By Bob Norris
Bob Norris is a former Naval aviator who also did a 3 year exchange tour
flying the F-15 Eagle. He is now an accomplished author of entertaining books
about US Naval Aviation including "Check Six" and "Fly-Off". Check out his web
http://www.bobnorris.com/. In response to a letter from an
aspiring fighter pilot on which military academy to attend, Bob replied with the
12 Feb 04
Congratulations on your selection to both the Naval and Air Force
Academies. Your goal of becoming a fighter pilot is impressive and a fine way
to serve your country. As you requested, I'd be happy to share some
insight into which service would be the best choice. Each service has a
distinctly different culture. You need to ask yourself "Which one am I more
likely to thrive in?"
USAF Snapshot: The USAF is exceptionally well organized and well run. Their
training programs are terrific. All pilots are groomed to meet high standards
for knowledge and professionalism. Their aircraft are top-notch and extremely
well maintained. Their facilities are excellent. Their enlisted personnel are
the brightest and the best trained. The USAF is homogenous and macro. No matter
where you go, you'll know what to expect, what is expected of you, and you'll be
given the training & tools you need to meet those expectations. You will never
be put in a situation over your head. Over a 20-year career, you will be home
for most important family events. Your Mom would want you to be an Air Force
pilot...so would your wife. Your Dad would want your sister to marry one.
Navy Snapshot: Aviators are part of the Navy, but so are Black shoes (surface
warfare) and bubble heads (submariners). Furthermore, the Navy is split into two
distinctly different Fleets (West and East Coast). The Navy
is heterogeneous and micro. Your squadron is your home; it may be great,
average, or awful. A squadron can go from one extreme to the other before you
know it. You will spend months preparing for cruise and months on
cruise. The quality of the aircraft varies directly with the availability of
parts. Senior Navy enlisted are salt of the earth; you'll be proud if you earn
their respect. Junior enlisted vary from terrific to the troubled kid the judge
made join the service. You will be given the opportunity to lead these people
during your career; you will be humbled and get your hands dirty. The quality of
your training will vary and sometimes you will be over your head. You will miss
many important family events. There will be long stretches of tedious duty
aboard ship. You will fly in very bad weather and/or at night and you will be
scared many times. You will fly with legends in the Navy and they will kick your
ass until you become a lethal force. And some days - when the scheduling Gods
have smiled upon you - your jet will catapult into a glorious morning over a
far-away sea and you will be drop-jawed that someone would pay you to do it. The
hottest girl in the bar wants to meet the Naval Aviator. That bar is in
Bottom line, son, if you gotta ask...pack warm & good luck in Colorado.
And now available in Kindle format...
"The Doolittle Raid: How America Responded to the Sneak
Attack on Pearl Harbor"
The Mission That Saved Guadalcanal
to Stalag Luft III"
"Don't Need No Stinkin' Badges"
"Coffee at the White House"
"Toss Up" "Waddlethromp" "Zero-g"
FLIGHT 18 HOME
What It's Worth