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Getting Degree before going military?

shutout390

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If I am making a repeat post, please let me know. I did a search but nothing came up to answer my questions.

I have not been to this forum in quite some time, but I was reading a post from people who have gotten thier degree before going into the military and that hurting thier overall chance to fly fighters....is this correct and why? As a 19 year old, what should i be doing and where should i be looking (AF, Navy, Guard, etc) to best help my chance of getting my wings. Should i even start to get my pilots liscense? Lots more Questions to go along with these, but Im sure you guys know where Im going, if you want just tell me what I need to know.

oh and for those out there thinkin I just watched Topgun for the 104th time and now I want to be a pilot....i assure you this is not the case.

Thanks in advance.
 

Photoflight

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You have to have a 4 year degree to get into an airforce/navy/marine officer position. In the airforce i believe you also have to have your private pilots license and the more hours the better. The army will let you fly helicopters(wish i would have) with just a hs diploma.
 

pilotyip

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I believe the USMC also has pilots without degrees, you would have to see a recruiter for details.
 

shutout390

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Im sorry i didnt ask this right,


Im gonna get my degree, probably science. how i meant to put it is should i be in contact with a branch of the military while or before i go to college. and if so, what branch takes the most young guys right out of college to fly fighters ? Is there anyway i could become an officer during school so i could go straight to flight school once i graduate, or is OTS unavoidable?

Also, what additional things could i do during college to set me above the rest of people im competing against. I figured getting my pilots liscense is key. But is there anything else?
Thanks again.
 

F-15.Ramps

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If you're already enrolled in a college that has an ROTC program, join it. This is the way to "avoid" OTS (USAF). Once graduating you'll also be commissioned a 2nd LT. If ROTC is not available, then OTS is your vehicle for initial USAF training (unless you can get an appointment to a military academy). BTW, I went through OTS...no big deal.

Additionally, if you're going to fly "fixed wing" in any branch of the services, you'll need a 4 year degree. This requirement is for your commission and being commissioned is a requirement to fly fixed wing. As stated in earlier posts, rotary wing requirements are different.

When I attended UPT in the USAF (many years ago), how you did during the program was the key to getting a fighter. How you do in Physics IV at University XXX, while it may improve your application package, had little to no bearing on whether you get a fighter or not out of UPT. The reason the military likes to see math/science skills on your resume/degree is just in case things don't work out at UPT (and they don't for more folks than you may think), they now have another avenue/skill set to use you in.

I hope this helps. Best of luck to you. I thoroughly enjoyed my 20+ years.:)
 

stonewall

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There is no guarantee to a fighter. You can't sign a contract prior to UPT saying, "When I graduate, I get a fighter." There are not even guarantees if you join a Guard unit that (currently) has fighters. Guard guys have washed out of UPT and fighter RTU.


Get your degree. Join ROTC. If not ROTC, go OTS. Not matter which one you take, bust your a** to get a UPT slot. That's step one to flying fighters.

DO NOT enlist in the Active Duty Air Force and try to get a commission that way and then go to UPT. While possible, I've met too many crew chiefs who get bogged down with 12 hr days on the flightline to finish degrees and get commissioned. Good luck.
 

jetjock19

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Magnum, come on brother. I am active duty and a crew chief and work 12 hour days on the flightline, and am finishing my degree and starting the process to get commissioned. Its how bad you want it that shows who is for real and who is faking it. I myself meet alot of guys who say they want to do this, but just dont put the effort in it. I am glad i enlisted because in addition to the school and flying I have been doing, I also got the experience of the military and the enlisted side of things. Granted there is good and bad about joining active duty and going to school at the same time, I wouldn't trade it for the world. I can't tell ya,
shutout, what to do. But just know that if you do enlist in the Air Force, there is opportunity to go to school if you want, plus you will get the experiences of a lifetime.
 

Phrogboy

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Shutout, see an OFFICER recruiter as soon as you can. Find out all the facts. The Navy and Air Force is weeding out pilots (more than usual) as they do not need as many (at least for now).

Jetjock, I have the greatest respect for prior enlisted officers and pilots. The road you have traveled is not an easy one. But, I have to agree with Magnum on the not going enlisted first. Shutout, take the direct routes first, and then if they do not pan out, look at enlisting. If you end up doing that, ensure you end up in Aviation and let those above you know your goals every step of the way so that they can help you. But first, enroll in a Navy or Air Force ROTC unit if you can. If not, plan on going to OCS for the Navy or OTS for the Air Force. You have to be an officer to fly in either the Air Force or the Navy (helos and fixed wing). Since Army has no jets, I would not even bother with them unless you don't finish your degree.

Keep your goal in mind, but remember they pick you for jets. Every step of the way after enrolling in an officer program, you will hand them a list of what you want for the next career step. They will compare you to your peers and place you based on their current needs, and your relative performance up to that point (at your stage in life, your grades are everything..). So, work hard now.

One last bit, keep doing your homework. Your post was an excellent place to start. Keep asking the questions as you find out your options. And remember, Military aviation is an excellent opportunity and an absolute blast, whether you end up flying Helos in the Air Force or the Navy's newest jets. You can't go wrong.
 

stonewall

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jetjock19 said:
Magnum, come on brother. I am active duty and a crew chief and work 12 hour days on the flightline, and am finishing my degree and starting the process to get commissioned. Its how bad you want it that shows who is for real and who is faking it. I myself meet alot of guys who say they want to do this, but just dont put the effort in it. I am glad i enlisted because in addition to the school and flying I have been doing, I also got the experience of the military and the enlisted side of things. Granted there is good and bad about joining active duty and going to school at the same time, I wouldn't trade it for the world. I can't tell ya,
shutout, what to do. But just know that if you do enlist in the Air Force, there is opportunity to go to school if you want, plus you will get the experiences of a lifetime.

Good on ya, brother. I didn't say it couldn't be done...I just said it was tough. The E's that sit in the comm shop all day (well, for 8 hours anyway) get their degrees alot easier than the wrench-benders. Congrats and good luck. You should be proud of your accomplishments...not everyone can do what you did!
 

shutout390

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Thanks everyone, each one of you have helped me a lot.

Can anybody give me a ballpark of what percentage of guys actually get to fighters that want them? Especially now that they are cutting back.

Thanks.
 

ExAF

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Depends

The classic Fighter Weapons School answer would apply as far as the AF is concerned...It Depends! The needs of the AF at the time you enter the pipeline will determine the percentage of fighter vs non-fighter positions. It varies continuously. That is one of those crystal ball things that we all wish we could look ahead and see. Current active duty pilots would better be able to let you know the current trends in cockpit manning. Fighter slots swing back and forth like a pendulum and have for years....too many...not enough...too many...not enough. Crisis management is always in play. Good luck...ExAF
 
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bogeydope

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As a recently retired OSF Commander, I helped hire and send many young aviators to UFT (Undergraduate Flight Training --not called UPT anymore). I can verify that there is no guarantee that you will get fighters in the AF if you go ROTC or OTS. I have had a few AF hopefuls contact our unit to find out if we had a place for them. Bottom line is...if there is no UFT slot available, the AF will place you wherever they need you.

If you want to strengthen your chances of getting a fighter, find a Guard or Reserve unit that flys fighters. Living within 2 hours of this base will give you an edge. I also highly recommend enlisting with THAT unit while you are in college (go to basic training during the summer). After you are in that unit, you will gain home advantage over other applicants. I recommend going into the crew chief AFSC. This will get you face time with the aircrew...the very individuals that will be sitting on your interview board. 90% of the time we had unit members beat out those who walked in off the street since they were already established and known commodities.

If you already have your private license, that will certainly help--but, it's not a show stopper. Your unit will send your through IFT (Initial Flight Training) either before or after your commission and that will get you your private license at government expense.

Lastly, to hang on to your fighter, you have to excel in UFT. If you don't meet the minimum grade criteria during Phase I training (T-37s), you will lose that slot and then you will have to hunt for another unit that will pick you up to fly something else...or drop out of flight school.
 

jetjock19

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Thanks Magnum and Phrogboy for the commments. I wasn't thinking the process was going to be that difficult when I enlisted four years ago. Then after 9/11, the Air Force changed everything and the process to get what you want got harder. I was told it wouldnt be that bad of a process, but then things changed. But as with anything in the military, you adapt and overcome. So its harder now, but I am willing to work even harder because I still want it more than ever. So good luck to all of you who put the time, effort, and money to pursue your dream.
 

shutout390

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Whats the buzz about Un-manned Aircraft. Will the military be phasing that in over the next decade or so too? To make it even harder for new guys to get in....lol.

And i just want to thank everyone again for taking the time to help me out.
 

str8upflyrght

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i'm a navy flight instructor. whether or not you get fighters is a matter of navy requirement, timing, and luck. After primary (same as UPT) you get a score, if it's above 50, you're eligible for TACAIR (jet - tactical air). Just b/c you're eligible, doesn't mean yoou get it. They look at how many jet students they need that week, how many student class opening are available, and finally how man students want them. That's the first cut. After you finish advanced training, then once again needs of the Navy. How many hornet pilots do we need, how many slots, and who wants them in that order. You're NEVER guaranteed what you will fly until you show up in training for that aircraft. On average, about 30-40% of the guys eligible are getting jets. Those numbers are VERY CYCLIC! If they have a "jet draft" everyone who is eligible goes jets. If there's a drought, everyone goes helos or P-3. My advice (from the inside of training command) If not flying jets/fighters means the end of the world to you, stay away from Naval Aviation. If you love to fly and jets are the icing on the cake, call an OFFICER recruiter or visit the local Navy ROTC. Eventhough we're fat on the number of pilots, we're still taking more. Hope it helps.
 

shutout390

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Helos would not be good for me. The thrill and the speed of jets is something that I have been passionate about for many years now. The pressure of having so little time to think and being so confident in your reactions and coordination simply awes me. Believe me, I'm a goalie in the great game of hockey, 95 mile an hour slapshots 10 yards away gives you roughly .004 seconds to react.....and i love all .004 seconds of it.

My biggest worry now is that I dont end up behind a desk (AF) or in a helo (NAVY). Im almost positive my motivation, physical abilities, and knowledge I have gained here can keep me out of those two. IF jets dont work out due to bad timing, I wouldnt kill myself over flying something else...

Thanks again everyone.
 

Archie Bunker

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shutout390 said:
My biggest worry now is that I dont end up behind a desk (AF) or in a helo (NAVY). Im almost positive my motivation, physical abilities, and knowledge I have gained here can keep me out of those two. IF jets dont work out due to bad timing, I wouldnt kill myself over flying something else...

You might want to cross the Marine Corps off your list. You don't sound like a good fit to me. The Corps typically looks for candidates that want to become Officers of Marines, first and foremost. If flying grunts into combat with your CH-46 is something you don't want to "end up doing," (assuming that you ever made it that far in Naval Aviation) then the Marines are definitely not for you.

Right now you should be more concerned with getting accepted into a flight training program, then you should concern yourself with completing that program. It's always going to be the "needs of the service," and your flight grades (in that order) that determine what you fly. If you actually make it that far, you should be proud of your accomplishment, and happily accept whatever aircraft your branch of service has assigned you to fly.

Good luck in your quest to fly fighters.....sounds like the Air Guard might be your best bet to accomplish that.

Archie
 

Mongoose69

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It depends (standard answer)

If you have your heart set on flying fighters, then I would say the AF is your best choice.

Just like str8upflyrght said, the Navy sometimes has an entire class where _nobody_ gets a fighter. Then they sometimes have classes where everyone does. So I would only consider the Navy only if you don't mind rolling the bones.

And Archie hit the nail on the cranium wrt the USMC. Ask any Marine in any position what his job is, and the first answer you will get is "A Marine". Those guys rock.

As far as UPT goes(and afaik, it is still called UPT. My neighbor who graduated UPT 6 months ago still calls it UPT) , the folks that graduate from the AF Academy have the greatest chance of getting a spot. The % varies from year to year, but I'm fairly certain that greater than 50% of (medically qualified) Academy grads get offered a UPT slot. (If any grad has more current info, please pipe up). I don't know what the current % is from ROTC/OTS, but I believe it something less than 25%.

HOWEVER, if you really have heartburn with flying a desk, then OTS should be your route of choice. If things are still the way they were when I was picked up (8 yrs ago). I applied for OTS with a pilot slot (UPT). I was told that I was accepted to OTS with a UPT slot, and that I was medically cleared, before I signed anything. I don't know if things are still this way, but if so, it sounds like what you're looking for.

Cheers,
Jason
 
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