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Thread: Flight school?

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    #1

    Flight school?

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    DH is a Marine and he's currently finishing up the MECEP program. He originally wanted to be a pilot, found out he was too old, and didn't give it another thought. Now, however, because the Corps is shrinking, pilots are actually in demand (all the pilots are opting to retire early I guess). So because DH has 20/20 vision, he thinks there's a good shot.

    I know NOTHING about the flight aspect of things. Can someone fill me in on what the career progression would be like? I know it'd be Pensacola after TBS but that's all I know--how long would we be there? When would he have specific aircraft training (and for how long?). What are the hours like, deployments, etc? Just trying to get an idea about where we might be going and what we'll be in for if this actually works out.
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    I *think* the Marine program is the same as the Navy, in which case I can tell you how it is (assuming it hasn't changed).

    They go to Pcola for IFS, which is basically some flights in a civilian aircraft to make sure they don't totally freak out when they leave the ground. I think people with previous civilian flight experience are sometimes allowed to skip it. Then they go to a school in Pcola (blanking on the acronym at the moment) where they learn about weather and the basics of flight. It is all clasroom, no flying. Then they go to Primary. Primary can be in Pcola or Corpus Christi, Tx. (Generally they try to keep the married guys in Pcola because it costs more to move them, but that's not something you can count on 100%.) That is where they start flying. At the end of Primary, they will select a platform. This is not an aircraft, just a platform--jets, helos, or non-jet planes. Based on that, they then move to the next phase of flight school. Here, it gets different and locations and other details vary depending on what they select. At the end of that (which is sometimes divided into several parts), they get their wings and are officially aviators. At that point, they select a specific aircraft and go to what the Navy calls the FRS (Fleet Replacement Squadron, aka the RAG Replacement Air Group, which is the old name but what many still call it). I am not sure if the Marines do the same. But that is the place where they learn to fly their specific aircraft, and then they go to a regular squadron for a regular job.

    I think most of the secondary training (so after they've finished Primary in Corpus or PCola) is in the PCola area, but there is some jet trainign in Kingsville, and maybe a few other potential locations for various pipelines.

    Time is hard to say. The jet pipeline takes much longer than the helo pipeline, for example. From the start of flight school until winging a very rough estimate would be 2-3 years. But that depends on wait times between phases, weather, what they select, and more.

    And I should note that when I say "select", like all things military, it isn't really a selection. You submit a preference list and then you get what you get. There are nuances like minimum grades to get jets, occasional drafts where everyone in a class is given X, etc., but the real take away is just that you get what you get.

    Hours in flight school are weird. There might be times, especially between phases of training, where the do nothing but check in every day, basically. There are other times where they are in harder phases of training and will be flying a ton, doing lots of simulators, and studying their asses off. Overall, however, the hours are pretty good. Sometimes they will fly on weekends and there are night flights, but the hours aren' super long overall. He will need to be studying a lot during his downtime, however. Often the schedule will be something like going in for a flight and briefing for a few hours, and then being done, but he would potentially need to study for several hours. They don't fly every day. Sometimes, they can go a couple weeks without flying even, and sometimes they'll have 3 flights a week and struggle to keep up. It's very much high and low. There are no deployments.

    Can I ask how old your DH is? As far as I know, if he is too old, there are no waivers for that. There are some waivers for those with prior enlisted time, but those are very specific and based on how much E time they have. Beyond that, I think that the age limits are the age limits.

    I found this, which matches what I understood to be true.

    To become a Naval or Marine Corps Aviator, you must be between the ages of 19 and 26 at the time you enter flight training. Adjustments (waivers) can be made up to 24 months for those with prior service, and up to 48 months for those already in the military at the time of application.
    And that 24 months for priors is not automatic and how much they actually get is based on time served, I believe.

    Let me know if you have any other questions!
    Science always wins over bullshit. ~Dick Rutkowski
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    Thanks, that's so helpful! DH is 30, so we both thought he was way old. The Marine Corps has waivers up to 29.5, but again, he's past that, so we didn't even pursue it. I think it's legit though--he called me this morning to ask me about starting the paperwork process. All the guys graduating from the unit had a meeting about it with command today, and two other seniors are putting in for it with DH (one of whom is older than he is). He called me this afternoon to talk about the timeline for taking some test and then scheduling for the day he has to fly out to San Diego for a physical. I'll see him later tonight and ask, but the general gist I got was that with downsizing and the shrinking of the Marine Corps, a lot of pilots are retiring early and getting more lucrative jobs in the private sector? Creating a pilot shortage? Like I said, I haven't gotten all of the details yet, and the whole thing has honestly caught me off guard, but he was always wanting to go the aviation route and previously thought it wasn't an option, so I'll be really happy for him if he does get a flight contract.
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    Oh, and he is prior enlisted, which is why he'd be eligible for a waiver. He's been in for 10 years and is currently active duty. The years he's at school for MECEP count towards his retirement and he still gets active duty benefits and everything. Maybe that's why his age isn't as big of a deal?
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    Quote Originally Posted by JaneSays View Post
    Oh, and he is prior enlisted, which is why he'd be eligible for a waiver. He's been in for 10 years and is currently active duty. The years he's at school for MECEP count towards his retirement and he still gets active duty benefits and everything. Maybe that's why his age isn't as big of a deal?
    It sounds like he's still within that range. 26 plus 48 months (4 years) for those already in the military puts it at 30. He'd have to start flight school before his next birthday, but hopefully that is later in the year.
    Science always wins over bullshit. ~Dick Rutkowski
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    Age waivers, even when pilots are in demand, are exceptionally rare. My husband just got selected to fly fighters in the USAF ANG (he is currently an Army pilot) and he just barely squeaked by age-wise. Fighter units (and some heavy units) are so damn competitive that guys asking for age waivers don't have much of a chance at all.

    The "pilot exodus" to the civilian industry has some truth to it but not entirely. The aviation industry as a whole is going through a lot of changes right now and although there are a lot of guys going to the majors, there is no shortage of young, qualified applicants, especially coming out of civilian flight programs who want to fly in the military. There is absolutely no shortage of applicants.

    I would highly recommend Army Aviation for your husband because of his age. The Army allows guys up to 35 to submit a packet, and they like variety in their guys. I have a friend who went Army Aviation from the Marines and he has a great career. If your husband has competitive scores and a good military record, he has a decent change of getting picked up. It's something to consider. Best of luck, aviation is the way to go! We might be biased though.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JaneSays View Post
    Thanks, that's so helpful! DH is 30, so we both thought he was way old. The Marine Corps has waivers up to 29.5, but again, he's past that, so we didn't even pursue it. I think it's legit though--he called me this morning to ask me about starting the paperwork process. All the guys graduating from the unit had a meeting about it with command today, and two other seniors are putting in for it with DH (one of whom is older than he is). He called me this afternoon to talk about the timeline for taking some test and then scheduling for the day he has to fly out to San Diego for a physical. I'll see him later tonight and ask, but the general gist I got was that with downsizing and the shrinking of the Marine Corps, a lot of pilots are retiring early and getting more lucrative jobs in the private sector? Creating a pilot shortage? Like I said, I haven't gotten all of the details yet, and the whole thing has honestly caught me off guard, but he was always wanting to go the aviation route and previously thought it wasn't an option, so I'll be really happy for him if he does get a flight contract.
    and

    Quote Originally Posted by Aviatrix View Post
    Age waivers, even when pilots are in demand, are exceptionally rare. My husband just got selected to fly fighters in the USAF ANG (he is currently an Army pilot) and he just barely squeaked by age-wise. Fighter units (and some heavy units) are so damn competitive that guys asking for age waivers don't have much of a chance at all.

    The "pilot exodus" to the civilian industry has some truth to it but not entirely. The aviation industry as a whole is going through a lot of changes right now and although there are a lot of guys going to the majors, there is no shortage of young, qualified applicants, especially coming out of civilian flight programs who want to fly in the military. There is absolutely no shortage of applicants.

    I would highly recommend Army Aviation for your husband because of his age. The Army allows guys up to 35 to submit a packet, and they like variety in their guys. I have a friend who went Army Aviation from the Marines and he has a great career. If your husband has competitive scores and a good military record, he has a decent change of getting picked up. It's something to consider. Best of luck, aviation is the way to go! We might be biased though.
    As far as helicopters go, I know the company my DB started for in 2014 also hired a few former Marine Air pilots. They don't get the lucrative money starting out though, in fact they took a pay cut compared to what they were making in the Marine Corp. As you have more time with the company your pay goes up, so the potential for lucrative pay is there. At the time DB got hired the company had lots of qualified applicants to choose from.
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    At the aviation department head level (so late in O-3, for selection into O-4 jobs, which would be during the 3rd set of orders after school, vying for orders to the 4th, and very roughly the point at which the flight school obligated time is running out), the Navy has an abysmal rate. What that means is that there are way, way more people wanting those DH gigs than getting them.

    So the notion that people are fleeing for airline gigs doesn't really hold water. Sure, some are leaving, but the Navy (I can't speak to he MC but I'd be surprised if it is extremely different) has way more people wanting pilot jobs than getting them. Those who don't select for department head go to non-flyign jobs (with a very few exceptions) but have trouble making it to )-4, which means they won't make it to to years in Active Duty. The last department head boards were a blood bath. Some communities (aircraft) had selection rates in the 50s%, IIRC.

    Of course some people get out, and of course some of those who do (though in my experience a definite minority) get jobs flying for someone in some capacity. But there are more than enough, literally, who want to stay in.

    But none of that matters. If there is a spot for your DH, OP, and he wants to do it and the MC deems him qualified, then that's wonderful. I hope it works out for him. DH loves his job.
    Science always wins over bullshit. ~Dick Rutkowski
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    Yeah I'm not sure what the real deal is either. The story they're spinning is that all the Vietnam-era guys are retiring and leaving a bunch of spots, but that doesn't seem to make too much sense to me. The head of his unit is an aviation guy, and he's the one telling people about the shortage and encouraging seniors to put a package in. DH seems to have a pretty good head about it all. He's going to go for it, but luckily there are other MOSes that interest him if he doesn't get a contract. Apparently though, it's still possible to get a competitive contract out of TBS if he performs well and there are flight contracts available (a few seniors from last year older than DH got denied when they applied for an age waiver, but they did get a competitive contract out of TBS).
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    #10
    Quote Originally Posted by JaneSays View Post
    The story they're spinning is that all the Vietnam-era guys are retiring and leaving a bunch of spots, but that doesn't seem to make too much sense to me.
    You are correct, that story is not true. In order to be a Vietnam-era guy, one would have had to come in before 1976. That is 39 years ago. Only certain officers that came in before 1976 would still be in service now, and they would not still be performing pilot duties on a regular basis.
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