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UPT Bases?

Tim1210Tim1210 Registered User Posts: 90 Junior Member
So apparently we need to pick our base pref for UPT right away... Any pros/cons you guys have heard of? I heard good and bad things about Whiting, but more bad because coming back to the AF afterwards sucks. Is there a real big difference between Navy/AF/ENJJPT UPT? What about Vance vs Columbus vs Laughlin? Any light shed on this topic would be appreciated. Thanks.
Post edited by Tim1210 on

Replies to: UPT Bases?

  • 1390hopeful1390hopeful Registered User Posts: 219 Junior Member
    fly navy :)
  • Tim1210Tim1210 Registered User Posts: 90 Junior Member
    Yea I was going to put in for Whiting Field, FL but I heard from some firsties its a bad idea because while the training is nice and chill it takes longer and once you report back to AF PT its hard to adjust...
  • eagle36eagle36 Registered User Posts: 1,548 Senior Member
    here's the basic list:

    Whiting Field (Pensacola): your own pace for phases 1 and 2. best location especially for casual (beaches), less intense, not as much class pride. phase 3 is at one of 3 UPT bases: could be harder to switch to if you didn't prepare yourself (requires self-discipline)

    Laughlin: best weather, lots of UPT students, VERY hot, near Mexico (good or bad)

    Vance: high cross winds (get very good at it)

    Columbus: lots of clouds/rain: get better at flying instruments

    Sheppard: automatically T-38s (but no longer guaranteed fighter/bomber - could also get UAV or nearly any cargo), most competitive and "best training", work with and be-friend ppl from many NATO countries (as students and instructors)

    It really comes down to choice. the middle 3 are virtually the same. ENJJPT is considered a "cut-above" while Pens NAS is considered the most laid back. many friends try to get stationed together. honestly, none of the bases are that good, and you get to fly at them all. definitely the most boring AFSC for base assignment choices
  • bulletandpimabulletandpima Registered User Posts: 9,826 Senior Member
    The one thing you should put into the equation is the weather. The reason why is that flights will be cancelled and that can delay graduation.

    For example, you get to Columbus in September, come next June a hurricane hits Columbus, you will lose a week's worth of flying. Why? Because the IPs will take the jets to safety in another state and wait out the storm. They typically will leave a couple of days ahead of the storm, and come back a day or two after the storm has cleared. If it is a bad hurricane season they could be coming and going every few weeks, thus you could lose a lot of time and now are delayed in graduating. I remember when we were at SJAFB, and Floyd hit, the runway was underwater for 10 days. The guys were gone for 2 weeks. This was right after Hurricane Dennis did the boomerang and hit us 2x, thus the guys took the jets to safety, came back, took them back out again. For that FTU class they lost 1 month in training time just because of 2 hurricanes. Because of that delay they had to push back graduation, which had a chain effect on the next FTU class where they were placed on casual status after UPT since the previous class had not graduated yet.

    The same would be true for high cross winds, because there are regs for that too.

    Safest bet probably would be Laughlin for graduating on time.

    Like Eagle said none of these bases are ever on the top of anyone's assignment list.
  • 1390hopeful1390hopeful Registered User Posts: 219 Junior Member
    now who wants to know when their graduation date is, wheres the fun in that lol
  • Tim1210Tim1210 Registered User Posts: 90 Junior Member
    Thanks for all the advice, I ended up putting in for Whiting, Columbus, Vance, Sheppard, and Laughlin in that order...
  • Stealth_81Stealth_81 Registered User Posts: 139 Junior Member
    Interestingly, my son put his choices in almost exactly the opposite order. His list went: Sheppard, Laughlin, Vance, Columbus, Whiting. I don't know how he selected his order so I can't say why.
  • 1390hopeful1390hopeful Registered User Posts: 219 Junior Member
    while af training is more regimented and navy training is more laid back, they still are equally demanding in their requirements...from what i have heard, it is not wise to choose navy thinking that you can slack off and still progress...yes you can slack off,but as the saying goes, they give you enough rope to hang yourself. it seems that the af is more in to spoon feeding their jo's with what they need to know...nothing wrong with either approach, just different philosophies...both produce equally proficient pilots and aviators
  • bulletandpimabulletandpima Registered User Posts: 9,826 Senior Member
    It is funny that you said they spoon feed their JO's, because most AF people will say they eat their young.

    I am confused because you first say AF is regimented than you say they spoon feed. I am going to take the leap is you mean that they are rigid on what they deem is required, but spoon feed you that info. They may spoon feed you the info, bu don't confuse that with the thought it is easy information they are giving you. And don't confuse that with they will ride you hard if you have problems. Not only will the instructors know it, but so will your classmates. Many times if you do something at UPT you will get a call sign for that action, and it will follow you for the rest of your career. (The class you graduate typically will send more than 1 to the FTU, and that person will continue calling you that at FTU, thus the FTU class will now call you that, from there you go with them to operational, and the pattern repeats)

    It is important to understand that at any UPT base you are not going to have a lot of free time to explore the town/city. It is not uncommon that the classes will get together on Sat or Sunday to study on top of nightly studying. You will have weeks upon weeks of academics, simulators and flying all at the same time. Learning the checklist inside out does not happen with a few hours of studying. Don't study your checklist the night before a sim, and you are sure to bust it. Bust the sim and you could be looking at the quick path to washing out.

    I am sure the Navy is the same as the AF in the quality of pilots. I have actually known people who opt for the worst base because their priority was graduating and didn't want any distractions.

    I actually probably have more respect for the Navy pilot's skills because it isn't easy to land a jet on a moving postage stamp in the middle of the ocean. Then again, I also follow Bullet's train of thought after fighting the bad guys you want your runway to be exactly where you left it before you went to fight. ;)
  • 07PETKO07PETKO Registered User Posts: 1,275 Senior Member
    I just put in for Columbus, Vance, Laughlin, Sheppard, and Whiting.

    Conviently enough, I spent this past weekend jumping into airshows at Dyess and Altus AFBs, so I had the chance to talk at length with T-6 IPs et al. For me personally, the cons of Whiting don't make up for the pros. I want to have a more definite schedule, don't want to have to learn how to be an AF Lt. when I come back, and the T-6 just sounds a bit more solid than the T-34 overall, though I'm sure both are capable aircraft. The location is choice, to be sure, but I was reminded frequently this past weekend that UPT is not necessarily the time to be looking for the sweetest party spot of the lot.

    Though a few years ago I didn't imagine I'd ever say this, Sheppard was out for me too. Everything I'm hearing indicates that ENJJPT is now getting the exact same drop as SUPT. Though I'm sure I'm stereotyping a bit, I'd rather not have to compete against the most intense type A go-getters to get the airframe I want. I'd also like to really focus on the material I'm supposed to be learning rather than having to deal with a Danish IP, Belgian flight commander, Italian squadron commander, etc.

    That left me with the three normal SUPT bases, so a lot of it came down to aesthetics and location. To be honest, I like that Columbus actually has trees. Nothing against Del Rio, but I'd just rather not be stuck in the desert for a year. Everyone will have their own personal preferences between these three. It was an extremely tough decision for me because they're basically alike in many ways. In the end, though, whatever bases we wind up at won't be that important. It's just a matter of working hard and doing the best you can, like many on this forum have echoed.
  • Tim1210Tim1210 Registered User Posts: 90 Junior Member
    I think when hopeful said spoon feeding they were talking about how Air Force kind of holds your hand through it, making you study 12 hr days ect, where as at Navy the responsibility falls on you to learn your stuff or get out... I also thought some joint experience could help with whatever career, and I heard about how around the last month at Whiting before you go to Vance, the IPs switch their training style to get you a little "acclimated" before you head out. Plus I was thinking of maybe going FAIP(If i can at whiting, maybe that ends up being vance?) then well, Pensacola would win that... hmm and water survival, sounds interesting... maybe fun in a suck kind of way.

    Also, I grew up in Florida. Guess I'm just homesick. I didn't put in for Sheppard for the same reasons 07PETKO didn't. Anyways I heard you are able to "trade" bases once you get your assignment, so most people should end up getting what they want, even if they change their mind.. well good luck to everyone goin :) I am excited!
  • Tim1210Tim1210 Registered User Posts: 90 Junior Member
    Correct me if I am wrong but isn't Whiting supposed to have new T-6s by the time we show up for UPT? Maybe its just a rumor... :/
  • bulletandpimabulletandpima Registered User Posts: 9,826 Senior Member
    Unless the AF has changed dramatically in the last 24 months (Bullet retired in 08), they do not sit and hold your hands to make sure you are studying 12 hrs a day. You have academics, sims and flights with instructors, but trust me, they leave when class is done. They are not going to stay late in the vault to make sure you are mission planning unless they are flying the mission.

    It is like the Navy, sink or swim (no pun intended). If anyone believes that the AF is going to be easy on you at any UPT base you are heartily mistaken. Again that goes back to eating their young. Additionally, the AF is on the verge of going through a RIF, while simultaneously slowing down the UPT pipeline. What does that mean to you? It means that they are not going to give a lot of chances for students to play catch up, either you get it or you don't, end of subject.

    UPT is a time of your life, because as a student they are not going to give you other jobs, but to just graduate. However, it is not easy. It will be @ 2 yrs of your life constantly hitting the books if you want to graduate at the top. It doesn't end at UPT, nor FTU, you will hit books for the first few months operationally to become MQ.

    There is a negative that nobody has addressed about going to the Navy side. Your OPR's are going to have a Navy aspect to them, and you are not Navy, but AF. You may have a commander or IP who is brand new at your FTU base, and not completely knowledgeable about how the course differs from traditional AF UPT. He/she may feel that some of the Navy ways are not cohesive to the AF way, and feel they need to re-train you AF style at FTU. Many of your IPS are going to be "gray beards" and they are very set in the AF way. It could be a disadvantage.

    WHY would you ever request FAIP? Again, unless something has changed most people steer away from FAIP. The only reason I have ever known pilotsselecting FAIP is because they graduated mid-class and all of the fighters were already taken, thus, it was FAIP or Heavies. FAIP is typically seen as you graduated high enough, but not high enough to get fighters and give you a couple of yrs and you will be high enough to make it in the fighter world.

    FAIPs come and go. For yrs they existed, but then gray beards (O5's getting ready to retire) started asking for IP at UPT, which opened up the operational side, and reduced the need for FAIPS. There were many yrs that FAIPS didn't exist. Now gray beards aren't going back to UPT, thus they have created a clog in the operational world, meaning there are less slots for FTU. That clog in ops, plus lack of IPS, means they had to bring back FAIPS. In one yr from now you could have a lot of gray beards saying I am sick of deploying, I am going to get out at 20, so I am going to take it easy and become a UPT IP as my last tour. If they do you won't find many FAIP assignments being handed down, if any.

    Like anything else in the AF it all comes down to manpower.
  • Tim1210Tim1210 Registered User Posts: 90 Junior Member
    I'm not looking for FAIP, I was just considering it, and if I end up doing that, where I do it becomes a factor. One came and talked to us and said he didn't mind the job, they way he spoke it seemed like something he enjoyed.

    From what I heard, in the AF they make you stay in some area for 12 hours when you arent flying, I guess they dont do that anymore. At Navy I heard its you fly and you leave. The AF just kind of made me think of the Academy: We don't trust you to be responsible with your time, so you can't leave sort of thing. And I know it definitely isn't cake in fact I think it would be a lot easier to get kicked out of pilot training, because the AF has too many people right now. For my class there are rumors that failing out of UPT = failing out of the AF. Also the 6 year pilot commitments and golden handshakes and whatnot. It's going to be cutthroat I imagine
  • bulletandpimabulletandpima Registered User Posts: 9,826 Senior Member
    They were yanking your chain because a duty day is 8-4, as you can calculate that is 8 hrs not 12.

    Maybe you confused it with some other factors.

    1. If you are flying the reg is you can have NO MORE than 12 hrs a day. A typical flight will take you at least 6-8 hours. Brief can be 1 1/2 hrs, go out to the jet and kick the wheels (pre-flight check) can take 45 minutes. Fly around for 1 - 1 1/2 hrs, land, get back to the squadron and debrief, which would be another 2 hrs. Add that all up and you are at the 6 hour marker easily. Now do a double turn and you are at 9-10. Add into that handing in your gear to life support and checking your schedule for the next day and you are approaching 12.

    2. Not to be facetious, but do you actually believe they have armed guards watching you to make sure you stay in that room?

    3. The area they are probably talking about is the VAULT. Students do spend 12 hours there because the material in that area cannot be taken out, thus if you need it to mission plan or study, you are locked in it. They actually have a light that goes on so people know to put away classified materials.

    Let's remember 2 jokes about the AF.

    1. It is the corporate branch of the military...duty day is 8-4, you will not find officers arriving at 7, and by 4 the squadron will be empty, except for those flying.

    2. The AF first builds the runway, then the O'Club, then the golf course, any money left after that they build the squadrons.

    As far as the FAIP issue, of course they love it. Look at why:
    1. They know that after 2-3 yrs they will get into the airframe type they desire. To the AF this is a you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours. MPC will do everything possible to get you your choice.

    2. They get a breather from the pressure cooker, while at the same time they become more proficient at handling the stick which will help them at FTU. They are also IPs which gives them insight into what instructors will require of them at FTU, whereas the newly minted UPT graduate still is growing.

    Finally, yes, gone are the days bust a flight at UPT and you get washed back to the next class. Now bust a flight and you are washed out regardless of where that commissioning source came from.

    It is important to understand that it doesn't end there. Bust flights at FTU and you can face an FEB. Bullet was President of an FEB @2 yrs ago and they pulled the students' wings. It killed the board emotionally to do it because they knew he spent 2 yrs of his life to get to this pt, but they weren't about to hand over a multi-million dollar jet and risk lives. Bullet's crew mate 20 yrs ago at FTU, a AFA grad had his wings pulled 2 weeks before graduation. Graduating UPT does not guarantee you that the fat lady has left the stage...she is still there making sure her voice is good to go.

    Good luck
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