that's what I was looking for.

Overall I wouldn't trade my time for anything. I loved flying the Kiowa and I enjoyed putting the uniform on and going to work. Embrace the job you're in, stay positive, and don't try to compare your job in the Army to a civilian one. 8 years goes by quickly and before you know it you'll be looking back and only remembering the good times.

Edited by SBuzzkill

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Now that I got lifestyle out fo the way let me fill you with some stoke for the flying part of the job. Some of my favorite things:

1. Flying low and slow. The thing about Army flying at least on the scout side was that the majority of our time was spent just above the trees, flying with the doors off between 50-90 knots. It's incredible how connected you feel to what's happening on the ground, while still having the mobility of flying. You'll be buzzing along and all of the sudden you'll feel the air get cooler, you'll feel the moisture on your face, and you'll realize you just crossed over a stream. You'll catch a whiff of smoke, you'll smell the fields, you'll wave at people and actually interact with them beyond just being something they look up at.

2. Leaving the wire. Whether from a FOB on deployment, or a field exercise, it's a unique experience to be so restricted by the wire and then climb in a bird, fire it up, and be kilometers away in a matter of minutes. You get a perspective of the battlefield that nobody else gets. You'll truly understand the scale of things and you'll be able to use that freedom to become a lifeline for the less mobile folks on the ground.

3. Multi-ship. Especially as a scout weapons team. My favorite was flying trail. It was such a challenge to cover lead while staying out of their way and keeping yourself out of trouble. Once you figured it out, it was like a dance. You knew what your buddies below you were going to do and you shifted around as they did it. Darting back and forth up and down, circling high while they went low, etc. Man that was fun.

4. Gunnery. The OH-58 had fixed weapons, so we usually marked the windshield with grease pen or in my case just some oil smudged off my nose to aim. Point and shoot WW2 fighter style. The .50 cal recoil would put the aircraft out of trim, so you had to add just a smidge of right pedal as you pushed the trigger. Putting a couple rockets on target from 2km and following with a burst of .50 cal was so incredibly satisfying.

5. The ability to land anywhere. It's so crazy to be flying along at 1000 feet and then a minute later be sitting on the ground in the field you just flew over. I really enjoyed shuttling people out into the desert for briefings, shutting my bird down, and just hanging out on the skids watching the sun set. We'd set down on mountain tops to watch the battle as OCs, places that would take hours to get to on foot we could just buzz right on up. Getting low on fuel? Run her up to 100% and 5 minutes later we're in the FARP grabbing some gas.

6. Cross country flying. "Self deploying" to our nationwide training events. It's you and 11 of your best friends, flying helicopters across the country, BSing for hours on internal while the scenery rolls by. Landing at tiny airports and grabbing the crew car to get Subway for everyone. In a new city every night figuring out where you're going to go for dinner and beers.

7. Putting hours on birds for maintenance. You'll probably never have another job where someone just throws you the keys to an aircraft and says "hey we need 6 hours on this thing." Just incredible.

8. Complex missions. These are a lot of work. Lots of planning, briefing, headaches. They hardly ever go according to the plan. But damn did I enjoy the slammed radios, the sitting at idle for hours and then the rush of getting into the fight. The boredom of circling overhead. Feeding information to the winded guy on the ground hustling his way through the hills. De-conflicting the airspace with the incoming lift aircraft or handing the battle over to another team of scouts or Apaches. Talking to the jets circling above. These are the missions you land at the end of your 8 hours and fall out of the bird just wanting to crawl into your sleeping bag. Nope, you gotta go debrief. LoL

I could keep going on and on. Hah! I've done quite a bit of flying since the Army. None of it has been nearly as rewarding as some of those missions in little green aircraft. Look forward to it and savor it while you're doing it. I'm glad my time with the Army is over, but I do miss it.

Edited by SBuzzkill
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