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Seems like valid questions to me.  Were there any extenuating circumstances?  Long story, but as an OPS SUP on a recent deployment, I found myself cancelling lines when the weather was "technically" legal.  Things like lack of reliable weather reporting, lack of support at diverts, PR grounded for weather, zero Americans outside the wire, all lead to those decisions.  We were never questioned by anyone in our chain of command...well anyone with wings on their chest and AF on their name tag.  

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So on the topic of “toxic leadership” and command pressure to fly, I’d love to get opinions on this scenario.

Debrief? Is that toxic? Where’s the line between toxic and upholding the standard? Is this in the same ballpark as the Tinker OG?


No way, not toxic.

There’s a big difference between launching three crews in their circadian nadir “just because” on an exercise line due to poor staff planning and supporting combat ops with what I will assume is a good jet and a rested crew carrying enough gas to get to your alternate.

Shoot the approach, land or go around, divert if you have to, come back tomorrow. I’ve come back from training lines here on the coast and dealt with that type of wx. Wx happens, forecasts are wrong, etc. Sometimes you come home and it’s not what you expected.

Ask my kid about his second solo when Mother Nature decided to kick it up a notch and throw a 15 kt crosswind at him right after takeoff. It happens.

That’s just one pilot’s opinion though. It is a slippery slope. Clearly the SEFE who didn’t feel comfortable flying in 300 and 3/4 didn’t feel that way.
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When I canceled a sortie, I fully expected to have to explain the decision with actual facts in addition to my general intuition of the situation…sounds reasonable to me.

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One of the reasons I love coming here is the different perspectives I get to see that I don’t otherwise get to experience.

For example, from SocialD’s post...PR grounded for wx.

As a tanker guy I don’t think anyone would even think to ask that question. If the wx sucks in country, they just launch the tankers “just in case”. Plenty of times I’ve flown above hard IMC below me for literally hours, no receivers, just turning gas into noise. We have a problem, we head home on most of our four engines. If it’s catastrophic, there isn’t a PR force in the world that can help us.

Looking at Danger’s situation through my lens is somewhat different than SocialD’s lens.

It’s interesting to see what goes into everyone’s calculus.

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One of the reasons I love coming here is the different perspectives I get to see that I don’t otherwise get to experience.

For example, from SocialD’s post...PR grounded for wx.

As a tanker guy I don’t think anyone would even think to ask that question. If the wx sucks in country, they just launch the tankers “just in case”. Plenty of times I’ve flown above hard IMC below me for literally hours, no receivers, just turning gas into noise. We have a problem, we head home on most of our four engines. If it’s catastrophic, there isn’t a PR force in the world that can help us.

Looking at Danger’s situation through my lens is somewhat different than SocialD’s lens.

It’s interesting to see what goes into everyone’s calculus.


Agreed. As a U-28 guy we regularly launched just because. Then after many years a great sq/cc stopped that.

Why the hell are we launching above a solid IMC layer with no troops on the ground? And why are we doing it when we can’t even see where we would glide if our one and only engine went out?

That guy was worth his salt and a tremendous leader who took shit for that decision but at the time the weather was completely good enough to takeoff and land with minimums.

Some things you can’t describe in the 202-V3.

And for what it’s worth he was a former F15 guy who would absolutely want to lead his guys into battle on night one.

You are right Scooter though, we can’t learn if we don’t talk about it and thus yes. Absolutely great discourse on here the last few days.


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So in Danger’s situation...weather is above mins. Low, but above mins...go fly the damn airplane.  If the dude isn’t comfortable shooting an approach to mins, there’s something amiss with him, IMHO. 

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RM math isn’t anywhere near perfect, but it also never will be. Sometimes a risk assessment just comes down to gut feeling. Hairs on the back of the neck and all that.

If a dude one day isn’t comfortable with 300/1 and he wants to cancel, sure go ahead. If a dude will never be comfortable with 300/1, that’s a different problem.

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7 hours ago, Danger41 said:

So on the topic of “toxic leadership” and command pressure to fly, I’d love to get opinions on this scenario. And spears as well but hopefully someone can learn from my thought process and your responses.

Several times in deployed environments, other AC’s have elected to cancel based on low weather given instrument approaches available (e.g. 300&3/4 when an ILS with 200 & 1/2 is available) with no forecast showing it will get worse or significantly better). The phrase they’d always use is it’s the “conservative” choice. Well one time I’m the DO deployed and a guy who is a bit notorious for canceling in that scenario comes to me and says he’s going to cancel. I ask why and he says for weather. I had him walk me through it and there was usable weather at the field at Takeoff and Land +\- 1 hour and also a viable alternate (which admittedly was 250 miles away and would reduce 75% of station time). After showing that, I said I didn’t understand the cancel decision. There was then a bleeding heart speech about backing up AC’s and undue pressure to fly when it was unsafe etc. I’m not particularly proud of my response but I said that I’d back up his decision every time, but I asked if we need to look at our evaluation criteria because we don’t have Pilot Weather Categories and all of our AC’s are approved to what’s on the plate. He said no (he was a SEFE) to which I retorted why aren’t you going then? “Because that’s my decision” and I said “then why do we have the 202v3 if it’s just up to your gut”. He then asked if I was ordering him to go when he felt unsafe and I said no, I don’t have that authority and wouldn’t do that if I did. We canceled the line, NBD and then I get feedback at the end of the deployment from this guy about how I set up a toxic environment and he cited this particular case. That pissed me off but I just let it go and moved on but it ate at me for awhile. A few other guys made similar comments while others praised me for upholding the standard, etc.

Debrief? Is that toxic? Where’s the line between toxic and upholding the standard? Is this in the same ballpark as the Tinker OG?

No, def not toxic.  I’ve been in shoes similar to you in a deployed environment.  At a certain point we are appointed with executing the mission. I’d look at any of my ACs sideways if they cancelled due to WX being 300-3/4 when mins are 200-1/2.  Just go out there and get er done dude.  However, like you, I was sensitive about having my AC’s backs if they did make the tough call even if I disagreed with said decision.

Tinker, different story.  Crews were not safe to fly and got their butts chewed for ORM. Not to mention it was a training environment. That’s a huge foul on part of said OG.  

Let’s cultivate a climate where ACs are empowered but at the same time are willing to lean forward and get the mission done in the grey zone. 
 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hey All. New to the forum. I was selected for UPT (active duty) and guard/reserves is an unlikely an option, as I'm a little on the older side. How is the environment in the Air Force right now and is the flying worth the 10 year contract that follows UPT? I'm curious if you would make the same decision to join the Air Force knowing what you know now.

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Fuck yeah. I think there are incredibly few people who flew mil aircraft and truly regretted it. Sure you may punch at 10 because it became “not worth it” anymore, but even if that happens, you got your ticket to the airlines paid for (if that’s your longterm goal) and you’ll still have awesome experiences and memories that no civilian will ever have. 

Im sitting equal with guys who threw bags, flew night freight, then slung gear in the regionals for peanuts for a decade…there’s not a bad day in the AF that could make me wish I had that guy’s path instead of mine. To each their own. 

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9 hours ago, Sandiegosurf said:

Hey All. New to the forum. I was selected for UPT (active duty) and guard/reserves is an unlikely an option, as I'm a little on the older side. How is the environment in the Air Force right now and is the flying worth the 10 year contract that follows UPT? I'm curious if you would make the same decision to join the Air Force knowing what you know now.

I think things are great!  Come on in the water is fine.

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My buddies in college who went the civilian path to the airlines all beat me to a seniority number (some by a significant amount and some by weeks)...but my quality of living was definitely higher during the in-between time. Hard to say, but even the dozen deployments to the Deid is better than the first 6-9 of years of regional pay (and arguably better than regional crash pads).

Overall, no regerts.

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To pile onto StoleIt's post (for those looking at the Guard), I beat every one of my college buddies (by a year+) to a seniority, number because I was in the Guard.  Hired with 4-5 years left on my UPT commitment...was in the class behind my UPT OSS/CC.  As much as I bitch about all the shitty stuff I deal with now, I'd do it again in a heartbeat.  I've gotten to do some incredible things that I never dreamt I'd ever get to do.  It's just now that I have done it all, the BS just isn't worth it to me anymore...you'll get there some day too.  There are just way too many things I want to do on the outside, and the military just gets in the way anymore.  

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4 hours ago, Sandiegosurf said:

Great stuff, thanks all. Do you think there will be any issues going to UPT at 30 years old? I'm guessing generally most folks will be younger, but performance is evaluated the same regardless of age. 

I started at almost 28.  I was in pretty good shape and that helped.  UPT will wear you down physically due to the long hours.  It's harder to recover as you get older, so show up as fit as you can manage and then do your best to maintain.

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21 hours ago, Sandiegosurf said:

Great stuff, thanks all. Do you think there will be any issues going to UPT at 30 years old? I'm guessing generally most folks will be younger, but performance is evaluated the same regardless of age. 

I was pushing 29 when I started.. don't suck and you will be fine.

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I've gotten quite salty, but there still isn't a single time where I'm raging low level, doing HAAR, or gunnery where I'm thinking "I shouldn't have done this."

Even less so with a one month old infant on the hoist during a tropical storm. Or swooping in to grab a ground pounder who is having a really, really bad day.

Yeah, there's a lot of other things which frustrate me to no end...but the flying and the relationships I've built with my fellow aircrew are ultimately worth it. For another six years anyway....

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