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Aircraft selection

Rich Weidner

New Member
Im aware this question has been asked on here several times, I’ve read the threads, but have other questions. I’m finishing up API, and overheard an instructor say that the worst thing you can do is be halfway through primary and not know what you want. I think it’s a good thing I’m not dead set on anything, but I would like to narrow airframes down and have a priority.
The problem is that there’s very few Marine instructors, and of the ones I’ve met they’ve all been Cobras or Hueys.

My main criteria is that I want to be in the fight. Whether it’s in a fixed wing or rotary aircraft doesn’t matter to me as of now.

The second biggest factor to me is transferring to civilian life. I’m by no means going to pick the aircraft that sets me up for commercial or whatever. That’s not why I joined. I’m intending to do 20 years in the Corps, then fly afterwards for another 10-20. I’m aware that c-130s fit this the best, but how exactly do skids compare? Is it easy to get a rotary civilian job that pays decent? Is it too competitive against army warrant officers that do nothing but log hours?

This leads to my next question. Flight hours IN TODAYS Marine Aviation. I’ve heard horror stories of less than 4 hours per month in the f18s right now. “The jet that never flies.” Is this true? How about skids? I’m very interested in any input about every single airframe that anyone has.

My next variable is family life. I don’t currently have a family, but intend to one day. How and why are particular airframes better than others relating to family life?

That’s all that I’ve got for now. Sorry for the novelty, and i greatly appreciate anyone and everyone’s input.
 

Uncle Fester

Robot Pimp
None
Super Moderator
Contributor
I’m finishing up API, and overheard an instructor say that the worst thing you can do is be halfway through primary and not know what you want.

My next variable is family life. I don’t currently have a family, but intend to one day. How and why are particular airframes better than others relating to family life?
I’ve no idea why the fuck an instructor would say that. It’s not like you have to pick a major and electives. If you don’t know what you’d want and would be happy with anything, then just keep working hard, let your NSS fall out as it will, and if necessary roll dice to fill out your dream sheet.

As far as family life - if you’re asking about whether one platform or another gets you home more often, then no, not really. If you’re asking about QOL at different duty stations, pick your instructors’ brains. Since you don’t currently have camp followers, don’t worry about it too much. You can’t make decisions based on a hypothetical family’s desires.

You also can’t make decisions based on what the job market might be like 8-10 years from now when you’re at the end of your obliserv. I don’t think anyone would’ve predicted ten years ago the current hiring spree at the majors (or maybe they would’ve, I don’t know).

So my advice is, worry about your closer alligators. Most of what you’re agonizing over is impossible to predict.
 

Randy Daytona

Cold War Relic
pilot
Super Moderator
If you need more flight hours, that is easily solved by doing a tour in the training command. NATOPS maximum for unpressurized aircraft is 960 flight hours per year - you can fly A LOT of hours at Whiting. It also allows a rotary wing bubba to bag a bunch of fixed wing hours if you can manage to get a VT instructor slot (you can almost always get the HT's).

As for the salaries of rotary wing guys, it usually depends on the price of oil. As long as hydraulic fracturing is still legal, oil is not likely to go above $70 a barrel - thus helo jobs (while decent paying) are never going to match the salaries of a major airline pilot.
 

zippy

Freedom!
pilot
Contributor
Im aware this question has been asked on here several times, I’ve read the threads, but have other questions. I’m finishing up API, and overheard an instructor say that the worst thing you can do is be halfway through primary and not know what you want. I think it’s a good thing I’m not dead set on anything, but I would like to narrow airframes down and have a priority.
The problem is that there’s very few Marine instructors, and of the ones I’ve met they’ve all been Cobras or Hueys.

My main criteria is that I want to be in the fight. Whether it’s in a fixed wing or rotary aircraft doesn’t matter to me as of now.

The second biggest factor to me is transferring to civilian life. I’m by no means going to pick the aircraft that sets me up for commercial or whatever. That’s not why I joined. I’m intending to do 20 years in the Corps, then fly afterwards for another 10-20. I’m aware that c-130s fit this the best, but how exactly do skids compare? Is it easy to get a rotary civilian job that pays decent? Is it too competitive against army warrant officers that do nothing but log hours?

This leads to my next question. Flight hours IN TODAYS Marine Aviation. I’ve heard horror stories of less than 4 hours per month in the f18s right now. “The jet that never flies.” Is this true? How about skids? I’m very interested in any input about every single airframe that anyone has.

My next variable is family life. I don’t currently have a family, but intend to one day. How and why are particular airframes better than others relating to family life?

That’s all that I’ve got for now. Sorry for the novelty, and i greatly appreciate anyone and everyone’s input.
Crazy comment on your instructors part... it’s okay to not know 100% sure what you want.

You want to be in the fight? Go Air Force preds or Army rotary... seriously...

You Have to accept the fact that being part of the Naval Services you may never see combat due to the nature of our deployments. Many folks have since 9/11 but prior to that there were folks who did 20+ years in the Marine Corps without ever seeing combat.

Having said that- don’t pick a platform based on trying to get to the airlines in 20 years. There may be a big economic downturn that hits 18years from now and you get stuck retiring and not ever flying again because no one is hiring.... pick a platform whose mission interests you and will allow you to support the Marines on the ground in the way you think you’ll find rewarding if you ever get the chance to do it in real life. If you enjoy the G suit, flying forms etc then maybe jets are for you. Don’t worry about flight hours- it won’t mean much either way if you’re planning to do 20... folks will care more about stuff non flying related than how many hours you flew. When you decide to get out there will be a flying job waiting for you with a jet background.

If you end up being a helo guy, there are plenty of opportunities currently for helo guys to get their fixed wing hours/ratings paid for to go to the airline (by the airlines). I assist with pilot recruiting for my airline. We take helicopter pilots regularly And low hours fixed wing guys who aren’t current, pay up to $23k to get them topped off and into class as a first officer. There’s a projected pilot shortage of 30k pilot in the Next 20 years. As long as that shortage exists the airlines will be a viable option for any military aviator.
 

Gatordev

Well-Known Member
pilot
Site Admin
Contributor
I’m finishing up API, and overheard an instructor say that the worst thing you can do is be halfway through primary and not know what you want.
I’ve no idea why the fuck an instructor would say that. It’s not like you have to pick a major and electives.
Yeah, that's weird. While very rare, there are even those of us who had to pick our selection AFTER we put in our dream sheet. But I digress...

Also, you'll run into a bunch more Marines in Primary, so don't base everything off of the NASC manning levels. Expect to run into helo and Herc guys, with an occasional jet dude, assuming they're still trying to keep the VTs filled with one or two to represent the community.
 

Rich Weidner

New Member
Thanks everyone. To rephrase, again I don’t intend to choose the aircraft that will set me up for airlines 20 years from now. I just meant that I don’t want to rule out jets or rotary in regards to any job security whatsoever.

In response to “you may never see combat”...
Is this in general for all of Marine Aviation? For example the last thing I want is to train my whole life for an attack helicopter like Cobras and never see combat at all. I would much rather aim for C-130’s in that sense.
 

Uncle Fester

Robot Pimp
None
Super Moderator
Contributor
Is this in general for all of Marine Aviation? For example the last thing I want is to train my whole life for an attack helicopter like Cobras and never see combat at all. I would much rather aim for C-130’s in that sense.
The point is, there's no "If you select (x), you will experience (y)" and not much point in trying to play the odds. Pick a platform because it sounds cool to you, or you like the likely duty stations, or whatever.
 

Pags

Pope of Chili Town
pilot
In response to “you may never see combat”...
Is this in general for all of Marine Aviation? For example the last thing I want is to train my whole life for an attack helicopter like Cobras and never see combat at all. I would much rather aim for C-130’s in that sense.
That's the case for pilots in most branches. There are plenty of people who did 20yr careers training very hard to kill bad guys and never got to fire a shot in anger.
 

Gatordev

Well-Known Member
pilot
Site Admin
Contributor
There are plenty of people who did 20yr careers training very hard to kill bad guys and never got to fire a shot in anger.
I did shoot in frustration one time...at a CG down range 20NM who were being dick holes...at dusk so our tracers were intentionally apparent. Fun fact: it had the intended impact, but I wouldn't recommend doing it again.
 

Hotdogs

Leeroy Jenkins
pilot
The problem is that there’s very few Marine instructors, and of the ones I’ve met they’ve all been Cobras or Hueys.

My main criteria is that I want to be in the fight. Whether it’s in a fixed wing or rotary aircraft doesn’t matter to me as of now.

The second biggest factor to me is transferring to civilian life. I’m by no means going to pick the aircraft that sets me up for commercial or whatever. That’s not why I joined. I’m intending to do 20 years in the Corps, then fly afterwards for another 10-20. I’m aware that c-130s fit this the best, but how exactly do skids compare? Is it easy to get a rotary civilian job that pays decent? Is it too competitive against army warrant officers that do nothing but log hours?

This leads to my next question. Flight hours IN TODAYS Marine Aviation. I’ve heard horror stories of less than 4 hours per month in the f18s right now. “The jet that never flies.” Is this true? How about skids? I’m very interested in any input about every single airframe that anyone has.

My next variable is family life. I don’t currently have a family, but intend to one day. How and why are particular airframes better than others relating to family life?
1) Only pilots getting “action” right now are VMFA and VMA guys in support of OIR....and by action I mean dropping bombs at altitude and watching them explode on a screen. The probability of a major operation like OIF or OEF kicking off again is pretty low. Gone are the days of hooking and jabbing downtown Fallujah or Marjeh.

2) RW civilian pay is shit. It’s a decent income if you find the right job, combined with reserves or retirement pay can be good gig if your location isn’t in bumfuck no where. Just because you do a stint in HMLA doesn’t mean you can’t bounce to the VTs or VMRs afterwards for multiengine fixed wing time.

3) Skid flight hours are decent compared to most TMS and will most likely continue to increase as the upgrades work through the transitions. Think 15-20 hours a month. Jet guys are the worst right with -53s and Ospreys a close second.

4) All communities suck pretty equally and have pretty big differences in culture with regards to fleet deployment life except C-130s.
 

usmcecho4

Registered User
pilot
C-130's
-average 30-40 hrs per month
-stay in nice hotels
-per diem
-see the world on your own terms
-go harvest hawk if you want to kill people from the air
-go FAC tour after your first fleet tour if you want to kill people from the ground
-easy transition to airlines

S/F,
usmcecho4
 

Pakol

Learner's permit
Hey man, you're going to get to your primary squadron and start standing duty with Captains, getting drinks at squadron events with them, sitting down with your senior Marine, etc. They'll tell you all about their platform and the lifestyle and things will start to make more sense.
 

nittany03

FUBIJAR
pilot
None
Super Moderator
Contributor
Is this in general for all of Marine Aviation? For example the last thing I want is to train my whole life for an attack helicopter like Cobras and never see combat at all. I would much rather aim for C-130’s in that sense.
If you go through life and never have to kill another human being, that's not a bad thing. I've worked with people who haven't had that luxury. Just saying . . .
 

whitesoxnation

Well-Known Member
pilot
Contributor
This leads to my next question. Flight hours IN TODAYS Marine Aviation. I’ve heard horror stories of less than 4 hours per month in the f18s right now. “The jet that never flies.” Is this true? How about skids? I’m very interested in any input about every single airframe that anyone has.
There are a lot of variables that go into flight hours. Squadron priorities, deployments, workups, qualifications, jet health, etc. If you are a training priority for a healthy squadron, have needed qualifications, do a couple deployments, etc, then it is possible to fly >200 hours per year in the Hornet.

For the past two years I think flew around 185-200 hours each year in the Hornet, and I had to sell my soul to fly that much... 12+ hour work days every day and I don't even know the last time I didn't go into the squadron to work on a weekend when I was in the same city as the squadron, i.e. not on leave somewhere else (in which case I was working from my laptop). Those long work days were not driven by studying tactics, mission planning, practicing model work to brief a roller, etc. Reading about the Fitzgerald and McCain collisions resonates with me, especially the parts about fatigue and training.

200 hours per year may seen fat compared to some horror stories you hear but it is still not enough to maintain a minimum level of proficiency in the skill sets you can be called to do in a multi-role fighter if you do not get quality time to brief, debrief, study, and utilize sims. It is also well below what other services or the air forces of other western countries get.

As your time in the squadron increases you are going to accumulate ground job(S!) and go from really caring about studying and having what you think is ample time to learn a lot about weapons and tactics (until you fly with someone from an organization whose only job is to mission plan, train, and fly, and you then learn how little you know and how non-proficient you are... they might even know more about your tactics than you do) to barely having time to check weather and NOTAMs to go fly... never mind know what all the current recommendations are.
 
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