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Nova1976

Civilian vs. Enlisted Crew Chief

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Hey all, I'm looking for some opinions/advice. I'm 22 yrs old, just graduated engineering school in the spring (3.3 GPA), and am currently working as an engineer. I have my PPL with about 150 hours TT (80 Tailwheel), good pilot scores, and I own my own J3 cub. I'm just getting to the point this year where I have checked all the boxes to apply to guard/reserve units (I didn't go the ROTC route because of collegiate baseball). I have gotten one fighter interview so far at my hometown unit that went well. They had all good things to say and didn't have any feedback for me other than they didn't know me well enough. Long story short, they hired all prior enlisted (Crew Chiefs).  I have come to the realization that getting to know the pilots is over half the battle in getting hired, and that it's even more of a challenge if your civilian with no prior military experience. Now, I'm seriously thinking about enlisting at my hometown unit as a Crew Chief in order to get to know the air frame, serve, and to prove myself to the pilots. Basically I'm asking advice on if enlisting as a crew chief is a safe gamble to take (due to time) or if I should keep rushing/applying to units as a civilian and take my chances? I know nothing is guaranteed, although I want to provide myself with the best possible chance of getting picked up for a pilot slot somewhere. Any words of wisdom would be appreciated! Thank you!    

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I know a LOT of guys that have enlisted to get to know pilots and get a pilot slot.  Of those I know of 3 that actually got the slot (there are more, I just don't know them).  I do know at least 20 crew chiefs in my unit that joined with that plan then life got in the way.  

 

Remember, after tech school you'd still have OJT then you have CDC's and all your new tech stuff.  You could end up working in phase, if you are a part timer you'd only see guys on weekends, etc.  It takes a lot more time to get to know guys as a crew chief than you'd think.  

 

I definitely recommend holding off and rushing (unless you are totally stuck on your hometown unit like N730 said).  What are your other scores?  They all matter, not just pilot/nav.  

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your a young dude. Just keep showing up to UTAs and take every opportunity to stop by the squadron to say hello. Put your name out there. Don't be a tool and bring gifts (booze preferably). If all of the pilots are busy, don't be afraid to wonder over to the crew dawgs and wrench turners to chat with them. Their job is just as important. For one of the units that I was rushing for, I brought booze for the squadron bar and chick-fil-a for the crew dawgs. 

cheers  

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I mean, unless you are just dead set on your hometown unit, I wouldn't enlist. That is a delay of years (I don't know exactly how long) and you still aren't guaranteed to be picked up. Getting to know the pilots is important, but to put it in perspective, I'm civilian and was hired by a fighter unit that I didn't rush. There are multiple fighter units that don't even allow rushing.

Units are just different, some put a HUGE preference on their enlisted members, some only hire from within, and some don't care at all.

If you are getting interviews you are on the right track. you have a TON of time, so I'd keep pushing for a year or two before considering enlisting.

What are you AFOQT/PCSM like? If you scored the interview, I assume their pretty decent.

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From what I've read on here and as an applicant in the hunt I would not recommend enlisting at this time. Take this with a grain as I'm still applying as well but you seem to have a pretty strong package.

If I we're you I would starting rushing any unit that you'd see yourself wanting to fly with. If your hometown unit is your first choice then I'd start attending UTA weekends with that unit and over time this effort with pay off. You can even expand your search to other fighter unit but that'll incur costs to be able to rush them CONSISTENTLY. I would not enlist if I we're in your shoes unless that 100% what you wanted to do in terms of checking the service box right now. As you stated, there are no guarantees and you have another 10 years of applying before age becomes an issue so I would just keep at it! Plus, the option of enlisting will always be there for you if you haven't made any progress in a few years but you'll have the added bonus of work experience and a possible promotion in that regard as well.

 

Good luck!

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2 hours ago, N730 said:

I mean, unless you are just dead set on your hometown unit, I wouldn't enlist. That is a delay of years (I don't know exactly how long) and you still aren't guaranteed to be picked up. Getting to know the pilots is important, but to put it in perspective, I'm civilian and was hired by a fighter unit that I didn't rush. There are multiple fighter units that don't even allow rushing.

Units are just different, some put a HUGE preference on their enlisted members, some only hire from within, and some don't care at all.

If you are getting interviews you are on the right track. you have a TON of time, so I'd keep pushing for a year or two before considering enlisting.

What are you AFOQT/PCSM like? If you scored the interview, I assume their pretty decent.

Awesome, thanks for the perspective. As for my scores, 97 AFOQT Pilot and 95 PCSM (97 once I get to 200 hrs). From my understanding, you can attend pilot boards and commission as soon as you get back from tech school so I would be sacrificing about a year or so of board opportunities. I'm still fairly new to the process and from my perspective, prior enlisted have had the edge at the units I have visited. But like you said, they are all just different. I'm sure I will find my spot, being patient is the hard part!     

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+1 for what N730 mentioned, you have all the time in the world so I would be patient and keep applying. Come to think of it, My state A-10 unit doesn't allow visits/rushing. 

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What @EvilEagle said is spot on. I only know of two former crew chief's getting picked up (from the few squadrons I've rushed and visited). Would suck to enlist and think you're going to have so much time with the pilots when you've got other duties to take care of, and you may not even have the "right personality" for the squadron you're attached to - not saying this is always the case. Like everyone else has said, don't put all your eggs in one basket.. Cast a wide net and apply EVERYWHERE; the Guard/Reserve is literally the best kept secret, and since you're 22 years old, you've got plenty of time to gain valuable experience i.e. job experience, soft skills, etc..

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9 hours ago, EvilEagle said:

I know a LOT of guys that have enlisted to get to know pilots and get a pilot slot.  Of those I know of 3 that actually got the slot (there are more, I just don't know them).  I do know at least 20 crew chiefs in my unit that joined with that plan then life got in the way.  

 

Remember, after tech school you'd still have OJT then you have CDC's and all your new tech stuff.  You could end up working in phase, if you are a part timer you'd only see guys on weekends, etc.  It takes a lot more time to get to know guys as a crew chief than you'd think.  

 

I definitely recommend holding off and rushing (unless you are totally stuck on your hometown unit like N730 said).  What are your other scores?  They all matter, not just pilot/nav.  

Eagle,

My other scores are average (I have been told that its not worth retaking to risk giving up the 97 pilot). I'm not against branching out but my hometown unit is my obvious first choice. Is there a better enlisted route that would get more pilot exposure? Like flight equipment or Intel? If not, I will just plan on attending as many UTAs as possible. They hold a board every 2 years and the last board was this summer so I was assuming I had enough time to enlist and get back from tech school by the time the next board rolls around.   

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2 hours ago, Nova1976 said:

Eagle,

My other scores are average (I have been told that its not worth retaking to risk giving up the 97 pilot). I'm not against branching out but my hometown unit is my obvious first choice. Is there a better enlisted route that would get more pilot exposure? Like flight equipment or Intel? If not, I will just plan on attending as many UTAs as possible. They hold a board every 2 years and the last board was this summer so I was assuming I had enough time to enlist and get back from tech school by the time the next board rolls around.   

If you've got a hard on for going in now and enlisting, then go for it. As for better jobs to get exposure to meet pilots I wouldn't know for sure (Intel could be a good one). But dude, you've got nothing but time, something I (and some others dudes) didn't have. Eventually I got picked up and although it's not in my local area, I couldn't be happier than with the dudes who hired me, it's a glove-like fit and really a God send. Get out there and meet other squadrons, you may be surprised to find yourself fitting in with an entirely different airframe/mission than your hometown unit. Just my two pennies.

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Sounds like you've got a straight up BONER for enlisting. Looks like you've got your mind made up, why keep asking the question on here?

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Awesome, thanks for the perspective. As for my scores, 97 AFOQT Pilot and 95 PCSM (97 once I get to 200 hrs). From my understanding, you can attend pilot boards and commission as soon as you get back from tech school so I would be sacrificing about a year or so of board opportunities. I'm still fairly new to the process and from my perspective, prior enlisted have had the edge at the units I have visited. But like you said, they are all just different. I'm sure I will find my spot, being patient is the hard part!     
Good scores, don't enlist unless it's just because you want to enlist in the unit.

I can tell you that timeline the recruiter is giving you is not accurate. Theoretically, you could apply right away, but that's just not how it's worked for ANY of the enlisted guys I met when I was rushing.

Plus, if your tech school is in demand or if BMT is backed up, it could be over a year before you even left for training.

If your minds made up, go for it. But understand that there's a 99% chance it'll be a longer delay than yours thinking.

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6 hours ago, Nova1976 said:

Eagle,

My other scores are average (I have been told that its not worth retaking to risk giving up the 97 pilot). I'm not against branching out but my hometown unit is my obvious first choice. Is there a better enlisted route that would get more pilot exposure? Like flight equipment or Intel? If not, I will just plan on attending as many UTAs as possible. They hold a board every 2 years and the last board was this summer so I was assuming I had enough time to enlist and get back from tech school by the time the next board rolls around.   

Not that my opinion means jack, but suppose your timeline works out, if your at basic and tech and all of the other stuff right up until the next board, you wont get any extra time (probably less actually) to get to know guys. On the other hand if you visit during UTA's you have 2 years to get to know guys. Just a thought. 

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17 hours ago, EvilEagle said:

I know a LOT of guys that have enlisted to get to know pilots and get a pilot slot.  Of those I know of 3 that actually got the slot (there are more, I just don't know them).  I do know at least 20 crew chiefs in my unit that joined with that plan then life got in the way.  

 

Remember, after tech school you'd still have OJT then you have CDC's and all your new tech stuff.  You could end up working in phase, if you are a part timer you'd only see guys on weekends, etc.  It takes a lot more time to get to know guys as a crew chief than you'd think.  

 

I definitely recommend holding off and rushing (unless you are totally stuck on your hometown unit like N730 said).  What are your other scores?  They all matter, not just pilot/nav.  

Please elaborate on the commitment for enlisting. I assume you can't go to OTS until your enlistment is is over?  

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There is an avenue to get released from your enlistment to go to TFOTS (what they call OTS now).  You don't really get "released" per say - if you quit or figure out a way to get kicked out of TFOTS you are still enlisted in your unit.  

 

The commitment is not what will put you behind on the timeline.  Completely agree with the other guys - fastest route to a cockpit is NOT enlisting; continuing to rush and casting a wide net is definitely the way to minimize the wait.  

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