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  • Active Duty USAF to ARNG

    My story is long, but basically I commissioned through AFROTC with a pilot slot and a flight physical completed. Unfortunately, after moving to my pilot training base I was disqualified at a medical screening for color vision deficiency. I tried to fight it with an exception to policy, but ultimately I ended up being reclassified as an engineer and moved to Edwards AFB. I've done a lot of research on the subject and am certain that I pass the PIP I and FALANT color vision tests which are used as the standard for all US military branches, except for the USAF.

    So I've been looking into inter-service transfers, but the active duty aviation components in all the services seem to be overly saturated and would rather take applicants from their own commissioning sources than a transfer. From browsing this forum it seems like the ARNG generally has at least some openings in quite a few states at any given time.

    I'm interested in transferring to the ARNG as an aviator and am looking for any info or advice. I understand that I'll need to get a flight physical to be sure, but I have been to a Navy facility to take the color vision tests and passed both tests, twice. I'll also need to be released from the USAF if I want to get out of my remaining 3 years of commitment. I've spoken with my Squadron Commander about this and he is backing me up in every way.

    I'm currently in California, but am most interested eastern states: Georgia, Florida, SC, NC, Virginia, etc... Of course I'd be willing go just about anywhere to get a pilot slot. Being a military aviator is something I've been working hard towards for a very long time now; I'm highly motivated and want to try everything before I think about giving up.

  • #2
    Re: Active Duty USAF to ARNG

    Georgia is your friend. They will even send you as a 1LT. They have a board coming up towards the end of the year. Let me know if you need their contact.

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    • #3
      Re: Active Duty USAF to ARNG

      Originally posted by Bishop View Post
      Georgia is your friend. They will even send you as a 1LT. They have a board coming up towards the end of the year. Let me know if you need their contact.
      I would appreciated Georgia's contact, or any of the other states I mentioned if you have them easily accessible.

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      • #4
        Re: Active Duty USAF to ARNG

        The price of flight school may be appointment as a WO1. Prepare yourself mentally now.

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        • #5
          Re: Active Duty USAF to ARNG

          Originally posted by matthew.ritchie View Post
          The price of flight school may be appointment as a WO1. Prepare yourself mentally now.
          From my understanding of Warrant Officers, they get more flying time with less management responsibility as ranks progress. This is something I'd likely be happy with; If I am off the mark with my understanding please let me know.

          I've heard of full-time guard positions. How common are these? Are they more likely as an LT or WO?

          Separately, I've been interested in flight testing for quite a while now. I've seen some Army pilots have attended one of the military test pilot schools, but I assume most of these pilots were on active duty. Is there any hope of getting selected for a test pilot school someday, from the guard? If so, would this be open to WO's?
          Last edited by bmather9; October 20th, 2010, 11:10 PM.

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          • #6
            Re: Active Duty USAF to ARNG

            Originally posted by bmather9 View Post
            From my understanding of Warrant Officers, they get more flying time with less management responsibility as ranks progress. This is something I'd likely be happy with; If I am off the mark with my understanding please let me know.

            I've heard of full-time guard positions. How common are these? Are they more likely as an LT or WO?

            Separately, I've been interested in flight testing for quite a while now. I've seen some Army pilots have attended one of the military test pilot schools, but I assume most of these pilots were on active duty. Is there any hope of getting selected for a test pilot school someday, from the guard? If so, would this be open to WO's?
            1. If all you want to do is fly, then you may find service as a WO preferable to service as a commissioned officer.
            2. Few FTM positions for officers, fewer for WO. The current occupants of the few full-time WO flight slots tend to stay for decades. Don't presume that you'll get one for a few years.
            3. Are you considering maintenance test pilot, or test pilot for experimental aircraft? If the former, then yes; if the latter, then no (caveat: you may be able to leverage your military flight career into a civilian test pilot position, but they won't even talk to you until you've completed many hundreds of safe hours).

            You've got some fine long-term goals, but you may wish to put some additional thought into the short-term goals. If you can deal with the stress, then after flight school you can volunteer for multiple deployments. You'll get plenty of flight hours overseas, which will give you a head start on your career. It's a hard path, though, so think it through before you make any decisions. Best wishes.

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            • #7
              Re: Active Duty USAF to ARNG

              Knowing nothing about everything... just a thought, 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation Regiment from Wisconsin is deployed right now and that generally causes current open slots and retirements once back... they left in June but didnt leave country until August which means about a May return. I spent alot of time with them helping with training before they left and its a great Company. I know nothing about the aviation side of it just know that deployments can cause open slots.

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              • #8
                Re: Active Duty USAF to ARNG

                After some serious thinking about this, I'm back and have decided that I definitely want to pursue a position as an ARNG aviator. I need some help to get started; I'm interested in southeastern states, starting with Georgia, Florida, South Carolina. Contact information for any of these would be greatly appreciated.

                How are airframes assigned? When I apply, will I be applying to a particular airframe? Where can I find information on which states/units fly which aircraft?

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                • #9
                  Re: Active Duty USAF to ARNG

                  So I just got back from my trip to take the Army flight aptitude test (AFAST) and the flight physical. AFAST went well, scored 138 (90 is passing, supposedly 120 is competitive). Went through the whole 2-day flight physical ordeal and even passed the color vision PIP book. Unfortunately, at the last stop with the flight surgeon, he said that since the USAF says I'm color deficient, that it doesn't matter if I can pass the Army tests.

                  I argued about this for quite a while and made him pull up the regs on the computer; they read:

                  "The US Air Force standard for pilot accession is COLOR NORMAL (no deficits found on screening) while the US Army and US Navy standard is for COLOR SAFE, translating to accepting those who may have some mild deficit, yet still pass the screening test algorithm (see the ATB, Color Vision Testing)."
                  ...
                  "The Army passing standard is PIP PASS (2 or less errors out of 14 presentations). If failing the PIP, but passing FALANT (or OPTEC-900, no errors in 9 presentations), this meets the standard, but REQUIRES a one-time ophthalmology/optometry evaluation to define the potential color axis and specific type of deficiency as well as assess for any underlying abnormalities for INFO ONLY status."

                  I've passed the PIP 5 or 6 times for the military now (never failed it) and passed the FALANT twice at a Navy clinic just to make sure I could if I had to. Now I admit that the USAF did a full color vision workup on me and revealed that, without a doubt, I have a color vision deficiency. But based on the Army regs I quoted, I am mildly deficient, and still pass their test which should have classified me as "Color Safe" and not have DQed me.

                  The flight doc submitted the physical to Fort Rucker with recommendation of DQ anyway. So I've contacted the physical qual department at Rucker and am waiting for a flight surgeon to call me back in the next few days. It just doesn't seem right to me, that the regs are not being followed. Any suggestions? Or am I just hosed?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Active Duty USAF to ARNG

                    Originally posted by matthew.ritchie View Post
                    1. If all you want to do is fly, then you may find service as a WO preferable to service as a commissioned officer.
                    2. Few FTM positions for officers, fewer for WO. The current occupants of the few full-time WO flight slots tend to stay for decades. Don't presume that you'll get one for a few years.
                    3. Are you considering maintenance test pilot, or test pilot for experimental aircraft? If the former, then yes; if the latter, then no (caveat: you may be able to leverage your military flight career into a civilian test pilot position, but they won't even talk to you until you've completed many hundreds of safe hours).

                    You've got some fine long-term goals, but you may wish to put some additional thought into the short-term goals. If you can deal with the stress, then after flight school you can volunteer for multiple deployments. You'll get plenty of flight hours overseas, which will give you a head start on your career. It's a hard path, though, so think it through before you make any decisions. Best wishes.
                    Just to add a few details to LTC Richie's comments above, from a former Naval Aviator now flying for the Army:

                    1. In the Army, flying is definitely a higher priority for WOs than for commissioned officers. But, the distribution of flight hours is more aligned with full time vs part time.

                    2. This statement above holds true for our unit/state. One big difference is that most of the WO full time positions REQUIRE flying (maintenance test pilot (MTP), instructor pilot (IP), stanz pilot (SP), etc...) while the commissioned officer positions have flying as an incidental part of the job. Many of the WO full time positions are open to commissioned officers, but the same cannot be said for the other way around.

                    3. You can become an MTP or IP with 500 hrs, 250 in model and as little as 50 hrs PC time in model. That is the minimum. To become an experimental test pilot in the Army or Navy, you must complete Naval Test Pilot School (NTPS). Prerequisites for that are 1000 hrs and a technical BS degree.

                    Last I checked, minimum requirements for civilian employment start at about 800 hrs to fly people to oil platforms, 1500 helicopter hrs for a VFR EMS pilot, and 2000-3000 to be an IFR EMS pilot. The few civilian experimental test pilot jobs I have seen advertised require you to have graduated from a military test pilot school. That is not to say you couldn't get a job as an MTP with Sikorsky, then work your way up to XTP. What they want, beside a good pilot, is a very good knowledge of data gathering and analysis (ie NTPS graduate).

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Active Duty USAF to ARNG

                      Originally posted by RobLyman View Post
                      Just to add a few details to LTC Richie's comments above, from a former Naval Aviator now flying for the Army:

                      1. In the Army, flying is definitely a higher priority for WOs than for commissioned officers. But, the distribution of flight hours is more aligned with full time vs part time.

                      2. This statement above holds true for our unit/state. One big difference is that most of the WO full time positions REQUIRE flying (maintenance test pilot (MTP), instructor pilot (IP), stanz pilot (SP), etc...) while the commissioned officer positions have flying as an incidental part of the job. Many of the WO full time positions are open to commissioned officers, but the same cannot be said for the other way around.

                      3. You can become an MTP or IP with 500 hrs, 250 in model and as little as 50 hrs PC time in model. That is the minimum. To become an experimental test pilot in the Army or Navy, you must complete Naval Test Pilot School (NTPS). Prerequisites for that are 1000 hrs and a technical BS degree.

                      Last I checked, minimum requirements for civilian employment start at about 800 hrs to fly people to oil platforms, 1500 helicopter hrs for a VFR EMS pilot, and 2000-3000 to be an IFR EMS pilot. The few civilian experimental test pilot jobs I have seen advertised require you to have graduated from a military test pilot school. That is not to say you couldn't get a job as an MTP with Sikorsky, then work your way up to XTP. What they want, beside a good pilot, is a very good knowledge of data gathering and analysis (ie NTPS graduate).
                      Thanks for the info. I've worked as a flight test engineer for 2 years during Grad school and 1 year now for the USAF out here at Edwards (where USAF TPS is). Test pilot school has always been a long term goal for me; I think I have a fair idea of it takes to get into the school and the long-term dedication that is required. One of my biggest remaining questions is: can guard aviators get into naval test pilot school? Or does the funding only allow for active duty pilots? Can WO's apply, or is it limited to commissioned officers?

                      Either way, I want to fly for the ARNG because I enjoy the military, believe in the overall mission, and I just flat out love flying. I tried with the USAF, had the pilot slot, but it got stripped away due to a color vision mess. Along with this, all of my USAF back-up careers were lost due to color vision: Spec ops, Navigator, and even test pilot school as an engineer. So basically, since I pass the color vision tests for the Army/Navy, if I can get the physical approved, then I can at least have the opportunity to try for a career in military aviation.

                      I think flying for the guard could open alot of doors for me; it seems that down the road I could transfer back to active duty or even potentially transfer to another service and get fixed wing qualified. Someday, from active duty I certainly could apply for test pilot school, if I'm unable to directly from the guard. It doesn't seem that these types of transfers are common, so I'm not counting on it; I don't really consider any of this a plan, just possibilities for the future. I understand that I'll be committed to the guard for 6 years and maybe none of these future possibilities will interest me after that time; if none of them happen, I imagine I'll love life as a guard aviator.

                      From everything I've heard, I'd be happy as either WO or commissioned, whichever I can get. They both have upsides and downsides but if it's possible, the route that sounds most appealing to me would be to start as a WO with the possibility of transitioning back to commissioned after some time. In that scenario, I could also decide to stay as a WO if going to commissioned doesn't interest me. Is this type of transition something that is common? Or do most WO's just want to keep up the flying, so they stay away from commissioning? Is transitioning from commissioned to WO also possible?

                      An update about my flight physical: After the army flight surgeon recommended me for DQ due to the USAF color vision testing (even though I passed the tests for the Army physical), I got in touch with Ft. Rucker aeromedical and they basically told me that they will approve me. They contacted the flight doc who DQed me but he wouldn't change his recommendation. My Ft. Rucker contact apologized, but said if I could go get another physical with another flight surgeon somewhere else, and I pass the color vision tests again, that they will approve it. So as annoying as it is to go through the whole physical again, its well worth it if this works out.

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