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101. I’ve never heard of the Air National Guard. What exactly are you hiring?

An Air National Guard pilot / navigator is an officer and pilot or navigator in the Air Force component of the National Guard. If selected you will attend the Air Force's Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training / Undergraduate Navigator Training (hereinafter referred to as Undergraduate Flight Training, or UFT), as applicable. Upon completion of training you will return to the Wing that hired you and fly their aircraft. You will incur a part-time obligation ("one weekend a month, two weeks a year") to the Air National Guard, during which time you will be expected to maintain your currency in your aircraft.

Here are some links with general information about the Air National Guard. Current as of 19 April 2009:

http://www.goang.com/default.aspx
http://www.ang.af.mil/

102. Who is eligible to apply?

The minimum eligibility requirements to be an officer and aviator in the Air National Guard include: 

A completed bachelor's degree (any major) from an accredited college or university
Be younger than "approximately" 28 at the time of application (see Question #117, "What's the age limit to apply?")
Good moral character
Meet medical standards
Be a U.S. citizen
Qualifying test scores on the Air Force Officer Qualifying Test
To be competitive for a pilot slot you need to have actual experience flying an aircraft. Completing your private pilot's license is highly recommended. With little or no actual flying time, you will most likely be considered only for a navigator position.

103. Why can’t I just go the recruiter and sign up for a pilot slot?

You will certainly be working with the recruiter during the process. However, by regulation each Air Guard Wing Commander has the authority to establish his/her own process for rated (flying) officer selection.

There are a couple reasons for this. First, these slots are competitive, and a board provides us the opportunity for quantitative and qualitative comparison of candidates. Second, it allows representation from all the aircraft squadrons--a representative from each aircraft will be sitting on the board. Third, we are selecting the future leaders of the Alaska Air National Guard: we set aside the extra time and effort to coordinate a board in order to maximize our chances of making the best choice. 

Bottom Line:  If you are not already a rated officer, the AKANG UFT Selection Board is the ONLY way to be selected for flight school by the Alaska Air Guard.

104. How long is the training?

Undergraduate Flight Training lasts approximately for one year. After that, you enter specialized training for your aircraft; all told, training can last over two years, depending on your aircraft.

105. Do I have to go to Basic Training?

If you are not already a commissioned U.S. military officer, you will go to the Academy of Military Science, where upon graduation you will receive a commission as a second lieutenant in the Reserve of the Air Force. The course is six weeks long and takes place at McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base in Knoxville Tennessee. In the near future the course will be moved to Maxwell AFB in Montgomery, Alabama.

106. Is this a paying job?

Yes. Here's a quote from www.goang.com, accessed 19 April 2009:

"Compensation: Air Guard members receive monthly paychecks for their service, as well as a number of other pecuniary benefits. Members can rely on insurance coverage, and those choosing to contribute can take advantage of Thrift Savings [a contributory retirement account similar to a 401k/403b] as well. Upon accomplishing the necessary years of service and age requirements, you will be eligible to receive retirement benefits, and all of your previous military time will count towards it."

In addition to the "one weekend a month, two weeks a year" paid training opportunities provided by the Air National Guard, the National Guard funds additional training periods specifically for the purpose of maintaining flight currency. Currently 12 flying training periods a quarter are authorized, for a total of 48 a year.

Here's a link to a pay chart for a "drill weekend", the "one weekend a month" of service you can expect to perform once a month. This link was current as of 19 April 2009: 

http://usmilitary.about.com/od/fy2009paycharts/a/droffless.htm

107. Do I have to take any standardized tests?

Yes. You have to take the Air Force Officer Qualifying Test (AFOQT) as well as the Test of Basic Aviation Skills (TBAS), formerly known as the BAT test. The Air Force AFOQT is an SAT-style test, and is a prerequisite to taking the TBAS. The AFOQT can only be taken twice, the most recent scores are used.

If you are in the military, schedule AFOQT testing through your base training office. If you are not in the military contact your nearest Air Guard recruiter to schedule testing. 

To find a recruiter you can visit http://www.goang.com or call 1 (800) TO-GO-ANG.  To contact recruiters at the 176th Wing, in Anchorage call (907) 249-1282; outside Anchorage, call us toll-free at 1-800-642-6228.

For TBAS testing in Alaska, contact UAA AFROTC at 786-7266. You will need a driver's license, AFOQT scores, and a copy of your logbook if you have flying experience. Outside of Alaska, refer to https://pcsm.aetc.af.mil/ for your nearest testing location.

Historically one of the holdups for the application package has been the AFOQT and TBAS. Plan on an approximate two week lead time (actual lead times may be even longer at your testing location) to schedule the AFOQT, and another two weeks to receive your scores. The AFOQT is a prerequisite for the TBAS. Therefore, obtaining a TBAS score can be a six-week, or even longer, process--plan accordingly.

You can find information and discussion on testing on websites such as https://pcsm.aetc.af.mil/, www.baseops.net, and www.wantscheck.com.

108. What’s a PCSM score?

The Pilot Candidate Selection Method (PCSM) is a tool used to predict the ability of a prospective pilot candidate to complete the first portion of Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT). The score is on a scale of 1-99, with 99 being the best. The PCSM score is not an all-inclusive pilot selection tool; it is one part of the entire board selection process. The scale remains the same with the new TBAS test.

To get a PCSM score you must complete the Test of Basic Aviation Skills (TBAS), and the Air Force Officer Qualification Test (AFOQT). Once these two steps are completed and the scores received by the PCSM Program Office, a PCSM score will be calculated. 

Visit the program website at https://pcsm.aetc.af.mil/.

109. At what rank will I be hired?

Unless you are already a commissioned U.S. military officer, all initial hires will be made in the grade of Second Lieutenant.

110. Are any of these jobs full-time jobs?

No, these are all part-time jobs. However, as full-time jobs become available and you are eligible, you can certainly apply. There is no established timeline as to when full-time jobs become available; it depends on the squadron and the manning situation.

111. Can I work beyond the minimum and make the Air Guard my primary source of income?

Yes, but the opportunities vary with the specific aircraft you fly as well as with other variables. There is no obligation on the part of the National Guard Bureau to provide additional paid opportunities beyond the 12 drill weekends, two weeks of "annual training", and 48 additional flight training periods in a year. Historically, many of our aviators have been able to work a significant portion of the year, but "past performance is no guarantee" of future work opportunity beyond the minimum.

112. Can I live out of state and commute to Alaska?

There is no requirement on where you maintain your residency, except in the case of Search and Rescue or tanker alert crews when they are on call. However, it would probably be very difficult to maintain your currency and progress in your career if you don't live near the unit. It takes years to become an effective aircrew member, and flying is a perishable skill. Additionally, you will be expected to pursue advanced mission qualifications which are built on a foundation of strong basic mission skills. For these reasons it is not advisable to plan on living out of state.

113. Are you really hiring for 5 different kinds of aircraft on one board?

Yes, the Alaska Air National Guard operates the C-130, HC-130, C-17, HH-60 at Anchorage International Airport and the KC-135 at Eielson AFB. If you are selected to meet our board, you can be potentially selected to fly any one of these aircraft.

113b. What about the F-22? How do I fly the F-22 for the Reserves?

The Alaska Air National Guard does not operate or select for the F-22.  The Air Force Reserve has its own selection process.  Navigate to http://afreserve.com/ for more information.

114. What’s a “combined” selection board?

The Alaska Air National Guard contains two flying Wings (organizations), one in Anchorage, and one at Eielson Air Force Base near Fairbanks. While each Wing is entitled to hold separate selection boards, leaders from both Wings have decided to merge their processes to (1) offer candidates a wider range of options, and (2) provide a centralized opportunity for the Alaska Air Guard to select its future leaders.

115. How do you decide who gets what aircraft?

Every effort is made to take personal preference into consideration. A representative from each aircraft will be on the board. The goal of the board is to select the most qualified applicants and place them in the aircraft that they want to fly so that they remain in the Alaska Air National Guard for their entire career- ideally 20+ years.

By meeting the board you are not obligated to accept a job offer--if you are offered an airframe you are not interested in accepting, you have an opportunity to decline.

116. Can I trade my slot with another candidate who wants to trade with me?

No. If you were selected it was to meet a specific allocation; once the board disbands, decisions are final.

117. What’s the age limit to apply?

By regulation you have to be younger than age 30 on the first day of flight school. Because our board hires for training quotas that will occur approximately 18+ months in the future you need to be younger than 28 when you meet the board.

117a. Well I know I'm going to be too old. How do I start the age waiver process?

Age waivers will be initiated only for those applicants who have met the board and have been selected for flight training, not before.

Also see Question 130:  "I heard the Air Guard can grant age/Total Federal Commissioned Service waivers. How do I get one?"

118. I heard I have to enlist in the Air Guard before I can go to flight school. Is this a trick to trap me in the military?

No, if you are not already in the military, and we hire you for flight school, you will be "enlisted for the purposes of commissioning." This is required so we can start processing you for flight school. You DO NOT have to go to enlisted basic training, and if you end up not going to flight school for some reason, you have the option of getting out with no commitment.

119. What if I get hired and then find out I am medically or otherwise ineligible for flight training—do I have an obligation to the military?

No. You have a choice of getting out with no obligation or staying in if you want to.

120. What is my obligation if I am hired?

Bear in mind these regulations change, but currently pilots owe ten years of service to the Air National Guard upon completion of flight school (the day you receive your wings) and navigators owe six years. You will be asked to sign an "Understanding of Military Service Obligation" before you are sent off to flight school. In other words, you will be made aware of exactly when the obligation starts, and for how long it is.

121. When does my obligation actually start?

Once all the paperwork is done and a flight school date is identified for you, you will be asked to sign an "Understanding of Military Service Obligation" shortly before you are sent off to flight school. In other words, you will be made aware of exactly when the obligation starts, and for how long it is.

122. What if I wash out of flight school? Am I stuck in the military?

No. You were hired to fill a specific vacancy. If you want to leave the military at that point, you can do so.

123. What will my duties be?

Initially your primary duty will be flying: gaining experience in your aircraft. As time goes by you will be offered opportunities to take on increasing responsibility in duties related to running and leading a flying Wing. Examples include: scheduling, training, weapons and tactics, standardization and evaluation, Search and Rescue duty officer, and more.

124. Why do you guys hold a hiring board for a job that doesn’t start until more than a year and a half later?

Because of the lengthy process to bring you into the military as a rated (flying) officer. To get ready to go to flight school, several things have to happen: you have to pass a flight physical, initiate security clearance paperwork and complete quite a bit of paperwork to apply for a commission (become an officer). The flight physical has to route through quite a few offices, and typically takes months to be approved even if there are no questions or problems. Once it's been ascertained that you are medically eligible to be placed on flight status, you have to assemble a "commissioning package", basically establishing that you are eligible to become an officer and that you have been offered a job which requires that you be an officer. That takes extensive coordination as well. Additionally, the security clearance process typically takes several months. All these items have to clear their respective approval channels before our base training office can look for a flight school class for you.

For those applicants that are already in the military, with a security clearance, the process is generally much faster.

It bears pointing out that if you are selected, it is to your benefit to complete all the items as quickly as possible. Once you're cleared as a viable flight school candidate you will be placed in the next available course. That can be sooner than the 18 months that we plan for if other units are not getting their candidates processed as quickly as we do. Fallout slots occur when another Guard unit, or the Air Force, is unable to fill a flight training allocation (a "seat" in flight school). Rather than let it go unfilled, they usually ask around to check for units that have flight candidates ready to go on short notice. If you want to go to flight school as soon as possible, get your package completed as soon as you can to maximize your chances of being on hand to take advantage of a fallout class date.  However, you are not obligated to accept a short-notice school date.

125. I submitted my application two months ago and I haven’t heard anything. Why does it take so long to review my application and get back to me?

Because we're coordinating a combined selection board between two different organizations (the 176th Wing in Anchorage and the 168th Air Refueling Wing at Eielson AFB), we have to pool the applications together, review them, contact candidates to verify information or clarify questions on their applications, and hold meetings to discuss who will be invited to interview. Many of the people involved in this process are themselves aviators, and some of them are not full-time Guard members, so scheduling meetings is by itself a challenge, not to mention the challenges of coordinating between geographically separate locations. Your understanding during this process is very much appreciated.

126. Why is the application deadline so far from the board date?

In addition to the lengthy process of reviewing applications, we strive to give at least one month's notice of invitation to interview so that out-of-state applicants have a fair chance of securing travel arrangements to Alaska.

130. What are the vision requirements?

Bear in mind that medical standards are subject to change. At the time of writing, for pilot uncorrected vision must be 20/70, correctable to 20/20. For navigator, uncorrected must be 20/200, correctable to 20/20.

A note about PRK and LASIK: ANY eye surgery requires a waiver. Currently, only PRK is approved by the Air Force for unrestricted aviation duty. Consider the following information from http://airforcemedicine.afms.mil/sg_newswire/nov_02/LASIK.htm, accessed on 19 April 2009:

"USAF policy currently disallows RK completely. The procedure involves making eight to 16 radial incisions in the cornea to flatten its radius of curvature. It has largely been abandoned because of potential side effects.

"PRK and LASIK are allowed with waivers under very specific conditions. For instance, PRK is waiverable for entry into the Air Force including aviator and special duty career fields providing certain criteria are met. However, the Air Force has limited the number of student pilots who can undergo PRK. LASIK still remains a disqualifier for all aviation and special duty programs. However, it can be waived for accession and into certain other career fields not involving aviation and special duties."

Again, this information is subject to change.

Also, you should know that if you get surgery, you cannot initiate a flight physical for ONE YEAR after the surgery. This has implications for processing your paperwork should you become selected. For example, if you get surgery around the same time that you interview for the board, you cannot even begin your processing until a year later. Remember, the reason the board is held so far out from your training date is because it really does take a long time to accomplish all the paperwork. By regulation we can't start the rest of your paperwork until your flight physical is completed and approved. In other words, we can't start the first step of a roughly year-long process until the year after your surgery has expired.

If you delay that process by one year you realistically might not be able to meet the training window you were hired for. We can't "hang on" to your flight school allocation past that window. Talk with someone first if you are considering surgery which could affect your availability for the training window.

131. I heard you only hire folks that are already in the unit/have a commercial pilot’s license/have a master’s degree/have a relative in the unit…

There is no typical profile. We strive to hire based on the "whole person" concept. If we hire you, it's because we think you'll be a good officer and aviator, and will contribute to the long-term benefit of the Alaska Air National Guard. Unit members do have an advantage since they have an established track record working with us, but by no means are they guaranteed to be selected. Alaska residents also enjoy an advantage over non-residents since they have shown that they have adapted to the challenges of living here. However, we rarely get enough unit members or even Alaska residents to fill all of our positions so we have always hired applicants from other states.

132. How many slots do you have?

It depends on the manning situation in each squadron, as well as the allocation of school slots from the National Guard Bureau. Typically, we hire one pilot candidate for each aircraft, so 5 pilots, and one to two navigators.

133. How much flying will I do?

Once you complete training, you will be expected--and provided the opportunity--to maintain currency in your aircraft. In addition to the "one weekend a month, two weeks a year" commitment to the Air National Guard, the National Guard funds additional training periods specifically for aircrew for the purpose of maintaining flight currency. Currently 12 flying training periods a quarter are authorized, for a total of 48 a year. This translates into roughly one flight a week.

Other opportunities occasionally occur, such as taking trips to haul cargo, take part in an exercise, or to hold search and rescue alert. These additional opportunities depend on the squadron and on funding sources.

134. I’m an Army Warrant Officer helicopter pilot. How do I become an Air Force pilot?

There are two possibilities: (1) you can apply to transfer to the 210th Rescue Squadron as a helicopter-only pilot (you don't have to meet the UFT board, but can't apply for transfer to a fixed-wing position later), or (2) apply to UFT board for fixed wing training.

Case 1 (apply for transfer to 210th): You still have to meet the age limit to become an Air Force officer (younger than 35), and you will need to attend the Academy of Military Science (officer basic training) to receive a commission in the Air Guard. If you apply to transfer to the 210th Rescue Squadron as a helicopter-only pilot, be advised that applications are only considered as vacancies become available. 

To ask about this option, send an introductory e-mail to 176wg.pilotuft@elmendorf.af.mil

If you come into the 210th as a helicopter-only pilot and decide later you want to be a fixed-wing pilot, it is not impossible, but a vacancy must be available and you will have to complete Undergraduate Pilot Training.  This scenario occurs only very rarely.

Case 2 (apply for fixed-wing UFT): You fall in the same category of everyone else applying for UFT.  You will need to meet the age limit for UFT (younger than 28 at the time of application). You will also need to attend the Academy of Military Science to receive your commission in the Air Guard. If you are selected for fixed-wing pilot training you will go through the identical pipeline of Undergraduate Pilot Training as any other selectee.

135. I'm an Army Warrant Officer. In the Army I can apply for a commission without going to OCS. Warrant Officers by definition have commissions. Are you SURE I have to attend AMS?

Yes.  

Reference:  ANGI 36-2005, "APPOINTMENT OF OFFICERS IN THE AIR NATIONAL GUARD OF THE UNITED STATES AND AS RESERVES OF THE AIR FORCE", 15 March 2005:  

"3.9.2. Warrant officers must attend AMS and will be enlisted in the grade of Staff Sergeant (E5), or highest enlisted grade held whichever is higher."

136. I’m on Active Duty. Will you guys help me out with Palace Chase so I can go to pilot training?

No. We do not initiate Palace Chase on anyone's behalf. You have to be available to provide enough time to inprocess into the Alaska Air Guard (approximately six months to a year) and to go to flight training for the specified fiscal year.

137. Were your units affected by BRAC?

BRAC is the Base Realignment and Closure process used by Congress to realign the force structure and facilities of the Department of Defense to better posture it for future missions. The 168th was not affected, although there were some changes made to the active duty units at Eielson. The 176th Wing will move from Kulis ANG Base at Anchorage International Airport to Elmendorf AFB on the north side of Anchorage. The 144th Airlift Squadron will also gain 4 C-130s and form an associate unit with an active duty squadron also flying the same C-130's. The move and gaining the additional aircraft will be completed by the end of September 2011.

138. I'm a Navy/Army/Marine Corps/USCG officer--I don't have to take the AFOQT do I?

Yes.  If you were transferring to a non-rated Air Force job you would not be required to take the AFOQT.  However, officer applicants from other branches of the service are required to take the AFOQT if they are applying for flight training.

Reference:  AFI 36-2005, "APPOINTMENT IN COMMISSIONED GRADES AND DESIGNATION AND ASSIGNMENT IN PROFESSIONAL CATEGORIES -- RESERVE OF THE AIR FORCE AND UNITED STATES AIR FORCE," 19 May 2003, 3.4.1.1.2.

139. I'm an Air Force/Navy/Marine Corps/Coast Guard fixed-wing military Pilot/Aviator/NFO/RIO/Navigator/CSO/WSO/EWO. How do I join your unit?

You send an introductory e-mail to 176wg.pilotuft@us.af.mil. This e-mail goes directly to the inbox of the DO's of each flying squadron.  As vacancies become available they will review their e-mails and potentially contact you.  There is no established timeline as to how often vacancies become available. 

990. Any other advice?

The ideal candidate possesses two traits:  the capacity to be a military officer, and the ability to make it through some challenging flight training.  

Start learning about what it means to be a military officer and consider whether you have established a track record of leadership.  Additionally, flight experience can make you more competitive.

Finally, because we are offering 5 different aircraft, learn about the differences between them.  Each aircraft has its own "community" and mission, so one of the  most important things you can do to prepare for the interview is finding out which mission you are most interested in.  Not only can you distinguish yourself in the interview by being educated about the organization you're applying to, but it's more likely we can match you with a mission you'll enjoy--hopefully for 20+ years in the Alaska Air National Guard.

999. UFT Disclaimer

DISCLAIMER: This information represents a good faith effort to explain the Alaska Air National Guard Undergraduate Flight Training selection process and criteria. However, this should NOT be considered a source document for specific regulations--the information reflects regulations which are subject to change. If any information contained in this document conflicts with Air Force/Air National Guard/other pertinent regulations, the regulations will always take precedence. Any reference to an external website does not constitute endorsement by the Alaska Air National Guard.

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