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Civ to Reserve Pilot Slot Guidance

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Hello, 

I'm new to this board, of which has been resourceful to me. So first off thanks everyone for your attention to this and helping others by taking time to give input! I realize this is rather long, so I'm grateful for anyone who sits down to read through this and give your advice!!

A quick snippet of me and my situation - Always had inside me the heart to be a pilot for the air force, but due to a number of factors I decided against it and took another route. Spent 4 years in school for actuarial science, and spent additional 2200+ hours of studying to be an Actuary. If I'm honest, I never thought about what I wanted to do and just picked this path because it paid incredibly well; that and I enjoy math and a challenge. After a season of thinking through life, I'm convinced that living out whatever one believes to find purposeful or meaningful to them is the path we should all seek to live by - not just for the money as it turned into for me. To keep it brief, being a pilot for the air force reserves is incredibly meaningful/purposeful to me and I've made the decision to take a risk and go for it.

I begun the process and scored 97 Pilot / 76 Nav / 60 AA / 74 Quant / 49 Verbal for AFOQT. I was told the pilot section only mattered for applying to be pilot - so the scores are reflective of effort. My GPA was 3.5 in college. I'm currently 24 (almost 25) years of age. I have a PCSM of 59, but that is with 0 flight hours. If I were to get 201 flight hours I'd be sitting at a PCSM score of 95. My recruiter explained that I won't need to worry about getting a ppl, and I can apply and have a great chance of getting in with my current scores.

Currently I'm waiting to hear back from Surgeon General to finish out MEPS medical processing - was DQ'd because I went to ER for chest pain and they ran EKG (which was reason for DQ), even though the findings was that it was just acid reflux... So, while I'm waiting for the waiver on that I'm cold calling bases near the STL area, within 500 mile radius, in attempts to get a hold of the hiring manager or chief pilot to see if there are any openings.

With all of this said, here are a few things i'm looking for some guidance on:

1.) Thoughts on scores in relation to being accepted into a unit? I'm looking into Barksdale (B-52), Whiteman (A-10), Dobbins (94th, C-130J), Wright-Patterson (C-17), and Little Rock AFB (913th, C-130J). Each of their missions just would be a dream to be on!

2.) I've seen the bogidope listings but notice there's not really any reserve listings (what happened to the huge pilot shortage!?!) - do they post them on there or should I be just cold calling bases consistently until they say "oh we have an opening"?

3.) I'm having a tough time getting good contacts for a hiring manager or the chief pilot. With the exception of Wright-Patterson, there appears to be no good contacts listed on their websites. I've tried operators with no luck, and have only been sent to people where I've just had to leave voicemails. Does anyone know how to get a good point of contact? Also, do people typically return voicemails or should I be calling them every few days until they answer?

4.) Anything to keep in mind when looking at applying to bases - just in terms of my desire to live in my hometown after my 2.5ish years of training? I'm hoping get one of the bases within a 3-5 hour drive of STL. Those are Whiteman, Wright-Patterson, and Little Rock AFB.

5.) Anybody have an idea of a good time frame for when I can expect to officially depart for the first training day at OTS? I have a few life decisions I need to make very soon, and understanding a time frame for this is crucial in planning.

6.) Any other guidance or wisdom to give for applying to units? I've read that coming to drill weekends are good! Any other research I need to do?

7.) Any other general guidance or things to keep in mind for myself as a married civilian (no kids yet) trying to get into air force reserve as a pilot?

Thanks again for your input and advice guys! I truly do appreciate your help! 

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I'm not in yet, either, so take it all with a grain of salt. But, you're in a pretty good position. You're young enough to have almost 5 good years of trying before a waiver becomes an issue, your scores are decent, and you can work on a PPL if you're really serious about flying and want to increase your chances there, too. You don't HAVE to get one, but it'll certainly help if you do.

You're going to have to do a lot of the leg work yourself. Recruiters are, ah, busy and can be tough to get in touch with sometimes, so you're going to be much better off putting together your own packets and making your own calls to units. I know you said above that you've had some issues with getting the right contacts, but that is (unfortunately) part of the game. Keep chasing leads until you get in touch with someone that can help. Google those units and you'll find past hiring notices on bogidope/guardreservejobs/wherever with contact info. Search these forums and you might find people who posted about applying there or are even flying there now and reach out. 

Be annoying in reaching out to people. Haha. At the end of the day, most will understand what you're doing (trying to get a job!) and that you're interested, so they'll get over it. Squeaky wheel gets the grease.

I'll answer your numbered questions as best as I can with my limited experience:

1. Score acceptance varies widely. There might be averages out there, but don't get bogged down by numbers. At the end of the day, it really is a "whole person concept" that makes up a majority of the hiring. Bigger than that, networking and units "knowing" you (most importantly, them LIKING you) will likely get you further than scores as long as they're not at paint chip-eating level (again, that level varies depending on what you're trying for).

2.The pilot shortage is more in Active Duty than Reserves/ANG, who are not hurting nearly as much. They still have many more applicants than they do positions, although they are easing some of the requirements (like age, in my case). Still, there HAVE been a reduction of posts for openings (especially Reserves), but I don't think that means they aren't hiring. This might just mean a shift in practices as they get more applicants, so I'd recommend still just cold calling as much as you can.

3. Hiring contacts are tough. There's an Excel sheet floating around here, but a lot of it is out of date, too, and is commanders; not hiring officers. One squadron I called I talked to 3 people that previously did hiring before finally getting the current hiring officer. Your best bet is to call the main numbers for the units (listed on their site) and just ask for the contact info of the UPT hiring officer. 

4. Make sure you're happy with the mission and happy with the folks in the squadron you're looking at. The distance thing is fine, but since you're in a big city, you might be better off looking at some places that might be a cheap flight over a 5 hour drive. You'll have to make the trip more than the 1 weekend a month, it seems, so maybe it's better if you're able to get inexpensive non-stop, RT tickets over driving each time.

5. Timeframes vary greatly. There's a great thread here with tons of posts to give you an idea, but a lot of variables can change your timing. Your medical DQ issue will likely cause some delays in things; especially for FC1. Scheduling that alone can take some time, plus any of the waiver issues can delay you further. Then you've got packets moving up the chain; NGB for Guard units or Boards for Reserves. You may be excited about everything, but paperwork has a way of getting stuck on desks and getting kicked back for minute issues that can cause delays. Take care of your life decisions and worry about how it fits with this dream as this option unfolds. Planning off of this happening will likely only give you more acid reflux. Haha.

6. If you make contacts at the units, they'll invite you to UTA weekends to meet others in the squadron. Just be yourself when you go to those, try to learn about the squadron's history, airframe, and mission so you can ask good questions, and don't act too much like you're one of them already. 

7. Only person who cares about you getting a flying spot is you. Your outcome will be based largely on how much work you put in making contacts (at units and with other pilots), getting your application buffed up and standing tall compared to others' applications, and trying to get more flight hours/higher AFOQT and PCSM/that medical issue worked out/etc. No one wants to be presented with problems or, especially,  be expected to find the solutions for you; if you have an issue (like your med DQ) also bring them the solution to it. You can only take the tests one more time each, so the best ways to increase your scores are to study the areas you were weak on and get flight hours, so might as well start working on a PPL, IMHO. This is an obtainable goal, you've just gotta be willing to bust your ass and put in the work to make it as obtainable as possible.

Good luck! Use this board as much as you possibly can (that search feature is stellar), reach out to people you think might be able to help (many will be happy to talk with you), and start making phone calls!

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Oldguy hit most of your questions pretty solid I'd say. But I think easily one of the highest priorities to give you the best shot possible should be to get your PPL or at least some flight hours. I live in the Lou so you can contact me if you want some ideas for where to achieve that. You've got the time and hopefully the $ as well to make it happen

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You absolutely don't need to be enlisted, especially for Reserve squadrons. More job announcements will come. The hiring boom isn't ceasing anytime soon. Your scores are good enough to be more than competitive at any tanker or airlift squadron out there (even more so if the location is undesirable). Get flight hours, most units will want you to have a least a few to be seriously considered, and a PPL is variously required officially or unofficially.

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Yeah, I was prior enlisted and I dont feel like I have an advantage. I would suggest getting some flight hours and at least get past your solo. I have only seen a few squadrons demand a PPL. Good luck! 

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