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glitchfire

Was flying for the Air Force worth it?

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At the end of your commitment for flying for the Air Force, do you think it was worth it?

What were some of the other career paths you considered?

What was the peak experience of your career?

Right now I am a premed who has a good shot of getting into med school. But I think I would always regret it if I didn't go for a UPT slot and try to fly for the military.

Edited by glitchfire

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I flew f-16s for 10 years. I'm off of active duty now, and even through rose covered glasses, I look back on my time like a prison sentence. It feels amazing to be "out." If you want to experience 85% of your life as a fighter pilot, go hang out at the DMV for 12 hours tomorrow. 

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Totally worth it - I never considered any other path.  I've about had it with all the bullshit and my bag of fucks to give is about empty, but I'd still make the same decision if I rewound the clock 11 years.  Despite the negatives, there are a lot of great things about flying in the AF.  But, everyone's experience is different and time/luck/who your leadership is all matters and can make or break an assignment being an awesome or an assignment being a prison sentence as Jaded pointed out.

Edited by brabus
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Great flying and job satisfaction when accomplishing the mission.  Awesome people for the most part (very few exceptions).  

But, you'd be foolish to pass up med school.  Let me put it this way...  once you are done with college, UPT, and your active duty service commitment from UPT (currently ten years, starting after training is complete), you are going to be at a much different place in your life to go back to med school.  You can go to med school now and once you have a steady income, you can learn to fly and get your ratings.  No, it won't be the same as raging in fighter or airdropping/hitting dirt LZs in the Mighty Herk, but I think it will satisfy the flying itch.  

If you truly have to pick between the two, go to med school.

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Flying fighters is the greatest job ever. Being in the USAF is the price you pay to do it. Once you figure out the game and play it accordingly, you can have a great life flying fighters.

If you allow however, the USAF will take all the fun and pound you, your family, your morale and love for flying into the ground.












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FWIW, I know a few dudes who flew fighters between 12-20 yrs, then went to law school, med school, and the "big times" in the financial industry.  I personally could not imagine doing something like med school after 10+ years in the AF, but it's clearly doable.  On the flip side, your chance of going through med school/residency and then flying in the military is pretty low simply based on age/timing.  Suggest picking the career you want the most - hard choice, but in the end, you should be able to sort out which is priority #1.  Either go to med school and fill the flying void with GA, or go fly for the military and potentially scratch the "med itch" later.

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Absolutely worth it.  I served 21+ years flying F-15s and T-38s and wouldn't trade it for anything.  Sure, there were times I was annoyed and disillusioned by the queep and mis-prioritization of Big Blue, but flying fighters was a dream come true and serving with some of the finest people I've ever known was even better.  Lifelong friends, incredible flying, great experiences and now a follow on career in the airlines that was enabled by all of the above.  

I was never interested in Med School so can't give advice on what to pursue, but I've known a couple guys who went to Med School after their initial flying commitment was up.  Also know 2 guys who are docs but went to pilot training and now fly as pilot flight surgeons.  So there are options to do both, although very limited obviously.  

 

 

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I have no regrets flying for 18 years continuously despite the queep and BS.  Looking at your situation, as you desire to both fly and practice medicine, why not let the AF fund your education and serve as a flight surgeon, where you will have the opportunity to fly as well, and probably experience more different aircraft than most pilots?  Such a path could also open a lot of doors for a medical career outside the USAF.
 

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13 minutes ago, Tone deaf said:

I have no regrets flying for 18 years continuously despite the queep and BS.  Looking at your situation, as you desire to both fly and practice medicine, why not let the AF fund your education and serve as a flight surgeon, where you will have the opportunity to fly as well, and probably experience more different aircraft than most pilots?  Such a path could also open a lot of doors for a medical career outside the USAF.
 

I've looked into this a bit and it seems very interesting. I have no idea how something like that would play out though. I wonder if there's a little "jack of all trades, master of none" going this route. 

 

Edited by glitchfire

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I was accepted and passed on med school to go to UPT...broke my mom's heart in doing so.

Looking back after 26 years, if I had it to do over again, you SNAPs would be calling me Dr CH...actually you wouldn't be calling me as I would ignoring all of you and concentrating on the boob job I was going to do in the morning.

 

Edited by ClearedHot
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At the end of your commitment for flying for the Air Force, do you think it was worth it?

What were some of the other career paths you considered?

What was the peak experience of your career?

Right now I am a premed who has a good shot of getting into med school. But I think I would always regret it if I didn't go for a UPT slot and try to fly for the military.


Why not become a flight surgeon then apply for the pilot-physician program?


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10 minutes ago, ihtfp06 said:


Why not become a flight surgeon then apply for the pilot-physician program?


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This is something I've thought about. I have had trouble wrapping my mind around what the pros and cons are. If you become a pilot-physician, what are your career prospect like after the military? Having a long-stable career is one of the more appealing parts of medicine, and I wonder if becoming a pilot-physician negates that (as you have specialized in 'flight surgery')?

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I just want to point out that a lot of the guys saying "worth it" to "absolutely worth it" are older dudes career wise. I can say having been in almost 10 years that this place has changed and not for the better. Flying is awesome. The Air Force sucks. Sucks to the point where it over shadows the mission. Bro, I know like 5 guys staying in past their initial commitment and they are not really the guys I want leading... But I am afraid everyone else is going to be gone. This has only 1% due to the airlines hiring and 100% to do with the complete lack of focus and the pussyfooting risk-adverse management that think they are too good to fix what's wrong with Big Blue.

Glad I experienced it, but I have had enough. Wouldn't do it again.

Stick with Med school, push for guard job.


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Looking back over almost 24 years of all flying I would absolutely do it again.  But then again, I'm easily entertained. 

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6 minutes ago, Duck said:

I just want to point out that a lot of the guys saying "worth it" to "absolutely worth it" are older dudes career wise. I can say having been in almost 10 years that this place has changed and not for the better. Flying is awesome. The Air Force sucks. Sucks to the point where it over shadows the mission. Bro, I know like 5 guys staying in past their initial commitment and they are not really the guys I want leading... But I am afraid everyone else is going to be gone. This has only 1% due to the airlines hiring and 100% to do with the complete lack of focus and the pussyfooting risk-adverse management that think they are too good to fix what's wrong with Big Blue.

Glad I experienced it, but I have had enough. Wouldn't do it again.

Stick with Med school, push for guard job.


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Interesting. Any insight on the navy?

 

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I don't personally, no. However I keep looking/googling for "Navy Pilot Retention" , "Navy Pilot Shortage" and I come up with nothing recent. Weird since they have a shorter Pilot Service Commitment than we do... Could it be that forcing guys into 10+ year commitments develops a "prison" effect that keeps guys running for the door?


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ANG baby, the only way.

 

Best flying I'll ever have, best people I'll ever meet, have seen things nobody else will.  I can't wait to retire.

Edited by matmacwc
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I've only been flying for half my commitment thus far, but I have really enjoyed the actual flying. I'm still young enough that I've avoided most of the BS jobs/queep, but I know that won't last forever. Ask me again closer to my commitment and we'll see how much I'm still enjoying it. That said, my family has also made some big sacrifices with how much I've been gone.  

To all you aspiring USAF pilots out there: realize that while this pilot retention crisis we are having is a great "recruiting tool" in some sense - what really is happening in the bigger picture (especially in the fighter community) is a shortage of pilots to fill staff (non-flying) jobs, because lots of guys who are getting out at their commitments have reached the pinnacle of their prime flying years in their military careers and don't want to spend the rest of it rotting away at a desk. 

Spending 20 years and making it to retirement provides some truly great benefits. But, it says a lot about an organization/where it's going when I sit here and watch lots of dudes who I respect (some who could have "had it all" if they wanted, to include a few Weapons Officers) punch at the last minute and walk through the doors of Delta, Southwest, Alaska, etc. 

If I had to do it all over again, I would, up to this point anyways. The money you'll be making as a doctor will likely be much more than you'd ever make as a military pilot, including the retirement benefits. But the experiences you'll have as a military aviator (in my opinion) are second to none. Good luck!

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27 minutes ago, matmacwc said:

ANG baby, the only way.

 

Best flying I'll ever have, best people I'll ever meet, have seen things nobody else will.  I can't wait to retire.

Are there guys out there that are flying F16s a few days a week, and then commercial the other days of the week? If so, that seems like a very nice lifestyle. Or do ANG pilots work full-time?

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Are there guys out there that are flying F16s a few days a week, and then commercial the other days of the week? If so, that seems like a very nice lifestyle. Or do ANG pilots work full-time?



Yes.

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I did 28 years with 21 years of flying, 16 in the A-10 with a tour as a T-38 IP but that was a while back and things have changed.  I can say the first 10-12 years were an absolute blast with experiences that few have.  I think a lifetime medical career might be a better bet than rolling the bones hoping for a couple years of military flying.

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