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fadeawaydave

AD UPT Unmanned pilot possibility?

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Hey guys,

Really appreciate all the information I’ve learned from you guys over the years. I’ve been applying left and right to Guard/Reserve fighter units for about two and a half years now. I’m getting impatient and am starting to consider AD.
 

My scores are relatively good and I’ve been told several times by a couple units “You’re a great candidate; there’s not really anything you can do to make your application better. Just keep trying.”

28 years old, Pilot: 90 / Nav 85 / PCSM 86 w/ 73 flight hours, Max PCSM 96. I played college sports, graduated on the honor roll, have my PPL, etc. 
 

My question is this: should I go AD, what are the odds I get drones or helicopters? My top 3 list would be something like 1. A-10/2. F-35/3. F-22. I’m hugely passionate about attempting to become a fighter pilot, not for the “cool” factor but because I truly feel an intense passion for the mission, especially CAS. I understand there isn’t really an EXACT answer since “needs of the Air Force” but I’m just curious if any of you all have heard about Active guys and typically how many drone and helo pilots come out of a class at UPT. I REALLY don’t want unmanned. 

Thanks guys.

*I haven’t posted before, so I was hoping this was a good place to ask. If not, I apologize. 
 

*Also, if you have tips to improve my package,  that would be very welcome as well!

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If you were really “passionate” about CAS, you wouldn’t have that list. You’d have A-10, AC-130, F-16, F-15E, etc.

And UPT is a great meritocracy to a point. I can’t guarantee you wouldn’t end up in an unmanned cockpit, but you can control everything in your power to prevent that. The better you do there (ties directly to how hard you work, your attitude, your aptitude, and a few breaks), the more likely you’ll end up with something you want. 

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Posted (edited)
13 minutes ago, Danger41 said:

If you were really “passionate” about CAS, you wouldn’t have that list. You’d have A-10, AC-130, F-16, F-15E, etc.

And UPT is a great meritocracy to a point. I can’t guarantee you wouldn’t end up in an unmanned cockpit, but you can control everything in your power to prevent that. The better you do there (ties directly to how hard you work, your attitude, your aptitude, and a few breaks), the more likely you’ll end up with something you want. 

Haha, ironically is he was passionate about that mission you could even argue ranking the MQ-9 on there given how much they were doing in Syria 16-18. 

Another thing too. You are making a HUGE mistake to discount helicopters so easily. 

Edited by FLEA
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Maybe I should clarify. My goal is Manned Fixed Wing, then CAS.

The F-35, I’m sure you’re well aware of, has a CAS mission. 

From my research, the unmanned community is EXTREMELY unhappy. And actually being a current pilot, I know for a fact I wouldn’t want to fly drones. Better than sitting in an office? Yes. What I want to do for the rest of my life? No. 

I’m not completely discounting helicopters, especially Attack, it’s just not my first choice with my long term goals.  

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There's a good thread on this forum that you can find which track guys are currently getting to get good data on how likely it is to get each airframe. Correct me if I am wrong, but UASs are not a possibility anymore if you go to UPT on the active duty side (they are separate tracks). Also, you can turn down any rated position you are not interested in on the AD side. The way I look at it, apply and worst case you don't get selected, best case you are able to fly in the Air Force...not behind a desk.

 

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Posted (edited)
21 minutes ago, fadeawaydave said:

Maybe I should clarify. My goal is Manned Fixed Wing, then CAS.

The F-35, I’m sure you’re well aware of, has a CAS mission. 

From my research, the unmanned community is EXTREMELY unhappy. And actually being a current pilot, I know for a fact I wouldn’t want to fly drones. Better than sitting in an office? Yes. What I want to do for the rest of my life? No. 

I’m not completely discounting helicopters, especially Attack, it’s just not my first choice with my long term goals.  

RPAs aren't an option at the moment out of UPT but that is never a garuntee. Also if you turn down a rated position on AD you become permanently inelligible for rated in the future. 

My basic opinion is this, if the thin possibility of getting a helicopter or drone deters you from trying to get a fighter, this probably isn't the career for you. 

Edited by FLEA
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17 minutes ago, Av8 said:

There's a good thread on this forum that you can find which track guys are currently getting to get good data on how likely it is to get each airframe. Correct me if I am wrong, but UASs are not a possibility anymore if you go to UPT on the active duty side (they are separate tracks). Also, you can turn down any rated position you are not interested in on the AD side. The way I look at it, apply and worst case you don't get selected, best case you are able to fly in the Air Force...not behind a desk.

 

Perfect response, thank you so much. I was not aware that RPA’s (tentatively) were a different program. From the thread, it seems there’s a decently high chance of getting t-38’s. RPA’s are almost non-existent! 

 

11 minutes ago, FLEA said:

RPAs aren't an option at the moment out of UPT but that is never a garuntee. Also if you turn down a rated position on AD you become permanently inelligible for rated in the future. 

My basic opinion is this, if the thin possibility of getting a helicopter or drone deters you from trying to get a fighter, this probably isn't the career for you. 

Okay thank you. I wasn’t aware that it was such a low chance. I’ve poked around and it seemed like there was a high chance of getting RPA’s, so that’s why I was so worried. Appreciate the info! 

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10 minutes ago, FLEA said:

 Also if you turn down a rated position on AD you become permanently inelligible for rated in the future. 

They actually changed this rule this year, you can turn down a rated position and re-apply. However, it was a rule in the past.

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RPAs are unlikely from UPT. I ended up getting RPA from UPT back in the day, there was 1 year surge for RPAs so it opened up to UPT. I was released from my RPA job after 3 years back to real airplanes. Make lemons out of lemonade. My RPA experience set me up real good for my manned aircraft. I honestly don’t think I would have done to well in my manned airplane qualification course without my RPA experience.
 

Helos do some badass things.
 

Assignments out of UPT are about 2 things. Performance and timing. Only one you can control. If you have to have a certain mission set to be happy I would stick with video games. This forum is full of people who ended up in places they didn’t want/know about on day one and are thankful it turned out that way, myself included.  
 

 

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OP your gouge on RPAs is old. The community is a lot happier than back in the day and the mission set those guys are doing is insane (SCAR, AI, CAS, etc). I don’t even think you can drop unmanned out of UPT. Today, MQ9s are busier employing for CAS than any of the aircraft you listed including the A10. If you want CAS manned, gunships should be top of your list.  Consider marines for attack Huey’s too but you said no helicopters? I’ve done manned and unmanned feel free to PM for pros and cons of each.

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I think some RPA guys are happier than legacy fighter guys...no kidding. At least as of a year ago at Shaw.

As for CAS. A-10 is pretty much the only hardcore CAS jet. Fat Amy isn’t a CAS player unless it’s for a political speech to buy more F-35’s. F-16/F-15E do CAS but much different than a Hog. Not bad, but not great.

Good to have focus, just don’t forget luck/timing have a huge influence so bs ready to open your aperature to missions/airframes.


Sent from my iPhone using Baseops Network mobile app

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What if you get Mobility / C2 / ISR Heavies?

Not a deal breaker I hope

If you get to go to SUPT and the plinko machine puts you somewhere you can’t imagine now, make the best of it and there are lots of other possibilities on that second assignment if you shine on the first and get picked up

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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I'm just going to say you need to do a bit more research. I can understand your frustration with the guard/reserve side but if fighters/CAS is your dream then probably your best shot.

 

For example a UPT class has about 20 or so active duty people. Each class gets about 2-5 T-38s on average. We are talking about a 10-25% chance you even make it to phase 3 on the right track. Then you have to simply not suck to get a fighter now a days and that may sound easy but it may not be. All I'm trying to say you really need to look at yourself in the mirror like so many others and decide if you went heavies would it make it all worth it. If not then honestly the Air Force might not be the best place for you because you will get screwed almost every step of your career.

 

Other people with more experience please keep chiming in because I think our buddy is about to make a rash decision he may not be happy with in the end

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40 minutes ago, Air_Space said:

I'm just going to say you need to do a bit more research. I can understand your frustration with the guard/reserve side but if fighters/CAS is your dream then probably your best shot.

 

For example a UPT class has about 20 or so active duty people. Each class gets about 2-5 T-38s on average. We are talking about a 10-25% chance you even make it to phase 3 on the right track. Then you have to simply not suck to get a fighter now a days and that may sound easy but it may not be. All I'm trying to say you really need to look at yourself in the mirror like so many others and decide if you went heavies would it make it all worth it. If not then honestly the Air Force might not be the best place for you because you will get screwed almost every step of your career.

 

Other people with more experience please keep chiming in because I think our buddy is about to make a rash decision he may not be happy with in the end

I really appreciate all of you guys input. It’s super helpful, and I know it’s hard to quantify that in the internetsphere, but I am a real person. Someone who’s had a dream since he was a little boy. I’ve worked my ass off for 7 years and I’m just doing the best I can to attain it; I know I’m not perfect. I don’t know everything, as much as I wish I did. 
 

I think my year-long plan is to move close to a unit, and do my best to show up for every drill. If that doesn’t work for a year then look more in depth at AD. I don’t mind being in a heavy. It’s the second best job on the earth. I could get my hours and get into the airlines, make a bunch of money and have a great life. I’d enjoy every minute. However, I have a pull towards the fighter lifestyle. I can’t explain it. I would always have a little ache in my stomach not doing exactly what I set out to do. I may get there, I may not, but I’m going to do my damndest to do so. 

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Guard/reserve is the way to go in my opinion. There is a lot of room for disappointment on the active side if you’re set in fighters and a specific mission set.

Also, if you want to do CAS, then you don’t want 35s or 22s. The 35 doesn’t really do CAS. You should be shooting for A-10s, Strikes, and Vipers if that mission is important to you. What comes to mind when you hear CAS is really only done by a small number of aircraft. The A-10 being the only fighter that is regularly strafing and spending time low altitude. Pointy noses like JDAMs, and watching a 35 try to strafe downrange was just hilarious. Side note: it didn’t work out well for them. 

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Posted (edited)

“My scores are relatively good and I’ve been told several times by a couple units “You’re a great candidate; there’s not really anything you can do to make your application better. Just keep trying.”


How long have you been trying and have they given you any constructive feedback other than “just keep trying”?

Edited by BeerMan

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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, BeerMan said:

“My scores are relatively good and I’ve been told several times by a couple units “You’re a great candidate; there’s not really anything you can do to make your application better. Just keep trying.”


How long have you been trying and have they given you any constructive feedback other than “just keep trying”?

I’ve been trying for about 2 1/2 years now. I redid my tests which gave me my 86 PCSM (96 max PCSM) last January. So I guess you could say I’ve been competitive for a year and a half. 

I’ve been to a couple fighter units who gave me some constructive feedback. 
 

I’m looking over my notes:

UNIT #1

“Strong candidate, just about perfect application. Cover letter is good, just remove this sentence. Make it more specific to our unit” 

 

UNIT #2

Likes: Scores, GPA, good answers in interview, understanding of pipeline showed commitment 

Improve: Make more of a passion for it, be slightly less informal during interview 

“Based on your packet, interview skills and personality, I have no doubt you WILL be hired at a fighter squadron. Perseverance is key in this process.”

 

Upon reviewing, maybe I’m just becoming impatient. 

Edited by fadeawaydave

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For what it's worth, here's my advice on pilot training.  Don't worry about getting non-vol'd to helos, they only really give those slots to people who make it known that's what they want.  But like others have said, just keep an open mind.  I'm going to let you know right now that your class is going to have a bunch of dudes just like you who think they are drawn to fighters, or CAS or whatever.  A lot of them are going to struggle with airsickness, basic aero, pulling g's, and basic formation.  There is a moment in UPT, usually early in T-6 formation, where students realize what they thought was a graceful, fun roller coaster in the sky is actually a hot, sweaty, stressful, painful, violent, very difficult mess.  The T-6 formation phase creates a lot of T-1 converts.. and that's not a bad thing.  People just don't know what they don't know. 

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1 hour ago, Pooter said:

For what it's worth, here's my advice on pilot training.  Don't worry about getting non-vol'd to helos, they only really give those slots to people who make it known that's what they want.  But like others have said, just keep an open mind.  I'm going to let you know right now that your class is going to have a bunch of dudes just like you who think they are drawn to fighters, or CAS or whatever.  A lot of them are going to struggle with airsickness, basic aero, pulling g's, and basic formation.  There is a moment in UPT, usually early in T-6 formation, where students realize what they thought was a graceful, fun roller coaster in the sky is actually a hot, sweaty, stressful, painful, violent, very difficult mess.  The T-6 formation phase creates a lot of T-1 converts.. and that's not a bad thing.  People just don't know what they don't know. 

Shack. Studs also don’t realize how many badass and different missions are out there besides warheads-on-foreheads. When I went through T-6s, every Friday an IP from a different platform would brief us on their mission, family life, lifestyle, trips, etc. I knew at least five classmates that realized they wanted AFSOC/AMC after all.

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25 minutes ago, Finch said:

Shack. Studs also don’t realize how many badass and different missions are out there besides warheads-on-foreheads. When I went through T-6s, every Friday an IP from a different platform would brief us on their mission, family life, lifestyle, trips, etc. I knew at least five classmates that realized they wanted AFSOC/AMC after all.

Shoot, I started out applying to the local A10 squadron, and then applied to the tanker unit next door because flying in my home state was my first priority. Once I talked with the tanker guys and learned about the mission, I was gungho for that life. Lots of flying, cool trips, great community. Not that those things arent possible in the pointy nose world, but you never know until you give it all a look.

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1 hour ago, ryleypav said:

Shoot, I started out applying to the local A10 squadron, and then applied to the tanker unit next door because flying in my home state was my first priority. Once I talked with the tanker guys and learned about the mission, I was gungho for that life. Lots of flying, cool trips, great community. Not that those things arent possible in the pointy nose world, but you never know until you give it all a look.

Being a Guard tanker guy (to include Pease who just converted to KC-46s) is the life.

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Posted (edited)

Interesting thread. To the OP, please consider some advice. You have a lot of passion, and decent objective stats. If your posts here had been an interview, I would put you as a maybe. Your core claim of purpose has a few flaws. “I’m hugely passionate about attempting to become a fighter pilot, not for the “cool” factor but because I truly feel an intense passion for the mission, especially CAS.”  Specifically, combined with your major concern “I know for a fact I wouldn’t want to fly drones.”  These statements together mean you’re either ignorant (have not done your research) or dishonest (it really is for the cool factor). Perhaps neither of these are true, but that’s the way it comes across to this old salt. I’d recommend analyzing what your priorities really are, and go after them without any shame or false humility. 
 

Good luck. 

Edited by HU&W
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No shame in knowing you'd rather not serve in the military if stuck with drones (my feelings exactly if they had been around when I went through), but I wouldn't necessarily say it out loud. Just stress your desire to fly military "fast" jets and stick with Guard/Reserves.

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4 hours ago, HU&W said:

Interesting thread. To the OP, please consider some advice. You have a lot of passion, and decent objective stats. If your posts here had been an interview, I would put you as a maybe. Your core claim of purpose has a few flaws. “I’m hugely passionate about attempting to become a fighter pilot, not for the “cool” factor but because I truly feel an intense passion for the mission, especially CAS.”  Specifically, combined with your major concern “I know for a fact I wouldn’t want to fly drones.”  These statements together mean you’re either ignorant (have not done your research) or dishonest (it really is for the cool factor). Perhaps neither of these are true, but that’s the way it comes across to this old salt. I’d recommend analyzing what your priorities really are, and go after them without any shame or false humility. 
 

Good luck. 

Thank you for your honest feedback. I understand how saying those things could come across as not being congruent. I, however, would say that I have done my research, and I am not being dishonest. I simply know what I want and what I feel a passion for. It may not make sense to some, but it makes sense to me. I like manned piloting. I like aerobatics. I love the mission of CAS. I also like Air-to-Air. Those are what speak to me as a person. That’s not to say I don’t or won’t consider other options.
 

I really do appreciate your advice! Since it comes across in ways I’m not intending it to, I probably won’t bring it up again. Like I’ve said before, I do not know everything. I am not perfect. I am not a military pilot, so I don’t know things that the majority of you all may know. I appreciate you taking your time to help me out, and I hope I’m not coming across as ungrateful, because I really appreciate you pointing that out to me! 

3 hours ago, bfargin said:

No shame in knowing you'd rather not serve in the military if stuck with drones (my feelings exactly if they had been around when I went through), but I wouldn't necessarily say it out loud. Just stress your desire to fly military "fast" jets and stick with Guard/Reserves.

Thank you, I agree...maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned it. It’s “something I’ve wanted to do for my whole life” and leave it at that. I just hate the stigma of wanting to do a popular specific mission and then getting crapped on because people (who have never met me) think my intentions are wrong.
 

Maybe some of my best friends are actually on the frontlines and I want to be the guy physically there to help them. So they KNOW I’m right there with them. People don’t really think about things like that I suppose. 

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5 hours ago, fadeawaydave said:

 I like manned piloting. I like aerobatics. I love the mission of CAS. I also like Air-to-Air.

Sounds like you want to fly the Viper.

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