Is OTS Feasible?

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ctm126

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Unread post11 Jun 2012, 03:59

I know you guys probably get a bazillion questions on here about USAFA/USNA vs. ROTC vs. OTS, and I'm sorry that I have to create a thread about this. I've been reading everything I can over the last few weeks and I'm not sure what to do.

I have wanted to fly fighter jets for a long time. When I was younger, I used to play FlightSimulator and even recently I have been using the DCS A-10 simulator.

I just recently graduated from high school (something like top 12% in my glass with a ~4.55 weighted GPA) and I will be attending Georgetown University next year.

In planning out my college career, I have been struggling with the question with whether to do ROTC or not. The issue of being in ROTC doesn't bother me, I have spent my life in Catholic schools and I am used to authority and structure. But what worries me is the idea of commitment to the AF or Navy if I don't end up getting a pilot slot. That is why I was considering OTS. I know that statistically it is much harder to slot into UPT out of OTS but as a smart and driven individual I feel somewhat confident that I could do it. But still something about skipping ROTC seems stupid to me.

Anyone have any advice?

Thanks,
Chris
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tjodalv43

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Unread post11 Jun 2012, 06:34

Hi Chris! My advice would be if you aren't willing to serve your 4 years if you don't get a pilot slot, don't sign up. When you sign on the dotted line, you are signing up to defend America in her armed forces in whatever capacity she needs you. If you do get a pilot slot, something could always go wrong, you may have already finished UPT and they find a medical problem that DNIF's you for good. All I ever wanted to do was fly, but I always had a backup plan in case it didn't work out. That being said, you are right, it is much harder to get a slot from OTS. I had several friends that did it, but it is very needs of the AF based and I honestly don't know how many they're handing out at OTS these days. I don't doubt that you are smart and driven enough, but there just might not be any slots available for you. I went the ROTC route and have seen it be very successful for those who work hard at it. Going Guard is not easy but that is another way to allievate SOME of the chances of getting placed in a non-flying job after you sign onboard. Hope that helps some!
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twintwinsingle

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Unread post11 Jun 2012, 17:22

Chris, I'd say it really depends on what you want. ROTC offers a lot of benefits: probability of getting at least some of your school paid for and increased chance of getting a slot are the two biggest. If you're not on scholarship, you don't have to actually "sign on the line" until the summer before your junior year (they have 2-yr scholarships too, if you wanted to do that). It's a lot easier to forecast what pilot hiring will be like 2-yrs from now compared to 4-yrs from now. However, when it comes down to it, ROTC can get next to zero pilot slots too...the academy's get first crack at the slots. As an example, my freshman year at college, the class that graduated that year had 1 AF ROTC pilot slot and about 25 Pilot qualified ROTC grads. By the time I graduated, every single pilot qualified ROTC Grad got a pilot slot (still about 25-30). Another couple of dozen folks or more got OTS/OCS (AF/Navy/USMC) slots from my class...so it can change dramatically in just a couple of years. As TJO said above, it's needs of the service. The big downside of ROTC is, as you said, you're signing up YEARS before you're commissioned and things can change a great deal. if they do, you're committed.

OTS and the guard have the benefit of offering you a specific job BEFORE you sign up. Now, post commission, you run the risk of getting sent to another area/specialty if you have medical or performance issues. That's the same for all 4 commissioning sources. The big downside for those two sources is, in my opinion, that they can't offer you any money for school. For me that was a big deal. I've flown with hundreds of fighter pilots over the years. Probably about half are academy grads. The other half is about an even mix of ANG/OTS and ROTC. I don't have the stats, but I have not noticed a larger number of ROTC guys compared to OTS guys. I'm ticking through the list of guys in my squadron right now and I don't think we have any ROTC guys.

The last thing to consider is IF you have issues after you're an officer, then the ANG is the place to be. The guys I've seen who have a pilot slot and either wash out of training, get med disqualified at some point or elect to leave (it happens) have not been forced to serve in another capacity. Some have elected to, but I do know guys who came home and went back to their civilian lives, never to serve again.

If you really want to fly and only fly (that's how I was too), then I'd hold off and either do a 2-yr ROTC deal or do OTS or ANG. My 2-pennies.
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twintwinsingle

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Unread post11 Jun 2012, 17:23

Double post!
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ctm126

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Unread post11 Jun 2012, 22:48

Thank you for the advice guys!

It sounds like OTS sounds like the better option for what I am looking for. I have been doing some additional research and I was surprised to find that the Navy commissions about a third of their pilot slots from OCS (although I wouldn't be surprised to find that the info is incorrect). I thought about the ANG route too, but there's something in me that really wants to be on the "front lines" in the active services.

I guess another option would be to roll my dice with the OCS route (I read somewhere too that the AF would be steadily increasing their OCS pilot slots beginning in 2014), and if I don't get in then do ROTC in graduate school since I was planning on getting a MBA or Masters anyways.

I still think though that I will at least check our ROTC when I do move in later this summer. I'm very thankful and blessed to be in a position where paying for college is not an issue for me, so I don't feel inclined to do ROTC for the scholarship alone (although it would be a nice bonus), but rather for the experience itself. I feel confident that I could come out of ROTC with a pilot slot, but I guess what it comes down to is deciding whether or not my chance to get a slot through OTC/OCS is low enough to warrant four years or ROTC.

Sorry if that was a little all-over the place, I've really been going back and forth on this (even as I write this post).
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twintwinsingle

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Unread post11 Jun 2012, 23:16

Chris,
The only downside to the ANG is that the number of ANG fighter squadrons will probably decrease in the future. The old Guard is gone (a flying club with cast-away jets from the active duty). Today those guys have jets equivalent to (and often better than) active duty. Block 50/52 Vipers at some units, Block 42 with the big motors at others, F-15C's with AESA, helmet, 9X, A-10C's...frontline stuff. There are F-22's in Hawaii and ANG guys flying Raptors at Tyndall and Langley, Reservists doing the same at AK and Holloman. F-35 guys at Eglin. Plus, they deploy almost as much as the active units (about every 24 months). You definately will not be "second string" in the ANG these days. Plus (us active guys will appreciate this) no staff tours, no assignment to teach T-6's, no ALO tour to Korea, etc..
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ctm126

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Unread post15 Jun 2012, 23:38

Hm that's really interesting TS, thank you! I'll definitely keep the ANG in mind going forward.

And thanks to everyone for answering my questions so well, it was a big help!

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