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Helo career info

xcinman

Hopeful Future OCS Applicant
#1
I am very interested in trying to go SNA route and fly helos, but I can not, for the life of me, find an up-to-date thread with relevant info about what a helo pilot does on a day-to-day basis and other things of the sort. I have been searching endlessly and reading threads that were all from 8+ years ago and I feel like they aren't the most relevant anymore. I'd be more than happy flying anything, but I am just trying to get a little more knowledgeable about the helicopter side of things.

I also have tried searching for info on career type stuff such as:

How long does a typical a helo pilot stay in the Navy?

Will they fly their entire Navy careers and what does this career typically look like nowadays?

Do helo pilots or fixed wings have more individuals going all the way until they are eligible for retirement or is it relatively equal?

If anyone out there can answer these questions, that would be very wonderful.
 

BACONATOR

Well-Known Member
pilot
Contributor
#2
depends

not likely. Typical career path is: flight school (1-2 years), first flying sea tour (~3 years), first shore tour (hopefully flying in instructor or other non-production billet ~30 months), dissociated sea tour (~2 years). This last tour will be the decision point where you will go to the O-4 board, DH board and decide to stay in or get passed over, re-designate to something else and change career path, explore going FTS (full-time reserve), get out and do part time reserve, or simply leave and go civilian.

Helo pilots tend to be overmanned at the JO level so the competition tends to be more fierce than a single-seat jet squadron. That is just a matter of fact and numbers (my RR had like 40+ pilots in an HSC-exp squadron), so it all depends and will likely be beyond your choice when the time comes but that is so far in advance no one can tell you for sure.
 

croakerfish

Well-Known Member
pilot
#3
How long does a typical a helo pilot stay in the Navy?

Will they fly their entire Navy careers and what does this career typically look like nowadays?

Do helo pilots or fixed wings have more individuals going all the way until they are eligible for retirement or is it relatively equal?

If anyone out there can answer these questions, that would be very wonderful.
1. Most pilots will stay until they hit their MSR at 8 years post-wings or FOSx2 (not get selected 2 years in a row. There's a ton of stuff on that here). Those that select for O-4 may stay longer.

2. You will probably not fly the whole time. It is possible to do all flying tours all the way through your DH tour but after that tour pretty much everyone will take a non-flying tour before screening for command. If you select Weapons School out of your first tour you can fly 4 tours in a row (fleet squadron, flying as a WS instructor, Super JO at a fleet squadron, then DH tour). If you go to the FRS/HTs/etc you'll have to do a dissociated sea tour somewhere, which is the bane of the helo community. Since we have a shorter time to train in the FRS we leave shore duty with a couple years-ish remaining on our MSR and get stuck with a 2-year tour filling some billet on a ship. You won't fly and you'll be part of ship's company doing boat-donkey things. Examples include TAO on a carrier, Air Department on a big-deck LHA/LHD, CAG Staff if you can swing it, and a litany of others ranging from desirable to miserable.
VP has a similar pitfall, whereas jet guys spend so long in the FRS they can bail at the end of shore duty still current, and they only have to stay for a dissociated sea tour if they want to stay in.

3. Helo guys (HSC in particular) have the choice to stay or go made for them at a higher rate. You can always choose to leave but not necessarily on your terms, and a huge relative number of people leave their first sea tour knowing that they won't make O-4 and will therefore be forced out once PERS is done sucking them dry.

As for what we do on a daily basis, it will vary by squadron but basically you will spend your days as a fleet JO flying, preparing for flights, doing your ground job, and studying for whatever qual you're in the hopper for next. I was a schedule writer for my first job, so I had 2-3 days a week of doing nothing but cranking out the daily flight schedule then the other days I flew and/or studied. Did my first deployment, came home 7 months later then had to make HAC and get Level 3 qualified. During that 5-month period I managed our JMPS computers, which everyone used for mission planning. Not a very time-consuming job, but I had a lot to do flying-wise to get ready to deploy as a HAC so that's why they put me there.
On my next detachment I was the Operations officer so I was pretty busy, along with tons and tons of flying.
Once we came home, I got the job I was praying that I wouldn't get, Assistant Operations Officer. Nowadays I still fly but mostly instructing new pilots getting ready for their first deployment. The difference is now I spend the majority of my time working on my ground job and when it's time to fly I have to work to get in my flight box and focus on what we're doing. The copilots do all the mission planning and I just make sure they have a good plan, didn't goon anything up too bad then take them out to execute.
 

xcinman

Hopeful Future OCS Applicant
#4
Thansk for those responses. So jet guys have a lot safer bet at making a career and makin go. It to retirement over helo pilots or am I misunderstanding it?

Also, is it common for a helo pilot to go FTS and stay there until retirement is available?

I am most interested in making a career out of the Navy and trying to figure out what the best route for that is.
 
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jtmedli

Well-Known Member
pilot
#5
I am most interested in making a career out of the Navy and trying to figure out what the best route for that is.
SWO. If you can make it through the suck that is SWO life then you're guaranteed 20 years. They promote at 100% and hate their jobs at a similar percentages.

Otherwise, come fly what you want and work hard and you'll be fine.
 

xcinman

Hopeful Future OCS Applicant
#7
SWO. If you can make it through the suck that is SWO life then you're guaranteed 20 years. They promote at 100% and hate their jobs at a similar percentages.

Otherwise, come fly what you want and work hard and you'll be fine.
I'll take note of that! Appreciate all of the input. These are the exact type of answers I have been looking for.
 

xcinman

Hopeful Future OCS Applicant
#10
I'm not 100 percent sure what kind of answer I'm looking for here, but are jet guys typical daily routines similar to a helo guy? Other than flying different aircraft and duties with those aircraft I guess.
 

Pags

Well-Known Member
pilot
#14
The Morse Code is a nice touch. Micah didn't make that, did he? I think I picked up the term from him.
Nope, these were made by a guy on my boat tour (Angry). I picked up the term in my fleet tour as an east coast HSC bubba. Wasn't something I had heard from othe communities during my VX tour and the other guys on the boat with me picked it up from Angry and I. Our Air Boss loved the term and did the art for the patches. I have a bigger and better Boat Donkey patch but it's not near my camera now.
 
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