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DeskPop

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  1. Sorry, I went dyslexic with DGS. I meant to say DSG, as in part-time guys. However, we all work with DGS in a geographically separated way, and I think Battle Creek, MI has a co-located DGS, but I'm not 100% on that. Getting an AGR spot is all about timing and luck, as are many things in the AF. Having experience, qualifications, and networking definitely helps the process. If you go the AD route, you'll incur a 6-year service commitment, so just keep that in mind. I came on as a Technician in a different unit and there happened to be an AGR spot open up about 6 months after I showed up. I was the only one on base that met the qualifications, so it worked out well. There are guys here who are on full 365-day orders, too, that aren't technically AGR but work just like it. Via www.goang.com as an open source, current Guard RPA bases include: Syracuse, NY Niagra Falls, NY Nashville, TN Battle Creek, MI Springfield, OH Des Moines, IA Fort Smith, AR Tuscon, AZ Riverside, CA Fargo, ND Houston, TX Creech, NV Reserves are at Hurlburt and Creech.
  2. As with anything, it's all about perspective and expectations. I spent 10 yrs AD, 4 as a Mx Officer and 6 in RPAs at Creech and Holloman, but recently switched over to a Guard MQ-9 unit last summer. My time in AD RPAs was a slow, grinding, soul-crushing experience that I tempered with copious amounts of alcohol. My experience in the Guard has been completely different, and for the better. There will always be the nature of the beast that is RPA ops that includes 24/7/365 operations, leading to working night shift, some weekends, and the occasional holiday. But even that aspect is a lot better than AD. For example, at Creech we worked 5-6 days on with 2-3 days off, for an 8 day work week where your "weekend" was always different. At my current Guard unit, they doped out the schedule Panama style where you only actually work about 15 days out of every 28 and every other weekend you have off as a 3-day weekend, but you work the other weekends. Also, due to the constant ops, it's much easier to get orders when you want if you're going to be a part timer. I got an AGR spot, so the whole DGS world is still foreign to me, but you have to be Title 10 at most units to even fly, so you have to be on orders. I'm guessing it helps build up people's points for retirement pretty quickly. To make a long story longer, every job has its pros and cons. It's just a matter of what your goals and aspirations are and if they match well. Just know the Guard units out there are not the same as the AD ones people speak of on these forums and elsewhere.
  3. I hear there's a bottleneck at the Palace Chase office and with SAF approval, too...
  4. I started with Gleim's online course while deployed to Al Udeid in 2010, but didn't have the time/motivation to stay on the self paced stuff to fully complete it. I then took an in-person course at Offutt's aero club after getting back when I found out tuition assistance would cover the cost.
  5. I went through the pipeline about 6-7 years ago, but I was recently instructing at the FTU at Holloman, so I was able to ask the students going through how things have changed: IFS is now IFT ("training" instead of "screening"), since the washout rate was too high as a screening program, and lasts approximately 6-9 weeks, depending on weather and your performance (i.e. repeating rides or double turning events). EX: At Pueblo, my class had 4 of 8 wash out and the class behind me had 7 of 8 wash out. When I went through, we would do stand-up briefs every morning, but I'm not sure if that's still the case in the new kindler/gentler course. The syllabus is pretty similar to what you would accomplish for a PPL, with a solo, some night flying, and some cross countries. What it leaves off from a true PPL program is the final written exam, a night cross country, the FAA certified flight exam, as well as a stupid rule (not sure if it's still in effect) where we weren't allowed to actually touch wheels down at any cross country airfield, you could only do low approaches. Your cross country flights would then be a three legged flight out to two airports, but you would only log one takeoff and one landing at Pueblo. Work-around would be to do a few patterns at Pueblo to log more and make it look like a true cross country in your logbook for FAA purposes. If you're going to IFT, hit up the Doss website and start memorizing the Boldface and ops limits. It'll be one less thing to worry about when you get there. RIQ, RPA Instrument Qualification, (4 weeks 8 weeks) is done in T-6 simulators and consisted of the contact and instrument phases of a UPT syllabus, leaving out formation. It's structured to replicate UPT with intense stand-up briefs every morning, fire hose method of teaching, and long days of academics and events. Front loaded with academics and CBTs, I took an instrument ground school course before going to Randolph and did well. RFC, RPA Fundamentals Course, (4 weeks) is low threat, no daily stand-ups, and includes some introduction to RPAs using very rudimentary desktop computers/simulators. I believe there's a series of structured sims you'll accomplish using unofficial/abbreviated checklists to get you used to how things will be at Holloman. This is also where you'll first work with a Sensor Operator going through their basic course. Your time at Randolph will be highly dependent on how quickly they schedule you for courses. I was in an early group, so we spent no more than a week or two in between classes. As with any training pipeline, there's a chance for backlogs and longer waiting time between courses. Holloman is slow. Much slower than the previous courses. Go with an expectation that events will be feast or famine where you'll do an event every day of the week on top of academics, and the next week (or two) you'll sit and do nothing. It's been that way since I went through 6 years ago, so I doubt it's going to change anytime soon. Whatever your orders say, tack on an extra month or two. If you go during monsoon season (Jul-Oct) or winter (Jan-Mar), expect it to be even longer due to weather cancels. The toughest part about Holloman is not the course itself, but the motivation to stay engaged when you're not scheduled for events and your stuck in the armpit of America. With prior aircrew experience, use that to mentor the younger, inexperienced guys. Go to the squadron bars for class graduations and/or go to the club for crud and cheap drinks. Once you hit shift work, the squadron event stuff doesn't happen. There's also skiing in Ruidoso in the winter and hiking in the summer. Advice: just don't go to El Paso with a personal weapon and "accidentally" find yourself across the border in Juarez, it won't end well (actually happened).
  6. DeskPop

    ACSC in the Guard

    Sweet, sounds like more of a benefit to wait for the time being. Now I can enjoy my terminal leave and focus on other things. Appreciate the advice!
  7. BLUF: Is it worth completing ACSC before separating AD and going to the Guard? I'll be leaving AD for an instructor pilot ART position later this year, and I have a line number for Major. Is it worth the effort to try and knock out ACSC before I switch over? I hope to eventually get an AGR position with the unit, so I plan on being in place for a while once I get there. Is it smarter to get it done now, or wait until later? Or is it even worth completing at all at this point? As far as career aspirations, I'm not exactly motivated by obtaining a senior leadership position, and the airlines aren't really an option (RPA). Thanks for any feedback!
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