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Questions on TPS (Test Pilot School)

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Why do you want to go to TPS?

I ask because there are test jobs out there that are pretty damn relevant but don't require going to a year of hodge-podge academics and a life in AFMC.

Do tell more please.

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Why do you want to go to TPS?

I ask because there are test jobs out there that are pretty damn relevant but don't require going to a year of hodge-podge academics and a life in AFMC.

Right now (Summer and Fall VML) operational test can't get any rated pilot bodies in the door, because we are considered a nice to fill and not a need to fill. The 53rd Wing falls behind ops squadrons and training squadrons to include FTU, UPT, IFF, PIT, etc. in the priority list for manning. That said the only guys that seem to be able to work their way in with any consistency are fast burner WIC types that are using it as a holding pattern between WIC instructor and IDE in residence.

So while those opportunities do exist people need to realize they are VERY hard to get into, and everything is competitive.

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quote-Mark-Twain-never-pick-a-fight-with

I think this means not to fight the print media as they "guided" public opinion in the 19th century. Not sure I connect the dots here...

Do tell more please.

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TPS was a really fun year, but its essentially a series of week or two-week long survey courses strung together to form a year. The idea is that, in total, all grads will have a working knowledge of the entirety of the military flight test profession. Each one week block is someone's PhD and 30-year engineering career. TPS is breadth where WIC seeks depth.

Operational Test and Developmental Test have different goals and different paths to resolve issues found in testing. I found that often my bros in OT had more power than I in the test phase as issues found in DT basically get resolved via committee decision with the program office. Part of TPS is learning how the acquisitions sausage gets made.

I have found my outside-the-AF career options to be greater since TPS. There simply is no civilian equivalent to being an experienced aviator knowledgable in a wide range fo flight test topics. At various points in the recent past, I have seriously considered flying jobs for Boeing and Garmin.

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Done both DT and OT for multiple MDS. Both are rewarding, but different. Functional DT/OT test teams talk; the degree to which that happens is personality dependent.

AFTC: you do a bunch of work, get a couple heavy hitter issues fixed, and then the SPO takes the credit.

53 WG: you do a bunch of work, get a couple heavy hitter issues fixed, and then AFOTEC takes the credit.

If you are the sort of person competitive for both TPS and WIC, understand their missions before submitting apps. Both camps attract people who don't understand their purposes.

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Update from this years application - my time in service waiver was not approved, so my app didn't make it to the board.  I only bring it up because I think this confirms my "no news is good news" hunch on the waivers - the last two years I never heard anything back (about the waivers or application), this year I got an email about 3 weeks after the app due date/2 weeks before the board meeting saying my waiver had not been approved. 

Figured I'd pass the info on so the next round of applicants will know their waivers get approved or not. 

Also, my waiver for TIS was approved last year, which was for only a couple months (I think it its 9yr3mo at start date, and I would have been around 9yr7mo at start date, something like that). So, if you are close, I think they will allow it, but if you are over a year beyond the requirement (I'm 05 year group) the door seems pretty closed. Apply early, apply often....

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Apply early, apply often....

This.  Given the push to get younger pilots in, this will likely be the new norm.  I wrote a recommendation for a guy who, like you, was a month or two over the limit by class start date.  His waiver was denied. AFTC wants to get more mileage from their test pilots, which is only possible by taking younger ones. 

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 AFTC wants to get more mileage from their test pilots, which is only possible by taking younger ones. 

or...like the rest of the AF, improve their QOL and they'll stay in much longer.

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or...like the rest of the AF, improve their QOL and they'll stay in much longer.

Valid, I think TPS graduate personnel managers consider QOL secondary to bridging manning gaps.  The overarching intent, gathered by many, is to admit rated aircrew into TPS earlier (quality allowing, of course) in order to get longer first test tours and more opportunities to send a select few to PM jobs later with the intent to build a pool of potential future SMLs.

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Valid, I think TPS graduate personnel managers consider QOL secondary to bridging manning gaps.  The overarching intent, gathered by many, is to admit rated aircrew into TPS earlier (quality allowing, of course) in order to get longer first test tours and more opportunities to send a select few to PM jobs later with the intent to build a pool of potential future SMLs.

Yeah...they don't necessarily make that clear to dudes at application time. The pitch "How would you like to go to a really awesome school, get a flight test job, then be a PM, maybe sit somewhere in SAF/AQ, and likely never fly again after senior captain?" may not sound that great. 

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Yeah...they don't necessarily make that clear to dudes at application time. The pitch "How would you like to go to a really awesome school, get a flight test job, then be a PM, maybe sit somewhere in SAF/AQ, and likely never fly again after senior captain?" may not sound that great. 

Erm, all the pilots in my TPS class who wanted to stay flying were able to do so.  All the ones that wanted to get on the O-6 train (School, Staff, PM, AQL, etc...) were also able to do so.  Those that wanted to do both, weren't so successful...  You gotta pick your poison.  From what I can see, this is also the same in other MAJCOMs.

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Reviving an old thread here. Looking to apply to The as an RPA Pilot but I don't have the technical degree. Looking to apply for a waiver. Obviously I'd be competing against super stars but does anyone have any insider info on acceptance of degree waivers and best ways to improve chances. 

 

Thanks for your time.

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It depends... they choose the best from those that apply... if no one applies except you, you are the best. (This goes for the rest of the AF!)  Age waivers don't happen much, degree waivers depend on a lot of factors... might as well try.

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I am starting UPT in March but one of my long term goals in the AF is to become a test pilot. Reading this thread makes me realize that acceptance into TPS comes down to what AF needs are at the time. Aside from the typical be the best at your job, for those of you who have gone to TPS, any general career advice on things I can do position myself as a better candidate when the time comes?

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On 12/14/2017 at 1:03 AM, tedybearofdoom said:

I am starting UPT in March but one of my long term goals in the AF is to become a test pilot. Reading this thread makes me realize that acceptance into TPS comes down to what AF needs are at the time. Aside from the typical be the best at your job, for those of you who have gone to TPS, any general career advice on things I can do position myself as a better candidate when the time comes?

There are a lot of variables you can't control when applying for TPS, but control what you can. When able, start work on an engineering masters. If you have poor grades in some areas, considering attempting to retake those classes online. Apply early and apply often. Many, many people get in on their second or third try. Waivers for # of flight hours do get approved. So if you don't meet the minimums, don't let that discourage you from applying. Waivers for time in service are much more difficult to get approval for. 

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9 hours ago, Seriously said:

There are a lot of variables you can't control when applying for TPS, but control what you can. When able, start work on an engineering masters. If you have poor grades in some areas, considering attempting to retake those classes online. Apply early and apply often. Many, many people get in on their second or third try. Waivers for # of flight hours do get approved. So if you don't meet the minimums, don't let that discourage you from applying. Waivers for time in service are much more difficult to get approval for. 

Thanks for the info. How necessary do you think a masters is if my B.S is in Aero Eng and my second B.S is in Applied Math? Is getting an engineering masters online vs in class detrimental or do typical boards don't care?

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5 hours ago, tedybearofdoom said:

Thanks for the info. How necessary do you think a masters is if my B.S is in Aero Eng and my second B.S is in Applied Math? Is getting an engineering masters online vs in class detrimental or do typical boards don't care?

Very hard to say. If your B.S. GPA is 3.0-3.5, I would definitely begin work on the masters after UPT, of course. Online is fine. 

Doing well in pilot training trumps getting a masters any day of the week. 

 

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Very hard to say. If your B.S. GPA is 3.0-3.5, I would definitely begin work on the masters after UPT, of course. Online is fine. 
Doing well in pilot training trumps getting a masters any day of the week. 
 
And if you graduated with > 3.5?

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7 hours ago, Kenny Powers said:
8 hours ago, Seriously said:
Very hard to say. If your B.S. GPA is 3.0-3.5, I would definitely begin work on the masters after UPT, of course. Online is fine. 
Doing well in pilot training trumps getting a masters any day of the week. 
 

And if you graduated with > 3.5?

 

Whether you received a GPA above or below 3.5 is somewhat immaterial in the grand scheme of things.  The question you need to ask yourself is: even if I don't get into TPS someday, will I think my time spent working on a Master's was worthwhile in its own right?  If you enjoy learning and think you can devote extra time to an advanced degree, in a relevant field, then pursue one.  If, on the other hand, you are merely trying to grasp the golden ring that is TPS, I would advise against such a pursuit, but I have a different philosophy.  

To answer your question, having a Master's will generally help your package regardless of undergraduate GPA as long as the Master's GPA is sufficiently high (above 3.25 or so) and in a relevant field.

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12 hours ago, Kenny Powers said:
13 hours ago, Seriously said:
Very hard to say. If your B.S. GPA is 3.0-3.5, I would definitely begin work on the masters after UPT, of course. Online is fine. 
Doing well in pilot training trumps getting a masters any day of the week. 
 

And if you graduated with > 3.5?

Then it comes down to what Muscle said. 

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Reviving an old thread here. Looking to apply to The as an RPA Pilot but I don't have the technical degree. Looking to apply for a waiver. Obviously I'd be competing against super stars but does anyone have any insider info on acceptance of degree waivers and best ways to improve chances. 
 
Thanks for your time.

I’ve never seen anyone get in without a technical degree. I’ve seen several without technical bachelor’s, but had a technical master’s. There’s a fairly wide list of what can be considered technical though.

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I'm in that same boat of not having a STEM undergrad but wanting to apply with a technical masters . AFI99-107 states "A Master of Science (MS) degree in any engineering field (without a Bachelor of Science (BS) Degree in Engineering) also qualifies." Is anyone aware if this includes "MS in Engineering Management" type degrees or if there have been any selects with a similar degree? Follow on question; is getting an online degree counted against you on the board? ... being part of an ops SQ in BFE leaves my co-located academic intuition prospects sorely limited. 

Thanks in advance! 

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8 hours ago, flyingmoustache said:

Follow on question; is getting an online degree counted against you on the board? 

If your MS EM is from a respectable institution, it isn’t going to say “online” on the degree or transcript; they may note that you have done a non-thesis option if you choose that, but otherwise it’s an MS. 

 

They ought to look on it favorably, honestly, that you completed an MS distance program while working 69 hours a week. But I’m biased. 

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8 hours ago, flyingmoustache said:

I'm in that same boat of not having a STEM undergrad but wanting to apply with a technical masters . AFI99-107 states "A Master of Science (MS) degree in any engineering field (without a Bachelor of Science (BS) Degree in Engineering) also qualifies." Is anyone aware if this includes "MS in Engineering Management" type degrees or if there have been any selects with a similar degree? Follow on question; is getting an online degree counted against you on the board? ... being part of an ops SQ in BFE leaves my co-located academic intuition prospects sorely limited. 

Thanks in advance! 

 

4 minutes ago, SurelySerious said:

If your MS EM is from a respectable institution, it isn’t going to say “online” on the degree or transcript; they may note that you have done a non-thesis option if you choose that, but otherwise it’s an MS. 

 

They ought to look on it favorably, honestly, that you completed an MS distance program while working 69 hours a week. But I’m biased. 

I need to check the latest PSDM for the TPS selection board, but I am fairly confident that Engineering Management was not considered a qualifying degree.

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18 minutes ago, Muscle2002 said:

 

I need to check the latest PSDM for the TPS selection board, but I am fairly confident that Engineering Management was not considered a qualifying degree.

Sorry, should have been more specific: mine was commentary purely on distance learning vs on campus degree. 

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