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Old 04-21-2008, 22:28   #1
TrueGunNut
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Getting my degree and want to be a helicopter pilot!

Hey there,

I am graduating with my bachelor's degree from Auburn University May 10th and am thinking I want to become a helicopter pilot. I was told to look into the Army branch first. What are my OPTIONS as a college graduate? I realize everything is a challenge/competitive in life, but how likely is it that I can become a helo pilot of any kind...and what about a cobra pilot or apache?

Thanks!
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Old 04-22-2008, 11:16   #2
rumaco
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Military Pilot

I flew UH-1C gunships in Vietnam for the 48th AHC and the 282nd AHC. I went to military (Army) flight school in 1967 and never looked back. I retired as a CW4 (P) in 1991 and then flew an Agusta 109K2 high altitude rescue. The problem with wanting to get a helicopter license is the amount of time (and therefore money) it will take to get enough hours to even think about being hired. PHI takes some at 500+ hours but nothing less. Most advanced aircraft companies require 3000 to 5000 with IFR, NVG and unaided night with long line/short haul/firebucket ratings and then be OAS carded. To top it all off you won't make much. If you go to the military for training and the Army is the #1 in helicopters be prepared for one of the most intense schools you have ever been to, period. Many do not make it through! If you were in ROTC in college then you could go through as a commissioned but if not you go the WOC course. Getting in is another experiance you will not soon forget. As far as aircraft choice I will offer this bit of advise, fly something you can do later in life, it's why fighter pilots are not sitting in airline captains chairs..........the big jet boys got those seats. How many people need a cobra or Apache driver? Good luck in your ventures.
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Old 04-22-2008, 12:19   #3
TrueGunNut
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Something to think about! Thanks for the advice!
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Old 04-23-2008, 22:58   #4
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*BUMP*

Still thinking about it! Anyone else have advice or comments?
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Old 04-24-2008, 21:26   #5
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Contact the various services each has helos. I flew UH-1's in the army a long time ago. It will be easier to go through the army flight school as a commissioned officer. You have a degree and the military needs people. Give it your best shot, and good luck.
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Old 04-24-2008, 22:37   #6
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Thanks!
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Old 04-25-2008, 09:19   #7
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STOP DO NOT BECOME A HELO DRIVER. The drivers and crew members are not playing with full decks these people are not right. Cases in point. Central Highlands RVN along Highway 19 west of Ankhe supply convoy is ambushed my platoon 4 tracks is dispatched (unit is Mech. Infantry mounted on 113’s with Armored Cavalry Assault Vehicle gun package). We hit the ambush site and the gun ships (Huey) are already on site and the ground fight is still on the guns are hitting the area with mini-gun, rockets and 40mm then they go dry and down on the deck they come and these guys are trying to run the NVA down with they’re skids we have to watch where we are putting our fire on the 2<SUP>nd</SUP> dry pass one of the gun ships skids hits a tree truck and down it goes. Two of our tracks move forward toward the downed bird and are driven back and then back again we go and end up meeting the crew chief carrying the co-pilot. Pilot and other crewmember are KIA. During this entire time the 2<SUP>nd</SUP> gun ship is making low level passes trying to keep the NVA’s heads down. Fixed winged Army Bird Dog now on station and brings in tube Red Legg which finally breaks up the ambush. Like I said these guys aren’t right who goes after the enemy without bullets???
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Approximately 3 clicks south of Highway 19 west of Ankhe my company is dismounted with rucksacks our mission is to find any NVA advancing toward the highway to ambush the supply convoy’s. Some where along the way we miss them and coordinated ambushes along a five-mile stretch hits our convoys. My company three line platoons head out in three directions trying to cut off any retreat of the NVA in a southerly direction. We push hard and to make a long story short we (approx. 30-35 men) are way out by ourselves with no chance of linking back up with the other line platoons and the CO with the weapons platoon and its going to be dark soon. No problem we put in a call for Huey slicks (lift birds) but none are available. This was not good my platoon sergeant asks me Buck Sergeant what are your thoughts on an overnight camp out by ourselves? Orbiting overhead are two Huey gunships they hear our situation and Guns to the rescue. The guns drivers tell our Lt. they can drop down and lift two guys with gear for each bird and transport us back to our company NDP. My platoon sergeant SFC John Leake (greatest warrior I’ve ever known) says Buck Sergeant your squad will be the last out and you and I will be on the last bird. He taught leaders should lead 1<SUP>st</SUP> in last out. CO wanted our LT. on the first bird as they had a pow wow meeting. These guys would be putting their birds down to pick us up and if any enemy was watching the only thing better than taking out a few grunts were to put an RPG through a gunship. Then the call is received for the gun ships to stand down Slicks were on the way. Again these guys aren’t right.
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Speaking of slicks these guys were the workhorses hauling men, ammo and food etc. boring safe job? Lets see I’m on a Combat Assault on the first lift bird coming in I’m looking forward and we have red smoke during my time this meant one thing the LZ Hot and that’s bad guys shooting at you my heart drops to my stomach and my butt puckers. Down we go the door gunner’s open up and we off load and the remaining birds come in this was a one bird LZ. Grunts in firefight need ammo no problem slicks deliver. Think about these door gunners they sit behind their M-60 and shoot no other protection. Again these guys aren’t right.
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Then there are the Loach pilots. Small recon birds some armed maybe with a mini-gun, or a rocket pod or a M-60. Again west of Ankhe and a couple clicks north of Highway 19. We see a blinking light in the trees and hear a chopper next thing we see is the Loach shooting straight up in the air with a guy hanging out firing an M-60 down and white smoke rising from a Wilson Picket grenade. Then we hear them two Cobra’s coming in for a gun run. That Loach was nothing more bait with the Cobra’s waiting. You’re a worm on a hook waiting to be eaten. Again these guys aren’t right.
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What about the Chinooks. These are nothing but slow moving targets. We had a guy who extended to come to the Infantry because as a door gunner he got two hooks shot out from under him. Thought Infantry was safer?
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Last but not least? You’ve got WIA’s and an on going firefight. Then the call goes out DUSTOFF here the bird comes right into valley of the shadow. It’s got a big red cross on the nose and sides the crosses are there to tell the enemy it’s a medical evacuation and they are not allowed to shoot. Right!! In the real world all the crosses did was give three excellent aiming points. But on they come. These guys really aren’t right.
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When I got assigned to a Mechanized Infantry Battalion I thought I’d be riding around all the time surprise being Mech. Infantry and not ACAV we were dismounted half the time. I have no idea how many CA’s (combat assaults) I’ve made but I have an Air Medal, which means for a grunt I had to have at least 25.
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It’s been 40 years ago since all this has happened but so many things seem just like yesterday and to Rumco I say we were in country about the same time maybe a different area (mine Ankhe/Bonsong) but I’m quite sure if needed you were there for the grunts. But I still think you guys are not right.
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To Truegunnut: Go for it being a chopper pilot is a noble profession but remember the grunts when the gun ship’s are over head you felt so much safer it was like we grunts were the chicks and the mother hen circling above just waiting for something to mess with her chicks then it was death and destruction from the sky.
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Turk173
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Last edited by Turk173; 04-25-2008 at 11:12..
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Old 04-25-2008, 18:20   #8
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Do you want to fly a lot or fly some and be a commander/leader/manager. As a commissioned officer (OCS then flight school) you would do an initial flight assignment followed by rotations between flying and staff/officer development jobs. As a Warrant, you will normally spend a lot more time flying and any staff duty will usually be directly related to flying (or aviation maintenance or aviation safety). Pay is somewhat different. W-1 new guy base pay is a little less than $2,500 per month (plus rations, housing, and FLIGHT PAY). A W-4 (reasonable expectation) over 20 years service makes about $5.700 per month (plus rations, housing and FLIGHT PAY). On the commissioned side, an O-1 (2LT) new guy makes a little more than $2,500 (plus rations, housing and FLIGHT PAY) per month and an O-5 (LTC which is a reasonable expectaion for a commissioned officer) over 20 makes about $7.600 per month (plus rations, housing, and FLIGHT PAY).
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Old 04-26-2008, 14:37   #9
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Seems that already having the college degree is incentive to go commissioned and I assume most with degrees do this? Do people with college degrees go the Warrant Officer route (enlisting) often? Seems only right for me to utilize this new degree to my best ability...
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Old 04-26-2008, 14:55   #10
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Go the commissioned route, It's alot easier in flight school, more pay and better benefits. The army like all services is topped by the commissioned officers, they make the rules, and it benefits them more than the other ranks. When I was in the service a Warrant Officer was a bastard rank, and probably still is. Of course it's your choice.
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Old 04-27-2008, 11:02   #11
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Most who are eligible, do go the commissioned route, but there are those who choose the Warrant route because they will fly for most of their career. In an Aviation Battalion there is only one Lieutenant Colonel, the Battalion Commander, and usually only a couple of Majors, but there could be (and probably are) a bunch of W-4 Instructor Pilots. The other LTC and MAJ aviators are pulling staff jobs and, in most cases not getting any flying time. There was one case a few years ago where a West Point graduate captain resigned his commission in order to become a Warrant officer so he could fly. I totally agree that flight school as a commissioned officer is easier (not the flight training portion, but the OTHER BS) than it is for the Warrant Officer Candidate.
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Old 04-27-2008, 11:27   #12
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AF-Odin is right, in the army the warrants do most of the flying, in the navy the helo bubba's are stuck on the smaller boats(some do go on aircraft carriers) and most of the flying is not what you're looking for. the marines have the AH-1 cobra but the majority of the flying is ass and trash missions. if you want the most challenging, badass helo flying around go AF and work your way into the pavelow or pavehawk. of course you could always go to warrant officers school and fly apache's or get into the nightstalkers.
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Old 05-01-2008, 16:27   #13
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Recommend if you choose Army, and go for a Commission, that you consider Medical Service Corps.....Yes we fly too...Commissioned Dustoff Pilots get more hours than Commissoned Aviation Branch Officers, especially when the war wanes and the price of fuel continues to go up.....Dustoff will still fly where as Apaches will get more simulator hours.....if I were going any other service I go for fixed wing, but ....After spending 18 years as a Medical Service Corp Officer (Currently LTC), If Army, I would much prefer to be Medical Service as I near retirement and look for post Army Employment. Just My Opinion....
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