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A few questions...

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Dec 15, 2001
I just had some questions for some pilots in the military...

1. I have few extra-curricular activities besides Civil Air Patrol. My GPA is 3.3 but my ACT is 35. I'm very intelligent, healthy and capable, do you think the Navy or Air Force will let me fly a complicated aircraft?

2. I have 20/30 vision w/o glasses but 20/20 with. I also have a slight astigmatism in my left eye. How much of a problem is this?
3. I really enjoy aviation, should I get a Private Pilot's License now (at 15)?
4. Should I consider a different career? You guys are really pessimistic, or maybe just realistic about the airline industry.
5. Do the airlines look more highly upon aviation related degrees? I wanted to go for a computer science degree as something to fall back on if aviation prospects don't look good.
6. Also, I'm 6'3" 200 pounds, would they let me be a fighter pilot? With my vision? (It isn't bad it's just not perfect.)

FWIW answers (USAF perspective only, I have no idea about the USN/USMC):

1. Your GPA and ACT scores are only a player if you're going for a USAFA appointment or a ROTC scholarship. If so, then the ACT looks to be in the ballpark, GPA is "okay," but it would be better to ramp it up a notch. CAP membership looks good, but more extracurricular activities will increase your overall "score" for getting into a commisioning program. Sports (and particularly a letter) and some kind of leadership position (student gov't is best) tend to make you look the best for getting into USAFA/AFROTC.

2. Vision requirements tend to fluctuate -- when I graduated they were allowing USAFA grads as bad as 20/70 into pilot training, everyone else had to be 20/20. I've seen a guy (OTS grad) with 20/100 get a waiver. There have also been years where is was 20/20 or nothing. There's no way to tell what the picture will be 7 years from now. As a general rule of thumb, your best shot for getting pilot training with vision less than 20/20 is out of USAFA.

3. If you've got the funds, then fly! Realize you can't get your license until you're 17. You may want to consider one of the CAP programs to get your glider rating first since you can solo at age 14 (vs 16 in an airplane) and get your license at 16. Plus, soaring is a great way the develope basic piloting skills.

4. It depends on what you mean by "career." If your goal is to be an airline pilot, then avoid the military -- it would be bad for both you and the service. If, on the other hand, you want to serve your country as a military officer and pilot, with the possible option of "one day" flying for the airlines once your mil flying is done, then the military is a great career. As far as the future, I see an increase in military flying opportunities.

5. I have no idea about the airlines, but the military doesn't really care about your degree. I know one Eagle Driver who had a BA in Classical Guitar. From my observation, the guys with tech degrees (particularly engineering) seemed to have a slightly easier time with some of the academics in pilot training. In ROTC it is often easier to get a scholarship with some degrees than others -- it really depends on the AF's needs at the time.

6. No problem with your size. Chad Hennings (former DE for the Cowboys) flew A-10s and he's huge. There's no distinction between vision requirements for fighters and anything else. As long as you're correctable to 20/20 then you're fine.

Hope this helps. Good luck with your future.

And what about NROTC OR AFROTC? Graduating from one of these programs with less than 20/20 it would be difficult to get training for more exotic aircraft. Also, what are my chances of gaining acceptance into USAFA?
I'm not sure about the Navy, but in the AF once you're in pilot training your commissioning source and eyesight have absolutely no factor on what you get to fly -- it's entirely based on your performance in training and the AF's current needs.
As far as your ability to get into USAFA or AFROTC -- talk to your guidance counselor -- they can get you in touch with the local USAFA/AFROTC liaison officer. These are AF reserve officers whose entire jobs are to coordinate and recruit high school students for USAFA/AFROTC. He should be able to answer all your questions regarding the current application process and competative qualifications.

New rule effective this May is "naked" weight must be below 245 pounds. Not a big deal at 200#s, but watch the eating and weight lifting for ejection seat aircraft.

We have 2-3 guys "on the bubble" at Tyndall....one played football at the Citadel and 2 were USAFA ball players.

I might be able to help you on a couple questions...

I am a Senior in Navy ROTC now and have a pilot slot in Pensacola, FL after I graduate.

My HS GPA was 3.3, SATs were 1220. (not that high) Get involved in sports (at least one) and do some extracurricular activities.

As far as vision goes, the navy is now giving waivers out for PRK. I had PRK last summer.

Also, for the Navy, all you need now is 20/40 uncorrected, corrected to 20/20. Doesn't matter for any specific aircraft...

Also DON'T get an aviation degree. THE AIRLINES dont care what degree you have. Get a degree in Business or economics something that you can use if flying doesnt work out for you as a backup.

Good Luck.

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