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Ruthersj

Career Advice: AFROTC vs OTS vs Airlines

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Hello, 

This is my first time posting in this forum and am looking for some career advice. Currently I am an active duty SSgt Aerospace Propulsion Specialist on B52's. I love the Air Force and have enjoyed my experience so far; even considering that I have only been stationed at Minot AFB. Unfortunately my duty as of late has made me feel burnt out. Without any job rotation in the past five years I feel like I am not growing anymore. I am considering many options as I near the end of my enlisted service commitment. Like many others, I caught the flying bug late in life and have discovered flying aircraft is much more challenging and enjoyable than working on them. At the moment I am enrolled in school part time (about two years from finishing my degree) and am paying myself through flight school to receive my PPL. I intend to separate to focus my time on finishing my degree at a university with an ATP program using my Post 9/11 GI Bill to pay for it. As a Commercial Aviation major at the University of North Dakota I can have 100% of my flight training costs covered and then be hired as an instructor to receive my ATP certificate within a year after graduating. Although I know I can have an extremely rewarding career as an airline pilot, I keep finding myself being drawn back to the idea of serving as pilot in the Air Force. Part of the reason I want to become an officer is to challenge myself and become a better leader. Another is that I have goal to become a professional pilot and would consider it an honor to do what I love and still serve my country. 

Long winded I know, but this basically brings my to three options:

1) Join the AFROTC detachment at my school.

2) Focus on my education and flight training, enjoy my college experience, and try to commission through OTS (basically a gamble).

3) Disregard the thought and just continue to pursue a career as a commercial pilot. 

My biggest barrier to commissioning as a pilot is my age. I will be 26 by the time I attend college and with my transferred credits will graduate the summer before I turn 29.

As far as I understand to be eligible for rated slot in AFROTC a cadet must commission before the age of 29. The only reason I have concerns about this is that North Dakota has some harsh weather that limits flying conditions. If any of my classes are delayed I fear could be pushed to graduate in the fall that I turn 29, and in turn be ineligible for a chance at a rated slot. Then be forced into another four year commitment. Should I choose to not participate in AFROTC I would graduate sooner, but only by one semester giving me some age leeway to play with before applying for an OTS slot. If all else fails I get hired on by the school as a flight instructor until I hit my minimum 1000 hours for my ATP license, then go to the regional airlines. 

Currently with my I have a 3.65 GPA and scored a 95 on my last PT test in Nov 2018 (slowly working towards 100%). I have yet to take the AFOQT, but plan to take it during my terminal leave after studying SAT books. I do very well academically, when I took the ASVAB in high school I scored M:97 A:91 G: 95 E: 99 with only studying for one day; however, the AFOQT is a beast of its own. I know that if I do apply for a rated slot in my Junior year of college I will have about 100+ flight hours that would help my PCSM score.

I do have my concerns about joining the a detachment this late in college. I intend to do everything I can to compete for a pilot slot, but do not want it to be at the cost of friendship with fellow cadets and respect from the cadre. I am not even sure I would be competitive to even attend field training with only one semester in the detachment. I do know that I would rather attempt AFROTC than OTS as two years of POC sounds like it would transition me more effectively to become an officer than nine weeks of field training. 

Medically, I do not think I will have any issues. I had a shellfish allergy when I was younger, but its no longer relevant. Unfortunately early on in my military career I did disclose that information so it is in my records. I have good eyesight, but after this year I will need glasses (my left eye is now 20/30) to maintain my 20/20 correction. My biggest health concern is being able to attend UPT befor the age of 30.

I suppose the big question is should I even attempt to become a pilot in the Air Force or just stick it out in the airlines?  I am looking for some sound  career advice from recent AFROTC graduates or  active duty pilots. Should I reconsider my options?  Are there any potential barriers that I failed to address? Please be brutally honest, I do not want anything sugar coated. I need information from an objective stand point. Thank you in advance for your time and response. 

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ROTC is definitely your best chance at a pilot slot.  I've never met a single regional guy and thought, "I bet that guy had a better time slogging it through the regionals than flying military aircraft all around the world and doing some awesome shit with bros who will be life long friends."  

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ROTC is a good option, but if you’re worried about their age limit, call up the detachment and ask. But they may be unaware of the new age limit of 33 since it won’t have an impact on 99.9% of their cadets.

 

As for OTS, you’ll know for sure that you have a pilot slot before you attend, so there’s less risk there.

 

 

Edit: I’d just visit the detachment and try to set a meeting with the commander to ask the questions you’re worried about.

 

Sent from my iPhone using Baseops Network mobile app

 

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The good news is that the Air Force recently increased the UPT age limit to 33. Search around these forums a bit and you'll find some threads about it and a copy of the document. Right now that comes from just a memo from HQ USAF/A1P (the AFI hasn't been updated yet), but based on everything I've read, it seems like it applies to all types of accessions (AD, Guard, Reserve; and both civilian and military applicants). Since the ROTC rule to commission by 29 is probably just a buffer to ensure candidates can make it to UPT within a year after commissioning (to account for IFT, SERE, waiting to class up, etc.), I'd expect that cutoff to increase too.

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On 4/15/2019 at 6:19 AM, brabus said:

ROTC is definitely your best chance at a pilot slot.  I've never met a single regional guy and thought, "I bet that guy had a better time slogging it through the regionals than flying military aircraft all around the world and doing some awesome shit with bros who will be life long friends."  

I never met a single airline pilot who wishes he could have a worse seniority number .

I'm half joking, but in the OP's situation if he gets an AD pilot slot, he won't be at the airlines for another 14 years if he goes active duty, probably closer to 15-17 depending on how long his break in service is and to finish out his 20. If he continues on the straight civilian route he'll be at a regional in 3-4 years and a major in probably 5-8 with the current retirement situation and projected hiring. That is literally millions and millions of dollars of opportunity cost.

To the OP, I think it all depends on what you want to do. If you want to fly in the military, that will be the longer road at this point to flying in the majors. The flying is way more fun in the military, but there is exponentially more BS associated with it. The camaraderie and friendships are way better in the military. The sense of accomplishment and service are better in the military. The medical benefits are better in the military. The guaranteed retirement is better in the military. The QOL is exponentially better in the airlines (unless you value weekends and holidays off, then the military is a little better until you have some seniority at an airline). The pay is better at airlines (perhaps minus regional pay, but that has increased so much now and upgrades are generally quick now, so it's probably a wash). The flying in the airlines is just a J-O-B...it isn't exactly fun flying. Follow a line and A/P is on 99% of the time. Military flying is way more fun, but can also become a J-O-B.

I think your best bet might be to press with your degree/flying plan, get your CFI/ATP, get a regional job, and along the way rush guard/reserve units. This will be the best compromise to allow you to do what you want (fly in the military) while still allowing yourself to build a longer lasting, higher paying airline career. I've never met a guard or reserve pilot who said they wished they went active duty. I've also never met a guard or reserve pilot who did OTS who wished they'd done ROTC. I wouldn't mess with OTS or ROTC, frankly. If you rush guard/reserve flying units, you are applying for a part time flying gig, in a known airframe at a known location, with some full time orders available for training and possibly a full time gig later on. The gamble there is actually getting hired. They can be competitive...but if you are competitive for an OTS or ROTC pilot slot, you're probably competitive at a guard/res unit. 

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50 minutes ago, pilot said:

They can be competitive...but if you are competitive for an OTS or ROTC pilot slot, you're probably competitive at a guard/res unit. 

Totally not true today, just about everyone who wanted a pilot slot got it this year in ROTC. PCSM's in the teens, sub 3 GPA's, bottom of the class cadets

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28 minutes ago, ayz33 said:

Totally not true today, just about everyone who wanted a pilot slot got it this year in ROTC. PCSM's in the teens, sub 3 GPA's, bottom of the class cadets

Good lord. 

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Good lord. 

 

Yup

 

My year group there were 100 slots for all of ROTC and you had to have 20/20 vision.

 

My kid is a cadet now (that’s how fcuking old I am) and the class two ahead of his got somewhere around 650 pilot slots for all of ROTC.

 

“Life isn’t fair, timing is everything, there is no justice.”

-Bergman

 

 

 

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PIlot's points are valid...you can't have your cake and eat it too.  Even after more than a decade of flying fighters, I still have 30 years of dragging bags through an airport ahead (knock on wood).  Seniority is "everything," but let those numbers sink in.  In the grand scheme of things, would 42 years of the airlines (vs 30) be worth not having 12 years of military flying?  Intangible opportunity costs/gains may be worth a lot to some, and none to others.  To each their own, there is no right or wrong answer.

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Go Guard/Reserve and fly civilian. Work your careers in parallel instead of in sequence. Stay on orders and fly for the Guard when the regional flying gets you down. Get your PIC hours at the regional when the military stuff becomes a pain in the ass.

Granted, ROTC will be a cake walk for you. You'll be the old man rockstar in a crowd of teenagers at band camp. Say you commission at 29.  The state of the AF then will be the best it will ever be. You have approx 13 years to go. Your first couple years at your first duty assignment will be the best of your life. Then you become Chief of Cubicles flying once a week staring at the calendar with 8-9 years to go.

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