Iâ€™m looking at going into the Air Force as a Flight Engineer. Is there anything you would recommend to me? Or more generally anything about the job I should know? I just wanted to get the opinion of someone who has been through it.
I assume from the way you worded your question that you are not yet in the Air Force. If so, you cannot join right into the flight engineer career field. Air Force Manual 36-2108 (Enlisted Classification) spells out the requirements necessary to gain entry into any AFSC (Air Force Specialty Code â€¦ job) that the Air Force offers. Page 111, Paragraph 188.8.131.52. states that, in order to be eligible for entry in the Flight Engineer career field (1A1Ã—0), you must possess a prior 5- or 7-level skill qualification in either of the In-flight Refueling (Boom Operator – 1A0Ã—0), Aircraft Loadmaster (1A2Ã—0), Airborne Mission Systems (1A5Ã—0), Manned Aerospace Maintenance (2Axxx), or Missile and Space Systems Maintenance (2M0Ã—0) career fields, or possess a valid FAA Flight Engineer Certificate, FAA Pilot License or valid FAA Airframe & Power plant license or Aircraft Maintenance Technician license.
There has been talk about opening up the Flight Engineer career field to â€œfirst-termersâ€, but there has been no action taken as of yet that I am aware of. If you want to become a flight engineer, I would suggest you look at either the Loadmaster (1A2Ã—0) or Boom Operator (1A0Ã—0) career fields, and then retrain at the earliest possible time. Both are still aircrew and fly on the aircraft. I started out as a loadmaster, and then retrained to engineer.
You need to realize that the job of the flight engineer is to refuel aircraft, move cargo, etc. It is a job that centers on TDYs. Although, since 9/11 Iâ€™ve deployed more than gone TDY and staying in a hotel is now a treat instead of a desert brown tent. Again, you have to weight the benefits of a challenging job versus family separation.
The rewards go far beyond the tangible, however. At the end of the day you can see the end result of your work, you have moved your mission from point A to B. Since becoming an engineer, I have earned four Air Medals, two Aerial Achievement medals, and have been awarded the AF Outstanding Unit Award eleven times, twice with valor(getting shot at). My wife wasnâ€™t thrilled to learn of that. Both events occurred over Afghanistan. Iâ€™ve flown 3 different aircraft and logged over 8,100 flight hours.
Making a good career choice is one I feel is very important. Todayâ€™s demands on the military are very strenuous. You can look up the job descriptions for every job in the Air Force via the regulation I previously quoted. I know this isnâ€™t the answer you wanted, but you now have more information to take to your recruiter. This is obviously a career decision that is very important and will shape the future path your life takes. Please make sure you make an intelligent and well-informed decision.