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If you go to the U-2 as a younger guy what will your career be like? U-2 the whole time or do you do a 3 year tour and then never back? Thanks :)

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What does the current U-2 deployment rate look like?

A very good buddy of mine flys the U2 right now, and he deploys like a mofo. Something like 60 days gone, 60 days home, rinse, repeat. Seems like he's never home.

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Why Willy? Because Willy and D-M are about as far as we can get on our first leg heading east. TOLD can be a pain in the summer, but just pump a little less gas on the jet, and takeoff reduced weight (with OG/CC approval). Yuma's a good bet when it's hot, but it breaks the "don't go there if you don't want to break there" rule.

Beale T-38's will almost always choose a civilian field over a military field for our OST's too.

Astronaut stuff: no correlation. We've had a few guys get through the first round in the selection process, but no one has made it yet. We have a guy competing this year too. But, talk about a dying platform!

TDY rates: 60 days gone, 60 days home. Right now, some guys are getting 45 days at home, due to undermanning. We're short on guys due to the hit we took last year with VSP. That "bathtub" is going away slowly, and our pilot numbers are coming back up.

You won't deploy until you've been here about 10 months. After 3-5 deployments, your rate might come down, depending on what your job is in the Squadron.

The TDY schedule is such that you'll know your TDY dates fairly well in advance. Not like the stories I hear from other MWS', where you get the call that says you're leaving in 48 hours.

TDY locations are the Desert, Korea, and Cyprus. Guys don't complain about going to Cyprus. We also have occasional pop up TDY's. I just did 6 weeks in Key West back in April-May.

Once you come here, you're "a U-2 guy". Once here, no one really wants to leave the program. I was one of the very few that did: my original U-2 squadron was overseas and was deactivated. For a number of reasons (including my evil plan to stay in the cockpit forever) I went to be a PIT IP at Randolph. After 3 years of that, I really missed the U-2 Program, and came back.

Most pilots that want to be upwardly mobile go to a U-2 staff job in Hawai'i, Germany, Virginia, etc... Very, very few desire to leave the U-2. We have two guys that have been here non-stop for over 14 years.

The nice thing about the inteview process is that it's not only a chance for us to inteview you, but it allow you to interview us. If you don't like what you see, you can pull the plug at anytime during the interview. No hard feelings. Most of the pilots that terminate the interview early do so because they don't like flying the jet.

The "damage to the career" question is interesting, and hard to answer. What do they want out of their career? We've had plenty of guys fly the Deuce, go to the staff, school and return to be DO, CC, Safety, OG/CC, etc... Occasionally, a U-2 pilot makes general. Maj Gen Jon George comes to mind. Col Greg Kern (AF/OG at the Pentagon) was 5 below the zone to O-6, but decided he'd had enough and retired last month.

But with only 80 guys flying the jet worldwide at any given time, the percentages mean you don't see many Flag Officers from our ranks. However, everyone that does PME and a Masters will generally make O-5.

T-1 vs. T-6 FAIP: doesn't matter, with respect to whether you'll be more competitive for getting an interview.

What other questions can I field?

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Huggy,

We're being told that if we're selected for the U2 now, we can expect to stay in some type of UAS to follow and for the rest of our career basically. Can you please squash that if its not true.

That should get the ball rolling. I know I have it on my ADP right now, and my CC knows too. Thought i might try to get a single day OST down there if the leadership bites off on it.

Edited by ellsworb

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We're being told that if we're selected for the U2 now, we can expect to stay in some type of UAS to follow and for the rest of our career basically. Can you please squash that if its not true.

Also, what is a realistic deployment rate? Are they going to all 3 locations or primarily a hot sandy one?

Squash it. No U-2 pilot has gone to a UAS, except for one who was long term DNIF, and volunteered,... and he became a UAS SQ/CC. I don't have a crystal ball, but as long as the U-2 is around, our manning will always be about 80-90%, and I'd guess they won't force guys to leave.

Yes, expect many trips to the sandbox,... with an occasional trip to Korea or Cyprus,... or elsewhere.

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Huggy,

Good on you for trying to spread the word on the U-2 as it seems a lot pilots (including myself) are somewhat ignorant about the community and mission.

I know I'm going to get burned for this as a helo guy, but something about the U-2 always interested me...mainly the history of the aircraft and mission. I've heard you've had a helo guy there in the past, but from what I gather from the min requirements on the AFPC page, pretty much the only way I could apply is to go to a white jet after this deployment (also on a 365) and then apply 3-4 years after building up fixed wing hours. Something I've thought about, but unless I can score a T-34/6 to the Pensacola/Whiting area, not sure I want to go to one of the UPT bases as soon to be 30 year old who's single.

Any thoughts or advice on this matter? I still have no idea what my follow-on assignment will be when I leave here and right now I have a lot of crazy ideas floating in my head.

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Huggy,

Good on you for trying to spread the word on the U-2 as it seems a lot pilots (including myself) are somewhat ignorant about the community and mission.

I know I'm going to get burned for this as a helo guy, but something about the U-2 always interested me...mainly the history of the aircraft and mission. I've heard you've had a helo guy there in the past, but from what I gather from the min requirements on the AFPC page, pretty much the only way I could apply is to go to a white jet after this deployment (also on a 365) and then apply 3-4 years after building up fixed wing hours. Something I've thought about, but unless I can score a T-34/6 to the Pensacola/Whiting area, not sure I want to go to one of the UPT bases as soon to be 30 year old who's single.

Any thoughts or advice on this matter? I still have no idea what my follow-on assignment will be when I leave here and right now I have a lot of crazy ideas floating in my head.

Yep, 500 hours of rated fixed wing time. Your best option is doing the fixed-wing transition (if it still exists), and going from there. I really see no other options.

And, yes, we've had a lot of helicopter pilots. The current FTU commander was a T-38 FAIP, who got a UH-1 as his follow-on. The FTU DO is a former Marine Cobra pilot, who did the T-6 at Randolph as a Marine. He was the first pilot to hit 1000 hours in the T-6. There are about 4 more helo pilots I can think of that are currently flying the Deuce.

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Whats the Yuba area like?

I have family there. Now, I haven't been home in 3yrs... from what I remember though, it sucks.

Yuba City has, I think, the highest unemployment rate. But, depending on if you want to commute or night, you have Winters, Sacramento, Chico, Paradise Valley, and a couple other cities near by that are a lot better then the Yuba City/Marysville.

California, in general, is over populated, but full of wonderful drivers! I know that near Travis, people weren't military friendly, with Marysville/Yuba City, I don't know..

across from where my parents live, a lot of new town houses/houses were built. Be ready to pass your neighbor a cup of sugar through a window--the houses are that close together!

Yuba City High school has their Prom in the mall's food court.

OH! and the best news, there's an In-N-Out!!!!

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I was stationed at Beale for a coupe of years before I seperated. Although there were times my wife and I complained about it, I miss Northern California a lot.

I lived in base housing and had the foothills in my backyard. I could slide open the patio door and start hiking right up the firebreak.

Marysville/Yuba City are usually number 299/300 on the Rand McNally list of the 300 best places to live. But the vally is great and the mountains are wonderful. Long weekend? Take the Wife/Husband/SO down to the bay area. or Napa Vally. Or skiing at Tahoe. Our camping in the mountains.

Like to run or ride your bike? Best CONUS base for such activities.

I can't speak to the flying activities, but are you kidding?

You get to:

Fly a jet powered taidragger that climbs in excess of 60 degrees nose up. An airplane that no matter how experienced you are in it, will continue to challenge you.

Tired of that? You get to strap on a T-38 for proficiency.

You get to be a member of a small, hand-picked cadre of aviators that does something unique in all of aviation wiwth a rich history. (Not many people can name the guy who designed a C-130, but everybody knows Kelly Johnson.)

You get to work in a Squadron that values it's heritage and history.

Fantasy Island.

There are very few jobs in aviation that raise even a hint of envy in me. I've lived my childhood dream and flown more than 58 types of aircraft. I fly in a comfortable Boeing at a major airline for a living and my "companion trainer" is my own J-3 Cub.

I would trade it all to fly U-2's.

You guys who are even remotely inrigued by this ought to be looking into it. Look at it this way. At my airline, all the ex F-15's drivers (For example) don't have any idea who each other is. (For the most part.) All the U-2 folks know one another other, even if they weren't in the program at the same time.

Why is that?

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Guest Bliotch

Are there any Height/Weight requirements for the Pressure Suits?

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Guest Hueypilot812

Huggy,

What are the chances of getting an interview, or getting picked up? What's really required? Thanks.

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What's required?? Well, we have these really form-fitting flightsuits, a la the Thunderbirds, and you have to be able to look good in those at airshows. They're made of polyester,... but I digress. Also, we are on a strict diet of baby food, peanuts, and popcorn,.... until we are one TACAN away from Beale: at that point we switch to beer and chicken wings.

Seriously, nothing magic. Go through the U-2 Pilot application on the Beale Website. Send us your documentation. We'll look it over. A Q-3 doesn't disqualify you. But just because you have all Q-1's doesn't mean we'll look at you either.

Good OPR stratification is good, too, if you're getting more senior.

The Wing CC letter should be 2 short sentences, as per the example. That's it: he supports you in your U-2 quest, and he will release you on X date. He shouldn't waste time writing a letter that sounds like yet another OPR, with "this guy is the model officer, and vounteers in the community, blah blah blah...".

Once at the interview, I want to see that you can adapt to the non-mil spec U-2. It might mean "unlearning" some of your previous airplane stuff. I think we can teach almost anyone, given enough sorties. However, we have to be able to teach you within the constraints of our syllabus.

Just as important, you'll need to decide at the interview if this is really for you. Some guys do not like flying the jet. Some find it too much physical work. Others find that it makes them scared, especially when they think about flying it with the pressure suit on (which you do NOT do during the interview; you just wear your flight suit).

Nothing cosmic. Just a good way to make sure we're going to have minimal training problems.

FYI, we shoot to train 16 pilots a year. Last year, we only trained 11 (thank you, VSP).

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How is flying the U-2 more physical than other jets? (curious)

Cables, bellcranks and pulleys. Long missions in an uncomfortable suit, without the ability to stand or walk.

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Follow up to the posts above:

Physical due to what LJDRVR said. No hydraulics on the primary flight controls. Just like your Cessna.

Yes, we get guys coming off the staff, school, etc...

No, you will not fly here 3-4 years and then go back to your old MWS. Don't bother applying if you do not have your heart set on becoming a U-2 pilot. This is not a job you should use to transition to something else. Come here to be an ISR pilot. Now, you might decide to go to TPS, or some cool joint job unrelated to the U-2, etc... but you better be willing to come here to put the suit on, and suck pure O2 for 9+ hours at a pop.

Most T-38 sorties are locals, but we encourage pilots to go OST (Off Station Training).

Yes, Oshkosh was great. We had 12 drivers there, including a couple that came out there on leave. We paid cash for everything,... using $2 bills (what else would you expect?). I think the Acee Deucee got about 50% of the cash we dropped.

Stiffler, a man's got to know his limits,... and I exceeded mine the evening before visiting your jet. You wouldn't have been impressed had I hoarked in your jet.

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60 gone, 60 home is "the standard". At least for a couple of years. After that, you might move into a position where you will deploy less. But our mission gets done "on the road", not at home. So if deploying isn't your cup of tea, then find a different career path. Our squadron went to the Middle East in '90 when Saddam invaded Kuwait, and we've been a continuous presence there since.

That said, the schedule is much more "predictable" and mapped out for the next 6+ months, as compared to what I hear happens in other communities.

High TDY rate: yes, maybe. But compared to other communites, maybe not so bad. That's up to you to decide, based on what you are doing now, or based on what you want to do.

Why less applicants? Very hard to say, but the impression that it's going to retire doesn't help. Also, many commanders discourage their pilots from applying. There are folks out there that have heard that you had to fly the T-38 in UPT to come here (not true).

Finally, I think guys don't/won't apply because they don't think they'll enjoy it, or that it's too hard. I find it interesting that Global Hawk has so many volunteers, and pilots that are trying to camp out in the Global Hawk community. They really don't want to deploy much, like they did in a previous job, and are willing to deal with operating the GH to get a certain quality of life.

I could list a dozen more reasons, but you get the idea.

When will the U-2 retire... hmmm..... In '97 or '98, the CSAF was Gen Fogleman, and he called the U-2 "a sunset program". And here we are 10+ years later.

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Guest Magicrat

Huggy,

How many guys does your unit have that were prior reservist and came back on active duty?

According to the link, it's possible...just curious if anyone has made the transition.

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Sorry about the delayed reply.

Lead time to visit: at least a day. If you can't do that, we'll make it work. DSN 368-4447, and ask for Mert. DSN 368-3838 and ask for Huggy (I gave up the "Recruting job" officially, and run the T-38 program now, but still help Mert out).

Reservists: yes, we'll hire you. We've done it many times (including yours truly). However, AFPC wants you to have been an Active Duty Officer at some point in your career. Being on "active duty orders" as a Guard/Reserve pilot during UPT doesn't count. If in doubt, call DSN 665-3708, and talk to CJ Smith at AFPC. The answers he will give are from the AFPC perspective, not the U-2/9th Recon Wing perspective.

Remember,... there's a waiver for everything.

BTW, my T-38 took a turkey vulture yesterday on the front canopy: damn bird!!

Oh, yeah,... the FY10 POM will be dropped in the next couple of months (probably). I think a lot of you will be looking for a manned cockpit job, so don't forget the U-2.

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I've heard rumors of medical issues becoming more prevelant w/in the U2 community. With the increased ops tempo and old planes, the life support equipment is becoming old and more pilots are suffering from altitude issues. Would you care to kill that rumor for me?

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Ditto. I've been hearing about rapid decompressions at altitude that do things to the body that pull pilots off flight status permanently. Apparently its not all that uncommon...

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I've heard rumors of medical issues becoming more prevelant w/in the U2 community. With the increased ops tempo and old planes, the life support equipment is becoming old and more pilots are suffering from altitude issues. Would you care to kill that rumor for me?

Rule out the life support equipment: no short cuts taken there.

Old airplanes? Most were built in the 80's, and nothing has changed to affect "medical issues".

So why has there been an increase in pilots having major DCS issues? Good question,... no answer. Maybe the higher amount of flying we're doing: we've had guys getting 160+ hours in a 60 day TDY. That's a lot of time sitting at 29,000' cabin pressure.

That said, I've been doing this a long time, and the only thing I've ever had (or at least noticed) was a bubble in my knee.

Here's an extreme example. An amazing story of teamwork that a printed article just can't do justice. You've got to hear Kevin tell the story. And look at the picture, too.

http://www.chicoer.com/advertise/ci_4609423

Ditto. I've been hearing about rapid decompressions at altitude that do things to the body that pull pilots off flight status permanently. Apparently its not all that uncommon...

What you've been hearing is wrong. There hasn't been a rapid decompression in years-and-years.

And as for pulling pilots off of flight status, wrong again: it is NOT a normal event.

Edited by Huggyu2

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Rule out the life support equipment: no short cuts taken there.

Old airplanes? Most were built in the 80's, and nothing has changed to affect "medical issues".

So why has there been an increase in pilots having major DCS issues? Good question,... no answer. Maybe the higher amount of flying we're doing: we've had guys getting 160+ hours in a 60 day TDY. That's a lot of time sitting at 29,000' cabin pressure.

That said, I've been doing this a long time, and the only thing I've ever had (or at least noticed) was a bubble in my knee.

Here's an extreme example. An amazing story of teamwork that a printed article just can't do justice. You've got to hear Kevin tell the story. And look at the picture, too.

http://www.chicoer.com/advertise/ci_4609423

What you've been hearing is wrong. There hasn't been a rapid decompression in years-and-years.

And as for pulling pilots off of flight status, wrong again: it is NOT a normal event.

I would like to echo what Huggy is saying. Our mission asks a lot from our bodies; we fly at very high ambient pressures for a very long time. Some people's bodies can handle it, some can't.

We have not significantly changed our flight times or TDY rates in the last 7 years. For every severe DCS event, we have had countless flawless missions. The guys getting "bent" are flying with the same equipment, inspected by the same people, and at the same physiological extremes as the all the pilots at the det. We are not being exposed to rapid decompressions or equipment failures. Pulling guys off of flight status is definitely not a normal event.

With that being said, the U-2 is not a normal airplane. She has extreme landing characteristics and flys literally at the edge of the flight envelope on every mission. She requires a pilot who can focus 100% on flying the mission 100% of the time. Not every pilot can do this. Not every pilot wants to do this.

If you want to fly a unique airplane on a unique mission, then you need to apply. I did it 7 years ago and have never regretted my decision.

Kuma

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Rule out the life support equipment: no short cuts taken there.

Old airplanes? Most were built in the 80's, and nothing has changed to affect "medical issues".

So why has there been an increase in pilots having major DCS issues? Good question,... no answer. Maybe the higher amount of flying we're doing: we've had guys getting 160+ hours in a 60 day TDY. That's a lot of time sitting at 29,000' cabin pressure.

That said, I've been doing this a long time, and the only thing I've ever had (or at least noticed) was a bubble in my knee.

Here's an extreme example. An amazing story of teamwork that a printed article just can't do justice. You've got to hear Kevin tell the story. And look at the picture, too.

http://www.chicoer.com/advertise/ci_4609423

What you've been hearing is wrong. There hasn't been a rapid decompression in years-and-years.

And as for pulling pilots off of flight status, wrong again: it is NOT a normal event.

As previously mentioned above, mostly hogwash, I think. I flew hundreds of "high" missions over a 20 year span, many over 11 hours (the standard mission in my early days). Several dozen knee or elbow aches which resulted in the flight doc saying, "let me know if it doesn't itself resolve over night", one more serious ache in the chest that required me to go by the flight med office after 48 hours for a "quick look", and one serious event which kept me in the hospital overnight for observation and a 96 hour grounding. That's it. I know of only one real RD in my time, which was exciting for the pilot but not a big issue...the suit inflated and the pilot returned to base (remember, the pilot wears a full pressure suit for that exact reason...if an RD occurs, the cockpit depressurizes, but the pilot is in the suit and it keeps him pressurized). Several more slow decompressions, over the 20 years, with little to no impact. I know of no pilot in the program really "grounded" (for more than a few days) simply for a bends event. Also, not only aren't the airplanes that old (virtually all built between 1983 and 1989), but the engines were replaced in the mid-to-late 90s, and the cockpit updated over the last few years with state-of-the-art avionics. They are as good as you can get.

I retired a few years ago, but between Huggy, Kuma and me it sounds like we cover the aircraft from about 1970 to today. While there have undoubtably been a few oddballs in the crew force over the years...no unit is perfect...overall the crew force is a great bunch of people and I'd put them up against any unit in the Air Force for flying skill, comraderie, concern for their squadron mates and families, and mission effectiveness. Not better mind you, but just as good as any other unit you can name!

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If you apply as a FAIP and are accepted, what do you afterwards? Do you transition to another ISR type aircraft? Or can you go back out into a more standard mission ACC, AFSOC, or AMC airframe?

If you come to the U-2, expect to stay there.

In reality, if you go through the interview process and like it, you'll probably want to stay a long time.

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If you come to the U-2, expect to stay there.

In reality, if you go through the interview process and like it, you'll probably want to stay a long time.

I definitely think that this is a sweet deal. If you want to come here, you should be in it for the long haul. Traditionally, the FAIPs have done very well here because they have plenty of time to learn the jet and still keep up with the expected career enhancing assignments.

With that being said, I've known guys to leave the U-2 for AETC tours, AFSOC tours or back to their original MWS. I've also known a C-21 guy that flew U-2s for a few years go to F-16s. He spent a while flying F-16s AD then spent a few years flying F-16s for the reserves then came back on AD to fly U-2s again (where I met him). He flew with us a while, but then landed a job flying F-16 aggressors down at Weapons School.

My point here is that you need to join the U-2 program because you want to be a U-2 pilot. Period. Huggy and I are part of the hiring process (as are all of the U-2 pilots) and if we smell that you are using the U-2 as a stepping stone to another aircraft or program, you won't make it past the interview. But, once you are here, if you find it does not meet your expectations, or you are unwilling to do the job, there have been plenty of pilots who have found other flying jobs. This is not a "dead end" job.

There have been a few long term DNIF pilots in the program recently. I don't know why, how, or when their problems manifested themselves, but they are well taken care of. We have found flying jobs or career enhancing staff jobs for all of them.

We are a brother/sisterhood; we take care of our own. In answer to Razorback's question we are 11R and we have the same flesh peddler as the other platforms, but we have never been limited to sending a guy to RJ, RC, AWACs, or the global hawk.

If you are curious, take a look at www.beale.af.mil and the U-2 pilot application on the right hand side. Give a call to our chief of recruiting, Maj Merten, and get the ball rolling.

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