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Fixed wing aircraft in the Marines??

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Well-known member
Jan 26, 2002
IF you get a pilot slot in the marines, what are the chances of getting a fixed wing aircraft? I know they fly alot of helos....Does it help if you are already a fixed wing pilot??

I've seen your posts and thought I'd offer some helpful advice. I just retired from the Marine Corps after 22 years. I was lucky enough to fly a variety of aircraft, both rotary and fixed-wing, and am currently about halfway through Comair's training program.

The direct answer to your question is that you will select your aircraft type at the end of primary training based on (1) the needs of the Marine Corps, (2) the needs of the Marine Corps, and (3) your performance in flight training relative to the other Marines selecting aircraft type at that time.

Way back when I went through flight school I chose Jets/Helos/Multi, in that order. The Marine Corps took one guy from our group for Jets, one for Multi, and the other dozen or so guys (no females back then) went helos. I wasn't the number one guy, so off I went to intermediate prop (T-28's) and then helicopter training. I came out on top in my winging class, and got West Coast AH-1's, my first choice.

In the following 20+ years I deployed overseas 5 times, fought in Desert Storm from the beginning of the Air War through then end of the Ground War, did a tour as a test pilot, and in general enjoyed the heck out of myself. My last tour was as the CO of a reserve site in New Orleans, and I turned down promotion to bird Colonel to retire, keeping with my Dad's advice to leave the party while you're having fun.

I couldn't help but notice that in this and your previous posts, you've never asked anything about being a Marine officer or expressed any interest in anything other than finding a fixed-wing training slot.

I'll try and give you the benefit of the doubt here, but if you don't have a burning desire to be a Marine, then do yourself and the Marine Corps a big favor and look elsewhere. You will be miserable, and you won't provide the service the Marine Corps expects and the nation deserves. I won't presume to speak for the other services , though I have friends in the other 4 (USCG too) who are pilots and who I know would say the same thing to you about their respective branches.

Military service, whether as a pilot or in any other capacity is about serving your country. Can you have a good time? Certainly. Can you learn a great skill? Absolutely. But your tour as a Marine pilot will be evenly split between flying and leading Marines. If you're not interested in the latter, you and your country would be better served if you went somewhere else to do the former.

Good luck, I hope you make the decision that serving your country as an military officer is important to you and that you'll go and do it in whatever capacity that you can. I certainly hope that if you decide to do so, that you get to serve as a pilot and get to fly the high-performance jet of your dreams. Just don't forget why they're paying you that fat check every two weeks.


P.S. Your previous experience will be of great use to you in flight school, as long as you use the basic skills you've already learned to augment your training. Military flying is different than civilian flying in many ways, and you have to do it the way your specific service wants, or you won't succeed. Blue skies...

P.P.S. Captilize "Marines" or your Sergeant-Instructor will pull your ribs out...
I will agree with Skiddriver 110%. You sign up to be a Marine, not a pilot. Having served as an instructor at NAS Whiting, I know how the slots were given out (I use to do it as the Marine Student Control Officer). 1) Needs of the Corps 2) Your grades 3) Your preference --- IN THAT ORDER.... Although you have prior flight time and will have a huge advantage, DO NOT forget that most of the primary fixed wing instructors' fleet MOS is as a helicopter pilot. In other words, you start bashing helo's and your chances of getting jets start dropping as fast as Enron stock. If you don't catch on fast enough, goodbye wings of gold and hello Motor T for the next 5 years.

PS: Sorry Skiddriver, some of the kids we didn't want in the 46 community so I detailed them Snakes. :)
Go Air Force

Skiddriver and 46Driver make a great point.

Marines want people who want to be Marines First/Middle/Last. One joins the Marines to be a Marine Infantryman. If you are fortunate enough to be get a pilot slot, you will get to the fly the aircraft that the Marines decide for you to fly. Now in the Air Force and Navy, fixed-wing make up a higher percentage of aircraft available to fly. Believe it or not, the Navy has a higher percentage of Fighter pilot positions compared to the rest of the rest of the fleet than the Air Force. Meaning you have a better chance to get a Fighter in the Navy.

Now if it is a Marine you want to be, I hope you understand that you have to go through about 14-16 weeks of OTS, then 6 Months of Infantry Officer Basic Course. Then Flight School. (Marines out there please correct me if I am wrong)

After being a WO Cobra pilot in the Army looking to fly fighters myself 15 years ago, I gave a lot of thought as to which service to join. My #1 choice was Marines and the chance to fly the AV-8, #2 was Navy and the chance to fly F-18 off a carrier, #3 was the Air Force and any fighter I could get that dropped bombs.

When I went to apply to all 3 services, the Navy and Air Force allowed my to apply a year before I got out of the Army (they applied the same rules to me as a guy in College about to finish his Junior year). The Marine recruiter told me I could not apply for the Marines until I was out of the Army (let’s see, you want me to wait till I don’t have a job anymore then apply on the hopes that after 3-6 months of unemployment with a wife and newborn son to support, that I might get to start OCS). Needless to say that is why I am retiring from the AF in 2 months and not the Marines. I got the call from the Air Force about a month before the Navy called me. The AF was my wife’s #1 choice. I finished AF UPT about 8-12 months before I would have even started the Marine flight training.

My point: I feel I would not have been the type of Marine Pilot they were looking for. I didn’t want it bad enough to wait that long. I love serving my county and I am a good Officer and Pilot. I have served 6 years in the Army as a UH-60 Crewchief and AH-1 Pilot, plus 2.5 years as a Ground FAC supporting the 82nd Airborne as an AF Fighter Pilot. I have worked many times in the joint world with Marines. Marines are a different breed than their sister service members. I do believe former Army Warrant Officers adjust better to flying in the Navy than the Air Force (AF pilots have 10x the rules and regs to sift through from day one of UPT till they finish their careers).

If serving your country and flying fixed wing is your top priority, Go Air Force or Navy. Some AF pilots spend as many days away from Home as Navy guys now, so it’s a toss up between the two as far as home quality of life. This is not the same AF I joined 15 years ago.

Also we get many Pilot trainees in JSUPT that are already planning their civilian careers when they come to JSUPT. Is this bad, not totally as far as AF pilots go, I just believe they are going to have a miserable 10 years ahead of them.

If you want to serve your country, then sign up. If it is fixed-wing hour building you want, there are some great Aviation schools out there.

If you want both, go to http://www.baseops.net/newjob.html and find a local AF Guard/Reserve unit.
Good Luck
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I retired last year after 20 years in the Marine Corps. I joined because when the recruiter who ambushed me on my way to JOUR 301 asked me what I wanted to do, I looked around at his display and pointed at an F-4 model and said "I want to fly those." He said okay. I signed up.

God takes care of fools and idiots who sign on the dotted line.

Through an incredible convergence of luck and timing (and limited talent) I did just that. And then went on to fly Hornets as well. A lot. The odds were about 1 in 20 that it could have actually happened as it did.

And I was most fortunate in that I liked the Marine Corps. A lot of folks don't.

But (use a Yoda voice) "hear me this I tell you," if you want to fly fast jets, your odds are crap in the Marine Corps as opposed to the Navy or USAF. Plain and simple.

Good luck.

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