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Guest skipro101

ANG Pilot lifestyle/Quality of Life

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Guest skipro101

This seems to be a difficult question to search for. If I have missed a relevant thread I apologize.

I'm looking for real world examples of guard or reserve pilots (traditional part time) schedule/life set up. I know after seasoning I'll be making around 10-15K a year and committed to 6-8 days a month. Right now I'm planning on supplementing my wifes income with CFI work, some freelance website building, doing the house work/watching the kids, etc. I have thought about the Airline/ANG combo and I just think that is too many days away from home for me, especially when you consider a commute (looking at around 20days away from home at a min right?).

But I'm wondering if there is a better way, or if my plan is unrealistic?

Hopefully some of you can shed some light on what your doing to make it work. Are you an Airline/ANG pilot and just suck it up and see your wife 9 days a month? Stayed single (or became single, haha). Run your own business? Have a normal non flying part time job? Fill in with bumming around for other units? All of the above?

Thanks.

Edited by skipro101

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I'm not done with training yet, but I know that bums in my unit are pulling 40-50K a year easy. I'm in a tanker unit with an alert mission that is more or less staffed by qualified traditional (everybody get two days alert per month, which is 6 days active duty pay). With addition to UTAs, FTPs and TDYs, you could get paid for about 20 days per month. I beleive the record for my unit for a bum was 92K in one year, though it is extremely rare and he sold his soul to do it. You could instruct or do nothing on the side. Just be prepared to take some shitty trips to the desert and things like that to make nice with the scheduler. Anybody please correct me if my info is a little off. Hope this helps.

Fast

Edited by Fast_N_Low135

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Thanks for the reply Fast. I had no idea people were pulling down 50k easy. This is for a fighter unit, I'm told they have less opportunity to pick up work?

I'm a trougher in the Reserves, and NO, people aren't pulling down 50K 'easy'. The previous poster caveat was that his unit has an alert commitment. He also is still in training, so he's going by what his bubbas at the unit are selling him. A year makes a lot of difference between what they tell you is the case when you interview and what the overarching reality is when you work that first day after MQT nearly 2 years later.

At any rate, alert commitments, full time support of AD MAJCOM contingencies et al, allow a healthy money pot to be accessible to the supporting RC units and their members. This is not the case for all tanker/fighter units though. Your financial success as a bum will be directly dependent upon the airframe you fly, the mission assigned within that airframe, the amount of other bums in your unit attempting to do what you're doing at the same time, the state of affairs among the airline crowd (the furloughed O-4/5s) and your willingness to be away from home to get paid. The best way to find that information out is to talk to the bums in your unit and getting the skinny. The money may be skosh and that sure as hell should be a consideration prior to getting into said unit.

Bumming is not for the faint of heart. In general you'll make around 60-70% of what your regAF counterpart gets paid and you'll put more days a month than they do. Multiple weekends a month is not out of the ordinary. There's no sick leave or worker's comp. You get sick a week and can't fly/show up? You don't get paid period. It's freelance work at its rudest. 60% of senior Capt doesn't sound bad, 60% of 2LT and now you're grazing non-technical hourly wages at the local factory, and you're a freggin' mil pilot. I've known Viper pilots do the mexican house antic, 3 to a house 'cause one works for Eagle and makes jack, the other can't get Lowes to take him seriously when he puts -16 driver on his resume, and neither can get a cotton-pickin' manday at the unit. Now, all that said, none of us had to ask for a day off to go off to wherever for a week. Every day you're unemployed is a day you have off, so might as well look at it glass half-full. As a bum, you're getting paid in the ability to say NO to the AD BS. You know, relocations, deployments and disco-belt shenanigans. Now, with the advent of TFI even that apparent benefit seems to no longer hold true, but I'll leave that out of the scope of this thread.

Historically, fighter guys have a tough time getting enough days out of the unit to bum successfully. Getting on full time orders for a year to go to asscrackistan doesn't count as bumming either. Bumming is how much money you can pull without having a civilian job and no continuous orders over 30 consecutive days (hence no paid tricare, no leave accrual, no BAH type I). MQT is also not bumming. Everybody gets UPT, FTU, MQT (to varying degrees). Bumming starts when your unit starts feeding you out of their RPA pot and not on the AD MAJCOM MPA money (i.e. the devil's money).

I made 45K taxable income last year, which is probably closer to 50K when accounting for the fact that my mil pay include tax-free fractionals of BAH and BAS. That was working 2-3 weekends a month, 3-4 mandays a week (which is way above average to the Guard weekly allowance), averaging about 2-4 more days a month at work than my regAF buddies. For my rank that's about 65% of what they make. I wouldn't call this 'easy' money. Conversely, one of my squadron mates, higher rank by about 1.5 years, spends half his year playing warrior with PACAF and is on full time orders for the duration of that stint. Great, that kid probably pulled about 65-70K. But he was gone as much as his regAF counters were and they still outearned him by about 10%, and they got more leave and medical allowance than he did. So as you can see it's a scale and not a set number. I made 65% and got to carnally know my wife on my own time and when it damn well pleased me. He made 90% and was gone more than AD and missed Thanksgiving, Xmas, the anniversary and Easter, and I sure hope nobody got to carnally know his pretty thing of a wife in his absence; and this is as a "Reservist" mind you. That opportunity cost sucks in my book, but to each their own.

So I do think it's possible to clear 45-50K as an LT bumming, but it's burning weekends, and may be outright impossible in units without a decent money pot or with too many bums fighting for the same money. At that point it becomes a choice of either accepting being gone to get paid, or not. Which is kinda AD in nature, and that's really not why I got into the Reserves for. YMMV.

If I were you I would do myself a favor and do a long-term look and gut check as to why you would want to pursue bumming. My experience is that long term, bumming outright sucks as a financial plan and is a bad idea. The vast majority of us are doing this to get in line for a full-time position at the unit because we value homesteading and it's probably the only other way we're going to attain a six figure income after vesting our lives into a particular profession in some of the garden variety Guard/Reserve locales where these units are located at. Locations where outside of niche fields or medical, people ain't making jack for money. Alternatively, some people bum to offset an eroding airline industry, either following a furlough or anticipating one. Whatever the situation, all these men and women have probably agreed said status would be temporary. I know too many folks getting into the unit behind me come with expectations of 250K houses and $1000 between two car payments, snicker and pant heavily at the indignity of attempting to fulfill these "expectations" on the grace of whatever bumming they could get out of the unit. That's nothing but piss poor planning. So most do an honest assessment of how long they would be willing to bum for, and if financial landscapes do not change within the time their household could have a tolerance for bumming, they opt out or pursue civilian employment elsewhere and usually leave the unit for another unit closer to the civi employer where they could still min run and get their 48 UTA, 48 TPs and 14/15 AT. I suggest you do that math TODAY versus the day you start bumming at the squadron and your wife gets indignated 'cause your 'job' ain't bringing in half what y'all need to be set like she thought life after college "is supposed to be". That full time job may come in two years, or it could take upwards of five and now you're behind the eight ball financially compared to your age peer group, and your wife is pissed. Good luck to you.

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I'm a trougher in the Reserves, and NO, people aren't pulling down 50K 'easy'......

Bumming starts when your unit starts feeding you out of their RPA pot and not on the AD MAJCOM MPA money (i.e. the devil's money)...........

Good luck to you.

Great write up. I only had to bum for a year in a very different Air Force Reserve. RPA money was thick and the World Trade Center was still standing. I got my ART job the day before the day. Sept 10, 2001. You couldn't give an ART job away. It was going to be temporary, I would be with Delta shortly. Those were the days, the airline dream is dead and I quickly heading down the career ART path.

The only thing I would change is the MPA money. In the days of RPA budgets shrinking faster than boners exposed to Nancy Pelosi, MPA money is your friend. In the C-130, JA/ATTs come with MPA money and your ass should be on everyone you can scam. Don't get on the scheduler's bad side and above all else, don't whine.

Edited by slacker

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When I easy, I mean routinely. If you read my post post, I say you do have to work hard, ie taking trips to the desert. Plus, i've been in this unit for 6 years, I have an idea of the ops tempo, annual trips, and how much you should be able to pull in as a hard working bum.

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Guest dudemize

You can always count on hindsight for detailed responses!

Echoing what hindsight had to say, bumming is going to heavily depend on your unit and especially airframe. I just made the move from airlift (C-5s) to UAVs and while the bumming was pretty good in C-5 land it pales in comparison to UAVs. In my new unit, you are basically either full time or no time. However, full time orders is technically not "bumming". Part time work is still a relative unknown in Pred units at this time.

Be sure you talk to the co-pilots in your unit. They will be able to give you the true picture of what the bumming is like. ACs and especially IP/EPs will likely be able to get days more easily than you and might not be the best source of info.

How long of a prog tour are you getting?

Edited by dudemize

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Guest sog

Other end of the spectrum: Any pilots want to sound off about the manageability of flying guard (especially in a fighter unit) while holding down some semblance of a civilian career? Anyone who's an engineer or similar, and works full or part time at a tough civilian job, and manages the guard life too? How do employers feel about that? Family life?

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Other end of the spectrum: Any pilots want to sound off about the manageability of flying guard (especially in a fighter unit) while holding down some semblance of a civilian career? Anyone who's an engineer or similar, and works full or part time at a tough civilian job, and manages the guard life too? How do employers feel about that? Family life?

Check out my reply, as well as several others, in this thread. That will at least get you started. From there, ask away with any questions that you might have.

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Guest skipro101

Check out my reply, as well as several others, in this thread. That will at least get you started. From there, ask away with any questions that you might have.

Read the other thread, thanks for the link. There was some good info in there.

My remaining question is about those who choose to work the airline+guard lifestyle. What does a typical monthly schedule look like? 15 days at the airline, 7 at the reserve job, 2 for commuting and 6 left for the family? For those of you who do the airline pilot + reserve/guard pilot thing, how does it work with a family?

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drill pay which is base pay only (no BAH or flight pay).

Cheers,

Pilotapplicant

You might want to check that. On IDT, you get basic pay AND flight pay. No BAH/BAS.

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Guest dudemize

Read the other thread, thanks for the link. There was some good info in there.

My remaining question is about those who choose to work the airline+guard lifestyle. What does a typical monthly schedule look like? 15 days at the airline, 7 at the reserve job, 2 for commuting and 6 left for the family? For those of you who do the airline pilot + reserve/guard pilot thing, how does it work with a family?

Guard/reserve duty works great with an airline type gig. I was at NetJets (furloughed now) and I was on the 7/7 schedule. Typically I would do one 7 day trip with NJA and then I would mil drop the last 3 days (or sometimes the 1st 3) of the next tour to make it a 4 day. So that's around 11 days for the civvie job. I always planned to spend at least one contiguous 7 day block with the family so we could take a short trip somewhere or just hang out at home. Then my other off week I might do 2-3 days of mil duty. I averaged around 6 days of mil duty per month (not including the months I did an overseas trip). I did all of my mil trips during NJA weeks. Overall, between the 2 I was working about 17-18 days with the rest spent exclusively with the family. Keep in mind at NJA there is no commuting on your own time and I lived 5 miles from the base so I only spent about 9-10 nights a month in a hotel. I also valued QOL over money. My wife was very happy with my schedule and our QOL and I saw my kids plenty.

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Guest skipro101

Guard/reserve duty works great with an airline type gig. I was at NetJets (furloughed now) and I was on the 7/7 schedule. Typically I would do one 7 day trip with NJA and then I would mil drop the last 3 days (or sometimes the 1st 3) of the next tour to make it a 4 day. So that's around 11 days for the civvie job. I always planned to spend at least one contiguous 7 day block with the family so we could take a short trip somewhere or just hang out at home. Then my other off week I might do 2-3 days of mil duty. I averaged around 6 days of mil duty per month (not including the months I did an overseas trip). I did all of my mil trips during NJA weeks. Overall, between the 2 I was working about 17-18 days with the rest spent exclusively with the family. Keep in mind at NJA there is no commuting on your own time and I lived 5 miles from the base so I only spent about 9-10 nights a month in a hotel. I also valued QOL over money. My wife was very happy with my schedule and our QOL and I saw my kids plenty.

Thanks for the reply dudemize, exactly the type of information that I was looking for.

I would love to get a 121 airline perspective on this too.

What is "mil drop"?

Thanks

Allen

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Guest skipro101

Guard/reserve duty works great with an airline type gig. I was at NetJets (furloughed now) and I was on the 7/7 schedule. Typically I would do one 7 day trip with NJA and then I would mil drop the last 3 days (or sometimes the 1st 3) of the next tour to make it a 4 day. So that's around 11 days for the civvie job. I always planned to spend at least one contiguous 7 day block with the family so we could take a short trip somewhere or just hang out at home. Then my other off week I might do 2-3 days of mil duty. I averaged around 6 days of mil duty per month (not including the months I did an overseas trip). I did all of my mil trips during NJA weeks. Overall, between the 2 I was working about 17-18 days with the rest spent exclusively with the family. Keep in mind at NJA there is no commuting on your own time and I lived 5 miles from the base so I only spent about 9-10 nights a month in a hotel. I also valued QOL over money. My wife was very happy with my schedule and our QOL and I saw my kids plenty.

Thanks for the reply dudemize, exactly the type of information that I was looking for.

I would love to get a 121 airline perspective on this too.

What is "mil drop"?

Thanks

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Guest dudemize

Thanks for the reply dudemize, exactly the type of information that I was looking for.

I would love to get a 121 airline perspective on this too.

What is "mil drop"?

Thanks

Mil drop just means I used military leave to drop days at the civilian job. For NJA I just had to get my scheduler to fax them a letter stating that I needed the days off for military duty.

I did the 121 thing as well and it was not quite as good IMHO because of the commuting. If you were fortunate enough to live in base for both the airline and the reserve job it would be awesome. You could probably double dip to some degree, i.e go in for a RUTA while sitting reserve for the airline. I was only 121 for a few months so I never had a chance to develop a good system for doing both jobs. I'm sure there are plenty of guys on here who are quite good at it and could fill you in.

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Guest dudemize

Is there a list of what units have alert commitments?

I think most tanker units have alert commitments to some degree. However, the tanker units in the northeast that are part of the Tanker Task Force have the most. I have buddies in the Pittsburgh unit and they're on full time orders.

Bergman will be able to give you the real skinny.

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Hey thanks a bunch to everyone for the info, but I have another question. To the guys who are married and trying to be part-time civilian too, do your wives have a job?

My fiance and I are planning on both of us working until I can support us plus future children on my own, either full-time ANG or with the airlines (I know, I know, it's hopeless for that right now but it's been my dream since forever so I'm going to chase it).

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My advice, make sure she gets a job with benefits (i.e. health insurance). It will make bumming easier.

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Just to clarify - full-timers DO get the tricare (or equivalent) package, yes?

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Guest dudemize

Just to clarify - full-timers DO get the tricare (or equivalent) package, yes?

When you say full-timers there are basically three types. ARTs, AGRs, and then you have the traditional guys on long term MPA (myself). As long as your orders are for more than 30 days then you get all the TRICARE, BAH type 1, etc. that active duty guys get.

A good deal with the TRICARE is you get 6 months of transitional coverage after you come off orders (assuming you do 30 days or more). Some guys just do a 30-45 day stint every 6 months and they have continuous medical coverage that way.

Edited by dudemize

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Do not start bumming thinking you'll have enough orders to stay on tricare, because one day, you won't.

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Guest dudemize

Do not start bumming thinking you'll have enough orders to stay on tricare, because one day, you won't.

Agree 100% with Slacker. The orders are a great deal if you can get them, but as a traditional guy they could go away at any time so don't plan your life around having them. So when you get ready to buy a house, DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT get a mortgage that you can not afford if the orders go away. It seems like common sense but trust me I've seen guys buy ridiculous houses while they were on orders more than once.

Don't forget that you can pay for health care through Tricare now (I think it's around $250/month for a family). Great deal for the bums!

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I bet you can't guess my next question.

What do ART, AGR, and MPA stand for? What's the difference?

Air Gaurd Reserve? ... I got nothing for the other two; didn't see them on the acronym link either.

Thanks for shedding some light on the Tricare deal though - much appriciated!

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Guest dudemize

I bet you can't guess my next question.

What do ART, AGR, and MPA stand for? What's the difference?

Air Gaurd Reserve? ... I got nothing for the other two; didn't see them on the acronym link either.

Thanks for shedding some light on the Tricare deal though - much appriciated!

ART = Air Reserve Technician

Full time civil service employees who are also reservists in the unit. They run the show day to day at most units.

AGR = Active Guard/Reserve

Basically do the same thing except are on full time active duty. They get all the same bennies and retirement as the regular active duty folks. This is a better deal than ART IMHO. As a whole there are way more ART slots than AGR (a lot of units don't have any AGR slots).

MPA = Military Personnel Appropriation (active duty money)

Just means the active duty is paying for your orders as opposed to the unit.

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Agree 100% with Slacker. The orders are a great deal if you can get them, but as a traditional guy they could go away at any time so don't plan your life around having them. So when you get ready to buy a house, DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT get a mortgage that you can not afford if the orders go away. It seems like common sense but trust me I've seen guys buy ridiculous houses while they were on orders more than once.

Don't forget that you can pay for health care through Tricare now (I think it's around $250/month for a family). Great deal for the bums!

It's actually $180.17 per month. Free for 90 days before you deploy for an OEF/OIF trip of more than 30 days, plus the 180 days after you get back. Thanks, NGAUS for the congressional lobby!

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