Some questions for Guard pilots...

Joe Guy

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I'm a furloughed regional airline FO, seriously considering going into the Guard. My background is as follows: 25 years old, B.S. degree, CFI, CFII, MEI, about 1,100 TT, most recently emloyed as an ATR F.O. at Continental Express. I've got a few general questions for any current Guard pilots out there.
First, I understand it takes about 2 years (?) to complete the process of OCS, UPT, training for your specific aircraft, etc. I was wondering how often you are home and for how long during the 2 year period. Would I be away at training for 2 straight years, or would it be something like six mos. away, a couple weeks home, etc...? How would it work for holidays, death in the family, etc.?
Second, since Sept. 11th, have the type/ duration/ frequency of deployments changed? Are units spending more time in the US for homeland defense now, are they getting activated to fight terrorism abroad, etc..?
I am committed to becoming an officer and a pilot in the Guard, and I understand that this commitment will involve major sacrifices (i.e. time away from home and family) from time to time. I believe that I'm prepared to make these sacrifices, but I'd just like to know what I'm signing up for from some people who actually do it. (As opposed to recruiters, etc..)
Hope I don't sound too dumb, and thanks in advance for your help.
 

hawg2hawk

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What unit?

I hate to say it, but it depends.
You can count on UPT being a solid year away from home unless you live near one of the UPT bases, with Xmas and the major holidays off. The same goes for whatever RTU or equivalent transport school you end up attending. The other courses (water survival, SERE, etc.) are a few days to a few weeks in length each. All these are separated by weeks or months of waiting ("casual status" on active duty, "real life" in the guard), hence the reason it takes two years.
The amount you'll be gone after you are MR depends entirely on your unit.
Hope this helps.
 

hawg2hawk

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Correction

To clarify, the RTU's or aircraft-specific schools generally run between 3 and 6 months in length. This and UPT are the two longest continous schools.
 

Seeniner

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I'll answer some of this...
I'm not very familiar with OCS, I went the ROTC route, but I don't think OCS is more than 3 months long, and unless you live in San Antonio (I think it is still there), you won't be going home.

Pilot training I know; It is a solid year. Again, unless you live near your particular UPT base, you'll only be home on certain long holidays. You do get most weekends off, hence the living close part.

How much you'll be on the road entirely depends on what airframe you'll fly. Talk to pilots in the specific Guard unit to get better info, not the recruiter.

See
 

Joe Guy

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Seeniner & hawg2hawk,
Thanks for your replies; the info is definitely helpful. My first choice units would be the 2 in my home state of Mass., the 102nd Fighter wing (F-15's) or the 104th (A-10's). I think they both get activated fairly often, but I'm not too sure. The other New England units fly C-130's, F-16's, and KC-135's.
Also, I recently read an article that said something about a 15 month cycle with units being eligible to be deployed for 3 out of every 15 months. Anyone know anything about this? The article made it seem like each unit would be home for at least 12 months at a time, followed by the 3 month period where they would be eligible to be deployed.
Once again thanks in advance for your advice and info!!
 

AlbieF15

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UPT isn't like airline training...it doesn't take you and teach you company procedures and a new airplane--it takes you from "this is where we get lift" and "this is how you takeoff and land" all the way to making you an instrument rated T-38 or T-1 pilot by the end of the program.

Opie seems to be "the man" with UPT info, as is T-38Dude. They can dive in and correct any incomplete/incorrect info I offer up. UPT bases are now at Columbus Ms, Enid Ok, Valdosta, Ga., Wichita Falls Tx, and Del Rio Tx. I think the idea of "commuting" home is pretty unrealistic for a couple reasons. First...you will be working hard until Friday (and maybe Saturday if the behind the training timeline) and will be starting early Monday am. Getting out of the small towns where UPT bases are located and getting back to Mass. then getting back to your base will be a challenge. Also...although you earn 30 days leave ("vacation") per year, you accru them at a rate of 2.5 days per month. What you many not realize is that going home on a weekend (or usually anywhere outside of 250-300 miles) require you take leave. I think I went home from UPT during Christmas, but that was it...otherwise you are simply too busy.

I don't know your family situation, but I cannot recommend strongly enough if you take the ANG route you take your family with you to training. Base housing is almost always available, so perhaps you could rent out your current home for a year. Even though you are already a pilot (see Opie's post on the successful and not so successful regional pilots in UPT), you will still find you are working hard and are quite maxed out by the training. Having your family there will be a great stablilzer and stess reducer. Expecting to go home every other weekend to see them is unrealistic based on the fact you won't have enough leave and the realities of how busy you will be during training.

As for the 3 out of 15 month deal, that is for the AEFs. Your unit can still get tagged to do lots of other non-AEF taskings...some fun and some not so fun. Fun ones include 2-3 week deployments to Red Flag, DACT deployments to other fighter bases, etc. There will also be some not so fun things like ORIs (inspections) which will have you working long hours in preparation. Best advice I have is go talk to pilots at units you are interested in and get good current info from them.

If this sounds negative, I don't mean for it to be. UPT was a blast, and I not only loved flying there but made some lifelong buddies along the way. Take your family--let them share the experience with you and help ease some of the stress. The training is tough enough...add the family separation and I think it would be a bear.

Good luck!
 

Joe Guy

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Albie,
Thanks for the reply and the info. I think I should plan on the full year away, commuting would probably be impossible, like you say. (Not married/ no kids, so that might make it a little simpler.) Anyway, thanks again, good luck at FedEx!
 
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