• Please take a moment and update your account profile. If you have an updated account profile with basic information on why you are on Air Warriors it will help other people respond to your posts. How do you update your profile you ask?

    Go here:

    Edit Account Details and Profile

Life of a Naval Aviator, how you manage work and personal life.

WannaFlyHigh

Well-Known Member
So I did a lot of research on this topic via google and searching threads on AW but found a lot of the stuff is outdated or talked briefly in random threads. No body has really spoke up on this in recent years (Post 2015) so I would like hear from some of the recent (or not) people who have already gone through their first Naval aviation commitment. How many deployments did you go though in your first 10-11 years, and how long were they? How many times did you move? Did you have a family? How did you manage your career and personal life, as in when did you get married/have kids/other big things? I hear delay getting married often but when do you know is the right time. How did your spouse or significant other manage their career? Any other important things to consider when following through with this profession? Stuff like that.

I know it's a lot of questions but I feel these are the things loved ones are curious about when you tell them about a career in Naval aviation.
 

picklesuit

Dirty Hinge
pilot
Contributor
First commitment was 2 deployments with the squadron and one with the boat. With DH tour I am up to five, plus a myriad of dets and trips.
 

DanMa1156

Studying
pilot
Contributor
Some things were planned and some weren't, but basically, my timeline was:

Graduated flight school in 2012, went through the FRS with very little delay, showed up to a squadron and did work ups with them, then a 10 month deployment with them, then a maintenance phase with them, a couple more short underways (like 2ish weeks), and finally did a RIMPAC with them.

All told on that tour, I deployed 1x for 10 months, however, my total time at sea was just shy of 14 months with the workups, random CQ dets, etc. Add in the 2 months we spent in Fallon (went twice, once for 4 weeks, and once for 6 weeks IIRC), plus a month of RIMPAC, and I was away from home for 17+ out of the 36ish months I was in that squadron.

Went to become an IP, no deployments, gone about once a month for XC, and did a week long course TDY away from home.

On the next tour, deployed once for 5 months. Went out a couple other times, but never very long - that tour was heavily impacted by COVID - and some of those very short underways were cut short as a result of an abundance of caution and risk aversion to COVID. Had some long days; my first 6-8 months or so, a 12 hour day from 0700-1900 was the norm. It significantly improved over time for a plethora of reasons.

In my current tour, I expect to deploy for 7-8 months and do another set of workups, currently.

Proposed to long-time girlfriend at end of my time at the FRS, got a solid window of opportunity to marry her in my first tour, unexpectedly got her pregnant a few months later, deployed, met kid #1 at the end of my 10 month deployment. Kid #2 came along in my IP tour.

Wife has been unable to really make a career for herself, but it is not for lack of trying. She worked a corporate job that didn't have a ton of upward mobility during my first tour, was a dance instructor during my IP tour, couldn't work overseas due to SOFA + lack of on base jobs + COVID, and now, well, we'll see. She's found some remote work, and despite the relatively good pay, it's part time. Definitely hard for her to manage a full time job if I am gone for a good chunk of the year.

As far as getting married, when I was sure she was "the one," which for me meant we shared common values, visions for our future, financial management, cleanliness/hygiene, could maintain conversation and be comfortable with silence with each other, among other things, I proposed. I did delay until the end of the FRS because that's when I finally felt like I could "breathe" a little bit. I was probably wrong on that, but I am glad that's when we got married. I was sure and I haven't looked back.

My father was right when he told me: "it's never the right time for kids, but you make it work," as I panicked as a young, LTJG newlywed with an unexpectedly pregnant wife in the middle of workups. He was right.

Things I tell people to consider, and this is something I struggled with, but Naval Aviation is INCREDIBLY stovepiped. It's getting better, but not remarkably so, at least to my eye. What do I mean by that? We say we are officers first, aviators second. And that's kind of true on a day to day basis with how you spend your time in your squadron. However, your butt belongs not only to Naval Aviation, but to your community within Naval Aviation. Want to lat transfer but your community isn't releasing people? Tough luck, buttercup. Want to do a tour you might find professionally rewarding but isn't highly valued by your community? Prepare that to be your dead end within the Navy, no matter how well you do, because it can be, far more so than a mediocre evaluation at a highly prized "community job." While I think this part is changing for the better, I still think it's very difficult to actually get into any sort of legitimate in-residence graduate program as an aviator and still manage to stay "on track" in aviation. I'll give War College its due credit, but it's not nearly on the same level of opportunity that SWOs and other communities get, where shore tours aren't necessarily supposed to be "competitive. I have written this before, but as a Midshipman, I had this grand idea that I'd do a couple of flying tours, I'd do the disassociated job, and then I'd go do some cool diplomatic FAO type things, shaking hands and making backroom hush hush deals in the name of international partnerships or something, get to go to in-residence grad school at a top-tier university, decide I wanted to get back into flying and be easily accepted back in with welcome arms... Nope, not the case at all. Stay on the path or deviate at your own extreme risk. For me, I haven't gotten to the point that I was willing to jeopardize my chance at flying a grey aircraft yet, but I had an interesting enough disassociated tour that it did make me realize there is more out there than just flying.
 
Last edited:

Pags

Positive Void Coefficient
pilot
Some things were planned and some weren't, but basically, my timeline was:

Graduated flight school in 2012, went through the FRS with very little delay, showed up to a squadron and did work ups with them, then a 10 month deployment with them, then a maintenance phase with them, a couple more short underways (like 2ish weeks), and finally did a RIMPAC with them.

All told on that tour, I deployed 1x for 10 months, however, my total time at sea was just shy of 14 months with the workups, random CQ dets, etc. Add in the 2 months we spent in Fallon (went twice, once for 4 weeks, and once for 6 weeks IIRC), plus a month of RIMPAC, and I was away from home for 17+ out of the 36ish months I was in that squadron.

Went to become an IP, no deployments, gone about once a month for XC, and did a week long course TDY away from home.

On the next tour, deployed once for 5 months. Went out a couple other times, but never very long - that tour was heavily impacted by COVID - and some of those very short underways were cut short as a result of an abundance of caution and risk aversion to COVID. Had some long days; my first 6-8 months or so, a 12 hour day from 0700-1900 was the norm. It significantly improved over time for a plethora of reasons.

In my current tour, I expect to deploy for 7-8 months and do another set of workups, currently.

Proposed to long-time girlfriend at end of my time at the FRS, got a solid window of opportunity to marry her in my first tour, unexpectedly got her pregnant a few months later, deployed, met kid #1 at the end of my 10 month deployment. Kid #2 came along in my IP tour.

Wife has been unable to really make a career for herself, but it is not for lack of trying. She worked a corporate job that didn't have a ton of upward mobility during my first tour, was a dance instructor during my IP tour, couldn't work overseas due to SOFA + lack of on base jobs + COVID, and now, well, we'll see. She's found some remote work, and despite the relatively good pay, it's part time. Definitely hard for her to manage a full time job if I am gone for a good chunk of the year.

As far as getting married, when I was sure she was "the one," which for me meant we shared common values, visions for our future, financial management, cleanliness/hygiene, could maintain conversation and be comfortable with silence with each other, among other things, I proposed. I did delay until the end of the FRS because that's when I finally felt like I could "breathe" a little bit. I was probably wrong on that, but I am glad that's when we got married. I was sure and I haven't looked back.

My father was right when he told me: "it's never the right time for kids, but you make it work," as I panicked as a young, LTJG newlywed with an unexpectedly pregnant wife in the middle of workups. He was right.

Things I tell people to consider, and this is something I struggled with, but Naval Aviation is INCREDIBLY stovepiped. It's getting better, but not remarkably so, at least to my eye. What do I mean by that? We say we are officers first, aviators second. And that's kind of true on a day to day basis with how you spend your time in your squadron. However, your butt belongs not only to Naval Aviation, but to your community within Naval Aviation. Want to lat transfer but your community isn't releasing people? Tough luck, buttercup. Want to do a tour you might find professionally rewarding but isn't highly valued by your community? Prepare that to be your dead end within the Navy, no matter how well you do, because it can be, far more so than a mediocre evaluation at a highly prized "community job." While I think this part is changing for the better, I still think it's very difficult to actually get into any sort of legitimate in-residence graduate program as an aviator and still manage to stay "on track" in aviation. I'll give War College its due credit, but it's not nearly on the same level of opportunity that SWOs and other communities get, where shore tours aren't necessarily supposed to be "competitive. I have written this before, but as a Midshipman, I had this grand idea that I'd do a couple of flying tours, I'd do the disassociated job, and then I'd go do some cool diplomatic FAO type things, shaking hands and making backroom hush hush deals in the name of international partnerships or something, get to go to in-residence grad school at a top-tier university, decide I wanted to get back into flying and be easily accepted back in with welcome arms... Nope, not the case at all. Stay on the path or deviate at your own extreme risk. For me, I haven't gotten to the point that I was willing to jeopardize not flying a grey aircraft yet, but I had an interesting enough disassociated tour that it did make me realize there is more out there that just flying.
Second the "there's never a good time to get married/get a dog/have kids/etc" philosophy. And that's for any serious career.
 

WannaFlyHigh

Well-Known Member
FWIW, the things you're asking about haven't fundamentally changed since 2015, so those "older" threads are all fairly accurate.
I assumed that would be the case but since some of our major middle east operations are winding down, I wasn't sure if there would be a shift in the Navy's needs.
 

Gatordev

Well-Known Member
pilot
Site Admin
Contributor
I assumed that would be the case but since some of our major middle east operations are winding down, I wasn't sure if there would be a shift in the Navy's needs.
A fair question. Now, after all the ME operations, resources are even tighter, and tend to stay deployed longer to meet the never-ending requirements. So the previous discussions are still relevant, but deployments have stayed the same length and/or been longer.

So...yay.
 

Brett327

Well-Known Member
None
Super Moderator
Contributor
I assumed that would be the case but since some of our major middle east operations are winding down, I wasn't sure if there would be a shift in the Navy's needs.
We'll still deploy carriers to the middle east and the western pacific. I wouldn't expect the operational tempo to be altered significantly just because Afghanistan and Iraq are on the back burner.
 

WannaFlyHigh

Well-Known Member
Some things were planned and some weren't, but basically, my timeline was:

Graduated flight school in 2012, went through the FRS with very little delay, showed up to a squadron and did work ups with them, then a 10 month deployment with them, then a maintenance phase with them, a couple more short underways (like 2ish weeks), and finally did a RIMPAC with them.

All told on that tour, I deployed 1x for 10 months, however, my total time at sea was just shy of 14 months with the workups, random CQ dets, etc. Add in the 2 months we spent in Fallon (went twice, once for 4 weeks, and once for 6 weeks IIRC), plus a month of RIMPAC, and I was away from home for 17+ out of the 36ish months I was in that squadron.

Went to become an IP, no deployments, gone about once a month for XC, and did a week long course TDY away from home.

On the next tour, deployed once for 5 months. Went out a couple other times, but never very long - that tour was heavily impacted by COVID - and some of those very short underways were cut short as a result of an abundance of caution and risk aversion to COVID. Had some long days; my first 6-8 months or so, a 12 hour day from 0700-1900 was the norm. It significantly improved over time for a plethora of reasons.

In my current tour, I expect to deploy for 7-8 months and do another set of workups, currently.

Proposed to long-time girlfriend at end of my time at the FRS, got a solid window of opportunity to marry her in my first tour, unexpectedly got her pregnant a few months later, deployed, met kid #1 at the end of my 10 month deployment. Kid #2 came along in my IP tour.

Wife has been unable to really make a career for herself, but it is not for lack of trying. She worked a corporate job that didn't have a ton of upward mobility during my first tour, was a dance instructor during my IP tour, couldn't work overseas due to SOFA + lack of on base jobs + COVID, and now, well, we'll see. She's found some remote work, and despite the relatively good pay, it's part time. Definitely hard for her to manage a full time job if I am gone for a good chunk of the year.

As far as getting married, when I was sure she was "the one," which for me meant we shared common values, visions for our future, financial management, cleanliness/hygiene, could maintain conversation and be comfortable with silence with each other, among other things, I proposed. I did delay until the end of the FRS because that's when I finally felt like I could "breathe" a little bit. I was probably wrong on that, but I am glad that's when we got married. I was sure and I haven't looked back.

My father was right when he told me: "it's never the right time for kids, but you make it work," as I panicked as a young, LTJG newlywed with an unexpectedly pregnant wife in the middle of workups. He was right.

Things I tell people to consider, and this is something I struggled with, but Naval Aviation is INCREDIBLY stovepiped. It's getting better, but not remarkably so, at least to my eye. What do I mean by that? We say we are officers first, aviators second. And that's kind of true on a day to day basis with how you spend your time in your squadron. However, your butt belongs not only to Naval Aviation, but to your community within Naval Aviation. Want to lat transfer but your community isn't releasing people? Tough luck, buttercup. Want to do a tour you might find professionally rewarding but isn't highly valued by your community? Prepare that to be your dead end within the Navy, no matter how well you do, because it can be, far more so than a mediocre evaluation at a highly prized "community job." While I think this part is changing for the better, I still think it's very difficult to actually get into any sort of legitimate in-residence graduate program as an aviator and still manage to stay "on track" in aviation. I'll give War College its due credit, but it's not nearly on the same level of opportunity that SWOs and other communities get, where shore tours aren't necessarily supposed to be "competitive. I have written this before, but as a Midshipman, I had this grand idea that I'd do a couple of flying tours, I'd do the disassociated job, and then I'd go do some cool diplomatic FAO type things, shaking hands and making backroom hush hush deals in the name of international partnerships or something, get to go to in-residence grad school at a top-tier university, decide I wanted to get back into flying and be easily accepted back in with welcome arms... Nope, not the case at all. Stay on the path or deviate at your own extreme risk. For me, I haven't gotten to the point that I was willing to jeopardize my chance at flying a grey aircraft yet, but I had an interesting enough disassociated tour that it did make me realize there is more out there than just flying.
Thanks for the really in depth answer. Definitely some good insights in this.
 

exNavyOffRec

Well-Known Member
My father was right when he told me: "it's never the right time for kids, but you make it work," as I panicked as a young, LTJG newlywed with an unexpectedly pregnant wife in the middle of workups. He was right.
Such a true statement, too often I hear people say we will have kids when we are stable/time is right/set in career/etc...... but there is always another bill that could be paid off, another project at work to get finished and so on, you just go for it and make it work.

Several of those people I know are now having kids in their late 30's and 40's.
 

Pags

Positive Void Coefficient
pilot
We'll still deploy carriers to the middle east and the western pacific. I wouldn't expect the operational tempo to be altered significantly just because Afghanistan and Iraq are on the back burner.
OP:. Way back when I was a MIDN and Pax America was a brief thing between the Cold and the Forever Wars the USN was still doing 6mo cruises and the expectation for nugget aviators was basically the same.
 

JustAGuy

Registered User
pilot
Just another set of information for the topic.

Got to my first squadron as a single guy in 2005 and went right on deployment, followed by maint phase, full work ups, second deployment, mini workups and third surge deployment. My last flight in that squadron was the fly-off for the last cruise and went to the RAG as an IP. While there for two years I met my future wife and then found out I was going to CAG staff and going on deployment in two weeks. Did that deployment into sustainment to a second deployment.

Break break, my wife had zero real knowledge with military and deployed life so that was a bit of a shock to her, but the fact she waited around for six months for me to return meant she was a keeper.

Extended in that tour for an extra month on deployment as the rest of the strike group was extended about 3 months. Came back home and went to my next squadron (DH) who was on workups at the time. We were able to arrange a wedding in fairly quick fashion so that was done between Fallon and going on the next deployment that ended up extending about 4 months.

Thankfully my next job took me to a place that I wasn't going to deploy, but did travel about a week a month for those three years. With that my schedule was much more conducive to having a home life and there is where we had our daughter and allowed me to spend some good time at home.

After that job went back to CAG staff as OPSO and did part of a deployment, maint phase, workups to a very....interesting...deployment followed by sustainment festivities to get out right before their next deployment.

All in all, in 15 years in the "operational" Navy I went on 8 deployments spending almost 4 and half years physically on the boat, and a over 6 years away from home. I will definitely say that deployments as a JO without a family were fun and and didn't really have any qualms about a home life as you would expect other than not really getting a chance to meet anyone special. As a married guy with no kids, it was a little more stressful, but getting to bring your significant other out to ports is a huge win and made some of the best and ever lasting memories we will have. As a married guy with a youngin' at home I finally understood how stressful it can be because no matter how hard you plan, shit will hit the fan the first day you leave for det or deployment. Thankfully my wife had family local to the area to help her out, but had I been in the DH part of my career and had to decide if I wanted to stay in or get out, I probably would have made the decision to get out due to having a family, especially with my track record of being away from home. As anyone should be able to tell you, a spouse that has gone through a deployment with kids is the strongest person you will probably meet.

Some times it's just luck of the draw. When I flew in from the DH deployment I met the three DH's coming in behind us. That was my sixth deployment and those three guys coming in had a total of 6 deployments between the three of them.

In the end I loved my time in the Navy, even though there was a lot of time away from home, I was very lucky to honestly say that I never had a bad tour and was able to stay flying for 19 straight years.
 

Pags

Positive Void Coefficient
pilot
Your appliances are evil and are always watching, timing their demise for maximum chaos. Even the garage door opener.
Even if you bought brand new ones right before you left they'd still crap out.

Also one of your kids will invariably need some sort of medical procedure while you're gone. Even if they've always been the modicum of health while you were home.
 

exNavyOffRec

Well-Known Member
Even if you bought brand new ones right before you left they'd still crap out.

Also one of your kids will invariably need some sort of medical procedure while you're gone. Even if they've always been the modicum of health while you were home.
or a guy a few doors down gets murdered in the middle of the night due to a love triangle, that was a thing.
 
Top