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Non-Pilot Career paths

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So, im 24 and tired of working dead end going nowhere jobs. Ready and willing to defend my country.

Ive been fascinated by helicopters for as long as i can rember. Biggest drawback is my Eyesight, well beyond any services' requiremnts to Pilot, and beyond the capabilitys of corrective sugry. However I would still like to spend time in the air. Ideal option would be serving on a UH-60 platform. Ive yet to talk to a recruiter from any service expecting a good story about starting as a mechanic to get me to sign on the line. If thats the case it does make sense to know how everything works to say, be a Crew Cheif. But with talks out of highschool to an Army recruiter, he seemed more concerned with starting to fill out inlistment paperwork then finding the MOS I wanted.


Basically I have two questions.



1. What Service is "Better"? Looking at things from Missions. Example, an Airforce Pavehawk doing SAR. Compared to a Army Blackhawk flying over Iraq. As well as Living conditions, pay and career opertunitys outside the military. Dont know if anyone service might offer some traning or would look better on a resume.



2. Depeding on what service. Where do I start and what non-pilot positions are avalible? Whats going to offer me the best investment for a career outside the military assuming i dont make one of it?

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Well, I can't really speak for the other services, but I can somewhat talk about non-flyin' aviation careers in the Army. There are actually a couple of things you can do, all depending on what you want to do. First thing would be a crew chief as you mentioned, in a flight unit, you would fly quite a bit. The only thing with that would be the fact that chiefs have to take a flight physical just like we do, but honestly I don't know the vision requirements. Other options that I'm aware of, but don't know much about include (disclaimer: there may be more), flight medic, and flight surgeon. However, just being in an Aviation unit may afford you the opportunity to fly in the aircraft occasionally. I will say that the flight medics are well trained, and make good money in the civilian world doing the same type of mission. Hope that helps!




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USMC --- OooohRahhhh!


Grunts fly all the time...They just don't get to stay in the chopper...


What I can reinforce...from experience is "Buyer Beware" with the recruiter...However I think you got that. Read the whole contract.


I think you would also get some air-time as a mechanic too...


I have a friend in a local police municipality that maintains the helicopters and his supervisor allows for stick time...being that he has his private...but before his private he used to ride along all the time. The military may have stricter regulations but...getting out as a mechanic will definitely qualify you for a civilian job...(sorry don't know the pay)


Good luck...

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In the Navy there are several jobs that can get you into Aircrew school. From photographer (me) to corpsman. The one that stands out is AW (aviation anti-submarine warfare specialist) These are the enlisted guys that fly in SH-60s, S-3s and P-3s to operate sub hunting equipment and serve as flight crew, just like crewchiefs in the army. Many AWs are also sent to rescue swimmer school (think real life version of "The Guardian") after rate and aircrew training. Navy and Marine enlisted aircrewmen all go to the same school, the Naval Enlisted Aircrew Candidate School in Pensacola, FL. then to SERE school in Brunswick Maine (yes it is as cold as it sounds) either directly or through rescue swimmer school.


The Navy will guarantee a job before you actually sign any papers. I recommend getting with a recruiter and taking the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) as a first step. That will let you know right up front what jobs that you will be qualified for. The test is the same for all services so it doesn't matter which recruiter you go to for this, but before enlisting I suggest talking to all of the branches to see what they will offer (in writing of course) based on your ASVAB scores. Be very careful and if you have any doubts about what they are telling you, ask here BEFORE signing anything.

Edited by klmmarine
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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm a 16 year Blackhawk crewchief so I have a little experience from the Army point of view. The main concern would be your eyesight. I'll ask our flight surgeon what the minimum correctable vision is for a Non-rated crew member. If you dont meet the minimums no one is going to put you into a flight company which means you will forever be a ground maintenance guy. If you like doing maintenance, it's a great job. You are still working on the aircraft or components of the aircraft and we can't fly without someone doing the major maintenance.


I'll see what I can find out about the vision requirements on my end. Let me know if there is anything else you would like to know.

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Im sure its beyond the cut offs. as corrective surgury is not yet even avalable. damned stigmatisim. apperciate the info regardless. leaning more and more to the maintenance side. i do very much enjoy working with my hands and fixing things. would also probably prove a better choice for a job after service

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Sorry for the slow response. I spoke to our flight surgeon and he said as long as you can see 20/20 with glasses you are fine with a waiver. His eyes were so bad he had to get a waiver to get in then volunteered for the surgery.


There are alot worse jobs out there than aviation maintenance. It is a pretty safe bet that you wont be sleeping outside on the ground since we generally do not leave our aicraft outside the wire at night. You learn great skills that can be of use after you leave the military. A&P mechanics are earning $205k a year in Iraq and rumor has it that pay in Afghanistan will match that by June.


If you get tired of turning wrenches, the leadership and management experience you gain can help you get some great maintenance management positions as well.

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