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Pilot/Engineer Officer Dilemma

Gunshark

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Hey guys,

Hopefully the experienced folks here will be able to provide some advice/insight with regards to my situation. Thanks a lot in advance.

I am originally a Pilot applicant, since July 2012, with the other two options left blank as I did not want anything else to potentially affect my Pilot application. I had my aircrew selection this week, and unfortunately was unsuccessful. I can try again in 1 year, and have to come back with a PPL. I am in fact strongly considering retrying in the future.

The other trade I am now interested in is Engineer Officer (part of Combat Arms). I have technical background and have always liked technical work. Combining that with field work and leadership makes it only more awesome.

So now I'm in this predicament. Do I wait a year, get my PPL, continue improving my Pilot application, hope that Pilot spots will be open next year, and then try again? -OR- Do I go and specify Engineer Officer as my new trade of choice while my file is still open, fresh, and fairly competitive and then few years down the road request a transfer to Pilot if I still want it?

The first option allows me the chance of achieving my original choice of trade sooner, provided the positions are open in a year. However, there are no guarantees that in one year pilot spots will be open, or that I will pass, or that engineer spots will be open - potentially leaving me with nothing at all. It will also mean doing new things to keep my application in top notch shape, and likely working another year at a job I don't find amusing. Not complaining, just stating facts.

The second option, if application goes through, allows me to join the CF sooner and participate in the trade that I'm highly interested in. Even if I may want to go Pilot later, I still have great interest in getting field experience, and doing technical as well as infantry work as part of Combat Arms. I figure if I love it, I may not even want to switch to Pilot any longer. And if I still want to try for Pilot, I will have ground tactics knowledge etc in my pocket, and be a more well rounded member of the CF going into a different trade. I see having various experiences as a benefit. However, the drawback is that I will have to wait more years should my heart yearn again for Pilot. I am 26 now, so I would probably be over 30 when applying for Pilot again.

I am leaning towards the second option, and I'm not asking you to make the decision for me. I know that only I can make it, and I wouldn't have it any other way. I simply explained my story to hopefully receive any thoughts that may come to your mind, and perhaps any advice that you may have, having experienced how things work in the CF, or maybe even having experienced such dilemmas yourself. My question is, would it be easy to component transfer out of Engineer Officer should I choose to pursue Pilot (or maybe even another trade within Combat Arms)? How long is the training process for Engineer Officers and how early would I be able to transfer? I was told by someone that I will have to serve at least 3 years in a trade before transferring. Would it be a problem transferring from the Army to the Air Force? Would my rank/pay continue progressing or would I be starting at the bottom? (Would the CF allow me to try aircrew selection first before filing any transfers? Because if I don't pass, I'd like to keep the Engineer Officer job!)

Does anyone know how many Engineer Officer spots approx. are open now?

Thanks guys. Please share any thoughts that come to mind. Much appreciated.
 

PuckChaser

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If you really, really want to be a pilot, wait and upgrade your credentials. If you can deal with spending 25 years as an Engineering Officer and enjoy what you do even if you can't transfer to pilot, do that. Don't settle for something you might not like doing because you think you can transfer later, because the forums and CF are full of people who don't like their trade that they picked because they thought it was an easy transfer.
 

SIROEW

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In reference to your last question about the number of spots available, it all depends on how you're applying. In other words, there might be 15 spots for ROTP applicants while there might be 30 for DEO and only 5 for CEOTP. These are just random numbers, but I hope that makes sense to you.


Good luck!
 

Gunshark

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I didn't mean to imply that I won't be dedicated to my trade or that I won't enjoy it. I don't mean to use it only as a gateway to Pilot, and take away a spot from someone who really wants it. The reason I'm considering the Engineer Officer trade is because I have technical background, and my best guess is that I would enjoy a mix of technical work, being in the field, and learning to be a good leader. And after trying out this trade, I may very well feel that I don't want to transfer elsewhere.

With that being said, aviation still remains my interest. But the timeline is long and the risks are many, which is why I'm considering getting involved elsewhere before retrying, should I still want to. If I do wish to retry for Pilot after all, I think the Engineer knowledge and leadership would only be of benefit. For example, I think it would be of benefit to understand ground tactics for a pilot who is providing air support.

So in sum, both trades interest me, for very different reasons, and I'd love to have experience in both. So in case I do decide to look at transferring down the road, is it reasonable to expect it to be successful? Just for my info. Thnx.
 

PuckChaser

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Gunshark said:
So in sum, both trades interest me, for very different reasons, and I'd love to have experience in both. So in case I do decide to look at transferring down the road, is it reasonable to expect it to be successful? Just for my info. Thnx.

Don't expect to have anything go the way you want in the CF, and you'll have a happy career.  8) Transfers are not guaranteed, and you can't predict 10 years from now what your health (your airfactor could change), the pilot trade status, engineering officer trade status, etc, etc. If you really want to be a pilot, do the PPL and apply next year.
 

Gunshark

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PuckChaser said:
Don't expect to have anything go the way you want in the CF, and you'll have a happy career.  8) Transfers are not guaranteed, and you can't predict 10 years from now what your health (your airfactor could change), the pilot trade status, engineering officer trade status, etc, etc. If you really want to be a pilot, do the PPL and apply next year.

Your point is well understood. But the reality is that none of those things are predictable in one year either, while right now I may be in a better spot to apply into a different trade.

The risk of not getting into the CF anytime soon at all may be greater than the risk of not being able to component transfer mid-term. Which may not be a risk at all considering I'm highly interested in the Engineer trade to start with and want to have that experience in my pocket, and may discover that I want to stay in it anyway.

Worst case would be a combination of still wanting pilot and not being able to transfer. In which case I'd serve out the full term of the Engineer and potentially apply for Pilot in my mid 30s. Is that too late? Can still fly a full term before I'm 50, provided the health cooperates.

Anyway, just thinking out loud.
 

shogun506

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Too bad to hear you didn't make it. You should think about the degree of your interest in aviation. Is it just a passing fancy or is it something you need to do in your lifetime? Personally, I would be happy to be an engineering officer. I regret not doing an engineering degree in school. I know that if I hadn't passed ASC, I would push to be an infantry officer or an engineering officer and would go as far as to go to RMC to get that degree if necessary. What are your reasons for wanting to join? I'm joining because I want the training, the opportunity for advancement, and most of all, the challenge. Everyone wants the glamour of flying fighter jets or helicopters, but there is a lot of merit in excelling as an army officer as well. If you can commit yourself and have 100% drive in whatever trade you are accepted in, you will get somewhere you can be proud of. So in the end you need to ask yourself, 20 years from now, would you be upset if you never flew but did something else worthwhile with your life?
 

Gunshark

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Good thinking points. I would say I'd like to have both experiences under my belt actually. If I go Pilot, I would most likely never get to try anything again, because the training will be long etc. If I go as Engineer Officer, I get to do something that interests me sooner. If I'm unable to transfer, I'm still doing something I love. And maybe I can go Pilot at the end of my term at the latest, which is in 9 years or so. I'll be around 35.

My reasons for wanting to join is to help protect people of this country or those in need elsewhere. To be part of a team that really stands for something and where bonds are strong. To be challenged to my max. To go on adventures. To be in the field. To go on missions. To travel. To learn myself. To have my character tested. But do it all in one of the trades that has my interest and that I think I can do well, because only in this case I will be able to contribute effectively.

With regards to transfer, so far I seem to be getting a feeling that it's impossible. Is it honestly that bad? Is the likelihood that great that I'll have to serve a full term?
 

PanaEng

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Transferring is not impossible - it has happened - but it is pretty rare. The key is that you have to perform well and get a recommendation from you Commanding Officer (CO) but COs don't like loosing a star young officer or recommending (putting their name behind) someone that is not a good officer and low potential to succeed which would reflect badly on them.
I've known a few ppl with your same (maybe similar) situation that after a few years they are doing very well and having fun and just stay. Some get their flying fix by getting their licence with the local flying club and take a small plane out once a month or so.
By far though, the movement is the other way; ppl that for one reason or another don't reach their goal of being a fighter pilot at some stage in that road and decide they want to leave the AF completely - saw one last year; he spent a couple of months in my unit doing OJT and getting his army gear before going to CFSME.
 

Gunshark

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The OT sounds like a Catch 22 haha. I'm just trying to understand where my priorities are. My current feeling is I would love both Engineer Officer and Pilot occupations for different reasons. And part of me would probably regret not doing the other, no matter which one I pick haha. So perhaps I can do both! One after another. Is it too late to revisit Pilot in my mid-30s?
 

trampbike

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Have you ever flown an airplane?
If you have never held the controls of an airplane, I guess it's always going to be hard for you to make your choice.

I think you should at least start your PPL. If after a couple of hours of flying, you are not flabbergasted, then go the engineer route, it looks like a great job and a fantastic career. If on the other hand you experienced what I felt during my first flying hours, then the dillema will seem trivial to you.

Also, it can be quite fun to hold a PPL:
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-o4boiTZHx0
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQVBJu0nM4o&list=UU5_8JhUDfaNkv6RPi65GiJw&index=10
 

justbud

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trampbike said:
Have you ever flown an airplane?
If you have never held the controls of an airplane, I guess it's always going to be hard for you to make your choice.

I think you should at least start your PPL. If after a couple of hours of flying, you are not flabbergasted, then go the engineer route, it looks like a great job and a fantastic career. If on the other hand you experienced what I felt during my first flying hours, then the dillema will seem trivial to you.

Also, it can be quite fun to hold a PPL:
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-o4boiTZHx0
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQVBJu0nM4o&list=UU5_8JhUDfaNkv6RPi65GiJw&index=10

I sure hope that wasn't you in the video, blatantly posting a video violating CAR's 602.14/15 and providing Transport Canada with the Aircraft Type and Identifier.

http://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/civilaviation/regserv/cars/part6-602-2436.htm#602_14
 

trampbike

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What exactly is reckless flying?
I'd say that for some pilot, the very fact that they fly on their own is quite reckless, while for others, a low level inverted loop in line abreast formation isn't reckless at all.
 

Gunshark

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Thank you everyone for your advice. I have briefly flown a plane and loved every second of it. I think flying is something I do need to do in my lifetime.

In the last couple of days, I've thought of another option: Taking up a position in another trade in the Air Force to start, such as an ACSO or AEC. The service terms are shorter for these trades, so in about 6 years I would be able to try again for Pilot at the age of 32-33. The advantage is that I get to join the CF earlier and see how I like the CF life, learn about the Air Force, get experience in aviation from a different angle, progress my career/rank/pay/etc and then reapply as Pilot being hopefully more knowledge and well-rounded at that time. I hear AEC guys get to travel a ton too, which is nice. And I did pass the AEC exam already.

The disadvantage is that it would be 6+ years until I have a chance to reapply as Pilot, compared to about one year (well, in the best case) if I simply wait. Also, any downsides to trying for Pilot in early/mid 30s? Other than if my health starts declining..

How would this option work though? Would I be able to apply while serving? And if OT doesn't go through, would I have to leave the CF and apply again as a civilian? If I don't pass aircrew selection again, will I screw myself and end up with no job at all (i.e. Done the AEC term and not accepted for Pilot)?

Anyway, just thinking out loud and bouncing off ideas. Thanks guys.
 

Sf2

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Honestly,

No one can answer these questions except you.

The very nature of a military career is uncertainty.  It is impossible to "roadmap" your way along.

The best I advice I can give you (as a guy with 17yrs in, 11 of them with wings) - take any opportunity you can and run with it.  More often than not, its a blessing in disguise.

Good luck
 

RCDtpr

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One thing to keep in mind is 6 years down the road you will be making good money.  I don't know your family situation, but when you are in your 30's, leaving the CF and at best collecting EI while you wait for who knows how long to get a job offer (that may never come) to rejoin the CF is not always plausible.

Just some food for thought though.
 

Melbatoast

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Gunshark said:
The disadvantage is that it would be 6+ years until I have a chance to reapply as Pilot, compared to about one year (well, in the best case) if I simply wait. Also, any downsides to trying for Pilot in early/mid 30s? Other than if my health starts declining..

How would this option work though? Would I be able to apply while serving? And if OT doesn't go through, would I have to leave the CF and apply again as a civilian? If I don't pass aircrew selection again, will I screw myself and end up with no job at all (i.e. Done the AEC term and not accepted for Pilot)?

Anyway, just thinking out loud and bouncing off ideas. Thanks guys.

I'm in my late 30s and in better physical shape than many of the RMC "kids" I OJT with. I am absolutely in better shape than I was when I was 25. There is no real reason your health will "decline" in your 30s if you actively, intelligently stay fit over the course of your life (outside of disease or freak injury something). Many elite athletes peak in their early 30s.

The biggest stumbling block will probably be "Do I really want to put up with this shit anymore?" Starting over at the bottom is a bit of a challenge.

Your AEC term doesn't expire - if you aren't a complete screwup you should be able to continue on a couple of different contract terms until mandatory retirement if you so choose. No one will say, "This guy wants to be a pilot so we won't offer him further terms of service..."
 
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