High School to Flight School

PolarTwins55

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Did anyone here go through this? I'm looking for more information on this, as it's very attractive to me.
What exactly is a warrent officer, and how do they differ from commisioned officers? Also, would having a csel and instrument help at all in the selection process?

Thanks
 

Traderd

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PolarTwins55 said:
Did anyone here go through this? I'm looking for more information on this, as it's very attractive to me.
What exactly is a warrent officer, and how do they differ from commisioned officers? Also, would having a csel and instrument help at all in the selection process?

Thanks
I did this but it was more than 20 years ago so my info is, like myself, rather old. I will say it was difficult then (in terms of competition) and I would guess not much has changed in that area. I would guess an aviation background would be helpful, I was told it made a difference in my case and I only had a PPL and IR going in.

You may want to note that we are "Warrant" officers. The difference lies in the intellect my friend. I will leave it to others to say which group has the short end of that stick:) . In general as a warrant, you will have a primary responsibility in a technical area. If you are a rlo, you'll find your primary responsibility lies in the leadership role.

One suggestion, if you find yourself as a 2LT platoon leader in an aviation unit with some senior warrants under your "command", learn how to listen to the voices of experience early on. You will be a better leader for it. Not to metion you might actaully get past RL3.

Good luck if you give it a try. Start early becasue to the school from the street can be a pretty long road if you can't get a motivated recruiter. And as others will surely chime in, when the recruiter tries to get you to enlist, resist the urge unless that is what you really want.
 

PolarTwins55

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Thanks for the advice. I'm currently in my Junior year of high school, and this sounds like something I'd really like to do. Not only do I get to serve my country, but I get to fly AND get paid for it. Beats having to pay to fly! Is this somethign I should be actively pursuing now, as you say it may take some time
 

atlcrashpad

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HS to Flight School

The Army WOFT is one of the best opportunities for an ambitious young person. My info is a little dated too. I went through in 86-87. As far as having a comm SEL w/instrument, yes any experience will help you. Commisioned officers get a "Commision" by congress, signed by the President. Warrant officers get their commision by order of the Secretary of the Army. Good luck in you career.
 

schoolio

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You need to have a college degree to be a commissioned officer. There are a few ways to do that - West Point, ROTC, OCS, or direct commission (DC). About the only way to get a DC in the Army is if you're a doctor or lawyer, or have some other specialized skill (besides being a pilot). OCS is fine if you're willing to enlist and spend some time on the ground first. That leaves ROTC or West Point. In order to get branched aviation, you need to be one of the best of the best. And you need to have some luck. It also helps if you know someone.

I did the ROTC route. I got very lucky. I wasn't the best cad-idiot, but I did have a decent college GPA and lots of extracurriculars. My dad being an active duty Sergeant Major probably didn't hurt either.

Now for the kicker - Take a look at my total time. 550 of that is in helicopters. 250 of that was from flight school. I was in the army for 5.5 years after flight school. Do the math and see how much I flew as a commissioned guy. And I was probably middle of the pack amongst my peers.

Bottom line - if you want to fly, go warrant. I almost wish I had, and if I had to do it over again, I would definitely go warrant. I had WO's come to my platoon a year after I got there, from flight school, who are around the 1500 hour mark now, 4 years later.

Any ratings you already have will definitely help in the application process. I don't know how much they are weighed, but you might want to go over to http://aptap.forumco.com and do a search on WOFT. You can definitely get some good info there. Good luck.
 

Pistlpetet

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High School to flight school was a term that was coined years ago when they actually accepted a lot of 18yr old guys into the WOFT program. Technically you can still go from HS to Flight School, but the reality of it is that there are not many 18 yr old guys getting selected. I am not sure about current situation, but I know during the time that I was an Army Warrant (94-02) I never saw any new guys younger then 23 or 24. 21 was rare, but there were a few. The average age was about 27, with some sort of degree. Most all of the civilian to flight school people had a degree.

I reccomend that you apply and see what happens, but in the mean time plan for another course of action. If you get selected to WOFT in the mean time great, if not keep pursuing other officer programs. DEFINATELY don't join the ARMY as a commissioned officer if you want to fly. If you are going to get your degree first, join the NAVY, AF, or Marines.

One real advantage you could have if you do get selected at a young age of less then 20, you could be an Army pilot for the next 6-7 years, get your degree along the way, and still be able to get selected to the AF, NAVY, or Marines as a pilot before 27. You would get a lot of great experience, AND retire at a young age.

There are many ways to skin the cat. Probably one of the main reasons the Army has kept the High School to Flight School option open all these years has been as recruiting tool. Making guys think that anything is possible, and try to get them to enlist first, with the dream of going to flight school. Remember that recruiters do not gain ANYTHING towards their quota by getting a guy selected to flight school, only enlisting guys to fill enlisted positions. That can always work against you, since they might not be as motivated to do so.

Contact someone who has recently been thru the process, and do your best to put together the best packet you can. Don't half ass it in order to meet some deadline. Do it good...ONCE. Have the recruiter send you to get a flight physical, just having that approved will be a huge hurdle, and make your future aspirations to other pilot programs a little easier.

Find a mentor to help you. I recently helped a former enlisted guy from an old unit get selected. He is in WOCS at the moment. Good Luck.
 

schoolio

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Pistlpetet said:
I am not sure about current situation, but I know during the time that I was an Army Warrant (94-02) I never saw any new guys younger then 23 or 24. 21 was rare, but there were a few. The average age was about 27, with some sort of degree. Most all of the civilian to flight school people had a degree.
I agree, and that's been the majority of what I've seen as well, but don't let what Pistlpetet said above discourage you at all - when I was a platoon leader (00-02), we had two young warrant officers that showed up at the unit that weren't old enough to buy beer. In fact, I think one was 19 when he got to the unit. Needs of the Army always prevail. Like he also said, apply, and see where it takes you. It never hurts to find out.
 

Rotorhead1

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I joined the Army in the early seventies and after Boot Camp went directly to Flight School. I already had my College Degree and my Private Licience Fixed Wing. Going directly from High School to Flight School is not a good idea. Very few 18 year old are mature enough for the responsibility of flight School and a professional Army Aviator. Becomming a Warrant Officer is the way to go but only after you have your college behind you. I retired after 22 years as a W4. I enjoyed my career as a Warrant Officer. Take my advice and get your college degree, mature a few years and then join the Army and go to flight school. If you want to fly become a Warrant Officer. If you want to sit behind a desk and fly just enough to be dangerous become a Commissioned Officer.
 
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Pistlpetet

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If you get your degree first. Don't join the Army to fly. If you have a choice, go Air Force, Navy, or Marines. There is a lot more "pain" involved in being an Army pilot.
 

Birdstrike

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Rotorhead1 said:
If you want to sit behind a desk and fly just enough to be dangerous become a Commissioned Officer.
Ouch.
 

ekuflyer

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Dude
GO to college and enjoy yourself.
Do good and then rush a Air Guard unit unless you want to fly helo's.
 

schoolio

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Rotorhead1 said:
If you want to sit behind a desk and fly just enough to be dangerous become a Commissioned Officer.
Yes and no. I know some commissioned aviators that are better pilots than 90% of the warrants I've met, with much less flight time. But the majority are not.

BTW, the five most dangerous pilots I flew with were all warrants. Some of the safest pilots I flew with were commissioned guys. Of course that's all subjective, and I'm not looking to start a commissioned vs. warrant battle; just stating my observations. But if I had to go back into the Army right now, I'd resign my commission and go in as a warrant.
 

Pistlpetet

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There are good and bad pilots in all areas of Aviation. No need to get defensive about RLOs (Real Live Officer) being dangerous to fly with. There are plenty of warrants that don't get to fly enough, and are barely legal to fly also. It all has to do with how much flying guys are able to do. Plenty of outstanding RLO's I have flown with, but unfortunately most of the time their job situtation does not let them get as much practice as they would like, or need.

The bottom line is that being an RLO pilot in the Army is not really about being the best aviator that you can be. The system for the most part screws them out of it, which is why you should go into another service if you have your degree ticket punched.
 

sardaddy

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Polartwins,

There is a lot of good advice passed along on this topic. Yes, a lot of them contradict each other but they are all opinions and as the saying goes everyone has one.

Instead of trying to give you my opinion (which would take hours) I will try to stick with facts (but opinion will surely slip in) so you at least have a basis for a decision.

Quick background on myself so you can see where I am coming from. I enlisted in the Army as an avionics tech, got accepted to WOFT as an E-3, and flew Apaches for six years before getting out of the Army (just under 10 years total). After two years of being out I became a commissioned officer in the Coast Guard and have been in about 6 years now and planning to stay until they kick me out. So I didn't go through the high school to flight school way but I didn't have any college when I went either. I was 19 when I started flight school.


Now to your questions. The difference between a warrant officer and a commissioned officer at the unit level is very negligible. Outside the unit is where the big differences come into play. At the unit a WO-1 and an O-1/O-2 have about the same experience and will be learning the aircraft and the mission. The WO-1 will be able to learn the mission and perform flying duties without too many outside distractors except for a small additional duty or two he must perform for the unit. The O-1 will be learning the mission and flying but will also be the Platoon Leader trying to learn to be a leader and be in charge of around 15-20 men. Both will be on the same missions and both will be expected to progress in their aircraft.

So they are both learning with one having more of a burden placed on his additional duties. But that O-1 will only be doing the same thing for a couple of years. After that, or even before he got there, he will be spending time as a staff officer. He won't fly much at all in these positions as flying becomes a secondary duty to the staff position he is holding. Commissioned officers must bounce back and forth between being a line pilot and a staff officer for their first 6-8 years. After that they will be lucky to see a cockpit again for any amount of time. Meanwhile a warrant officer, with some exceptions, will not have to leave the line unit his entire career.

Both have their pros and cons. You will have to decide what you want out of your career. On a side note, commissioned officer pilots in most services are set up more like the warrant officer branch in the Army until we become senior O-4s. I will use myself as an example. As an O-3 I am not in command but I am in charge of a few people. I have additional (collateral) duties that are a little bigger than a warrant officers would be and I must allow time for flying and my duties. But I will fly my entire career with my flight time tapering off a little bit as I progress above the rank of O-4. The only time I won't fly is if I do a tour at headquarters which is usually a couple of years out of the cockpit (I don't plan to go there). We then compete for OPS, XO, and CO positions as we increase pay grades. That is why you have read all of those comments about going into another service if you already have your degree. I will admit that the quality of life is much better where I am now but the grass isn't always greener.

Now for your other question.

You most likely know the prerequisite requirements better than anyone here but if not, try this site: http://www.usarec.army.mil/hq/warrant/ . You will notice that college and flight training are NOT prerequisites. But if you have them they certainly help. The boards have been odd over the last few years. One time they will barely have enough applicants while others will be well stacked with many qualified applicants. So your odds of getting picked up on any board really depends. Your age doesn't matter, your maturity level does.

Know what you want and go for it. Talk to a recruiter. Despite urban legends, they do get credit for sending in a flight student. The problem is they have to work harder for it. So if you go, help him out the best you can and do what you can on your own. Don't expect him to care as much about your packet as you do.

After reading all of this and no matter what you choose, remember that if you don't submit a packet for consideration your odds of being a military pilot are zero. It is like the lottery, you have to play to win.
 

PolarTwins55

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Thanks a lot for all of yall's help, it's greatly appreciated. I guess I'd really like to be a fighter pilot(who doesn't?), but there just seems to be a few too many things that come along with that awsome job. College being one of them. Another thing, I wouldn't want to join up and be stuck flying a desk for years. If I wanted to that i'd just go find a cubicle and do the whole 9-5 thing for 40 years. Not my cup of tea. That being said, a lot of things about being a warrant officer appeal to me: the flying, the chance to serve my country, and having a job that i truly want to go to most of the time. I guess I need to start looking for a recruiter to help me out. Crap, we had a few at our school last month.
Thanks again,
Dave
 

psysicx

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How many hours do commisioned officers fly a month?
 
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schoolio

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Depends on the job. When I was a platoon leader, I did OK - anywhere from 10-15 hours a month. However as soon as I left my platoon, I was lucky to get 5 hours a month. That was while I was in a line unit. Don't forget that you get to go to nice places like the officer advanced course for 6-8 months without flying. Anyway, 5 hours a month didn't help when the end of the semiannual period rolled around and I still had 35+ hours to fly...
 

sardaddy

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Polartwins,

Apparently I can only post long diatribes but here is another one anyway. After noticing you, like most people, put flying as the top of your reasons for getting into the military I thought I would give you a bit of a comparison.

As a warrant officer I actually flew about the same as schoolio (10-15 hours of actual flight time a month) while I was active duty Army flying apaches. I have no idea what the average is now for a warrant officer. I left in '97 so somebody out there can give better numbers for pilots in now. But if it is anything like Desert Storm, Bosnia, etc. you fly a lot when you are in theater, but back home not so much.

I vividly remember a time in the 101st when almost nobody in the unit flew for 59 days so that we could save our flight time for a big training cycle. Why 59 days? because we all went non current at 60 days so it was the longest they could go in between flights. So what did we do on that first flight? We had a Battalion night gunnery excercise. What a great way to warm up after not flying for so long. I can honestly say that was one of the worst flying experiences I have had in my entire career. There were many near death experiences that night and not just in my cockpit.

Including flight school, I had about 850 actual flight hours with about 400 more simulator hours from a total of just under 7 years of flying (40 weeks of of flight school and six years in a unit). Flight time will vary by person. It all depends on the airframe and the unit. I was pretty much unemployable as a pilot in the civilian world when I got out due to the low flight time. I didn't really mind as I wanted to do something different anyway. But to many Army pilots getting out it is a surprise that they aren't as hot of a commodity as they thought they would be.

To compare, I have been in the Coast Guard just over six years and in that time I have logged about 1800 hours in the H-65. There is only one H-65 simulator Coast Guard wide so all of our training at the units is actual flight time. We average about 28-35 hours a month but for Katrina I logged that in 5 days. Plus, I get paid more as a Commissioned officer than I did as a Warrant officer.

If you don't have a degree, WOFT is a great way to get yourself into the cockpit. But, if you have a degree or are getting one, take a look at all the services before making a decision. WOFT will guarantee you a flight slot, another good reason to apply for WOFT. But I was sometimes, for the lack of a better word, frustrated that the warrant officer corps was very flat as far as career enhancement went. I.e. the biggest difference between a W-2 and a W-4 was where they decided to sleep in the tent. Ok, it was a bit more complex than that but not much.

I don't want to talk you out of WOFT even if it does seem that way. I don't regret my time as a warrant officer and was lucky and thrilled to get accepted in the first place. I also realize I would not be where I am today if it wasn't for that program. I just want to point out that the warrant officer flight program is a great way to go but it isn't the only way to go. It doesn't always live up to the expectations of those who have the one goal of flying because that is not all you do and sometimes the flight time is hard to come by.

Just look at all the options, decide what you want to to and go for it. Good luck.
 

pilotyip

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Another way

Another option to look at is this. We had one our pilots go this route. Join the National Guard as an enlisted man in an aviation rating, become a crew cheif. Get known in the unit, then put in for flight school. Our guy got into flight school at age 19. He then flew for 18 months as a H-60 pilot, and was accepted for fixed wing transistion. Checked out in the C-12. He then came to work as a DA-20 F/O, but then went back to the guard full time a C-12 pilot. He was going to college on the side. There are many ways to skin a cat.
 
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CherryBomb

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I did the woft program in 2001, got selected right out of highschool at 18. Broke my leg right before going to Fort Rucker. A week later Sept 11 hit and they took everyone on "medical holding" and sent them home with a dischrge. Huge personal let down...

Anyways, there were several guys that got in right out of highschool. id say about half of the guys had some or all of their college completed. The other half high school guys.

Like I said, I went in in 2001 so my info is fairly recent. PM me if anyone needs any somewhat up-to-date info.
 
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