Why Should You Apply?
Based on the needs of the Air Force (AF) at the time, the active duty will determine what you fly and where you will live until your Active Duty Service Commitment is fulfilled (approximately 12-year commitment: two years to complete UPT and then a 10-year service commitment after earning your wings).
Unlike the AF, the Air National Guard (ANG) allows you to apply directly to specific squadrons that fly specific aircraft in specific locations (use the MilRecruiter Squadron Map function to determine which states fly which aircraft). If you are hired, you will attend training to fly that same type of aircraft so you can return to fly for the state that hired you. For example, if the SC ANG hires you, you would attend UPT to fly the F-16 (because that’s what they fly in the SC ANG) and know that you will return to the Columbia, SC area following the completion of F-16 training.
Once initial training is complete, an ANG aircrew member also has the opportunity to fulfill his/her service commitment in a full-time or part-time capacity.
The Guard/Reserve path to UPT, and subsequent military career, give you nearly all the same opportunities as the active duty with far fewer drawbacks. You can fly all the same aircraft. You can attend Test Pilot School or Weapons School. You can deploy and travel internationally. You can even become a 4-star general.
Unlike active duty, however, you have a lot of control over your career path. You can choose to serve part-time and have a different civilian career (start a business, fly for the airlines, go back to school, etc.). You can choose which airplane you fly and where you’re located. You can choose to focus your entire career on flying in the same location or change locations for a different aircraft or non-flying assignment. The common denominator here is CHOICE and control.
Here are a few BogiDope articles that go into more detail:
- Air Force vs Air National Guard: Initial Aircraft/Location Assignment
- Air Force vs Air National Guard: UPT Application Process
- Flying Opportunities in the Air Force Reserve
- How to Become a Fighter Pilot
- The Ultimate Military Pilot Career Path
This is your chance to potentially put down roots for a more stable life for your family. Perhaps this is an opportunity to fly a new aircraft or start a civilian career while serving in a part-time capacity. Perhaps you’re not interested in the inevitable non-flying assignments you can expect if you stay on active duty. So, if offered the opportunity to make the same money (including pilot bonuses, pension, and Tricare), fly an aircraft of your choice, and continue a career of service with far more control, why would you ever say no?
Believe it or not, rated pilots are often the most intimidated by the application process. Despite already having a solid list of military achievements and risking life and limb in combat, they are intimidated by the unknown. The unknown of if they will be part-time or full-time at a Guard/Reserve squadron, or if they will be able to find a civilian job if going part-time, or what their active duty commander will say if he or she discovers that they are planning to leave the active duty, etc.
We get it. We’ve been there, too, and so have thousands of others. If they can do it, why can’t you? It will take work, effort, and a little risk on your end, but we’re confident you will be extremely happy you made the decision once the dust settles. It would be tough to find someone who transitioned to the Guard/Reserve from active duty who regrets the decision. Most will tell you that they wish they did it earlier!
We also understand that although you’re in your 30’s now, this may be the first time you’ve ever actually applied for a job. This may be your first time creating a resume or preparing for a formal interview. Don’t worry. This course and the BogiDope team is here to help.
Sit back, take a deep breath, and trust the process. Have confidence you’re making the right choice for you and your family.
F@%K the Naysayers
The application process can seem intimidating and often overwhelming. There will be naysayers who tell you it’s too difficult, you’re too old, you need to know someone in the squadron, or need X or Y to have a chance. To be blunt, F them!
You will likely face rejection. Some superbly qualified – and lucky – applicants may get hired on their first attempt, but they are the exception, not the rule. This process can be a grind, but that often weeds out who makes it and who gives up at the first sign of adversity. Perseverance and thick skin are prerequisites for being a successful military pilot, and this process is no different here.
The good news is that thousands of people, just like you, have successfully completed this process in the past. Many of which are less qualified and less charismatic. We at BogiDope would be the first to tell you that we were nothing special when we were hired. We were just determined to make our dreams a reality and were willing to put in the work to ensure we maximized the opportunities we were given.
Take solace in the fact that this career is absolutely worth pursuing! It would be tough to find a pilot on active duty who didn’t want to fly in the Guard/Reserve or a Guard/Reserve pilot who wishes they were still on active duty. Guard/Reserve pilot slots provide a level of flexibility, control, and quality of life that the active duty can’t compete with. This is why these slots are highly competitive. That said, those slots still need to get filled by someone. Why not you?