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GoldenNuget

Engineering Career While Flying

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I've done some poking around in regards to this question of "Having an engineering career while flying?". I've gathered that it's airframe and location dependent but I was wondering if anyone is currently doing this that I might be able to connect with? I would be most interested in heavys (C17, KC135, C130, etc). Thanks.

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My personal opinion, as a fighter guy, is that I could never go back to engineering. Two reasons: first, I would be terrible at it (those penguins fell off the iceberg long ago), second reason is the pay. Once you become a senior Captain or Major your engineering gig will be significantly less pay than just being on orders. Not to mention airline pay when the Kung Flu disappears.

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My personal opinion, as a fighter guy, is that I could never go back to engineering. Two reasons: first, I would be terrible at it (those penguins fell off the iceberg long ago), second reason is the pay. Once you become a senior Captain or Major your engineering gig will be significantly less pay than just being on orders. Not to mention airline pay when the Kung Flu disappears.


I was a civil engineer part time guard guy. It was difficult. because you want to be good at both but it’s close to impossible. Like having two wife’s that are never satisfied with the amount of attention you devote to them. Eventually, you will have to decide which wife or profession you will need to dedicate all your time to. It will be near impossible to progress to AC or PE without one or the other profession taking the back seat. My advice would be to figure out what you love (either engineering or flying) and be the best engineer or pilot you could be. Cheers


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135s. I will say that perhaps once you grow into being competent pilot and feel comfortable with the jet, it might be less stressful to be an full time engineer and part time guard pilot. In my previous post I should have stated that the engineering field I was in was very time consuming. Other types of engineering professions out there might be different. An ideal situation, which would require experience in your particular field, would be if you owned your own firm / worked from home or something with an extremely laid back schedule.

My situation was difficult because I was an entry level engineer that was also fresh out of flight school.

But now that I have tasted both careers, I don’t think I could ever go back to engineering. Not sure about other engineering fields but in the civil world, the pay will never match military pay unless I had my own firm with a constant flow of 4-5 different projects a year.


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Thank you so much for the follow up! I'm a computer engineering student at the moment. Generally we have lots of work from home opportunities. Once again, thank you. 

 

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Posted (edited)

One of our part-timers (F-16) was an DOD-employee as an engineer/project manager and surprisingly enough, he had the toughest time with his employer wrt to his MLOA.  Of course they legally had to give him time off, but he was trying to do right by both employers.  Toward the end of his time he even told the bosses to take his IP status off the letter of X's because he didn't feel he could be an effective IP, with how little time he could devote to the Guard.  On the upside, there are LOTs of contract gigs out there that having an engineering background will really help.  We have a few guys working contract gigs for F-35 stuff because they're fighter guys with an engineering background.  Pretty good side gig/pay, some are still doing as airline guys.  

Edited by SocialD

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That's great news! Devoting enough time to both is something I'm most curious about. With the jobs I'm most interested in, I would be able to work from home somewhat and could probably manage to take 1 full week away from work per month. I figured fighters would have to devote more time due to currencies and whatnot. Thanks a lot for taking the time to reply. 

@SocialD

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Don't forget that a strat lift platform (C-17 or C-5) will typically fly trips. These trips can be short, or long, and everything in between. 3-21 days. 5-14 days is probably the most realistic trip length.

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On average, how often would these trips be? Of course it would depend on the mission and wartime/peacetime but would you have an idea of a previous schedule? Thanks for the response.

@jazzdude

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I am currently an mechanical engineer (so YMMV) and on my side of things in the mechanical world, if I were needed to leave on trips all of the time, it would be a giant PIA not only for me, but for my team. A lot can happen in engineering in one week. Not always, but it can. And with all the milestones and timing to keep, bouncing the job back and forth from you to the person who covers for you can be difficult. Not impossible, but definitely difficult. For example, right now my team is in the development phase for some new electric power steering program and the thing evolves daily if not by the hour. If I straight up missed a week of work and didn't keep up on emails, I'd be in the dark when I came back.  However, if you are in the position where you need to keep up on currencies several times a month/are traditional, I could see it being possible if you lived close to base/work. But, as you said you're computer engineering and I know plenty of people who could straight up work from wherever they sit down so long as they have the hardware necessary to do the job.  On the other side of things, I dont know much about ops tempo's and currencies yet so my bit may be irrelevant as well. 

 

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Posted (edited)

Thanks a ton for the great information! I do know that other engineering fields have a little less flexibility (i.e. Civil and maybe ChemE) than ComSci, EE, CompE, etc. I'm going to do my due diligence regarding the right mix of job + location + airframe to make sure it works well. Once again, thank you for taking the time to respond. 

 

Edit: I meant to ask, which airframe do you fly and it seems like you are in a perfect mix right now between your civil career and your flying career. How are you managing to currency for TR at the moment?

 

@ryleypav 

Edited by GoldenNuget

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6 hours ago, GoldenNuget said:

Thanks a ton for the great information! I do know that other engineering fields have a little less flexibility (i.e. Civil and maybe ChemE) than ComSci, EE, CompE, etc. I'm going to do my due diligence regarding the right mix of job + location + airframe to make sure it works well. Once again, thank you for taking the time to respond. 

 

Edit: I meant to ask, which airframe do you fly and it seems like you are in a perfect mix right now between your civil career and your flying career. How are you managing to currency for TR at the moment?

 

@ryleypav 

Looks like I forgot some context. My bad.  Not currently a mil flyer. Mostly just speaking out of my ass at the moment/going off of the limited exposure and knowledge of things I have so far. I was picked up by a tanker unit, but still in process for getting the whole shebang going. 

 

But its really going to come down to your civ employer and how much well they work with people in the military. You'll want to use your USERRA rights to the fullest, but you dont want to burn bridges at the same time not being there ever, or not getting projects done on time. 

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Congratulations on being picked up! And I wouldn't say you're speaking out of your ass lol. From what I've gathered thus far, that all seems to be true. I know I will kick myself later if I don't pursue mil flying now though, so time will tell. Once again, thanks a bunch for the response. 

@ryleypav 

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On 3/24/2020 at 2:47 PM, ryleypav said:

I am currently an mechanical engineer (so YMMV) and on my side of things in the mechanical world, if I were needed to leave on trips all of the time, it would be a giant PIA not only for me, but for my team. A lot can happen in engineering in one week. Not always, but it can. A... 

 

Pretty much the same situation in most full time software development jobs.  If you were a consult or just made your own commercial software it would be easier. 

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