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FDNYOldGuy

What are my chances? Civ to UPT: the old-guy edition

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Thank you again for the support, comments, and upvotes, everyone! You guys were instrumental in helping me get there and I'm very grateful for that!

I'll certainly be lurking around combing the forums for info on the rest of the journey to UPT and helping out with any questions anyone might have going through the same trials to get picked up. And I'll definitely post up when it's locked in and I have dates. I'm hoping to head out ASAP (I'm sure not getting any younger...haha), so I'm still doing my best to reach out and make connections/annoy folks to keep things moving. As of now, my biggest push is to make sure my age ETP keeps moving up the chain so I can get to an OTS board. The squadron has been awesome and is pushing to get me rolling quickly, which I'm very thankful for. 

Last I heard, my ETP was on the Ops/CC desk a couple weeks ago on its way up to Wing, then NAF, then A3. I don't want to overstep my bounds too much, so I'm not sure how to check on it's progress without coming off as impatient, since they did make calls for me. But, it's my last piece to get squared away before going to a board, so I'm definitely like a kid before Christmas.

Anyway, I'm rambling again. Haha. Thank you all again for the support!

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Congratulations!!!! As a fellow old guy thank you for updating us on your progress and being willing to be a resource for your "former" fellow wannabes!!

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Of course! That said, I’m still not counting my chickens yet. I’m not going to believe it until my ass is in a seat in UPT. Had a couple hiccups with the paperwork, but hoping it irons out and still crossing my fingers I can make this Sept OTS board. 

Anyway, anyone stumbling across this can certainly reach out to me and I’ll help however I can. If my old ass can make it this far, walker and all, I’m sure lots of others can, too. Put in that legwork to get apps out there and steps checked off, be persistent, and network as much as possible. This forum helped me out immensely!

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On 3/30/2018 at 1:18 PM, Brudog13 said:

Hey man!  Best of luck to you in your UPT hunt!  One route that you may not have known about is the Air Force Reserve unsponsored route.  I weYou can submit an application to the AFRC and get a UPT slot that way.  If you get picked up, you go to OTS and UPT, and you have until the end of training to find an AFRC unit to sponsor you.  This will eliminate your “age waiver” question when you rush units if you already got the green light from AFRC.  You’ll still need an age waiver, but getting set up with a solid recruiter who will route your paperwork well can hook you up.  

The board meets every other month and it looks like the unsponsored route is getting scarcer and only every other board is accepting unsponsored applicants.  The upcoming May Board is accepting a limited amount, and the deadline is end of April.  You’ll have results within a few weeks of the board meeting date.

After you get selected (with your scores etc I’m sure you will). Then you’ll start rushing units as a guy who’s already got all the admin complete and has a for sure UPT slot.  It is a way better position to be in when rushing units.  Also, this could open you up to all the fighter units because you’ll have the age waiver sorted out via AFRC before even rushing.  

Beware: the default route for a typical unsponsored dude is to track T-1’s in UPT unless you get sponsored by a fighter.  So your timer for fighters runs out at the end of T-6 land. 

Additionally, after the selections come out, you’ll get phone calls from various heavy units that are interested in sponsoring you.  Some of these may be invites for interview boards, meet and greets, or just flat out job offers pending a squadron visit.

If you are highly motivated to just get your ass in the cockpit and sort out the location and airframe later, go this route.  I just confirmed with a recruiter that they’ll do age waivers for unsponsored applicants.

One final note:  this will restrict your options to AFRC units only, so all ANG is off the table once you get to UPT unfortunately.  That being said, there are tons of units to go around, but fighters are very very few, and heavies are the majority.

Hit me up if you have any questions. These forums have been so helpful to me, so I’m happy to pay it forward.

I was applying to the AFRC unsponsored board when my recruiter said his superior told him that I can't apply go the unsponsored route as I need an age waiver/ ETP. I'm 30 years old. Can you please give me the contact information for the recruiter that said they'll do age waivers for unsponsored applicants? I can put my recruiter in touch with him/her.

As of now, I'm hoping to get picked by one of the heavy units to go to UFT as they do the age waiver paperwork. I want fighters too. I'm hoping perhaps I can switch units or go Active during UPT if that can lead me to fighters. This seems to be the only way I can get to fighters as I believe Active Duty doesn't do age waivers.

My AFOQT pilot score: 86, Awaiting TBAS/PCSM, Flight hours 178.3

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3 hours ago, katdude said:

I was applying to the AFRC unsponsored board when my recruiter said his superior told him that I can't apply go the unsponsored route as I need an age waiver/ ETP. I'm 30 years old. Can you please give me the contact information for the recruiter that said they'll do age waivers for unsponsored applicants? I can put my recruiter in touch with him/her.

As of now, I'm hoping to get picked by one of the heavy units to go to UFT as they do the age waiver paperwork. I want fighters too. I'm hoping perhaps I can switch units or go Active during UPT if that can lead me to fighters. This seems to be the only way I can get to fighters as I believe Active Duty doesn't do age waivers.

My AFOQT pilot score: 86, Awaiting TBAS/PCSM, Flight hours 178.3

I’m fairly sure you can’t apply unsponsored if you are needing an ETP for age. It’s the sponsoring unit that sends the ETP up the chain if they really really want you. That’s the position I, and I’m sure fdnyguy are in right now. I just got my FC1 cleared and only now has the unit been able to start sending the etp and package out of the squadron. They wanted to make sure that the FC1 and all other things were complete. 

Please keep in mind that it’s the unit themselves that are going through all the extra legwork to specifically get YOU into the squadron by sending the ETP up. They’re putting their full backing, as well as the entire backing of the Wing, to say that YOU are going to benefit them with your approval to go to upt over the age. So, I’d be careful trying to get an etp from a heavy and then try to jump ship to get fighters at a different unit (of course, unless the active duty Air Force is in that much of a need to bring you to fighters). The guys and gals working on your etp are going the extra mile for you when they don’t necessarily need to. Just my $.02. 

If you want fighters, start rushing fighters units and squadrons like crazy and don’t stop. If you just want to fly for the usaf, rush’em all. I feel blessed to have been picked up in any capacity and even more blessed that the squadron has enough faith in me to send an etp up. You’ve got hours, a decent pilot score, and are only just past the age, chances are good. 

...all that being said, now watch that there’s new guidance that says you can send folks needing an age etp the unsponsored route haha

Edited by ssup
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@ssup is 100% right. My original response you quoted is wrong; I had bad info and thought it was still an option then, so my apologies for false hopes. 

Unsponsored positions CANNOT require an ETP/waiver and you won’t be able to go that route at 30. The ETPs/waivers are sponsored by the squadron that has decided they want YOU over all other candidates and they’re willing to take the age risk on themselves. Exactly what @ssup said. 

The paperwork is a lot of legwork for the unit to go through for your benefit, so having a heavy unit do it and then jumping ship to fighters because that’s what you want isn’t a great move. You’re also taking a spot at that heavy unit that another applicant would love to have just to squareroot the system a bit. 

If you want fighters, rush fighter units. Most might not write you off at 30 and would probably give you the chance to at least come down and interview, although some certainly may balk at your age. 

Only after applying and hearing fighter units’ input on your packet and age will you be able to make a decision. If flying anything mil is your goal and you can get stoked about heavies, your age is certainly surmountable and you’ll get picked up somewhere if you interview well. 

My apologies again for the bad intel on Unsponsored slots. I thought it was an option when I posted that but realized I was incorrect upon further investigation. They seem to stop around 28, giving enough time to jump through all the other hurdles to get to UPT before turning 30 to avoid any requirements for ETPs/waivers. 

If you want fighters, they’re not off the table for you if you put together a solid packet, have strong background/test scores, and interview well. An ETP at your age is a much easier sell than at mine. 

Good luck!

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8 hours ago, FDNYOldGuy said:

The paperwork is a lot of legwork for the unit to go through for your benefit, so having a heavy unit do it and then jumping ship to fighters because that’s what you want isn’t a great move. You’re also taking a spot at that heavy unit that another applicant would love to have just to squareroot the system a bit. 

If you want fighters, rush fighter units. Most might not write you off at 30 and would probably give you the chance to at least come down and interview, although some certainly may balk at your age. 

Only after applying and hearing fighter units’ input on your packet and age will you be able to make a decision. If flying anything mil is your goal and you can get stoked about heavies, your age is certainly surmountable and you’ll get picked up somewhere if you interview well. 

 

10 hours ago, ssup said:

Please keep in mind that it’s the unit themselves that are going through all the extra legwork to specifically get YOU into the squadron by sending the ETP up. They’re putting their full backing, as well as the entire backing of the Wing, to say that YOU are going to benefit them with your approval to go to upt over the age. So, I’d be careful trying to get an etp from a heavy and then try to jump ship to get fighters at a different unit (of course, unless the active duty Air Force is in that much of a need to bring you to fighters). The guys and gals working on your etp are going the extra mile for you when they don’t necessarily need to. Just my $.02. 

If you want fighters, start rushing fighters units and squadrons like crazy and don’t stop. If you just want to fly for the usaf, rush’em all. I feel blessed to have been picked up in any capacity and even more blessed that the squadron has enough faith in me to send an etp up. You’ve got hours, a decent pilot score, and are only just past the age, chances are good. 

Absolutely understand and agree with you guys, @ssup and @FDNYOldGuy. Thanks for the input!

I appreciate the hard work a heavy unit has to put in to get my ETP approved. I have no problems sticking with them. However should I have a chance at fighters, I don't want to let it go.

My understanding is that there are 6 AFRC fighter squadrons, out of which, two fly the F-22. Those two don't get funding for the B-course, so they can't hire candidates that need to go to UPT. Out of the rest, three fly F-16C and one flies F-15E. After talking to a current fighter pilot at one of these units, it is very very very hard to get them to do an ETP and sponsor even some one like me who has been in the Army Reserve for 3 years. Most of their spots are staffed by pilots getting off Active Duty for the airlines but who still want to fly in a fighter cockpit occasionally. Obviously if I can get one of these 4 units to do an ETP that would be my first priority. These units are also at different phases of utilizing their UPT funding so they may have hired a bunch of dudes recently and not hiring any time soon.

On the other hand, heavy AFRC units are much in need of pilots and they are currently doing ETPs frequently. Also consider that Active Duty Air Force is currently over 1000 fighter pilots short, so they need them badly. If one of the four AFRC fighter units is willing to take me over from the heavy unit during UPT, I'm gonna do it. Also should the possibility arise during UPT that they can offer me fighters if I can switch to Active Duty, I'm gonna do it. If not, I will finish assigned heavy track and continue with the Reserve heavy unit.

I do feel bad to do abandon the heavy unit, but it is not our fault. There's people who want fighters but can't get there because of age, it the system in place that creates these possibilities. In the end, it's all for the greater good, and the Air Force will use us in spots where there is the greatest need. Good luck to you guys!

Edited by katdude

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45 minutes ago, mp5g said:

Or look at the Guard and choose from about 22 fighter squadrons. 

No offense to any Guard member, but I don't like the idea of restricting myself to one state while at the same time taking extra obligations for that state. I'd like the flexibility to be able to move to any state. Besides my recruiter is for AFRC and he won't like me switching. That said, it would be awesome if a Guard fighter unit does ETP. I find the process for Guard fighter units more competitive and expect them not to do ETPs any more than the Reserve units.

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10 hours ago, katdude said:

No offense to any Guard member, but I don't like the idea of restricting myself to one state while at the same time taking extra obligations for that state. I'd like the flexibility to be able to move to any state. Besides my recruiter is for AFRC and he won't like me switching. That said, it would be awesome if a Guard fighter unit does ETP. I find the process for Guard fighter units more competitive and expect them not to do ETPs any more than the Reserve units.

first..."restricted to that state" please go a little further with that...are you worried about not being able to live out of state and commute to the squadron?  Or worried about transferring to a different unit in another state?

As far as your recruiter goes...who cares what their feelings are.  You are pursuing success in your career...not his.  Sure he wont "get the sale" but you should not concern yourself with the whims of a recruiter.  They are there to fill slots and meet quotas not be career counselors.  They don't have your best interest in mind....generally speaking.

As far as ETPs are concerned...there is no rule that says reserve gives them more than the guard of visa versa.  even a unit that gave one to a guy may turn around and completely deny you because they wanted that last guy...and don't want to hire you as much as they did that other guy.  Even then...a unit that historically has been giving away ETPs can change in an instant with a change of command who does not want to support ETPs. 

Cat the net far and wide and don't major in the minors.  If you get hired by a guard unit, and later want to switch to a reserve squadron or a different guard squadron because they are closer to family or whatever...the squadrons will typically understand and support you.

Hope this helps

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11 hours ago, katdude said:

No offense to any Guard member, but I don't like the idea of restricting myself to one state while at the same time taking extra obligations for that state. I'd like the flexibility to be able to move to any state. Besides my recruiter is for AFRC and he won't like me switching. That said, it would be awesome if a Guard fighter unit does ETP. I find the process for Guard fighter units more competitive and expect them not to do ETPs any more than the Reserve units.

Sounds like you’re ripe for Active Duty then. Absolutely no restrictions to any specific state and absolutely no extra obligations for state level business. You are guaranteed flexibility to move every 3 years to either local states (ie. good ole US of A) or any number of sovereign states for service.  With the current pilot shortage I’m willing to bet AD would entertain the ETP as much, if not more so than the Reserves. 

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2 hours ago, JustHangingOut said:

first..."restricted to that state" please go a little further with that...are you worried about not being able to live out of state and commute to the squadron? 

I feel like Guard is restricted in growth potential. Once you train on one airframe you pretty much serve with that unit and location for a long time. It gives stability for people who desire it. However, it doesn’t offer the potential of growing to be a General level officer of the Air Force. I like to train on multiple airframes and perform in a variety of settings. 

Agree on your views with ETP, it may be more unit specific and how much they like you. And casting a wide net doesn’t hurt. Though switching from Guard to AD/RC may be tough down the road.

51 minutes ago, mp5g said:

Sounds like you’re ripe for Active Duty then. Absolutely no restrictions to any specific state and absolutely no extra obligations for state level business. You are guaranteed flexibility to move every 3 years to either local states (ie. good ole US of A) or any number of sovereign states for service.  With the current pilot shortage I’m willing to bet AD would entertain the ETP as much, if not more so than the Reserves. 

Like I said I would be fine switching to AD during UPT should they offer me fighters. I can’t join AD now as I believe AD doesn’t do Age waivers/ETPs for fighter pilots.

https://bogidope.com/article/age-old-question

Quote

“Critical Age Statement process is to ensure the AF requirement that all officer selects must be able to enter rated training prior to age 30 … Age eligibility waivers and ETPS (Exception to Policy Statement) will not be considered. Note: Age critical applicants can be denied from competing on a board if it is determined the applicant cannot enter or complete required training by the appropriate age limit.” - Line Officer Accessions Basic Officer Training Program Guide

So only Reserve and Guard units do age waivers/ETPs.

Edited by katdude

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Can’t tell if serious. You can move state to state. And you can be a GO in the guard/Res. And you can fly different airframes. You sound like you should be an AD test pilot. Also, active duty dudes don’t generally hop between airframes that often. 

Edited by FlyArmy
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Is this dude for real? Look @katdude, you're not special. Wanna check back with TAMI-21, or BRAC 05 folks (for us AFRC brethren), to see how that worked?

Newsflash: the fighter pilot shortage is an illusion. It's not cockpits they're short bodies for, it's 11F rated staff weenies (that's O4 and above generally) that they're short on, while calling it an 11F shortage. That makes late-to-the-party dreamers like you get the false impression you're in some sort of buyer's market for your services in a fighter cockpit, when it comes to stomping and demanding your fighter dream. You've been misled if that is your understanding of the dynamics of present hiring. 

If I was a heavy unit, I wouldn't want you taking the trash out for my unit. If you don't want to fly heavies, don't fly heavies. Go duke it out at the regionals or go to medical school and pay for your own L-39 on your own dime. Otherwise, STFU and get in before you get slammed out. Timing and luck, there is no justice. Nobody is gonna jump over their own ass to get some nobody UPT candidate an ETP to go fly fighters. Unless you're a legacy case or a woman, that's just not the market environment we're in. And by going Active Duty, you risk the chance of sucking at UPT (I can just see the quibbling), or at the very least not hitting the right class in the FY, and not getting a fighter anyways regardless of performance. Yes, even in this so-called shortage environment.

Here's the bottom line truth: You had your fighter epiphany too late. Time to own up to that fact. There's people who start at 18 and all they want to do is fly fighters, and never get it. Ask me how I know. And you rolled out of bed at 29 and said "fighters or go home", plus cop an attitude about the fact the ETP process is not more forgiving, based on no-shit bad gouge/read regarding the hiring market for USAF pilots in the first place? GTFO here with that shit.

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@hindsight2020 You seem to be quite knowledgeable, thank you for your input on the matter. I didn’t know that it's 11F rated O4 and higher ups that are short. I am in no way making demands, I am just saying I won’t let it go if they offer fighters. If you scroll up, you can see that I mentioned I am totally fine with serving in a heavy unit.

Agree that it is timing and luck. I know I am late to the party, but I only got my citizenship and LASIK done very recently. I have always dreamed of fighters and would have loved to be that 18 yr old kid you mentioned. But please understand not everyone can be that kid who’s 22, fresh out of college and eligible to join. ETP is there for a reason, to give someone a chance when AF finds the circumstances reasonable using the whole person concept.

I see that you’ve contributed a lot to this forum, but honestly find your comments about taking trash out quite condescending and disturbing. When I said I’d love to train on many airframes, I meant trying for a job like Test Pilot. And you can’t do such jobs being in the Guard. I am not a narrow minded person that you have imagined.

PS: I did go to medical school and have a license to practice medicine in US. I am still not rich enough to buy a L-39. Lol. And I would take the trash out if you hook me up with a fighter unit 😉 

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There’s also a pilot/physician program out there, and other unique opportunities, like astronaut, among others. Take whatever path you can to get in, then take opportunities to go where you can with whatever opportunities present themselves with the qualifications you have. In my small circle I have a good friend about to go to space who used to fly attack helicopters, know someone who flew helicopters in the army, then flew fighters and at some point went to med school and was a flying physician. I know a non prior service lawyer older than you hired to fly fighters in the reserves. I’ve tried to become a fighter pilot since I was 18, finally got hired by a fighter unit 16 years later after an interesting, circuitous path. Since age is a factor, you can’t be picky with what you fly or where you fly it. But you can move around later. Getting in is the biggest hurdle. 

 

Edit: also, no matter what unit you go to or what you fly (assuming you get hired), you will be taking out the trash when you get back from training. Age/rank/previous other experience doesn’t matter if you’re the FNG. I was taking out the trash when I was rushing and expect to be doing the same when I get back from training, and this isn’t my first military flying career. It’s not a disrespect thing. It’s just what you do as the FNG. Somebody’s gotta clean the bar and take the trash out. 

Edited by FlyArmy
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@FlyArmy  Congrats on making it to fighters after a long wait! I am currently enlisted in the Army Reserve so I'm making the switch like you and hoping to make the cut.

I am in touch with the Pilot/Physician program, and for whatever reasons (AD not doing Age waiver/ETP, etc..), I can't join it directly right now. But once I get to UPT, and if I'm allowed to go Active Duty, joining that elite program is a possibility. Test Pilot School and Astronaut candidate training are further down the road, but once again I believe the opportunities are better for the Active Duty folks.

Active Duty Test Pilot would be an awesome job! And perhaps help toward getting an Astronaut slot.

I just got my PCSM score, it is 77. It says I can bump it up to 82 if I get my flight hours to 201 or more from my current 178 hours. Do you guys think 82 makes a big difference in selection versus 77? I am willing to drop the $2500 needed to fly 23 hours more if it is really worth it.

PS: I have been taking the trash out, cleaning floors, etc at my current unit from the past 3 years haha.. I know its part of military life, but the fact that @hindsight2020 denied me even that privilege made me think what I was doing wrong.

Edited by katdude

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No idea about whether 5 more points on a PCSM and 23 more hours is worth $2500. That’s a personal choice. I also can’t say whether 77 (or 82) is competitive, especially with your age. Most guys I know hired by fighter units had higher PCSMs than those. 

Your best bet is to put applications together and rush as many units as possible, seeking feedback and trying to accurately gauge where you rack and stack. Time is not on your side. And fwiw, I know a marine infantry guy who was up against the age/TFCSD clock, wanted fighters, but got no love for his age/rank, got hired by a guard herc unit, did well in UPT, ended up getting a fighter slot bc someone else washed out, and ended up being able to choose his unit amongst all the F16 units out there, as the one that ended up sponsoring him was a training unit. So there’s other random stuff like that out there. Doesn’t happen often like that, but luck, timing, skill, aptitude, attitude etc. can lead you down various paths....emphasis on luck and timing to be sure. Good luck. 

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Thanks for the advice, @FlyArmy !! 

I think I want to give my best shot at getting selected for UPT, given that I'm 30 years old. So I've decided to fly those 23 hours and get PCSM upto 82. Agree that most fighter units hire young dudes with PCSM scores over 90. With a score of 82 I'm thinking I should have a decent chance of making the cut for a Reserve heavy squadron and get ETP.

Timing and luck of course are crucial at UPT. If someone washes out from T-38s, etc for whatever reason and they offer me a fighter, I'll take it. If getting a fighter means going AD from Reserve, I'll do it. Instead, if I suck at UPT or just turn out to be plain unlucky, I'm perfectly fine with moving on to T-1s and then my heavy airframe. Heavies have their own mission which is very crucial to overall success of the Air Force. For example, fighters run out of gas very fast and they need tankers to loiter, etc

There's no bad flying job in the Air Force in the end. Endless opportunities like Pilot-Physician, Astronaut, Test Pilot, etc exist but will my timing and luck help me is the question. I guess I'll find out at UPT once I get past this ETP obstacle.

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