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Advice for SNA switching to SNFO

CardsFan44

New Member
Hi everyone, thanks for taking the time to read this post. I reported down to Pensacola with a SNA slot but was recently NPQ'ed at my initial NAMI physical for some eye condition I had never heard of and that is not wavierable (esophoria). I even went to a civilian doc for a second opinion (which found me within standards) and used to proper channels to get a re-test from NAMI. However, just like the first, I was found out of standards. Fortunately I was still qualified as an NFO and got my FO up chit. I am currently in the process of switching my designator to SNFO which they tell me should be no problem. My question is geared towards anyone who had a similar situation in which they wanted to be a pilot but got NPQ'ed and switched to NFO. My whole life I've wanted to be a pilot and many decisions I made in my life were made with that goal in mind. Needless to say, it came as a big blow when the doc told me I was NPQ when I was so close. I have read enough threads to know some will give me shit for saying this but I have some doubts about becoming an NFO. Sometimes the thought of having to sit behind and watch someone do a job that I've always dreamed of sounds terrible. It's not that I think an NFO's job is any less cool or important, I just don't want to be bitter my whole career in naval aviation, and I'm sure no body wants to work with someone like that. I know the disappointment is still fresh and that has alot to do with my apprehension about NFO, but I was hoping there were some FO's on here that could give me some advice or insight that might have once had similar feelings. Thanks in advance for responses and I apologize if there is a similar thread already out there that could have answered my question.
 

wlawr005

Well-Known Member
pilot
Contributor
Nah man, you didn't get what you want so just quit. :cool:

Seriously though, this situation is great practice for the rest of your career. You'll be happy as a member of the aviation community no matter what you do. Remember that the worst day flying is better than the best day afloat. Your career will be full of times where you want one thing and get another (especially during selection time). Have fun, good luck, and fly safe.
 

HAL Pilot

Well-Known Member
None
Contributor
Up until the last 10 years or so when the Navy started allowing less than 20/20 and eye surgery, SNAs getting NPQed and and becoming SNFOs was a fact of life. It was called the NAMI whammy and I'd say at least 1/3 of the SNA hopefuls in every AOCS class became SNFO hopefuls in the first week. The vast majority adapted just fine. Those that didn't normally DORed during flight school after at least giving it a try. There were a very few that got winged and became the proverbial "that guy" in the squadron. You seem to understand that being "that guy" is not a good thing so if you stick around, I don't think you will be.

I'd say give it a try. NFO training takes a while. You'll have plenty of time to figure out if you'll be happy with the job before you wing. I think as time goes on you will find that being a NFO is fun, rewarding and professionally satisfying.
 

Uncle Fester

Robot Pimp
None
Super Moderator
Contributor
Won't be the last time you don't get what you want in Navy Air, my man. Have you never had to deal with not getting what you want? I imagine you have, even you dang kids today with your helicopter parents and Participant trophies. ;-)

Seriously, though: right now you're talking about being disappointed in getting something you know nothing about. I guarantee you that being an nfo will not seem disappointing to you once you actually do it. It's just a different seat in the airplane.

Go be a FO for a while. Once you have a few years in the Fleet under your belt, if you really really still want to drive the bus, you can put in for an anchorectomy. Med waivers as a winged aviator is a whole different story from trying to get one as a cone.

I've enjoyed the shit out of being an NFO, and I wanted to be a helo pilot since I was in kindergarten. Just wasn't in the cards.

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD
 

ArkansasFlyBoy

New Member
None
Brother, good luck on whatever you decide, but I will tell you as a WSO in the F, my job is just as rewarding to me as the pilots job is to him. I think you will find that no matter what, youre still TACAIR and thats a helluva lot better than being TACSWO. Keep your chin up and give it a whirl.
 

MidWestEwo

Member
None
I went through flight school in an interesting time. They had way too many pilots and in order to trim the fat, they raised the NSS in API to a 43. Some classes needed a 97% average in order to even start flight school. Over 100 pilots got attrited and either separated entirely, transferred to another job in the navy, or a lucky few got to become NFOs. Generally the best of those who didn't make the pilot cut. Coincidentally, my primary class had more pilot-nfo transfers than original NFO flight contracts. Almost all of the ones who transferred to NFO love their jobs as NFOs. A couple were attrited from flight training, but everyone else went tac air and has done well. When you get into the back of a grey jet, it is a blurry line between pilot and WSO/ECMO/EWO. Both people work together to get the job done and everyone loves what they do.
 

P3 F0

Well-Known Member
None
I've also enjoyed my time despite wanting to fly. But I've never regretted going NFO and have thought many times after seeing pilots scheduled for weekend turns/studying for 2-P boards/NATOPS checks/STAN flights/FCFs, etc that I'm glad I'm not one of them. Someone needs to generate one of those maintenance stats, but for pilots: for every hour in the air, I'm guessing the average pilot puts in 10 hours of platform or rating-specific gruntwork/training.

I'd even go so far as to say that pilots get the short end of the stick with regard to mission. FO's seem to have more time to devote to mission study/prep than pilots (I really don't know how the single-seat & helo guys get it all done). Once I got to the fleet, I felt like I could concentrate on what we were actually doing in the fleet. It seemed like the pilots had to focus more on continuing the training pipeline even though they were at the squadron.
 

phrogpilot73

Well-Known Member
A classmate of mine from USNA was an EA-6B ECMO and is now an MH-60S pilot.

A guy in my squadron's wife was an E-2C NFO and is now an MH-60S pilot.

Crying in your beer won't get you anywhere.
 

MidWestEwo

Member
None
I've also enjoyed my time despite wanting to fly. But I've never regretted going NFO and have thought many times after seeing pilots scheduled for weekend turns/studying for 2-P boards/NATOPS checks/STAN flights/FCFs, etc that I'm glad I'm not one of them. Someone needs to generate one of those maintenance stats, but for pilots: for every hour in the air, I'm guessing the average pilot puts in 10 hours of platform or rating-specific gruntwork/training.

I'd even go so far as to say that pilots get the short end of the stick with regard to mission. FO's seem to have more time to devote to mission study/prep than pilots (I really don't know how the single-seat & helo guys get it all done). Once I got to the fleet, I felt like I could concentrate on what we were actually doing in the fleet. It seemed like the pilots had to focus more on continuing the training pipeline even though they were at the squadron.

I think the things you said only really apply to your community. In the tac air community the NFO is just as responsible as the pilot and vice versa. We continue our education and strive to be better every day. The WSOs and EWOs continuously take NATOPS checks, STAN flights etc along with the pilots. That being said, the pilot does the same mission and shares responsibility with the WSO/EWO. I can't speak for the maritime or E6 communities though.
 

P3 F0

Well-Known Member
None
Yes, this is just from my perspective and my community. Not only that, it's from my time in the squadrons, which is dated by a good 7 years.
 

CUPike11

Still avoiding work as much as possible....
None
Contributor
Give it a shot man and see if you like it. You've gotten some great advice from everyone here. The NFO community is awesome and I love every minute of it. You won't just be sitting in the plane twiddling your thumbs in ANY aircraft, that's for damn sure. You won't be just "along for the ride" or any of that crap. NFO's have tough jobs in every platform. Speaking from E-2 RAG standpoint, i'm learning just how much awesome shit our aircraft can do and holy hell how much we as NFOs have to know about not only our platform but other platforms in the strike group as well.

You will be challenged and its just as rewarding of a job. If you don't like it, go fly a desk and then tell me what you'd rather do.
 

C420sailor

Former Rhino Bro
pilot
I had a buddy come into the FRS as a WSO. He was toying with the idea of applying for an NFO-to-pilot transition later in his career. After doing some tactical shit in the Rhino, he no longer wanted to be a pilot. He absolutely loves what he does and I think you will too.
 

Glider3

Member
None
Same thing happened to me. Now I'm a WSO at the Super Hornet RAG, and loving it!

Primary kind of sucks because you're in the back doing a lot of useless nonsense just to keep you busy. But in intermediate and advanced, you start working with the pilot to get the "mission" done and life gets more rewarding.

Feel free to PM me if you have any questions, and good luck!
 

NavyGator09

New Member
None
Contributor
Cards,
I know where you're coming from. I dreamed of being a navy pilot my whole life, got picked up as one, and then got switched over due to exophoria. I was later retested and still no-go. Like everyone else here has already said, give FO a shot. Primary is a good time. It won't seem like it at the time, but the T-6 is pretty awesome. You will be doing some random stuff that you'll never do again, for the most part, but later on you'll start to actually do more real-world things and be a more functional crew member.

Being a FO isn't a bad deal at all. It's a very rewarding job and in the end you're still up there and flying. I can't speak for other communities, but in P-3 world FOs are vital to the mission and in many ways drive a lot of what we do. Once you make Tacco, you'll direct the crew, manage the tactics, and handle all the weapon systems. You could always get retested and try for a transition later on, too. There a number of guys I know of who have gone that route. I would just recommend giving it a shot and see how you like it. Your not the first person to make the switch and there are plenty of people before you who have ended up loving what they do.

If you have any other questions or want my experience with it all hit me up. Good luck!
 
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