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QMar92

Fighter/Attack/Bomber Pilot Lifestyle?

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I recently separated from Active Duty AF to finish my degree, BS in Aviation Flight, with the intention to apply to AF Reserve/Air National Guard units and compete for a pilot slot. 

Up until this point I have only been exposed to transport/cargo/refueling aircraft and pilots. The lifestyle of these pilots is very appealing to me, 3-4 month deployments, they can rack up hours a lot easier then a fighter/attack/bomber pilot could, possibly gain more relevant experience for the airlines with the utilization of CRM and working with an aircrew and even possibly be flying a militarized version of an aircraft utilized by airlines, Example: C-40, DC-10. 

My question is: what is life like for reserve/guard fighter/attack/bomber pilots? What kind of jobs do they have outside of their part time military etc.? I am curious and interested in applying to fighter wings, but I do not know enough to sell myself. (I've searched the forums and didn't find anything specifically to fighter/attack/bomber.)

Edited by QMar92

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I'll let others chime in, but trust me, CRM and rapid accumulation of flight hours are both "things" in the bomber community. I'm a Reserve bomber WSO; feel free to PM me if you want to know about the units at Barksdale. (FYSA: You've got 2 AFRC B-52 squadrons at KBAD, 1 AFRC B-1 squadron at KDYS, an ANG B-2 unit at Whiteman, and rumor has it they may start an AFRC B-1 unit at Ellsworth in the next few years...)

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CRM is not limited to heavies - it fully exists in the fighter world, you're just working with guys in another jet (single seat world).  Flight hours are less overall, but flight hours are also not "equal" either...1 hr in a C-17 is not a direct comparison to 1 hr in a F-16; there's a reason fighter guys are getting hired by airlines at the bare minimum requirements, so I wouldn't personally be extremely concerned with "total hours" if airlines are eventually your desire.

The guard fighters GENERALLY do 2-3 month deployments, unlike AD's 6 month standard.  QOL in good; the flying/mission is phenomenal - do you want to fly at 100' AGL and 50K in the same sortie, blow assholes up, shoot missiles, fly in all corners of the world, go on awesome TDYs, etc?  It's a great lifetstyle, but not for all...it's competitive, can be more stressful (good and bad), etc.  If you enjoyed sports in high school/college, the camaraderie and competition, then you'll probably like it.  If you though those guys were assholes and don't feel comfortable with competition amongst your peers, or think being 33 yrs old and still studying for several hours on a day you're not flying is bullshit, then it may not be for you.

 

 

 

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Brabus covered it pretty well.  As far as part time gigs, understand that you won't have the option to be part time for several years after pilot training.  Right now my guys get 508 days of seasoning (full time) orders after they complete MQT.  I try to keep them full time for another year or two because they just need the experience before I cut them loose.  As far as side jobs, you name it.  Most of us have a side job flying - airlines, Draken contract red-air, etc.  I know some lawyers and doctors as well as a few real estate folks.  Some other guys have gotten on as contractors with Boeing where they run the sims or work in the test world.  

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Get high, get fast, do some good work. Go downtown, drop some bombs, kill all the assholes. Land, drink some whiskeys, tell stories at the bar and go home drunk to a wife who hates your lifestyle and thinks you are too old to still act like a degenerate child. Pass out, wake up and do it all again. 

Caveat: not for everyone. 

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Reviving the thread here. I know there are heavy guys out there that commute to do their guard or reserve flying, but I was wondering if there are any / is it possible to commute in to do your flying as a fighter guy. Just looking at the long term and being currently employed as an airline pilot, I would imagine it would be easier to live in base for my full time job then commute to the “part time” job once seasoning is complete. Any help is much appreciated! 

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I don't have any experience with this, but I've asked several people both online and over the phone when calling different units. Here's what I've learned: All units are different - some let you commute and some require you to live with in XXmiles of the base. Several of fighter pilots who commute sound like they dropped out of the unit after a few years because it became too strenuous, especially those that had families. Those who I've learned 'commute', and are allowed to, are typically within 1-2 hours (drive time) of the base. Of the 8-10 bases I've called only a very small handful of people commuted from distances of 5+ hours drive time (or 1-3 hour flight time) - so it's definitely possible. It does sound like those in the airline industry, who didn't commute to their airline jobs, fared a little better commuting to the monthly training.

Also, to give a picture of time obligations - you would spend 4-6 days for monthly training, in addition to 2-3 weeks per year for TDY. That is not taking into account how long it takes for you to commute - it could be another 1-2 days for your commute. And if you did the airline thing you would be gone however long those guys are typically gone. Also, I had someone else tell me as you gain more experience in the airline industry, you begin to see a much larger difference in money that you could be making in your airline job and some people also drop for those reasons too.

And I'm sure you know this already but with all the training, and "seasonal orders" plan on being away for 3-4ish years in total, though your family can come with you for 95% of it. I'm currently looking into and going for a fighter unit, and originally I wanted to do the commute thing but from what I learned I'm just planning to relocate, and then reassess as life happens.

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If you live near your guard unit, you work there and are home at night. Commute to the airline and you are gone at night. 

 

If you live at your airline domicile you are gone when you work either job. (Unles you are on reserve and not flying). 

 

Honestly if you think you can be happy flying a heavy, go do that. That’s likely where you need to be. Nothing wrong with that! Being a fighter guy is too much extra work to sign up for if you are trying to talk yourself into it. Just go fly heavies, be a guard bum and fly airlines. Being a part timer in a fighter squadron is hard freakin work; especially if you are an IP and trying to stay credible. 

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How do the billets in reserve/ANG work for CPT vs MAJ in the fighter world vs the heavy world?  IE does one have pilot slots as CPT or MAJ that would be a limiting factor?

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7 hours ago, Yoda said:

How do the billets in reserve/ANG work for CPT vs MAJ in the fighter world vs the heavy world?  IE does one have pilot slots as CPT or MAJ that would be a limiting factor?

All flying positions I know of in the ANG are Major positions. Is that what you are asking?

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19 hours ago, herkbum said:

All flying positions I know of in the ANG are Major positions. Is that what you are asking?

Yes.  Just trying to figure if the positions (MTOE in Army speak) of the different missions would mean coming over as a MAJ would be a downside or not.  Basically, if I'd have to look at turning down a promotion.

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1 hour ago, Yoda said:

Yes.  Just trying to figure if the positions (MTOE in Army speak) of the different missions would mean coming over as a MAJ would be a downside or not.  Basically, if I'd have to look at turning down a promotion.

All pilot slots in the ANG/AFR are O4 positions so being an O4 doesn’t matter...your rank will match your billet. BUT, getting hired as an O1-O3 is likely easier than if you were an O4, depending on what you are trying to do. If you don’t have to go to UPT, being an O4 trying to get hired may not be a big deal. Or if you’re already hired, it probably doesn’t matter either. But rushing units (especiallly fighter, but any) hoping to send you to UPT as a promotable O3 or O4? I’d be shocked if you made it work. There is a guy at ENJJPT who is about to pin Maj, but I believe he was a WSO. I got out as an O3 (completely out of the IRR and everything) to stop my clock as I was still rushing units and didn’t want any more TIG/TIS than I had to. I was right on the cusp of O4 and I knew fighter units wouldn’t look at an army helo O4. Being a senior O3 was a tough enough sell. After I got hired and I got back in, my appointment order has me as an O3 in an O4 position grade with my (massive) break-in-service adjusted TFCSD and DOR.  Hope that helps. 

Edited by FlyArmy
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I'll let others chime in, but trust me, CRM and rapid accumulation of flight hours are both "things" in the bomber community. I'm a Reserve bomber WSO; feel free to PM me if you want to know about the units at Barksdale. (FYSA: You've got 2 AFRC B-52 squadrons at KBAD, 1 AFRC B-1 squadron at KDYS, an ANG B-2 unit at Whiteman, and rumor has it they may start an AFRC B-1 unit at Ellsworth in the next few years...)

Disagree. Compared to a heavy unit, bombers fly very little.

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23 hours ago, Guardian said:


Disagree. Compared to a heavy unit, bombers fly very little.

You don't fly as often home station...a young dude might fly six times a month. But sure a single 6-month deployment, most dudes will be North of 500 hours.

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On 8/24/2018 at 6:33 AM, pawnman said:

You don't fly as often home station...a young dude might fly six times a month. But sure a single 6-month deployment, most dudes will be North of 500 hours.

Pile on...every one of those six sorties will be 5 hours usually, often more.  I got 450 my last deployment.  My co was easily north of 500.  Bomber perspective- we don't rage at 450 kts at a 100 ft AGL, but we kill our share of assholes.   Few, if any, fighter guys can say they've dropped twenty-four JDAM in a single sortie.   

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Some bombers can do 540 knots at 200 AGL, close enough. Thought about 100' but that gets sporty with a wingspan > 100'

  Bomber perspective- we don't rage at 450 kts at a 100 ft AGL, but we kill our share of assholes.  


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