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Switching Airframes


NoFlyZone

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Hey everyone. I’ve looked everywhere online and done multiple searches on this forum to find the answer to this question but haven’t been able to find anything concrete. Do pilots commonly switch aircraft within their types (cargo, tankers, afsoc aircraft, fighters) or do they stay on the same airframe for their entire career? For example, do C17 pilots commonly switch to the C5 or C130 in their career or do they stay with the C17? Thanks in advance!

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I'll lead in with this: welcome to Baseops my sweet summer child...oh wait...

WELCOME TO THUNDERDOME

In general: in AMC, you remain in the airframe you were assigned initially.  C-130 slick bubbas stay in C-130 slicks.  (common misconception: C-130 slick dudes do not easily slide into the AC or MC-130 unless selected).  C-17 guys stay in C-17s.  25% of that C-17 force is airdrop qual'd and you'll have to ask an airdrop guy what that's all about...not my world.  

In honesty, there a lot of sincerely and deeply experienced dudes on this board.  The question you've asked has been addressed many...many...many...many.......maaaaany times, HOWEVER it may or may not have been addressed recently. The environment is changing rapidly with each UPT graduation.

The short answer to your core question: "if I track C-X am I stuck in C-X" the answer is unknown.  The real answer is that that the cross-flow program is highly active and highly political...and HIGHLY TIME SENSATIVE.  If you fly transport (C-5/C-130), then the tradition crossflow wants to put you into a tanker (KC-135/KC-10/KC46)...and vs versa.   That transfer is 100% dependent on luck and timing.   

I can't say anything at all about fighter to fighter transfers.  I ain't gay, but those tubby bitches love the cock.

Be the best you can at your job.  When you're given a job (reads.airframe.you.didn't.want) continue to be the best at your job and you will have options.  Succeed and you may find that you're airframe is actually what you wanted (often happens), or that it steppingstone you to where you needed to be.

Edited by FourFans130
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Thank you gentleman! I'm currently a USAFA cadet, and have been hearing mixed things from opposite ends of the spectrum (gold bars here on casual and Lt Col's teaching me in my courses). I didn't think it made sense for people to cross-train on different airframes for little to no reason (and I personally would not want to if I'm lucky enough to pull a pilot slot out of here). As far as my lack of finding other threads answering the same question - that's on me and my poor researching skills. Thanks again!

 

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Thank you gentleman! I'm currently a USAFA cadet, and have been hearing mixed things from opposite ends of the spectrum (gold bars here on casual and Lt Col's teaching me in my courses). I didn't think it made sense for people to cross-train on different airframes for little to no reason (and I personally would not want to if I'm lucky enough to pull a pilot slot out of here). As far as my lack of finding other threads answering the same question - that's on me and my poor researching skills. Thanks again!
 

Phoenix Reach is AMC’s cross flow program for Captains. It’s typically tanker-airlift or airlift-tanker. People will also flow to different airframes following airframe divestiture (C-130H several years ago, and KC-10 in the future). It’s not as common at the Sq/CC level, but many OGs and WG/CCs are given command of units that operate a plane they didn’t previously fly (which doesn’t always go so well, see Dyess AFB).


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30 minutes ago, CaptainMorgan said:


Phoenix Reach is AMC’s cross flow program for Captains. It’s typically tanker-airlift or airlift-tanker. People will also flow to different airframes following airframe divestiture (C-130H several years ago, and KC-10 in the future). It’s not as common at the Sq/CC level, but many OGs and WG/CCs are given command of units that operate a plane they didn’t previously fly (which doesn’t always go so well, see Dyess AFB).


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Great info, thanks!

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2 hours ago, NoFlyZone said:

(gold bars here on casual and Lt Col's teaching me in my courses). 

Problem is, neither of these groups know what they’re talking about. LTs are as dumb as a container of rocks, and Lt Cols are far too removed from these types of programs to know any better either (especially if they’re teaching at the zoo). 
 

Go find the Capts out there who can give you the real scoop.

Edited by WheelsOff
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32 minutes ago, WheelsOff said:

Problem is, neither of these groups know what they’re talking about. LTs are as dumb as a container of rocks, and Lt Cols are far too removed from these types of programs to know any better either (especially if they’re teaching at the zoo). 
 

Go find the Capts out there who can give you the real scoop.

Good point

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There are also UPT, white jet, Green Door, etc assignments available that can get you into a different jet.

Don't suck and you can apply to the 89th. Win a lottery ticket (and also don't suck) and you can fly the C-37's out of Ramstein or Hickam or the C-40 out of Scott (if they don't close).

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1 hour ago, WheelsOff said:

Problem is, neither of these groups know what they’re talking about. LTs are as dumb as a container of rocks, and Lt Cols are far too removed from these types of programs to know any better either (especially if they’re teaching at the zoo). 
 

Go find the Capts out there who can give you the real scoop.

I am a Captain that's been in the flying world for a minute and fighting for a crossflow, and I can give you the scoop. A very typical post-UPT career will be 2 ops assignments, with an FTU assignment. For instance a typical AMC career will probably look like UPT -> Ops -> UPT/FTU instructor -> Ops/Staff -> Delta/United/FedEx 

So outside of going and instructing UPT, opportunities do exist, but they're rare and you usually have to fight for them. Set yourself up for success by being a good dude in your community, a good pilot with a solid record, and try to upgrade as quick as you can. Let your commander know your intentions, and hopefully you're in a community that has healthy manning so the functional doesn't deny your ass every time you try and get a release, which is my struggle. 

I'm in AMC, so I can mostly speak to that side of the house. The Phoenix Reach program has been going on for awhile now, and it's fairly competitive. You usually go from airlift/tanker and vice versa. There's mechanical crossflow opportunities right now that we're seeing to beef up the KC-46 manning, usually from overmanned or soon-to-be-divested aircraft. I can't speak to the fighter community, but I think they're doing the same for the legacy aircraft and flowing dudes/dudettes into the F-35. To speak to the mechanical crossflow, we're getting a bunch of KC-10 and AWACs dudes coming through our FTU since those airframes are drawing down and preparing for retirement, and those guys aren't going through a special board or anything.

I have heard of dudes/dudettes going to AFSOC from AMC, I just don't know what the process is for that. Also a few years and some change ago, there was a board that took a handful of MAF guys that flew T-38s and put them through IFF. I think that was a one time thing. Going from heavy to fighter, at least on active duty, seems pretty impossible.  

If you have IP time, you can get some special white jets outside of UPT such as the C-37, and C-40. They have good locations like Hawaii, Germany, and Scott. 

You also have the rarer boarded opportunities such as the B-2, U-2, or 89th Airlift (Air Force One and friends). I personally do not know anyone who has been selected for any of those out of AMC. I'm sure they exist I just don't know them. 

Finally, there are some opportunities where they call you. I know some guys that have gotten the call to the special program, but none that have been selected or decided to drop. 

Edited by LoveDumpster
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