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Erthwerm

Another Take on My Chances - Old Dude edition

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Posted (edited)

Old guy here at 35. Here's my story:

10 years ago I got my PPL (about 47 hours) and applied to a guard unit, was told no, but that I was heavily considered (fighters). Reapplied the next year and they said no again. Looked through other avenues for a couple years but recruiters (Navy and USMC) said I wasn't a strong enough applicant for Aviation. At the time I didn't really have much useful employment experience (was a freelance musician.) I ended up squaring my life away and pulling myself up by my bootstraps by getting into a great civilian career in healthcare IT. I decided I still wanted to serve my country, so I enlisted into the Army National Guard in the Infantry at 30 and serve as a sniper, currently possessing a Secret clearance. I'll be getting out next year but am presently applying to some heavy units and 2 fighter units (super long shot, but worst they can say is no, so no big deal.) If not selected, I'm still happy to serve my country in the Army (reserve/NG) in some capacity. 

My Scores: 

P: 92

N: 78

A: 91

V: 91

Q: 83

PCSM: 74

GPA: 3.1 (Music Major)

Flight hours: 47 with a couple hours of incredibly fun aerobatic time (proof that I don't get airsick that easily.)

I think my biggest glaring weakness is my age but my strengths are prior service in a pretty aggressive and physically/mentally demanding warfighting community, leadership experience inside the military and in the civilian world, excellent technical and communication skills, and general drive for excellence. Additionally, having served as an enlisted infantryman, I understand what the guys on the ground I'd be supporting are going through. I know how the double-sided sword of guard life. I understand that while UPT is incredibly challenging, nothing can be worse than being exhausted after a 10 day field-op where the sky doesn't stop pissing on you and you have to ruck back to the company AA with 100 pounds of gear on your back. I know that I'll always have a good attitude because my suck-meter has been calibrated to insane levels and I keep on going. 

I know there's a user out there flying heavies who was around my age when applying. I'm happy to get any and all advice. 

Edit: for clarification, I'm applying to both Guard and Reserve units. 

 

Edited by Erthwerm
clarity

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Welcome and the illustrious individual you're referring to is @FDNYOldGuy although there are a few individual around here whom have secured an ETP for age. I need an ETP for age also so I'll share what I've been told since we have some similar bullet points please keep in mind I don't have a slot etc.

I'd consider getting some flight time if it's financially feasible as this can have the added benefit having some recent time in your log books and it'll boost your PCSM closer/possibly over 80. When you get a slot, this recent experience may be the difference in having to attend IFT or not; It's waived for PPL holder however I don't know if that applies to people who haven't flown in awhile, plus it'd be fun anyway. I don't know what VA benefits you may have available to you to use (Voc rehab, TA, Post 911 etc) since you obtained your degree before joining the NG so perhaps you can weigh/consider using some of those for flight time. This is direct feedback I was given by a Heavy Unit i regards to the flight time but varies depending on the unit; I hadn't flown in 8 years.

I HIGHLY recommend joining the RTAG nation and TPN (the pilot network) on facebook and Search around. Bogidope has a pretty legit POC contact for units and they advertise when Units are hiring. Networking is key  on/offline.

Have you been visiting Units that you're interested in applying with? Since you'd be happy serving in the NG in some capacity if this doesn't work out have you considered the NG WOFT route? Are you locked into a specific geographical area or are you open to moving/living anywhere that will give you a slot?

From my POV your scores look competitive for Heavies but I'm sure people with more clout will chime in and speak to those areas specifically. Good luck you have great story!

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Posted (edited)
59 minutes ago, Unit#8192 said:

Welcome and the illustrious individual you're referring to is @FDNYOldGuy although there are a few individual around here whom have secured an ETP for age. I need an ETP for age also so I'll share what I've been told since we have some similar bullet points please keep in mind I don't have a slot etc.

I'd consider getting some flight time if it's financially feasible as this can have the added benefit having some recent time in your log books and it'll boost your PCSM closer/possibly over 80. When you get a slot, this recent experience may be the difference in having to attend IFT or not; It's waived for PPL holder however I don't know if that applies to people who haven't flown in awhile, plus it'd be fun anyway. I don't know what VA benefits you may have available to you to use (Voc rehab, TA, Post 911 etc) since you obtained your degree before joining the NG so perhaps you can weigh/consider using some of those for flight time. This is direct feedback I was given by a Heavy Unit i regards to the flight time but varies depending on the unit; I hadn't flown in 8 years.

I HIGHLY recommend joining the RTAG nation and TPN (the pilot network) on facebook and Search around. Bogidope has a pretty legit POC contact for units and they advertise when Units are hiring. Networking is key  on/offline.

Have you been visiting Units that you're interested in applying with? Since you'd be happy serving in the NG in some capacity if this doesn't work out have you considered the NG WOFT route? Are you locked into a specific geographical area or are you open to moving/living anywhere that will give you a slot?

From my POV your scores look competitive for Heavies but I'm sure people with more clout will chime in and speak to those areas specifically. Good luck you have great story!

Thanks for your insight! I'm going to try and get some more flight time, getting back to current, putting in 5-6 hours and then trying to use my MGIB-Select Reserve to get started with an instrument rating (probably won't finish) if it's feasible, financially. As far as not going to IFT, even if I had 1000 hours, I'd still want to go to IFT. It's getting paid to fly and learning the USAF way of doing things so that I have some handle on standups, EPs, briefs, etc. Just to acclimate to the AETC culture. 

I'll look at those online resources. 

I plan on visiting a couple of the units (the long shot fighter unit in Portland and the C-17 AFRC unit in JBLM are geographically close) when this whole COVID fiasco goes by the wayside. My wife and I are sort of locked into the west coast, so that's kind of where I'll be applying. If I weren't married, I'd probably apply all over the place, but I lucked out with my wife and can only push it so far. 

I have thought about the WOFT and will probably apply. They love recruiting infantrymen and I currently have a buddy (who was our medic) in the pipeline right now. He loves it. I'd love to fly fixed wing, but having been in the back of a bunch of UH-60s, I'd be happy to pilot them. 

As far as LORs, I have: 

1) Department head for my civilian job

2) Major from the USAR (former AD guy and USAFA graduate)

3) Former COsx2 (Current O3s)

4) SSG sniper leader (tentative)

5) PLT SGT (E7 type) 

6) Family friend for over 25 years

I know I can only select 3-5, just wondering what the consensus is for having NCOs write recommendations. 

Edited by Erthwerm
more info

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I dunno about “illustrious,” @Unit#8192; that’s like Joe Dirt putting an “e” on the end to class it up. Haha. 

@Erthwerm, the advice my bro Unit gave you is solid. You’ll have a little easier time because you’re prior service and have an interesting story, but I think “the great pilot shortage” window that has eased rules for those of us needing waivers is rapidly closing with Coronas and a tanking economy (mainly airlines).  They’ve already slammed the brakes on the UPT pipeline, so they likely have more people already hired but not started than they can cycle through right now.

That doesn’t make it impossible, but it’s gonna very likely be tougher going forward. So, you’ve gotta move. If you look back through this site and my other posts, there has been a lot deeper discussion into a lot of what I’m gonna tell you, but here’s my Cliff’s Notes:

  1. You're probably too old for fighters. It’s certainly not impossible and certainly try, but I’d focus heavies or helos (you might like HH-60s and CSAR) hard and fast if mil flying is your goal.
  2. They flat out won’t send you to IFT if you have a PPL and you’re better off. It’s an extra month of delay that, IMHO (and I didn’t go; just going off of others’ takes), isn’t worth it. Skip all you can to get to UPT ASAP. 
  3. This is especially true if you go the Guard route. Not bashing Guard bros, but the pipeline takes way longer than the Reserves. Guard has to individually plan each piece of training, so there can be big gaps. Not good for old folks, because the waiver is for when you start UPT. Reserves will put you on orders the day you leave for OTS and you’ll be in training/on orders until you’re through PIQ.
  4. Another piece of 3 is you’ll only work with one Reserves officer recruiter. Guard you’ll have to run through each unit recruiter’s process, which can be time consuming. Either one you’ll have to apply to each unit individually, but the paperwork part is handled by one recruiter.
  5. Build your packet and send it out ASAP to get the balls (sts) rolling at multiple units. The process is a long one and time isn’t on your side; it can take 6mo-2yrs from getting hired to starting the pipeline. 

Ask away for any other questions you might have. It’s not impossible, but it’s not easy. Lots of legwork on your own will go a long way to getting you hired and speed up the process. Good luck!

 

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@FDNYOldGuy Thanks! Some follow on questions: 

  1. I know the Guard has boards for slots. Is the AF Reserve different in that regard? You mention sending my packet ASAP, that's the reason I ask. Luckily I already have most of my packet built, and an active security clearance. The only thing I'm waiting on is a recommendation letter. Possibly more hours, but I'll get back up in the air in the next week. 
  2.  Going along with point 1, did you "rush" your hiring unit at all? There are a couple of Mobility units in the areas I'd like to live (west coast), but am currently in Honolulu. 
  3. Most of the Reserve fighter units are in places my wife doesn't want to live. I'm really only applying to the Hawaii ANG (they fly the KC-135, C-17, and F-22) because I live here and the Oregon ANG (F-15) because my wife and I love Portland. I'd imagine competition is stiff, but I'm still going to visit those units. 
  4. Did you just call Wright Patterson for your FC1? 

Thanks for your help. Best of luck in training and hopefully I'll see you around. 

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Reserves have boards, too. One board to get yourself hired buy the unit for the slot, then they’ll send you to another board to get yourself hired by the Reserves itself/get you picked up as an officer. Lots of boards than don’t meet all that often (Reserves board is quarterly, at best), so it’s a lot of hurry up and wait, as I’m sure you’re well versed in. 

I didn’t have to rush either unit I got offers from, actually. But, that’s not always the norm, so it certainly pays off if you want to get things moving faster or if you’re going for a desirable spot with a lot of people vying for few slots. Then again, Rona’s probably got visits off, anyway.

Networking is the big key and getting to know as many folks in this situation is what’ll get you the furthest the fastest. Talk to everyone and see what happens. A lot of my run happened due to networking and random help along the way. The more people you talk to, the better chance you have of bumping someone that can point you in the right direction or lend a hand. 

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Thanks for the help, all. Do you think having a link for a video on my submitted applications would be a good addition? 

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Just as a thread bump, I've gotten in touch with a flight school and with all the money I've saved, I'm going to start pursuing an instrument rating and I'll be recording the flights for my own edification and to put on YouTube. I figure any unit to which I apply might google me and if I have some videos of me flying (my local flight school is based in class B airspace) they'll get an opportunity to see my comfort level and personality. Additionally, I'm going to get some more time flying aerobatic with a friend of mine. I also scheduled a re-take of the TBAS and have been studying for about an hour every day for it. I'll update this thread with my updated hours and PCSM whenever I can. 

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Hi all, 

I retook the TBAS this morning and scored an 89. I'm currently working on my instrument rating, I'll be finishing it up by the end of the summer, and by the time it's finished will be at a 95 PCSM score. At this point, I've reached my limit for times I can take the TBAS and I'll have to settle for a 95 PCSM when I apply to units. That said, I feel like all my ducks are in a row, my scores are competitive and my military experience should help me gain access to some interviews. 

On the networking front, I'll be visiting my home state's (Hawaii) units. I still know some of the pilots in the fighter squadron out here and have some connections to the heavy units. I'll be rushing some heavy units in California and Washington and am trying to line up a visit to the ORANG this coming fall. 

Thanks for abiding me these updates. I hope the summer is treating you all well, so far. 

Kindly,

Erthwerm

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