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Hello everyone,

I have especially enjoyed reading a lot of the topics discussed in this forum. I would love to be an army helicopter pilot but I have some questions for any aviators who would be willing to help. As a civilian, that long ADSO is daunting and I want to make sure I am making the right call. This is a big deal!

I have a degree from the University of Maryland in Communication. I graduated with a 3.794 GPA and scored a 93 on the ASVAB. I haven't taken the SIFT yet. I would like to be an army helicopter pilot but I am genuinely concerned about what it's really like for women in the Army. I have a girlfriend I would like to eventually marry and our quality of life over the next ten years is extremely important to me.

I am smart and competent and I really like the bad assery of being a soldier. I have been training for the ACFT and foresee no problems in BCT. I like the training the army gives you. This is my personal perception--I don't know any army pilots but would LOVE to connect and learn about your experiences. I have spoken to a female navy pilot and apparently the women over there have about a 50/50 ratio to men on helos. That's an entirely different world. 

1. What is it like for female officers? Considering my degree, do you think it's worth trying to branch aviation or should I drop a WOFT packet?

2. Do you know any women in the LGBT community? Are they treated differently? It is ok to be honest here--10 years is a long time.

3. Which branch would you join as a woman, and why? 

4. Are army aviators trained on fixed wing? 

Thank you very much in advanced. All are welcome to participate on this thread. Male perceptions are going to be equally as helpful!!

 

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Not a woman, but...

1) I've had female pilots, platoon leaders and company commanders. They were treated according to how they acted. The few that still acted like teenage college girls and not professionals were not given the same respect as those who approached the job correctly. I saw the same thing happen to the guys who were similar. If you want to be a pilot then WOFT is 100% the way to go. 

2) We had a lesbian female company commander who was married and there were no problems with her or her wife being a part of the group, both at work and outside socially. 

3) I don't know enough about the other branches to give a good answer.

4) You can fly fixed wing in the Army and it's recently been made a primary aircraft track straight out of flight school rather than the mid/late career transfer it used to be. 

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My sister Is a lgbt Soldier. If you’d like I can put you in contact with her. I’m sure she’d love to help you out.

 

my unasked two cents as a former naval officer, I’d at least consider other branches. It all depends on what you want out of life but if quality of life and pay are towards the top of that list, other branches offer a good bit more money (regular Officer instead of warrant officer), better quality of life for the same ADSO. plenty of pros for going army aviation. I know a good number of marine, navy and even sir force pilots who gave up their regular officer rank to be a flight warrant officer, but just want you to consider all your options. Some pros that mattered to me is you’ll be flying a good bit more in the army, less (But not void of) administrative work along With being a pilot, and You’ll be doing more gratifying flying. I know a few navy helo pilots whos highlights consist of dropping a crate on a ship or dropping a beacon in the ocean.

 

all this is from someone who is NOT winged so don’t take my advice for gold. Mostly just wanted to offer my sister for advice. Private message me if you do want to talk to her

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Maybe shoot a DM to Emily Hills on Instagram at @emjoyhills ? She’s a retired Apache pilot with plenty of experience and a couple awesome podcast interviews on YouTube. I don’t know her personally or anything, but I’m sure she’d be a great resource to answer some of your questions or put you in contact with a female pilot who’s still in.

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I served as the lowest level of equal opportunity leader and after observing my unit through that lens it was obvious that sexism is very prevalent.  Unfortunately the way Army Aviation does things means that your advancement will depend upon very subjective evaluation by your "superiors."  Not just promotion, but opportunities to gain qualifications, flight time, schools, etc.  Granted, everyone deals with that, but I saw female aviators disproportionately given those opportunities without good reason. 

I wouldn't say it was intentionally malicious, or even recognized.  Often times when I'd point something out I was met with incredulous looks as nobody likes to think of themself as discriminating.  Interestingly, I see much more overt sexism within my "progressive" airline than I ever did in the Army.  The difference is again that advancement opportunities in the Army are based on subjective evaluation, while in the airlines they are simply by seniority.

Don't let that discourage you.  Get in there and fight it.  The more strong women out there doing good work the harder it will be for those stereotypes to continue.  Work hard and there are opportunities to do amazing things.  My commander in flight school was Anne McClain, talk about an impressive person to represent Army Aviation:

https://www.nasa.gov/astronauts/biographies/anne-c-mcclain/biography 

Edited by SBuzzkill
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My only recommendation which has been mentioned. Selected another military service. Army aviation should be your last option.Ask any college graduate Army aviator (Commissioned or Warrant) who have the option of flying in any service. 

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23 hours ago, tayloralice said:

1. What is it like for female officers? Considering my degree, do you think it's worth trying to branch aviation or should I drop a WOFT packet?

2. Do you know any women in the LGBT community? Are they treated differently? It is ok to be honest here--10 years is a long time.

3. Which branch would you join as a woman, and why? 

4. Are army aviators trained on fixed wing?

I forgot to answer your questions in my earlier post.

1.  If your primary goal is leadership and you want to go O-grade, then you could try to branch aviation.  But at that point I'd question what is drawing you to Army Aviation and not one of the other services.  If you don't mind leading in different ways and don't need to be directly in charge of soldiers, then by all means put in a WOFT packet.  WOFT guarantees that you will get a chance to be a pilot.

2.  Yes I know many LGBT women and men, and they were treated differently.  Anywhere you go in aviation (military or civilian) will be full of closed minded old men who can't deal with change.  Unfortunately until they're gone you're going to have to fight against that.

3.  Can't help you there, I'm not a woman and I only joined one.

4.  Yes, but if fixed wing is your primary goal there are much better choices in other branches.  I don't mean the airframes, training, or mission aren't good.  But being outside of the AH, CH, UH community in Army Aviation can be an incredibly frustrating experience.

One final word, take all this advice with a grain of salt.  We all have different experiences and values which is going to change how we perceive our environment.  You may find the Army to be a completely different place than what we're describing to you.  Once you make your decision don't look back, and embrace wherever you end up.  Good luck. 

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On 10/19/2020 at 1:49 PM, Thedude said:

Not a woman, but...

1) I've had female pilots, platoon leaders and company commanders. They were treated according to how they acted. The few that still acted like teenage college girls and not professionals were not given the same respect as those who approached the job correctly. I saw the same thing happen to the guys who were similar. If you want to be a pilot then WOFT is 100% the way to go. 

2) We had a lesbian female company commander who was married and there were no problems with her or her wife being a part of the group, both at work and outside socially. 

3) I don't know enough about the other branches to give a good answer.

4) You can fly fixed wing in the Army and it's recently been made a primary aircraft track straight out of flight school rather than the mid/late career transfer it used to be. 

Thank you for the information! It is nice to know that being it is more socially acceptable than I thought. I have spoken to one army female helicopter pilot and she informed me that there can be some unwanted attention and that it is of the upmost importance to act with professionalism at all times. What is the male to female ratio in your unit?

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On 10/19/2020 at 4:42 PM, sunyforreal said:

Maybe shoot a DM to Emily Hills on Instagram at @emjoyhills ? She’s a retired Apache pilot with plenty of experience and a couple awesome podcast interviews on YouTube. I don’t know her personally or anything, but I’m sure she’d be a great resource to answer some of your questions or put you in contact with a female pilot who’s still in.

Sick I definitely checked out her podcast and am going to reach out to her on instagram. Thank you!!!

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On 10/20/2020 at 6:46 AM, zaurus said:

My only recommendation which has been mentioned. Selected another military service. Army aviation should be your last option.Ask any college graduate Army aviator (Commissioned or Warrant) who have the option of flying in any service. 

I'm curious as to why you feel this way. It is alarming. Do you have any additional insight on this topic? Even regarding missions, etc.? Thank you for your time. 

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On 10/20/2020 at 11:55 AM, SBuzzkill said:

I forgot to answer your questions in my earlier post.

1.  If your primary goal is leadership and you want to go O-grade, then you could try to branch aviation.  But at that point I'd question what is drawing you to Army Aviation and not one of the other services.  If you don't mind leading in different ways and don't need to be directly in charge of soldiers, then by all means put in a WOFT packet.  WOFT guarantees that you will get a chance to be a pilot.

2.  Yes I know many LGBT women and men, and they were treated differently.  Anywhere you go in aviation (military or civilian) will be full of closed minded old men who can't deal with change.  Unfortunately until they're gone you're going to have to fight against that.

3.  Can't help you there, I'm not a woman and I only joined one.

4.  Yes, but if fixed wing is your primary goal there are much better choices in other branches.  I don't mean the airframes, training, or mission aren't good.  But being outside of the AH, CH, UH community in Army Aviation can be an incredibly frustrating experience.

One final word, take all this advice with a grain of salt.  We all have different experiences and values which is going to change how we perceive our environment.  You may find the Army to be a completely different place than what we're describing to you.  Once you make your decision don't look back, and embrace wherever you end up.  Good luck. 

I really appreciate the honesty in both of your responses. Do you know any female pilots that would be willing to talk with me? If I could choose I would probably take the pay cut and go Army WOFT just because I love the idea of being a soldier. The navy seems appealing because of the duty stations and another female helicopter pilot told me it’s a 50/50 male to female ratio in the navy helicopter world. There is just something about the army that keeps drawing me towards it. The missions seem way better. Mainly I’m looking for an incredible experience so that’s why I keep coming back to the army.

Have you been stuck at any duty stations you didn’t care for? Would you do it again if you had the choice?

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I wish I could help you there as I have a few great women in mind.  I left the Army a couple years ago, and this year I deleted most of my social media accounts which has caused me to lose contact with most of the folks I served with.  Price to pay to keep my sanity...

I didn't get around to too many duty stations, just Fort Rucker, Fort Drum, and Fort Irwin.  I enjoyed each and have fond memories from all of them.

When it comes to organizations it's important to remember that they are constantly evolving.  I spent 4 years in the same troop, and during that time I can say there were 3 distinct periods where I could look at pictures and recognize entirely different units.  Personnel come and go, leadership changes, training events, deployments, etc.  All will shape what a unit is like and the culture within.  There was a year that I absolutely hated my life.  But things improved again and life went back to being good.

As for Army rotary flying, I can tell you with certainty that you will learn to fly to the absolute limit.  You're going to get uncomfortable.  You're going to get scared.  You're going to question why the f**k you chose the Army and this f*cking helicopter to fly.  Then you're going to finish the mission, decompress, nervously joke with your best friends about the hairy sh*t you just did and will think to yourself that you couldn't imagine doing anything else.

But you're also going to test the edge of wakefulness as you sit at a desk in the middle of the night staring at a phone you hope rings soon so that you can have something to go do.  You'll put your muscles to the test as you load and unload storage containers.  

You'll test your endurance as you march around the parade field for the 5th time that day practicing for the general's change of command.  You'll fight to stay conscious as you stand at attention, praying to hear "parade rest" only to then feel your shoulders on fire and hoping to get back to attention soon.  

Your fingers will hurt from writing your 15th memo that day to go in your inspection binder for your additional duty.  You'll sharpen your senses as you search for that one missing lens cap that is f*cking BII for a god damn set of thermal sights that we never use.  

You'll learn to manage expectations as you pull into your neighborhood to the sound of your phone ringing, with your platoon leader telling you the commander wants to sit down with everyone in 15 minutes for a sync meeting.

Would I go back and change anything?  No way.  Do I want to go back?  No f*cking way.

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