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Home Forums Air Force Enlisted before Commissioning? AKA Crew Chief

  • Enlisted before Commissioning? AKA Crew Chief

    Posted by Smallzz on January 20, 2024 at 4:08 pm

    So I am currently talking to a recruiter at the 122nd fighter wing as they are from my home state. He recommended I enlist as a Crew Chief to increase my chances of picking up a fighter slot, plus it gives me one on one time with pilots on the flight line.

    I was wondering if it is “worth” the extra set of time with no guarantees of picking up a slot. Of course it would be worth the extra experience and knowledge, but is this something that recruiters are are just saying to attract people, or is it really a valuable/smart thing to do to increases my chances of my ultimate goal of being a pilot? Free bachelors and 15K bonus too

    wikz replied 1 month ago 4 Members · 8 Replies
  • 8 Replies
  • Khaleesa

    January 20, 2024 at 7:07 pm

    Curious about this as well! I am looking into enlisting into the Georgia Air National Guard with the goal of ultimately going after a pilot slot.

    My recruiter shared a few stories of enlisted members who were selected for pilot slots (one on the first try).

    Let’s see where the journey takes us. All the best to you!

  • wikz

    January 21, 2024 at 2:16 am

    your recruiter is correct, it is definitely worth it.

    I just enlisted with my home unit, the 199th fighter squadron and chose AFE as my MOS. although I haven’t attended my first drill yet, I scouted the AFE shop before choosing that field and they also get daily pilot interactions. when I was visiting the base, one of the pilots I was introduced to was also prior enlisted.

    as mentioned, you do get college paid for (full for community and half for university). However, the big benefits is the connection you build with the pilots. When that UPT board roles around, they will much rather hire the enlisted guy who they have a relationship with instead of some random off the street (YMMV). just make sure you build a good reputation!

    the only cons that I was warned about is being enlisted can make your college rodeo longer.

    ie: you have to deploy and miss class possibly taking an incomplete or dropping the course, or going to basic + A school and missing a whole semester.

    from all the info and advice ive received, it is a good deal.

    • This reply was modified 1 month ago by  wikz.
    • Smallzz

      January 21, 2024 at 8:43 am

      I am pursuing the airlines as well and once I get back from basic+A school I will be working as a CFI within an hour of the wing. By the time I am within a year of my bachelors most likely I should be in the airlines applying for a military pilot slot.

      People call me crazy for not just sticking to the airlines and making more money, but I don’t want to stand at an airshow at 50 and think “I had a chance to do that”. Either way I go down I will still get my time at the airlines with double benefits and pension. Plenty of money to me for years of living the dream and fighting for my state/Country.

  • wikz

    January 21, 2024 at 4:38 pm

    That’s a great plan, but I must warn you. ive heard so many stories of airliners getting hired and flunking UPT. The airlines teaches a different way of flying than the military does which can result in habits that are detrimental to your flying in pilot training. This also ties into humility. just because you’ve got a thousand more hours than other studs in UPT doesn’t mean you will do better. Anecdotally, people with just a PPL do better than airline pilots sometimes.

    Going for a CFI and an ATP will show that you’re committed to aviation; however, the more popular route is to just get a PPL. Instead of breaking the bank, Uncle Sam will pay for your flight hours in UPT. if and once you pass all flight training, you go through seasoning in your unit which will accumulate enough hours for you to apply for the airlines after. Main idea is you could save a butt load of money if you just have the military pay for those hours.

    Take this information with a grain of salt. Don’t let my 0.02 cents affect your goals.

    • Smallzz

      January 21, 2024 at 5:11 pm

      That is probably 100% correct and I’ve heard the same thing from multiple people. I am not sure what makes them differently specifically. Problem is… I’ve already spent the money, I didn’t even know doing this was a possibility till I was already in deep to my civilian career.

      But I’ve also seen many pilot doing both careers at the same time. I am very willing to learn a new way and possibly the reason the more experienced fail is because they feel as though they don’t need to try as hard as the inexperienced. We will find a way…

  • wikz

    January 21, 2024 at 7:59 pm

    As you mentioned, yes ive also heard stories of airline pilots doing exceptional too. main thing is be humble and be open to learning the mil way.

    When you mean spent the money, do you mean on a CFI or ATP? getting your CFI is awesome, I wouldn’t go any further than that if you haven’t spent any mula on an ATP.

  • Peacemkr

    January 22, 2024 at 12:26 am

    I recommend as a former fighter crew chief!

    So this didn’t happen for me, but a fellow crew chief buddy of mine was a very hard worker and highly respected even just in tech school. Good guy, and not even 2 or 3 years after leaving tech school he was offered a fighter slot. I wasn’t surprised at all! His work ethic was awesome and he deserved it. If enlisted, this is the best way to go about your goal in my opinion.

    I will say to take this with a grain of salt though, because if there’s anything I know about the military it’s that things are never guaranteed to happen the same way for two different people in similar/exact same situations. The AF will put you wherever they need you at the end of the day and fighters are by far the hardest aircrafts to earn a slot for. My advice, if you have to go the enlisted route, yes, go fighter crew chief, make sure your goals are clear and make it known along the way (when it is appropriate to make it known) stay as competitive as you can be and work hard.

    • wikz

      January 22, 2024 at 12:37 am

      she hit the nail.

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