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Becoming an Army Helo pilot

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Avenger29, Sep 13, 2005.

  1. Avenger29

    Avenger29 Well-Known Member

    Well, I have enjoyed shooting regular arms for years...so I wanted to get into something with really cool weapons like miniguns and chainguns :cool: (and missles) So I want to become a helicopter pilot- preferably a gunship or Nightstalker pilot

    Now I have my sights set on the Army. I want to know whether I should go in as a Warrant Officer or regular commisioned officer. What are the advantages/disadvanteges (besides either going in after high school or waiting through college- OCS is not a likely path for me)?

    Or should I go Air Force (but I heard thier flight training program is really tough to get into)

    Oh yes, I am a senior in high school and will have my private pilots license plus additional ratings if I take the officer route.
  2. Ala Dan

    Ala Dan Member in memoriam

    Don't know for sure, but I believe the Warrant Officer ranks have been
    abolished? :uhoh: :eek:
  3. hjrocket

    hjrocket Well-Known Member

    WO pilots

    Most Army helicopter pilots are graduated and serve as Warrant Officers. A goodly percentage of Army fixed wing pilots are also warrant officers. The rank of Warrant Officer has not been abolished, perhaps you were thinking about flight officers (USAF Warrants) a rank held by some Army Air Corps pilots at end of WW II and afterward that rank was dropped by the 50's. (they wore bars like warrants but with blue inserts instead of brown like WO's). That said, if the applicant can get a college degree and an ROTC commission in the Army, he will be far better off than going the WO route.
  4. rwc

    rwc Well-Known Member

    My father went the OCS/2Lt. route back ~1969 to get into Hueys. He came up through the ranks and said giving orders was better than getting them...
  5. M2 Carbine

    M2 Carbine Well-Known Member

    I went through the Army helicopter flight school in 1964, in the Warrant Officer Candidate program.

    Then starting in 1966 I was a flight instructor at the school for almost six years.

    Retired a couple years ago from flying choppers in the Gulf of Mexico for 29 years.

    Anyhow I don't know how things are going with the Army flight program now.

    If you will go to "The Flight Deck" at glocktalk.com and post your question I know there's at least one current Army flight school instructor there. He should be able to answer some of your questions.

    I liked being a Warrant Officer. I already had 8 years in the USMC and USMCR as a Sergeant.

    If I intended staying in the Army 20-30 years I'd rather be a commissioned officer. More money. :)
  6. Gillster

    Gillster Well-Known Member

    My brother-in-law is a blackhawk pilot for the US Army, a Major. His opinion is if you want to spend your career flying, you need to be a WO, if you want to fly some and manage more go the OCS route. According to him the WOs get the most flying time.
  7. RoyG

    RoyG Well-Known Member

    The WO program is alive and well in the Army. They still have High School to Flight School. But you won't be able to enlist to be a NS pilot. You need some (LOTS) of flight time to get there.

    Call your local recruiter and tell him you want to be an attack pilot.
  8. M2 Carbine

    M2 Carbine Well-Known Member

    One other thing to think about Avenger29 .

    The turbing powered training helicopters are easier to fly than the piston engine trainers of past years but there was a student washout rate of 50 to over 60%.
    I had 5 room mates just in primary training.

    For instance my class started with over 100 students and graduated 47 counting setbacks.
    The clase ahead of me was about the same and two classes ahead graduated 27 from over 100.

    By qualifing for flight school you will qualify for almost anything else in the army if you wash out.

    As an instructor I hated to see students wash out but learning to fly a chopper is difficult and some just can't make it.

    Flying helicopters is difficult and dangerous. I know more than 50 dead pilots.
    Just since I retired there have been 5 chopper pilots killed flying in the Gulf of Mexico. All these pilots had more than 10,000 flying hours. One, a friend, had been a gun ship pilot in Vietnam.

    Just something to think about.
  9. RTFM

    RTFM member

    Not to be a wet blanket here, but you just don't go to your local recruiter, and say I want to fly.

    If that were the case everyone would do the cool jobs in the service and no one would be Infantry and cook.

    There are 4 specific tests the recruiter will put you thru, should you fail any one of the tests, prior to enlistment, you will no longer be considered for WO Flight school. I left the Army in 1990, and decided I too wanted to try to enter the WO Flight program, I passed all 4 tests (the last test by 1% over fail, but passed none the less.)

    Example of a question: If you are flying 50 knots forward straight flight, with the front of the aircraft (helicopter for this test) being the 12:00 o-clock position for reference describe the rotor tip speed at 2;00 o-clock, 4:00 o-clock, 6:00 o-clock, 9:00 o-clock and 12:00 o-clock. Show your math for tip speed.

    If I recall correctly, there were 150-200 questions about aeronautical calculus on this the 4th and final test.

    The waiting list for entry (was) is huge:
    1) They first take persons presently in the service that are in the flight program IE: flight mechanics, et-all that are in the helo and aviation field.
    2) Second come the civilian collage students and/or military school personnel that have changed M.O.S. to aeronautics and are studying presently to be flight, engineering, comms etc, in the aeronautics field.
    3) Third choice are the actual civilian pilots and civilian aeronautical engineers.
    4) Fourth are the civilian college students that want to sign up for the ROTC so the service pays for the rest of their aeronautical school.

    XX) And lastly guys like me (and you presumably) that pass the 4 tests and make the list ------ way down there at the bottom.....
    You stay on the list until you turn 29 years of age then they consider you to old to be a usable new pilot.

    I never got the call to reenlist for school.

    Good luck.
  10. RavenVT100

    RavenVT100 Well-Known Member

    I've often thought of this. I'm a civilian fixed-wing pilot but I always thought that it would be interesting to explore that option in the Army. Is it as insanely difficult to get a spot flying helos as it is to get a spot flying airplanes in the AF? How do the programs differ?

    Kind of like my last Differential Equations class.
  11. M2 Carbine

    M2 Carbine Well-Known Member

    True RTMF
    When I was instructing at Fort Wolters, TX, then the Army primary flight school, I was in a Austin Guard unit.
    There were officers in the unit waiting for a slot but never made it to school.
  12. M2 Carbine

    M2 Carbine Well-Known Member

    Kind of like my last Differential Equations class.

    But how many failed their Differential Equations class by being killed. ;)

    We had a lot of students and instructors killed at Fort Wolters. Over 65. :(

    Almost got me 5 or 6 times.

    You might find this interesting reading.

  13. Tom C.

    Tom C. Well-Known Member

    Never flew for the Army, but I was in the Marine Corps and went through the Navy flight school, eventually flying the F-4B (1970-1980). In those days, in the Navy flight school, everyone went through basic flight in the T-34B. They were then separated with the top half of the class going jets, and the bottom half going helo, props. There was only room for about half the class in jets, and choices were distributed by your lineal standing in the class. Basic Jet was the T-2C and advanced jet was the TA-4J. All these aircraft have since been replaced.
    I got to fly helos when I was stationed in Hawaii, both the CH-46 and UH-1. I also flew the F-4B and OV-10A. All had some good points, all had some less than desirable points. I never managed to get into the AH-1Js that we had, so I didn’t fire any ordnance from helos, but got to shoot guns and rockets from the OV-10 and bombs, rockets, missiles and guns from the F-4.
    For someone who likes to and shoot, firing different ordnance from an aircraft is a lot of fun, in which ever service you choose.
  14. RavenVT100

    RavenVT100 Well-Known Member

    You'd be surprised...:D

    But seriously, I do understand the gravity of training people to fly. I have seen my share of aircraft accidents in the civilian world and have known several pilots who have been killed. Sometimes it was their fault, sometimes not. It is dangerous work. The bad situations I have been in have never been bad enough, thankfully.
  15. Sindawe

    Sindawe Well-Known Member

    Mark the target with a burning Scout

    :what: That was told to me a few years ago by a High School (Class of '83) associate who is/was an Army Helo pilot, so as of last conversation a few years back, they still have Warrant Officers. IIRC, he's flying fixed wing in Iraq now.
    Thats for sure. Above mentioned fellow totaled a helo during a night mission in here in CO in the mid 90s. The only reason he and the rest of the crew walked away is that they were only a few 10s of feet off the ground at the time. Shoot me a PM/email as a tickler and I'll see what info I can dig up for ya. May take a bit, since he's a friend of a friend.
  16. Father Knows Best

    Father Knows Best Well-Known Member

    My brother wanted to fly all his life. His narrowly missed getting an appointment to the USAF Academy. The USAF suggested he go to a prep school for one year, and would likely get into the Academy the following year. The Army offered him a full ROTC scholarship with guaranteed helo school when he finished. He took the Army's offer.

    After graduating from Michigan State with a degree in Criminal Justice, he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant went to Fort Rucker for flight school. He ended up getting assigned to fly OH-58's, which he enjoyed (nap-of-the-earth and all that) despite the lack of weaponry (the OH-58 is an observation and spotting platform -- basically a souped-up Bell Jetranger).

    He pretty quickly got disillusioned with it all, though. He loved the flying, but rarely got to fly. He was posted in Korea for a year, and spent 98% of his time pushing paper or working out in the gym. He was allowed to fly only the bare minimum hours required to maintain his rating.

    He went to Fort Campbell when he returned stateside, and the situation was the same. By then he had made Captain. He had lots of paperwork and bureaucracy, and almost no flying. He was bored and his wife was going stir crazy living in Clarksville, Tennessee (the city near Fort Campbell), so he took a RIF early-out. He's been a police officer ever since.

    He says getting out early was one of the best decisions he ever made. He misses the flying, but police work is a lot more interesting and exciting than the Army ever was. Of course, he didn't serve in combat. He misses flying the helos, but of course he missed flying the helos even when he was in the Army and that was supposed to be his job. He now has a fixed wing private license, and gets more stick time monthly than he ever got in the Army after leaving flight school.
  17. M2 Carbine

    M2 Carbine Well-Known Member

    True FNB.
    When money gets tight and we aren't fighting anyone flight time is the first thing to suffer.

    I was flying out of Rockport, TX a few years back and we got a new hire pilot recently discharged from the Army.

    I asked him how much flight time the chopper pilots were getting. He said minimums and no more. That's about 135 hours a year. I said that's ridiculous, you aren't flying nearly enough to be safe, I fly more than that in a couple months. Early on I flew offshore jobs that I logged 56 hours a week.
  18. M2 Carbine

    M2 Carbine Well-Known Member

    Tom C., in the late 60's the Army was doing something like that. The top ten percent of the student class could pick the choppers they wanted to fly.

    I was first in the class at Fort Wolters but don't know the final standing finishing at Fort Rucker.

    It wouldn't have made much difference to me anyhow, about all we had was B Model Hueys and antique Hillers and Bells. :D

    Matter of fact, in training at Fort Rucker I flew this Sikorsky a lot more than the Huey.
    Difficult to fly but a lot of fun. :)

  19. jungle

    jungle Well-Known Member

    I flew for both the Marines and Navy. Fighter/Attack and Instructor. Don't limit yourself to just one service. All of them have flight options. The Air Force has the best hardware and treats their people the best.
    You are young and the Army WO program will take you prior to finishing college, the others are going to need a 4 year degree. They are all excellent programs.
    Miniguns are cute, but if you like shooting, it's hard to beat a Sidewinder or a load of cluster bombs for their crowd pleasing effect.
    All of these programs are going to demand a great deal from you both mentally and physically. Start getting ready now.
  20. Fred Fuller

    Fred Fuller Moderator Emeritus

    Oh yeah.

    Doing pushups on the parking lots of Ft. Rucker, AL in August. Now THAT'S cool all right...

    lpl/nc (Mother Rucker, 1981-1983)

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