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Test Pilot

Pags

Well-Known Member
pilot
I'll also put a plug in for VX-30 at Pt Mugu for VP/VQ/VAW types (occasionally there are even billets for other communities). I went there after TPS, but a few of our fleet direct guys on 1st shore tour were picked up for TPS while I was there. Side benefit is living in socal and deting to Hawaii on a relatively frequent basis.
Several (all?) of the DT squadrons have non-TPS guys on their staffs. At HX-21 it was usually the ASO and AOPS billets. Thats another way to get the visibility of the test community. When the CO of HX endorses your package to TPS it certainly doesn't look bad at the board. However, this is a higher risk path because if you don't get picked up you're in a non-production job and may get hosed. I know guys who have gone to TPS straight from the fleet (even one who left the fleet early), VT IP, FRS, VX(OT), and the Weapons Schools. If you don't get picked up continue applying.
 

xj220

Will fly for food.
pilot
Contributor
At -20 we had a fleet input (non-TPS) join the squadron and soon after got picked up for TPS. There weren’t many there but it’s definitely a good way to go.
 

JEFE

Active Member
None
Do the pilots still get qual'd to fly the C-26's out of there?
No C-26 and no more S-3 either. A selection of various P-3 types and C-130s on the line now, to be joined sometime in the next few years by a couple Gulfstreams. VX-30 is a little different than the PAX DT squadrons as we were about 50/50 or maybe even 60/40 on Non-TPS/ TPS ratio because of the sea range support missions. If you are committed to pursuing TPS, or even if you just want to keep flying and don't much care about the golden path, any VX squadron (OT or DT) would be a great choice. Might put you at risk in some communities, but TBH it seems like they will be hurting for numbers enough to not care if you didn't go to the FRS.
 

Leif

Member
Sorry to revive a dead thread. For background I'm a CAT 1 Rhino student right now with a college engineering background and Test has alwasy been the direction I've wanted to go. Just looking forward a little bit and curious if any of the Test types on the forum can weigh in if there are any specific ways to set yourself apart during your fleet tour to have the best shot at picking up a TPS slot. From a TACAIR perspective any particular quals, ground jobs in your fleet squadron, etc that give you a better chance? I realized a lot of that is outside of my control anyway but just trying to be forward thinking. Not trying to put the cart before the horse, I assume the best advice is "kick ass in the fleet and be a good dude, apply early and often" but if anyone has anything more specific that would be much appreciated!
 

Pags

Well-Known Member
pilot
Sorry to revive a dead thread. For background I'm a CAT 1 Rhino student right now with a college engineering background and Test has alwasy been the direction I've wanted to go. Just looking forward a little bit and curious if any of the Test types on the forum can weigh in if there are any specific ways to set yourself apart during your fleet tour to have the best shot at picking up a TPS slot. From a TACAIR perspective any particular quals, ground jobs in your fleet squadron, etc that give you a better chance? I realized a lot of that is outside of my control anyway but just trying to be forward thinking. Not trying to put the cart before the horse, I assume the best advice is "kick ass in the fleet and be a good dude, apply early and often" but if anyone has anything more specific that would be much appreciated!
My advice would be for you to kick ass in the fleet, be a good dude, and apply early and often.
 

JEFE

Active Member
None
Great advice. I'll add to it that as you kick ass at your ground jobs, keep a running sheet of your accomplishments (should be doing this anyway from a fitrep and figuring out how you can improve anyway). It'll come in handy a couple years later when its time to put a package together if you can point to a few that are a bit technical in nature, and a bunch that are more general, both for the application and to help your front office put together a good rec. One thing I'd ask the VFA guys about is whether its better to play the test desire close to the chest at first. In VP, it could be seen as going off the golden path. I was open and honest and it worked for me, but not sure if that will be the same in every community/ squadron.
 

AllAmerican75

Back to School!
None
Also, while on the subject, would an environmental science degree make you competitive for NASA's or the new and upcoming private space companies (i.e SpaceX or Virgin Galactic) astronaut selection. Many of the past and current astronauts have been graduates of test pilot school. Is NASA and the private companies also asking for more engineering and math specific STEM degrees if that is the case. Many thanks!
So I can't comment on the aviator stuff, but in a previous life I used to work as a contractor at NASA "flying" satellites for one of the programs at Goddard Spaceflight Center and have many friends working for private space agencies (SpaceX, Boeing, etc.). My $0.02:

It's going to depend entirely upon what you want to do. If you want to build, test, and send satellites and autonomous vehicles into space, then you're going to need an engineering or hard science degree. The exception is a VERY small percentage of specialists who assist with niche jobs like specialty payloads and developing scientific sensors and experiments. These people have PhDs with tons of post-doctoral work in their respective niche fields so it's not probable that you will get to do it with just a Bachelors.

Also, no matter what you do, you WILL need a Masters eventually. NASA and all of the space contractors put a huge amount of emphasis on advanced technical knowledge and you will need to be able to show this. You can even see this in the latest classes of astronaut selectees, who all have incredible life stories and unique technical backgrounds. If you want to work for NASA, you need to be able to stack up.

Fun Fact: The majority of the people working for NASA are not actually NASA employees but are actually contractors providing specific services to America's space program. It's all part of the aerospace-industrial complex which NASA oversees and is charged with maintaining at the highest levels of technological innovation. There are many STEM jobs working for contractors doing very cool things.

My suggestion: Decide what you want to be and then work towards it. I don't know what your motivations for studying environmental science are but make sure there's a job for you out there that you want to do with it. Also, make sure that it doesn't require a Masters or PhD. And if it does, find an employer who will pay for it.
 
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