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pjakesc270

Flying for the Marines or Army?

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Unfortunately the answer isn’t exactly simple. I’m going to give you the standard answer. It depends on what you want. 
If you want to fly helicopters, you’re all but guaranteed to do that in the army. If you want to fly jets look elsewhere. 

looking at the Marines vs Army, you need to have a degree to fly in the Marines as you must be a commissioned officer. In the army you can go warrant and not need that expensive piece of paper. I honestly can’t speak to the life of a warrant at a flight company because I haven’t gotten there yet but as a Marine pilot, expect to not fly much. The Marine Corps has a bad problem of not having what they need to keep aircraft up whether it be money or parts, or the money to actually fly. I know many pilots who have to get hours waivers because they fly less than 20 hours in a 6 month period. Plus as an officer you are expected to be that officer first then your ground job and then a pilot third. The training pipeline is much longer in the Marines as well but you do get to fly some pretty awesome aircraft so it’s really not that bad

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I loved my Army time.  9 years served with 8 years of flying in the Army with an average of 17.7 hours per month in the air.  It came in waves though and generally a flight was 4-6 hours, so many times I’d go weeks or even months without a flight.  An example would be in between rotations or deployments when the aircraft are in transit or reset, the unit will not fly.

As a junior warrant officer most of your time will be spent working on your additional duties.  I worked around 50 hour work weeks most of the year.  2 hours a day for PT, the rest doing additional duties, mandatory training, formations, helping others with their duties, ranges, packing, unpacking, sitting in meetings, etc.

Out of flight school was 2 months of aviation life support equipment school and then 4 months of rear detail assistant S2, which is the intelligence shop.  After that stayed in a line unit bouncing between flying and additional duties for the rest of my time.

Most warrant officers will eventually track and start working in their specialty.  Instructor Pilots aside, it’s a lot of admin/ground based work.  You’re also always on the list for staff duty officer or field officer of the day, courtesy patrol, etc.

You’re a soldier first, then an officer, then an aviator.  Your command will generally prioritize what you do in that order.  Flying is feast or famine, and hardly ever a steady thing.

I had a blast as a mid/high grade CW2 un-tracked pilot in command.  I’d say that’s probably the sweetest things will get for a warrant officer.  After that things get too political.  But as with all other things Army, your mileage may vary.  Also, life during the last decade isn’t comparable to life now.  Different OPTEMPO, missions, AOs, airframes, communities...  My experience probably isn’t relevant anymore.

Good luck with your choice!

 

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never been a marine or army pilot....

but about a third of my flight school class were marines. One of my instructors is a marine pilot actually applying for woft after his IP tour. Asked him his advice when I decided to go for woft.

 

the obvious difference is the fact the marines have vtol, stol fighters, tilt rotor, helos, and heavy fixed wing. But to compare apples to apples let’s just talk army helo vs marine helo.

Summary of what he said...

1. Quality of life. Can be better can be worse. Ships suck. A lot of marine Corp bases suck. But navy bases are awesome.

2. Pay. Marines get paid more.

3. “They fly their d!@ks off.” Direct quote from him. Maintenance had him grounded on the regular. In addition...the amount of non flying duties he had was insane. Being a military pilot is never being a pure pilot. But it sounded like as a marine officer they get it way worse than army flight warrants. This was the main reason he is jumping ship. He was up for o-4 and Thought his hours are about to tank. I asked the cw5 that wrote me a LOR how much he flies nowadays. He said he still gets 10-15 hours per week. That’s pretty badass

4. Flight school. Their flight school is a bit more complex. Starts with civilian flying in a fixed wing. Then academic “indoctrination” Course. Then a high performance fixed wing aircraft. Then they hit the helo. In addition...the navy dumps a lot of money into aviation. A lot of exciting opportunities marine pilots can take advantage of. 

5. Diverse flying portfolio. It’s pretty common for helo pilots to have the option to rack up a lot of fixed wing hours by volunteering for an IP gig in that high performance a/c. Most of the IPs are actually helo guys. For that reason.


the fact he’s leaving the marines to come fly for the army by itself says a lot. Again I’ve never been either of the two you’re asking about...but just ask yourself what you want. Being a marine pilot definitely has its perks. Being an army pilot has just as many.
 

 

 

 

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