Air Force Transfer Recap : written by Rob Pribish

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

One part of me would like to go in-depth into our decision making process to attempt this transfer. But I’m reading a book about fear of man right now and… while I value the opinion of many people who read this blog, I think this desire to beat to death this decision every time someone asks clearly stems from a point of being worried about being judged. Ultimately it’s as simple as being closer to family, and if you can’t understand that, I’m not sure you deserve to hear a more detailed explanation!

Suffice it to say, in April I reached out to the Air Force Reserve C-130 unit here in Pittsburgh to look into the possibility of doing an interservice transfer. After a few phone calls, I was in contact with the local recruiting pilot at the squadron who seemed eager and excited to meet up. After a long phone conversation, he gave me the long list of requirements for an application and I got to work. This took a long time. I had to track down my flight records, as well as get three letters of recommendation. Which meant I felt like I was constantly pestering my peers who agreed to write the recommendations. Eventually I got it done, and less than a week after submitting the application packet received a call inviting me to a meet and greet at the unit.

The next week I took a half day at work, drove the 5 minutes over to the airfield, and was greeted by Maj H (who’d been helping me), and another interviewee. The other guy (my competition? future peer?) was in a suit, I’m in my business casual as was discussed with Maj H. Turns out this meet-and-greet was more of a panel interview. I was second, and I walked into a room of five senior officers and NCOs, from the squadron commander to the head loadmaster, every role of the C-130’s five man crew was represented. It went well, they asked questions, I asked questions, I think I answered well. I left with Maj H telling me, they’d call with any updates and that I did well.

The interview took place in late June, I sent a follow up email and left a couple messages, and by July 22nd, I received a call offering me the position. Since then there’s been plenty to discuss but the important question on everyone’s mind is: Where are we now with the transfer? The answer is… uncertain, but a very positive uncertain with a few checkpoints. In the aftermath of the job offer, the recruiters at the unit came to find out that transfer pilots need 400 hours. I was at 364. So I’ve taken a few extra days off of work to go down and fly. If all goes according to plan, I should finish off my 400 by the end of this week! So that uncertainty is coming together.

Well, as of Wednesday, October 15th, one huge uncertainty has been cleared up by Maj T, who has taken over from Maj H in sponsoring me. The big question of how the Air Force would treat my FW training, of whether it would “count” versus their flight school, has been answered and it has huge implications. Because I’m primarily trained on Helicopters, the Air Force does not consider my Fixed Wing transition course in the Army to be a sufficient substitute for their Undergraduate Pilot Training. This means I’ll have to be “boarded” and sent to UPT. Boards only happen twice a year, and it seems there’s very little chance I will meet the deadline for the fall board (October 31st). This means I will wait six months, likely staying with the Army, until they can board me and transfer me. Because I’m already commissioned, and they don’t have to send me through a commissioning source such as Officer Training School, I will likely be high on the priority list for schools and it sounds like we could get orders within a couple weeks for flight school. UPT would be a year and then it sounds like I’d return to the unit and Pittsburgh as I await a slot for the C-130 school. Maj T was extremely encouraging throughout the conversation, reiterating their commitment to me and talking up UPT. Joy and I have already started getting a little bit excited at the proposition and it was great to hear encouraging words from a pilot at the unit!

All this being said, the ball is rolling, perhaps not as quickly as we might have wanted, but everyone has been extremely supportive. The Air Force continues to work with me and give me updates and have complimented the punctuality and detail of the packets they’ve requested. Joy and I have also decided UPT while a big change and challenge, is also an exciting adventure for us and Silas. We both enjoy life on military installations and there’s really nothing like being around so many highly motivated individuals. I may be the “old man” and likely class leader when we get there, but that’s just another fun challenge since the flying will hopefully be pretty easy with all my experience :P

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