I think this just has to do with people's perceptions and human nature in general. People bag on what they don't know and for the most part, it's very easy to do. As an ROTC cadet, my commander was an ABM and I used to give him an ungodly amount of shit about how stupid I thought the AWACS and JSTARS were. It was all in good fun, but a part of me was serious. It was the last plane I wanted to fly. Fast forward 2 years and I put AWACS #1 on my dream sheet. I laugh at myself now, but looking back I didn't know what I didn't know, which was why I was more than happy to talk trash. I think it's the same for IPs as well as students, no matter where you are.
At drop night I know exactly what 10percenttruth & Napoleon_Tanerite are talking about. When my slide came up, the room dropped a few decibels. Everyone was caught off guard that I was so pumped. I had the best group of dudes for a UPT class and they understood what I'd wanted, but my T38 buddies were definitely confused. One of my old T6 IPs, who'd missed all of it, even came up to me afterward and said he was sorry. He thought I deserved better. Of course, when I told him I'd wanted it, I got the uncanny feeling he didn't believe me.
I think it boils down to understanding what other people do. When we were racking and stacking our choices, students and IPs alike made all the standard rounds about how ugly the plane looked or how I'd just be sittin' on my ass burnin' holes in the sky, but honestly, no one even knew anything about it, including me. The only person that had even ever flew an AWACS on the base was my student SQ/CC. I went and talked to him for a few hours about it and I was sold. I walked out, erased my whole paper and put the E3 at the top. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. Yeah, it's old, there are the bad times when I think it's a piece of crap, but my favorite part of the day is when I'm walking to the bus. I look back and think, man I just hand-flew that big ol' b*tch from 15k' through all kinds of weather and shit. It's awesome. I get to fly the snot out of the jet, day after day. I love the 707. I think the dome is sexy AF. The mission is interesting. I'm stoked.
I came from Columbus only a couple of years ago and I definitely had one of the best UPT experiences I think anyone could have, so there are still great things to say about the program. I have a good college friend who graduated from Sheppard though, a year ahead of me; he absolutely loves flying Eagles, but we've talked about how he thinks it was a big disservice to not expose students to other airframes. I don't want to speak for him, but he said it was fighters or nothing. If you thought about flying something else or wanted to explore other options, you ran the risk of being ostracized or thought of as a lesser pilot. I believe the issue often plays both sides of the table. The best experiences, with what little background I have, have always been with open-minded IPs, talking to as equally open-minded students. The IP sharing his background without judgement and the student willing to ignore his shit-talking bros and search out gray beards from any and all airframes. I'm not an IP, but as a stud, it's easier said than done, which is unfortunate. Hence, the scuttlebutts.
I'm just a co and again, I don't know what I don't know. Maybe some day I'll see things differently, but these are my thoughts.