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Please Help! HS Senior in Distress

Last post 01-20-2007, 8:17 PM by KenV. 12 replies.
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  •  01-20-2003, 1:26 PM 2121

    Please Help! HS Senior in Distress

    Greeting! I'm a high school senior, and I'm in a dliemma right now.
    First of all, I have applied to both, Annapolis and Air Force Academy. From what I've been told is that I will have no problem being accepted to either. The problem is, my congressman can only give me one nomination, either Annapolis or Air Force. Since I was a kid, I have always wanted to be an Air Force pilot, but I've had second thoughts this past week, and changed my priority nomination to Annapolis. From the research I've been doing, and the people I've spoken to, I think that there is more of an opportunity in the Navy to be a fighter pilot. Statistically, apparently at Annapolis, 99% of those who wanted to go to pilot training got the slot. 216 people from last year's graduating class went to pilot training. On the other hand, the Air Force Academy sends about half of their graduating class to pilot training.
    The reason I changed my mind and am currently deciding to fly navy is that I really really really want to be a fighter pilot. It seems like there is more opportunity in the Navy, cause everything in the Navy is either fighter, or fighter support. I would really hate to go to the Air Force Academy, graduate, and serve a 10 year commitment flying the "heavies." Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that there is more opportunity in the Navy to be a fighter pilot.
    Also, I think that the experiences that I can get in the Navy outweigh those I can get in the Air Force. I think in the Navy that there is more opportunity to see the world, and I also think that taking off and landing from an aircraft carrier would be sweet. I'm also looking at the distant future. Apparently, the Naval Academy generates more astronauts than any other university, and I have also considered being an astronaut in the future.
    Another reason that I am currently choosing Navy over Air Force is the location of the bases. Navy has Air Stations in pretty nice places (i.e. San Diego, Corpus Christi, Pensacola, etc.). Air Force has bases in pretty crappy places (ex. Holloman, and Kirkland). I think the only disadvantage in the Navy is being stuck on a carrier for so long. But I would rather be stuck on a carrier flying a "Super Hornet" than being stuck on land flying a "Heavy."
    I know this is long and thank you for reading. I really hope I made the right decision to change my priority nomination to Annapolis instead of Air Force Academy. I would really like to talk to an military pilots and hear their advice. If any of you have AOL Instant messenger my screen name is StreetbikerFZR. Thanks in advance for any advice.


    Leo R.
    El Paso, TX

  •  01-22-2003, 9:45 PM 2127 in reply to 2121

    Re: Please Help! HS Senior in Distress

    First, addressing the where to go issue. The graduating class of 2002 at the Air Force Academy had 584 (or so) people physically qualified for pilot training and that wanted to go. When the assignments came down 6 months before graduation, there were 545 pilot training slots. That's 93% of PQ (Pilot Qualified) getting pilot training slots. Even during that 6 months, due to people being physically disqualified for various reasons or deciding not to take their slots, almost every single person that was physically qualified received a pilot training slot. Yes, 545 slots is only half the class, but only half the class is typically PQ.

    That said, I am a graduate of the AFA from 2002. I'm in pilot training. I finished T-37 primary training last December with T-38 (fighter follow-on) my first choice. Pulling G's and flying formation and upside down is a serious adrenaline ride. Well, I received my second choice secondary training, the T-1. The T-1 tracks into "heavy" aircraft. I was disappointed that I didn't have the opportunity to go the fighter track, but you know what? There's some awesome missions on the heavy side of the house too.

    The T-1 is sweet. Awesome jet. The C-17. A "heavy." It flies a 6 degree glidepath on final (normal aircraft fly 2.5 - 3 degree glidepaths). It can land and stop at 300,000 lbs gross weight in 3,000 feet. That's roughly equivalent to stopping a Cessna 172 in 100 feet. The C-5. Largest operational airlifter in the world. Absolutely amazing. The KC-10. Carries 2x its weight in fuel and cargo. And on and on. There's benefits and drawbacks to every airframe in the inventory.

    Being a fighter pilot. Awesome. Truly. From having the chance to fly a few F-16s, real life, not a sim, it's an awesome job. There's nothing like pulling G's or flying 3 feet from another jet. I'd love to be doing it, but I love what I'm doing now. In fact, I don't recall meeting anyone ever that did not enjoy flying the airframe(s) they flew.

    Navy flying. I don't know much, but I know that most of the Navy pilots are helicopter and other airframe pilots. The fighter pilot community there is small also. And it's not really "fighter" per se. It's Attack/Strike. It's power projection, not fleet defense.

    Base location. Whatever. Don't forget Guam, Aviano, Lakenheath, Spang, and other bases. There are nice AF bases. There are crappy Navy bases. Whatever. You're flying, that's all that matters. Holloman and Kirtland are both nice bases. You're flying, your high school buddies aren't.

    Becoming an astronaut. More astronauts have come from Oklahoma than any other state. Well, does that mean anything? No, neither does what school you went to. If you want to be an astronaut, you have to have the personal drive to constantly work toward your goal, even when you're not feeling like it. When you could be partying with friends, you study, you prepare. Yes, there's time to party, but always follow your goal first. Personal drive is more important than anything else in achieving your goals.

    Your decision on which Academy to choose. I think the decision was made with misinformation. It may still be the right decision, I am no judge of that. But I think you could have been more informed before deciding. Lesson learned...seek out knowledge like you did with this post and embrace it with an open mind. It will serve you well throughout life.

    Whenever I'm home, my IM is up. Shoot me a message if you want to talk more about this stuff. I can tell you more than you ever wanted to know about the AFA, UPT, and related stuff. Rainmans6T9 is my screen name. This goes for anyone with questions on the AFA, the AF, UPT, or other flying related questions.
  •  02-18-2003, 10:04 PM 2160 in reply to 2121

    Re: Please Help! HS Senior in Distress

    I have the same problem! My dream is to fly fighter jets and i dont want to be stuck flying a "heavy" as you put it. I was talking to my navy science instructer and he we had a pretty debated descussion on it. The navy, though giving you a better chance to fly, has limited types of planes. The air force has many many diffrent types that the navy dosn't. And if you dont have perfect vision you need to go into the navy because your chances of getting to fly in the air force are very slim. good luck!
  •  03-31-2003, 11:45 PM 2219 in reply to 2127

    Re: Please Help! HS Senior in Distress

    I've tried to email you at Rainmans6T9 but no luck. Please email me as I have an important issue I need your help/advice on. My email address is: GWardMD11@aol.com
    Thanks. Major Ward
  •  04-08-2003, 11:24 PM 2249 in reply to 2127

    Re: Please Help! HS Senior in Distress

    I'm only 14 years old but have had the dream of being a fighter pilot since i was 5. I want to someday fly the new Lockheed tactical strike fighter F-22 Raptor. i am not a senior and I dont know which force to join. I always wanted to fly off a carrier going 0 to 150 in under 2 seconds but i would like to join the Air Force too. Which force gives me the better chance of being a fighter pilot. I also hear about the marines having fighter pilots? Would u say we need more people to fly bombers or fighters.If i join up it will be around 2008 and the F-22 will be in wide use. Seriously i just want to get up in the sky and shoot down some bandits.I know u are already a pilot and flying already. You most likely in Iraq right now getting in the action.Anyways giv me some advice.Is the adrenaline rush worth it
  •  04-11-2003, 4:52 PM 2260 in reply to 2121

    Re: Please Help! HS Senior in Distress

    Leo,
    Time is running out, you need to decide and make realistic & informed choices.
    First off, look to your future...everyone of us have wanted to be a fighter jock at one time or another, but the reality of the matter is that there are many other flight jobs of equal importance to achieving a military/political goal. I’d be a bit concerned if I were on the ground in a firefight, had to call in an air strike and the pilot was more focused with “scoring” an air to air kill. A fighter jet is useless without fuel from an aerial tanker, as it is useless without spare parts flown in on C-17’s, as a downed pilot is in deep !@#$ with out a rescue helicopter...and all those men & women who are integral members of the TEAM.
    Navy; the F-14 is almost ready for retirement and the JSF is not yet ready. The F-18E/F is not my choice of mount for design/engineering /performance reasons, when compared with the aircraft it is supposed to replace. You don’t get to “see” much of the world while anchored out in the harbor. Yes, flying traps at night on a pitching deck is fun for the 1st couple of times, and then it looses its amusement. Flying Navy is not a prerequisite for Astronaut.
    Air Force; 9 to 5 job, best and newest equipment, most prestigious branch. Ah that new airplane smell! Lots of R&D, special technology fields to advance into. Again, flying Air Force is not a prerequisite for Astronaut.
    Look to your future; how many aviators & pilots make it to the NASA programs? It’s the education, not so much the flight experience that qualifies them. Also, what to do when you decide to get out? What and where are/will be the aviation jobs in the civilian sector?
    viperbaron.............
  •  05-22-2003, 6:37 PM 2280 in reply to 2260

    Re: Please Help! HS Senior in Distress

    I apologize for being absent so long...


    f38airchild, you are mistaken on the perfect vision. Someone is providing you poor information. I have 20/70 vision overall, correctable to 20/20 with glasses or contacts. I'm flying for the Air Force. I have friends that do not have "perfect vision" and they fly fighters, bombers, tankers and transport aircraft. You will find us "four-eyes" pilots everywhere.


    GWardMD11, you've got mail.


    Future F-22 Ace, the days of dogfighting are behind us. The original idea behind the F-22 was to shoot the enemy from so far away they never saw it coming. Now, the F-22 is being reshaped from an air superiority tactical fighter to an attack / tactical fighter. Someone, somewhere has determined that the F-22 should replace both the F-15C and the A-10. Also, advances are being made in UAVs and UCAVs, and at some point, the hope is to replace combat pilots with UCAVs. I'm not dogging the fighter world...but, you need to stay abreast of many things in the world of combat flying...it helps alleviate misconceptions.

    Flying is well worth it, whether you're flying an offset trail exercise, an ILS, refueling, or BFM. Fly because you enjoy what you're doing, not because of the image or the prestige, and you're well on your way.


    viperbaron, Leo and I have spent a good deal of time talking, and he's decided to attend the Air Force Academy, and also I think he understands that there are many more good flying jobs out there in the Air Force (or Navy) than just being a fighter pilot. But, good advice.



    As always, anyone with questions can contact me at the AIM address listed above.
  •  05-09-2004, 3:40 PM 2489 in reply to 2121

    Re: Please Help! HS Senior in Distress

    Leo R.,

    Have you made your decision yet? AF or Navy?
  •  10-27-2004, 6:58 PM 2636 in reply to 2121

    Re: Please Help! HS Senior in Distress

    Hello, I'm also a senior in high school in hopes of becoming a fighter pilot.  There is only one drawback in my circumstances.  I have mitral valve prolapse.  Apparently this is a pilot disqualification.  Is there any chance I can get a waiver for this to become a pilot?  My blood pressure is normal as well as my heart rate.  Also, I have had absolutely no symptoms associated with MVP whatsoever.  How will this affect my chances of becoming a fighter pilot if I go to the Air Force Academy?  Thanks for all of your responses.
  •  12-06-2004, 6:04 PM 2727 in reply to 2127

    Re: Please Help! HS Senior in Distress

    >>"The C-17. A "heavy." It flies a 6 degree glidepath on final (normal aircraft fly 2.5 - 3 degree glidepaths). It can land and stop at 300,000 lbs gross weight in 3,000 feet."<<

    Ummmm, no.  The C-17 can land and stop on a 3000 foot runway at max landing weight, 585,000 lbs.  That's over a quarter million pounds heavier and nearly double your figure.  And incidentally, landing on a 3000 feet runway means being able to stop in around 2000 to 2200 feet.  That is killer performance for a "heavy".

    The Navy has a good sized fighter fleet, but it also has a good sized helo fleet.  Going Navy may incrase your chances for a fighter slot slightly relative to USAF, but probably not by much.  And besides the helos, there are a number of multi-engine slots in the Navy, although far far fewer than in USAF.  But if your grades are good in primary training, you're sure to get your first choice.

    Flying a fighter for the Navy is also somewhat different than USAF.  There are no pure Navy "fighters".  All Navy fighters also fly air-to-ground.  F-15Cs basically fly purely air-to-air, although USAF is beginning to teach their F-15C pilots how to bomb.  The F-16C is also primarily an air-to-air platform with an air-to-ground capability essentially scabbed on later.  But even the Navy's F-14 Tomcat (being phased out and which is really a long range interceptor and not a classical fighter) is doing significant ordnance dropping.  But you won't find any Tomcat pilots complaining about that.  Dropping ordnance can require some exceptional piloting skills and flying really low and very fast is a big BIG rush.  And the chances of REALLY dropping ordnance is much much higher than the chances of REALLY shooting at a bad guy jet.  Blowing stuff up can be quite fun, and doing it well in the face of opposition can be very very challenging.

    As for life aboard a carrier, it ain't bad.  You work hard and there are LOOONNGG hours, but aboard ship there are fewer distractions and you can really hone your skills.  Landing aboard a carrier is always a challenge and always a rush.  Doing it at night is always scary.  Doing it at night in bad weather with a low fuel state in blue water ops will pucker your sphyncter like nothing else.  And EVERY cat shot is a rush.  Accelerating from 0 to 150 in under 2 seconds cannot be anything but a rush.  If you're an adrenaline junky, you can't find a better place than in a fighter operating off a carrier.  And if you're worried about your family, you're only on the carrier 6 months at a time.  Most of the time you're ashore and with your family.  So it is not a bad lifestyle.
  •  03-25-2005, 9:03 PM 2863 in reply to 2121

    Re: Please Help! HS Senior in Distress

    Heavies ROCK !
  •  05-10-2005, 1:56 PM 2910 in reply to 2121

    Re: Please Help! HS Senior in Distress

    Cool!
  •  01-20-2007, 8:17 PM 3965 in reply to 2121

    Re: Please Help! HS Senior in Distress

    As a USNA grad I'd say you made the right choice.  Go Navy!!

    You are correct the at USNA nearly 100% of midshipmen who choose Navy Air get it.  As for your chances of flying TacAir (Navy for tactical jet aircraft), that's pretty good too.  Not many "heavies" in the Navy, but there are some.  But there are also lots of helo pilots in the Navy.  Lots. 

    What you end up flying depends mostly on your flight school grades.  If you get good grades, you get your first choice.  It's that simple.

    And you are correct that USNA has produced more astronauts than any other school, including USAFA and USMA combined. 

    Life aboard a modern nuclear carrier is not bad.  Especially now that women are allowed on carriers.  Much nicer than in the old days.  And you get to see some great places when deployed.

    Navy pilots rotate from sea duty to shore duty every three years or so.  You only go aboard a carrier during your sea tour.  Yoy typically go on two or three 6-month carrier deployments during your 3 year sea tour.  The rest of the time on a sea tour you're at a land base, doing training or "working up" for a carrier deployment.

    Shore tours can be flying related, or not.  If you're making a career of it, you need to get a masters degree, attend war college, serve a tour in the Pentagon or Crystal City, and other stuff during your shore tour which will prevent you from doing much flying.  Or you can go to Test Pilot School (TPS) or fly for the Blue Angels, or become a base pilot.  There are lots of flying related shore tours, but they may be limiting if you want to make Admiral.  To make Admiral, you gotta punch the right "tickets", which involves politics, which means time in the puzzle palace (Pentagon).

    Hope this helped.

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