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gorgon

RPA Pilot Work Schedule

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Hello all,

I'm interested in applying for a rated board and selecting RPA. In order to get a good idea of what life that would lead to, I have a few questions:

1. Is it true that RPA pilots deploy less than others? I'm also considering ABM which deploys about 6 months a year. Is the tempo about the same?

2. Do RPA pilots usually work 12 hour days, have 24 hours off, then do another 12 hour day? What does a flying schedule look like?

3. Can RPA pilots get flight hours?

Thanks.

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You do deploy less than most traditional pilots. We worked 8 hour shifts at creech, but showed earlier/left later a lot. With the commute, plan on being gone 10-11 hours a day. Your flight hours don't count for anything. Overall it's a very boring job with almost no satisfaction. The pay is good though. I would consider other things before this, the community is pretty much a black hole that I tried like hell to get out of.

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I enjoyed my time at Creech, minus the commute. It is true, it is not flying nor do those hours count outside the Air Force. I typically worked six days on, three days off. Shifts were 8.5 hours long plus whatever time you spent on additional duty type stuff. There was some satisfaction when we got to help dudes on the ground or shoot. A lot of what we did was intel-related activity which can be dull.

I would choose RPAs over ABM or other non-pilot career fields. When I left, RPA dudes were still getting flight pay and deployment was almost on a volunteer basis. Like anything, it is what you make it.

Edited by 2xAGM114

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Thanks for the replies -

Are there good employment prospects afterwards?

Also, I take it most folks work out of Creech. I read that Holloman, Whiteman, Cannon, Beale, and possibly Edwards and Ellsworth also have RPAs now. Any truth to this?

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If you don't suck at your job (enough to gain notoriety), and don't mind living in CA (or some random corner of the planet for 3-6 months out of the year), then post-AF you won't starve for the foreseeable future.

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Thanks for the replies -

Are there good employment prospects afterwards?

Also, I take it most folks work out of Creech. I read that Holloman, Whiteman, Cannon, Beale, and possibly Edwards and Ellsworth also have RPAs now. Any truth to this?

All those bases have RPAs. There are also Guard and Reserve units in various places. I'm at Ellsworth, we work a 5-1-2. 5 days of flying, 1 day for admin and a 2 day weekend. Sometimes you end up flying on the admin day. If you have no admin stuff to accomplish, effectively you get a three day weekend. We have three shifts of 9 hours apiece. I frequently work 10-12 hours a day. At least in my corner of the world, you can expect 1 120-ish day deployment during your asssignment here.

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Here's a typical life from one CrAtch squadron;

You work 5 days on + 1 Recall day with 2 days off. Expect to be called on at least 2 R days a month.

40 min drive to work

1hr Brief

8hrs Shift (Expect 6-7 hrs in the seat.)

15 min - 1 hrs Debrief + other jobs

40 min drive back home

Every 6 weeks shift changes by 8 hrs

Expect to be deployed once a year for 140 days (no day off)

You want to take leave? it's a good thing to want.

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Expect to be deployed once a year for 140 days (no day off)

You want to take leave? it's a good thing to want.

I think everything is pretty accurate except these two. Typically one 126.9 day deployment per assignment cycle unless you volunteer for another. I've never seen leave be that much of a problem, either, even when manning was lower than it is now. Our squadron worked with everyone who made reasonable requests, which sometimes leads to flying those 2 R days a month, so one of your bros gets some time off work.
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Is it the same for Agr and Art positions? Do they even offer those jobs in the reserves?

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Is it the same for Agr and Art positions? Do they even offer those jobs in the reserves?

Yes. The mission wouldn't happen without the reservists. They just stood up a reserve operations group (726th) at Creech in order to support this.

TR's just do the standard reserve schedule, but pretty much have carte blanche to go on orders for a few days-months at a time whenever they want to. This is a great option for people who have their own side business or just want a part time job where they can set their own schedule.

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Is it easy to get full time orders? Bumming in a drone sounds odd. Any chance they would put a Pred or Reaper unit at Beale? Do they rotate weekends and holidays?

Edited by scoobs

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Is it easy to get full time orders? Bumming in a drone sounds odd. Any chance they would put a Pred or Reaper unit at Beale? Do they rotate weekends and holidays?

Bumming is extremely easy. SQ dependent on length of orders, but no problem keeping guys paid. Scheduling is also unit dependent.

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most of our active reservists are on the same schedule as the active duty guys with the active duty side running the schedule.

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I've done 2 different units. Each scheduled differently. One place avg was 2.5hrs in the seat, the other, I was doing 4-8 depending on the night. Great for getting hours, but gets old. IMO 3-4 hrs is a good amount of time. Enough time to get settled, be in the flow, and not get bored beyond belief. 8 hrs in the seat... Let's just say, when you get the schedule the day prior and see what you have to look forward to, there's a sinking feeling lol. But it is what you make it. I've had 8hrs fly by, and some felt like 20.

As for the "week" schedule, was doing 5 on 3 off. 3 day weekends are pretty nice. Of course, everything is unit dependent. I've heard of many other scheduling outlines.

And again for "bumming", all depends on the unit, and the whims of the Feds.

Just figured I'd post a little update :)

EDIT: regarding flight hours, are you referring to RPA hours counting for FAA hours? Hopefully they'll work something out to have some conversion. True, it's not "flying", but you're doing the same stuff. CRM, task management, managing aircraft systems, talking with ATC, dealing with WX (in a much more difficult manner), etc... I'm not gonna sit here and try to make believe that there's something magical about physically sitting in an aircraft (aside from the fact that you're flying). It is extremely relatable experience despite being on the ground.

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Anyone care to speak more on the Guard/Reserve side of the house?

I'm looking information regarding additional drilling days, opportunities for deployment and/or TDY, deployment frequency, etc. It was mentioned that Guard bumming for RPAs is feasible, I'm just looking for more specifics if anyone is able to share.

Thanks!

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My post was ANG side of the house ;)

Like I said, bumming is very unit dependent. And dependent on whether those allocating title 10 days are handing them out or not. Right now, there is a lot of crap going on making it hard to get days, but hopefully it will settle down within a few months.

As for deployment... I've not heard of ANG units doing LRE deployments. It's probably possible, but afaik totally voluntary atm.

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With such a shortage you would think it would be easy. Especially for the reservists at Creech.

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