Author Topic: Becoming a Pilot  (Read 4694 times)

Offline SirCmpwn

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Becoming a Pilot
« on: February 25, 2012, 11:10:46 AM »
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Hi there,

I'm currently 18, and I live in Colorado Springs (very near the Air Force Academy). I'm a military dependent. I work full-time as a web developer, and am very good at what I do, speaking at professional events to crowds four times my age frequently. However, as much as I enjoy and love doing this, I would really love to pilot planes. More specifically, fighter jets. They're small, fast, and awesome, but I would settle for less.

There are some other considerations, which is why I come to AskReddit. I'm currently living on my own, and do not expect generous assistance from my parents. I make around 38k a year, so I obviously don't have much to put away. I can't really save up for a license of some sort, and I cannot afford college. I'm often told that I am very intelligent and I produce quality work for my job, but school never interested me and I didn't make good grades. What means of proving my intellectual integrity are strong enough to realistically substitute for grades? My unweighted GPA was 2.54, and weighted was 2.63.

The obvious solution for me would be the USAFA - not only are they free if you get in, but they provide an easy path to flying fighter jets. The Air Force is generally a pretty tame military branch, with a safe and moderate position in most conflicts. However, without extremely good grades, I stand next to no chance of being accepted into this very selective school. Less so consideration that I've waited nearly a year to attend college for financial considerations.

The alternative at this point would be seeking a private license, which would make flying fighter jets difficult, and be very far outside my financial reach.

Part of my inspiration for flying these planes is my "adopted" brother - a great guy my family sponsored when he was a cadet. He's now a captain and he flies an F-16.

Any redditors care to offer some friendly advice towards meeting my goals?
« Last Edit: February 26, 2012, 10:53:55 AM by SirCmpwn »

Offline Mike

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Re: Becoming a Pilot
« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2012, 10:47:37 AM »
Hi SirCmpwn,

you might get better responses in our forum if you actually posted a question in here then have us all link to another site....
not sure about the other guys though but I always get a little jittery with unfamiliar links....


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Offline SirCmpwn

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Re: Becoming a Pilot
« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2012, 10:54:02 AM »
How's that?

Offline Rooster Cruiser

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Re: Becoming a Pilot
« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2012, 04:21:17 PM »
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The Air Force is generally a pretty tame military branch, with a safe and moderate position in most conflicts.

Hello SirCmpwn,

I believe you should bone up on the history of the Air Force before you make such statements as this.  The USAF suffered 10% losses on its bombing raids over Nazi Germany on each mission, which meant that by the end of 10 missions it was likely none of the original crews were still around.  The Air Force only appears safe and moderate until someone starts shooting at you.  In the air, you have no foxhole to dive into to avoid incoming fire!  When an airplane is shot down, that is when things get REALLY hairy for the survivors!  Survival and avoiding capture by the enemy can become very difficult if you also are wounded.

Good luck to you becoming a pilot.  The only way the Air Force or Navy will accept a young person for flight training is if they already have a college degree.  You can start attending a local college and enroll in their ROTC program, or wait until you graduate and then try to get into Officer Candidate School, or OCS.  Either way, a college degree is required.  All pilots in the Air Force are Officers, and require it.

RC
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Offline Mike

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Re: Becoming a Pilot
« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2012, 11:14:11 AM »
I think you're in a pickle there, SirCmpwn.

The way I read your post is, you don't want to go to school and you don't have any money but you want to be a pilot.
Having flown for 20 years and met thousands of pilots I can tell you it won't work that way.

Like Rooster said, you will have to sit down and study, and get your degree, and I want to add make sure your grades are up there as well.
A lot of people want to become pilots, the competition is stiff.

I had to do a lot of things I didn't enjoy on my way to become a pilot. If it was all easy and fun, everybody would be doing this.
Another thing about "school doesn't interest me": What do you think will happen in ROTC and flight school ESPECIALLY in the airforce? More school! and plenty!
I still have to go to school and to education courses that are required for my job and have little to do with aviation (hazmat, organization, leadership, error management, and so forth)

Maybe this sounds harsh but it's the reality of flying. It's an awesome career but you have to work really hard to be in it. There is no sugarcoating it.

I volunteered for one war to make the money for flight school for example. Turned out, that wasn't much fun either and took a year and almost my life to do. Never had money either.
There are ways but you're not gonna get around school......


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Offline G-man

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Re: Becoming a Pilot
« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2012, 06:33:15 PM »
I would really love to pilot planes. More specifically, fighter jets. They're small, fast, and awesome, but I would settle for less.


Yo do realize most fighter jet pilots wanted to fly helicopters but had to settle for less right...?  ::whistle:: ::whistle:: Just sayin..  ::whistle:: ::whistle::
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Offline Oddball

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Re: Becoming a Pilot
« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2012, 11:35:39 PM »
Besides "Fast Movers" are on the way out, R/C models is the way to go  :P
"You can teach monkeys to fly better than that!"and "spring chicken to sh**e hawk in one easy lesson"

Offline madpilot44

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Re: Becoming a Pilot
« Reply #7 on: February 29, 2012, 02:09:56 AM »
As a USAFA graduate I can tell you that without improving your grades you're probably not going to get into any service academy, much less get a pilot slot. Once inside, it's comparatively easy to get a pilot slot if you are PQ, or Pilot Qualified (about half of my class got them; disqualifying reasons include eyes and sitting height), but you have to keep studying in order to pass classes and get to graduate, as passing classes is perhaps the easiest way of getting kicked out. You might try ROTC or OTS, but again, you have to study, and slots are fewer and farther between for those. Besides, even if you do get a slot, you'll have to study your arse off to get fighters. IFS (initial flight screening in Pueblo, CO) is a cold hard one, since you need to study a lot. After that, UPT (more studying), and then track selection (more studying), and then plane selection (get the picture?). And you need to be in the top of your class to make it to fighters (if you get the chance, some UPT classes don't get fighter/bomber slots, and some fighter/bomber tracks don't get any fighter slots). It's not impossible, and it's definitely worth it (at least the part I can speak about, which amounts to the Academy and stories heard on bars and other unlit places here and there), but it does take a lot. Plus after making it, your studying ain't over. Fighter pilots need to study tactics and aircraft/weapon capabilities and limitations for their own aircraft plus anything else in the sky they might face. Bottom line, if you really want it, you have to work hard to get it, but you'll probably enjoy every minute of your life up there.

Oh, and that stuff about being a tame service? while I was reading I thought of a whole bunch of names who wouldn't agree, from Pilots to Crew Chiefs and Pararescue Jumpers (ballsiest bunch I know), to Logistics to Security Forces people who've made the greatest sacrifice and became heroes all over the world (including 10 from my country today, which is why I'm a bit negative and for which I apologize)

Good luck if you try, and if you have any more questions on the steps do let us know.
To most people, the sky is the limit. To those who love aviation, the sky is home.

Offline Baradium

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Re: Becoming a Pilot
« Reply #8 on: March 10, 2012, 01:39:47 AM »
If you are as good at what you do as you say, then I believe you have the potential to be able to finance yourself through flight school.  Start saving money.

If you want a fighter slot though it sounds like your best bet is going to be the ROTC in a normal college route or normal college and try for a guard unit (keep in mind that guard units with fighters are extremely competitive).   You'll have to do very well in college regardless to prove that you can take school seriously if you need to.  This is very important becuase in the military there are ALWAYS classes that you may not be interested in.

A private pilot's license will not make it more difficult to learn to fly fighters.  The air force academy starts you out in gliders which are about as far from fighters as you can get as far as I'm concerned.   The first thing that a pilot from a guard unit does in flight training is go to a civilian flight school to get their private pilot's license if they don't already have it.  Having a civilian license simply reduces the requirements for the military training for you.

You will also need to take some tests in any path you choose for the air force.  First is the AFOQT or Air Force Officer's Qualifying Test.   This has a very large bearing on what you are eligible for.   The other is the BAT or Basic Aptitude Test.   Experience with airplanes before going into them DOES help you in these tests.  Good scores on these tests are important for a guard unit which will hire you for a specific slot.  They are also important if you decide to go active duty and hope for a flight slot.  Either way, once again you WILL need to get good grades in college to prove you can take it seriously.
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Offline Rooster Cruiser

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Re: Becoming a Pilot
« Reply #9 on: April 22, 2012, 06:55:08 PM »
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Oh, and that stuff about being a tame service? while I was reading I thought of a whole bunch of names who wouldn't agree, from Pilots to Crew Chiefs and Pararescue Jumpers (ballsiest bunch I know), to Logistics to Security Forces people who've made the greatest sacrifice and became heroes all over the world (including 10 from my country today, which is why I'm a bit negative and for which I apologize)

I think back to a story an old trucking buddy of mine told me.  He was a crew chief on a B52 during the Vietnam War, flying out of Guam.  He told me about the time they were over Hanoi and the bomb bay doors were stuck closed.  He put on a parachute and a portable O2 bottle, then went into the bomb bay and hand cranked the doors open!  While he didn't mention it, I know for a fact that once the bombardier saw the bomb bay door open light he toggled the bombs away switch.  So there my friend was... standing on what was probably a 12 inch wide walkway with 2000# bombs whisking by him on either side, knowing that if he got hit by one he was going to drop from 35,000 feet into the hell that was Hanoi!  That is, if his B52 wasn't hit first by a SAM 5 or AAA fire.

Yup.  Pretty tame service.   ::banghead::
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Offline Mike

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Re: Becoming a Pilot
« Reply #10 on: April 23, 2012, 05:12:40 AM »
Don't waste your time, Rooster.

I don't wanna be mean or anything but this kid hasn't even checked up on his questions yet nor cared what we think. Lost cause, as far as I'm concerned. One of the many who think it may be "neat" to fly a fighter jet without putting any efford behind it.....

Plus, I firmly believe that if you're really good at what you're doing (and so does Robert Kiyosaki from "Rich Dad, Poor Dad") and you're giving speeches to peers 4 times your age . . . like "Sir"Cmpwn, you should make more than 38k a year....

I just get annoyed with people who are not sincere about getting into aviation. Sorry for being blunt! I help out anybody who means well and needs help (people who know me know this) but I have a hard time with posers....


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Offline Rooster Cruiser

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Re: Becoming a Pilot
« Reply #11 on: April 23, 2012, 06:35:17 AM »
No worries Mike.  I noticed SirCampwn hasn't been back to the forum since Feb 26th, so he never even bothered seeing the excellent advice everyone had for him.  I made that last post more for Madpilot's sake, and for the sake of a great true story from someone who recently flew west.

I just thought I would share that story for the real readers of the CW Forum, whom I know will enjoy and appreciate it.

RC
"Me and Earl was haulin' chickens / On a flatbed outta Wiggins..."

Wolf Creek Pass, by CW McCall

Offline undatc

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Re: Becoming a Pilot
« Reply #12 on: April 23, 2012, 09:33:05 AM »
I just get annoyed with people who are not sincere about getting into aviation. Sorry for being blunt! I help out anybody who means well and needs help (people who know me know this) but I have a hard time with posers....

I hear ya.  On my side of the house, when the FAA calls you go.  Or you dont have a  job period.  I have friends that I went to school with that were not "ready" (didnt want to leave current job/significant other) to go to OKC when the FAA called, and they wonder why they havent been called back.

Aviation is tough career path to be on, and it takes lots of sacrifice (both from you and from your family) to be successful in the field.
-the content of the previous post does not represent the opinions of the FAA or NATCA, and is my own personal opinion...

Offline Mike

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Re: Becoming a Pilot
« Reply #13 on: April 23, 2012, 04:34:48 PM »
Well said guys!

This ended up being a pretty good thread for young guys/girls who are interested in becoming a pilot after all though, huh?!
I think they'll be able to get a sense of what it takes and who you can not be if you wanna make it in aviation.....


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Offline YawningMan

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Re: Becoming a Pilot
« Reply #14 on: August 28, 2012, 12:18:33 AM »
I'll say one thing. If I were making 38k, I don't think I'd have trouble affording lessons. I don't know what cost of living is like in Colorado Springs, though.

If I could go back to do piloting stuff in the military, I think I would choose to fly heavy movers. Every time I see a C-5 Galaxy, my entire being is rocked with fascination. Oh, and the sound they make!