There are many Cadets at USAFA with prior college and/or enlisted experience. However, all Cadets must start out as Fourth Class Cadets (freshmen) and go through the entire 4 year program in order to graduate.
Not exactly... AFS was the Academy's version of the initial flight training program; for all pilot selects (including Academy grads), Initial Flight Screening now fulfills the UPT screening role. The Academy does have a number of airmanship programs, though, including a powered flight curriculum which will be taught by an all-military instructor pilot force.
Although we would be hesitant to call USAFA a "normal" college, it does offer over 30 academic majors, most of which can be found at most reputable universities (Engineering, History, Political Science, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, English, etc). Cadets are required to declare before midway through their sophomore year, but some majors (Biochemistry, Computer Engineering) require Cadets to declare by the end of their freshman year. As for clubs, Cadet life is pretty busy, but most Cadets find time to participate in one or more clubs. There are over 50 Cadet-run clubs to participate in, and at the beginning of each Academic Year there is a "club day" where all the clubs have booths so Cadets can get information on what club is right for them. Cadet clubs run from Rugby, Ultimate Frisbee, and Judo to Swing Dancing, Paintball, and Big Brothers/Big Sisters. Whatever your interest, there is a club for you!
A USAFA education is second to none. The faculty is balanced between military and civilian, and bring a wealth of academic and military experience to the table. Instructors are required to provide EI (extra-instruction) when requested, and most instructors will drop whatever they are doing to answer a question from a Cadet who just stops by his/her office. The USAFA faculty is a valuable and often-used resource for Cadet mentorship and career and personal advice. There are no graduate students, no TAs, and plenty of research opportunities for Cadets who choose to take advantage of them.
As a USAFA Cadet, you are on-duty 24/7. As you progress in rank (freshman to senior), you are given increased responsibility. All Cadets hold jobs within their Cadet Squadrons, which are modeled on Operational Air Force Squadrons. As a freshman, you learn how to be a good Cadet. As a sophomore, you are given one freshman to coach and help guide through his/her first year. As a junior, you implement Wing policy, supervise multiple sophomores, and provide mentorship to subordinates. As a senior, you make policy and guidance, determine the direction of your unit, and groom juniors to take over your job next year. As a senior, you will be directly responsible for at least 10 other Cadets and will often able to provide rewards for exceptional performers, but on the other hand you are faced with taking disciplinary action sometimes. USAFA is truly a leadership lab, and the military aspect is the real reason the USAFA experience is so special.
So, you want to attend the Air Force Academy and get a pilot slot from there?
US Air Force Academy
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|Well, congratulations on choosing one of the nation's top schools for flying and overall education. At the Academy you will be challenged physically and mentally, and you will also have the opportunity for some basic flight instruction while you're there. USAFA is a great choice for aspiring USAF pilots because USAFA and ROTC get the same number of pilot slots. However, USAFA only graduates about 1,000 new lieutenants each year, while ROTC graduates about 1,200 per year, so you have a much higher chance of getting that pilot slot through USAFA. The first step in getting that pilot's slot from USAFA is to get accepted in the first place! To begin with, you have to get into contact with your local liaison officer so you can get your hands on some information. Go to the US Air Force Academy Homepage link to the left and let them know that you are interested in the academy so they will send you information regarding how to apply and who you need to contact.|
If you are junior in high school, I would recommend that you try and sign up for the Air Force Academy's Summer Scientific Seminar. Here you will gain information about the academy and see if you will like the four years that you spend at the academy.
So what do you have to do to get into the Academy?
USAFA looks for these characteristics in the cadets it allows into the Cadet Wing:
- BRAINS: They look at your high school GPA and SAT and/or ACT score(s). (To be competitive, scores should be: GPA > 3.85, SAT > 2000, ACT > 28)
- ATHLETICS: You really need to show that you are involved in athletic activities on a regular basis. Playing Varsity level sports in high school, or having a lot of experience in club sports, is key (but not necessarily required) in order to gain acceptance.
- STUDENT GOVERNMENT: This factor helps your cause more than hurts. If you held a position in your student government, it really helps your case. That doesn't mean you need to be president, but it sure does help. But if you were not in your student government, it won't take you out of the running.
- EXTRA CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES: This includes everything from clubs that you were in (like National Honor Society, Science Club, Civil Air Patrol, Boy/Girl Scouts, etc) to community service. (Eagle Scouts have a great track record of getting in and graduating from the Academy)
Lastly, they look at your
- CHARACTER: Through the essays that you write during the application process. DO NOT try to write these in one sitting. Spend a lot of time on them before you write them for the final time. They will be hand written on the application, so make sure that you practice writing it a couple times after you have finished so that you can demonstrate the professionalism that they will stress once you get to the Academy.
I got accepted!!! What now?
Start preparing for the most challenging and rewarding experience of your life!
ATHLETICALLY, make sure you are fit and can hold your own when you in-process at the Academy. In-processing is the first day of Basic Cadet Training (BCT) and starts you on a long journey of your introduction to military life. I won't spoil all the fun by telling you all the details, but know it will be physically challenging and you will need to be fit in order to pass BCT.
MENTALLY, don't put your brain on hold since you just graduated high school in the top of your class. The Academy's academics have been said to be comparable to Ivy League schools such as Yale and Harvard. Academics will be challenging and you will need to be able to balance schoolwork with maintaining your physical fitness and your military responsibilities. It will be challenging, but that is the whole purpose.
Lastly, have a good attitude and be ready for an experience. You will encounter people from across the nation (and even from around the world) and they will all have different opinions and backgrounds. Use all that diversity and learn as much as you can from everyone around you.
What do I do once I'm in?Work hard in academics, military life, and athletics. Everything you do is graded, and you'll be ranked against all your classmates for pilot slots. You'll be graded on GPA, athletic performance, and Military Performance (MPA) and although GPA is the highest factor, the military performance is a subjective "officer potential" factor which is determined by the officer in charge of your Cadet Squadron (AOC) and is documented in a Form 94.
Once you get in, you have to take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself. There are many clubs you can be a part of that will help you relax as well as prepare you for the Air Force. Some clubs include flying, choirs, drama, rugby, hobby, falconry, and much more. If you want your private pilot's license while you attend the Academy, you can join the flying club and fly with instructors that have been flying their whole life. If you're already a private pilot, you're eligible to join the Flying Team (flying C-172s in intercollegiate competitions).
During the summer after your freshman year, you'll take either soaring or jump instruction, getting 10+ glider flights or 5 solo freefall parachute jumps. If you excel, you could be asked to come back for advanced training and become a student instructor pilot or jumpmaster! The soaring IPs have a great record at UPT and many of them get ENJJPT slots. Although it is a big time commitment, and soaring isn't as highly regarded as jump at the Academy, I highly recommend the Soaring IP track.
Usually, most USAFA Cadets who are medically qualified to be pilots get pilot slots, but it all depends on the number of slots available for your class and what people ahead of you in order of merit want. Everything, from AFSC selection to UPT start date selection, happens by class rank. The #1 guy gets his first choice, and then it goes down the line until all the slots are filled. The only exception to this policy is ENJJPT; those slots are given to individuals hand-picked by the 34th Training Group Commander (O-6 in charge of Cadets). For the Class of 2005 there were only 33 ENJJPT slots, and the selected individuals were the top 33 cadets in order of merit who put ENJJPT down as their first choice for pilot training (in the words of the 34TRG commander, "If ENJJPT is not your first choice, then it isn't a choice!"). Work hard on all your grades, volunteer for key positions, and do some community service so you won't be the last guy and get what's left over!!
How exactly do I get a UPT slot after graduation?During your Two-Degree (junior) year, you will receive your official graduation flight physical. This physical will determine whether or not you will be eligible for a pilot slot. If you fail your flight physical, there are two basic options: 1) You can have additional tests done and file for a waiver, or 2) You can apply to cross-commission into the Navy or Marine Corps (NOTE: the Army will not currently send USAFA transfers to Army pilot training). I have a friend who failed his color-vision test and elected to try to cross-commission into the Navy so he can have a chance at pilot training.
During your Four-Degree (freshman) year, you will receive a preliminary eye examination. This will let you know whether or not you are potentially pilot qualified (PPQ) in an area where most people fail their flight physicals. If you are selected, you may be chosen to receive PRK surgery for your eyes, which will occur through the USAF during your Three-Degree (sophomore) year. NOTE: DO NOT get PRK (or Lasik) done outside of the USAF, because that will render you INELIGIBLE for pilot training!!!
During the Spring Semester (early- to mid-February) of your Two-Degree year, your draft of your Form 94, which is an AOC (Squadron Commander) recommendation, is due to your AOC. The Form 94 is very much like an OPR, and will be used by the AFSC selection board to help rank-order your class. The Form 94 is a big deal: it can move you up or down in order of merit by over 100 slots, so be sure to take it seriously! Look at the "Downloads" section for some sample Form 94 bullet statements, and look at the sample OPR bullets for even further help. Also during this time period you will put in your preferences for an AFSC (you can apply for as many rated positions as you want, and are also required to apply for 4-5 non-rated slots), and the AFSC board meets in mid-March. The AFSC board looks at your choices, your Cadet record and order of merit, and the needs of the Air Force to make their decision. You will be notified of your AFSC before summer break.
During the fall of your Firstie (senior) year, pilot qualified Cadets take the TBAS (see the TBAS page on this website for more information) and in the spring you take the AFOQT. If you get a coveted pilot slot, you will be able to apply for a UPT base and start date in January of your Firstie year. UPT bases and start dates are given out based on order of merit, as determined by the board which meets during hte spring of your Two-Degree year. You will be notified of your UPT base and start date when there are 100 days until graduation, which occurs in mid-February.
Usually, most USAFA cadets who are medically qualified and want to go to UPT get a pilot slot. Classes are usually approximately 1,000 Cadets, and there are usually approximately 550 pilot slots for each class (563 for the class of 2008). Again, the number of UPT slots available depends on the needs and requirements of the Air Force.
|Powered Flight Returns to USAFA|
by Tech. Sgt. Mike Hammond
Air Education and Training Command Public Affairs
2/6/2008 - RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Air Education and Training Command officials are currently testing a program designed to return powered flight to the Air Force Academy's curriculum.
Called "Jump Start," the program marks the beginning of a program meant to enhance the Academy's focus on airmanship in its curriculum.
There have traditionally been three parts to the airmanship instruction: Soaring, parachuting, and powered flight. These elective courses are meant for potential flyers and non-flyers alike. They are intended to round out cadets' knowledge and familiarity with airmanship principles.
The powered flight portion included three parts: academic support, the cadet flying team, and the Academy Flight Screening program.
When the Initial Flight Screening program became operational with the 1st Flying Training Squadron at Pueblo, Colo., in late 2006, the Academy Flight Screening program was cancelled. Though the flight screening aspect was no longer necessary, academy officials sensed a void in airmanship instruction and developed a plan with AETC to return powered flight to the Academy.
"The new powered flight course is a pure airmanship course," said Richard Simpson, U.S. Air Force Academy airmanship program manager. "It isn't a screening program. Powered Flight will give cadets, whether they become flyers or not, a culminating airmanship experience that will help them better grasp the core Air Force missions."
An all-military instructor pilot force, consisting of 65 instructors from AETC and the academy, will train the cadets and mentor them on Air Force missions.
Powered flight will be implemented in three phases. The current test phase began in January and continues through September. It includes a small number of cadets using a combination of Air Force and aero club aircraft, and is under the operational control of the 306th Flying Training Group, a 19th Air Force unit based at the academy.
Starting in October, the program enters an Interim Service Contract for aircraft and maintenance. During this phase, student numbers will increase to 600 annually.
The final phase is planned to begin in the Fiscal 2012/13 timeframe, with the acquisition of permanent Air Force-owned aircraft. At that time, the student load will increase to a planned 750 juniors and seniors annually.