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NFO To Pilot Transition Question

thebluto

Active Member
pilot
None
I had a SNFO ask me advice (by PM) about doing the transition yesterday. Here is my response for anyone else wanting to know:

All I can say is it is a long road ahead, and you have to want it very badly. And, even that isn't enough to guarantee anything. I would never advocate anyone following in my [personal] footsteps, but my story is long and painful. [NFO-to-pilot was cancelled during my tenure due to the Stacy Bates F-14 accident in 1996 - we were not allowed to fly jets - even longer story after that for me]

I have had four on-wings as a training command instructor pilot that were NFO-to-pilot transitions and they all fared pretty well.

How to get it: Do as well as you can in every endeavor. Work hard where you are now, no matter where that might be. Although your student NFO career doesn't really weigh in to the possibility of getting to transition later, a reputation as a hard-charger always helps no matter what you are pursuing.

Hit the ground running in your fleet tour, always tackle the hard jobs (and even the less glamorous jobs) without bitching about them. (I was the 1st Lt Division Officer as my second job in the squadron - almost 2 years into my tour, basically as the head janitor.) Be a team player and hard charger.

Don't whine that you really should have been a pilot. Don't backstab your fellow JOs. Don't try to game the system. Whatever you are shooting for: if it is meant to be, it will happen. Don't sacrifice your morals or beliefs to try to get ahead.

I know this is all just standard advice to follow, no matter what you are trying to do, but I can't stress enough that it is all about hard work. There aren't really any other secrets.

The process for applying is pretty much available in the message traffic. I'm sure you can find it all on-line at the BUPERS web-site. I would suggest keeping yourself flying on the side at a Navy flying club (Whidbey Island has the best one in the Navy) or out in town. But, I do not suggest letting that hobby cause your career and family life to suffer.

If you do get the transition, flight school for a second time is still painful, but fun. Don't go into it with a chip on your shoulder. Study it their way, fly it their way. Don't treat the instructors like you are their equal as a LT (they are the enemy).

Swallow your pride and just behave like an ENS again when it comes to criticism. Don't expect special treatment as an O-3. Don't bitch if you get stuck with duty or some other crappy deal (cross country you didn't want to go on, on-wing you don't like, whatever).

Keep your eye on the prize of getting the single anchor wings, and not on the fact that it stinks getting treated like a student again.It's a long row to hoe, but it can be worth it.

If you look around on Navy websites, you might find a CAPT named Norbert Szarleta. That is the ultimate NFO-to-pilot success story - Prowler ECMO, turned Hornet pilot, CO, now an Air Wing Commander.

Keep working hard and keep praying. If it is in God's plan for you to be a pilot, it will happen.
 

badger16

Well-Known Member
None
Isn't there a possibility of an auto transfer if you finish first in your class in API? That is just something i've heard before, but wasn't sure if it was in fact true. Can anyone shed some light on that? Great post bluto!
 

Mr. Blonde

My ass is a motherfuckin' champion
pilot
Thanks for the advice Sir, I'm one of those who will be trying to pick up an SNA slot at flight school or transition later on, but I'm not making it my end all be all goal, nor will I let it deter me from being the best possible NFO I can be. I'm going to work hard, play hard, and enjoy every minute of it, and if it happens to work out the way I want it then it will be all the more sweeter in the end. I'm just looking forward to wearing a bag to work, getting some gold wings (no matter HOW many anchors they have), and working in a dynamic environment with the most dedicated and professional people I could hope to be around. Whether I stay in the back, or move to the front I know I'm going to make some of the best lifelong friends and share in some great memories. When my grandfather passed away in June, his enlisted crew chief from 40 years ago drove across the state of Texas to be there and speak at his funeral. That speaks volumes to the bonds of friendship and respect that I'm looking forward to experiencing here in the very near future. God I can't wait for OCS! :D
 

badger16

Well-Known Member
None
I'm just looking forward to wearing a bag to work, getting some gold wings (no matter HOW many anchors they have), and working in a dynamic environment with the most dedicated and professional people I could hope to be around. :D
Don't forget the brown shoes!
 

VS FO

Registered User
pilot
None
Bluto put everything very well. The transition is a hard one to get that requires a lot of hard work, good timing, and a fair amount of luck. If you are fortunate enough to be selected you are forced to swallow your pride a little bit and fully accept a flight student mentality. While your prior experience will inevitably help you it by no means affords you extra consideration or better treatment. Also, keep in mind that while it is still possible to have a successful career and possible command later on, those things become much harder to attain. In short, you give up a lot for that single anchor, but for some it is worth it. As always, work hard in whatever you do and if you are lucky enough to fly a military aircraft in any capacity consider yourself privileged.
 

insanebikerboy

Internet killed the television star
pilot
None
Contributor
Isn't there a possibility of an auto transfer if you finish first in your class in API?

There can be, but it's dependent on the skipper's decision. It's not an automatic or guaranteed change just because you're first.
 

tiger84

LT
pilot
There can be, but it's dependent on the skipper's decision. It's not an automatic or guaranteed change just because you're first.
My roommate did it, but he's the only one I've heard about in a while. I also heard somebody tried to switch a few weeks later and the skipper wouldn't approve it. Not sure if that actually happened or not though. Either way it's not easy.
 

Intruder Driver

All Weather Attack
pilot
If you look around on Navy websites, you might find a CAPT named Norbert Szarleta. That is the ultimate NFO-to-pilot success story - Prowler ECMO, turned Hornet pilot, CO, now an Air Wing Commander.
Norb was one of my students in A-4's. As a retread myself, I always thought he had the right attitude, much as you described. While he is a success story for retreads (and most have been), and not to take away any credit due him, my retread group (1982-1984) includes VADM Denby Starling, former COMNAVAIRLANT, VADM Dave Venlet, NAVAIRSYSCOM, and RADM Jim Symonds, former Reagan CO> These are all ultimate success stories still on active duty.
 

Brett327

Well-Known Member
None
Super Moderator
Contributor
Norb was one of my students in A-4's. As a retread myself, I always thought he had the right attitude, much as you described. While he is a success story for retreads (and most have been), and not to take away any credit due him, my retread group (1982-1984) includes VADM Denby Starling, former COMNAVAIRLANT, VADM Dave Venlet, NAVAIRSYSCOM, and RADM Jim Symonds, former Reagan CO> These are all ultimate success stories still on active duty.
"JR" Haley, Skipper of the TR was a retread as well.

Brett
 

ELCID05

Registered User
There was a guy a few months ago that transitioned over to SNA in the middle of NFO primary. I don't know the details behind how he did it but I spoke with him last night and he is almost finished with primary at Whiting now.
 

FLYTPAY

Pro-Rec Fighter Pilot
pilot
None
Hey guys, I am the resident NFO....7 more months until pilot, in the T-45C here in beautiful Meridian. Yes, what Bluto said. Now to pile some words of wisdom that will not only get you the slot but also help you down the line. I am pretty big on education and not wasting time. Wasting time is a sin. Therefore, once you are in your fleet squadron, start your off-duty Masters. Also, try to get your JPME/Masters through the Naval War College. Most of your competition will be lazy after cruise and not do any of this....one brownie point for you that will pay dividends later in your career. Like Bluto siad about taking ahrd jobs and not bitching about them.....you are doing that so you get the #1 EP. If you do not get the #1 EP in modern times, you will not get the transition. Apply every time you are eligible for it. Get AWESOME LORs (If you get an Admiral, you better have working for him/her or else this will work against you). Fly on the side, your instrument ticket will be the most valuable and it separates you from the Private pilots applying. (don't stop there if you can afford it). Once you get selected, be prepared to be scruitnized over every little error, take it with a grain of salt, fix the error, and be an example for your ensign and 2LT peers.
 

Cavrone

J-Hooah
pilot
Where in the pipeline do NFOs start their pilot training? Obviously they dont have to do API over again, but I'm not sure after that. Thanks
 

FLYTPAY

Pro-Rec Fighter Pilot
pilot
None
Where in the pipeline do NFOs start their pilot training? Obviously they dont have to do API over again, but I'm not sure after that. Thanks
You go directly to a pilot VT at Whiting or Corpus for Primary. The Pipeline is identical to every other student except no API.
 
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