OZBorn, Most of the QFI's are indeed only in their early to mid 30's anyway and will either be a FLTLT or SQNLDR. They are either just out of ROSO or still have some remaining. The other point with QFI' is they are still flying. Might not be exactly as they envisaged, but they are still in an aircraft.
As for all these new aircraft coming on line, this is also largely irrelevant as most training is being done by a contractor, or other forces (C17 as an example). The training that is done in a SQN is no different to what is currently done - at least for the RAAF - and as has been shown here on this board, there will always be blokes who are yet to see reality outside of the RAAF and will take the QFI jobs, the squadron instrutor jobs etc just to "stay flying". This then gives them another few years flying in the Big Blue.
Don't get me wrong these people are needed but their numbers are so small that they will usually always be found. In addition to this is the restructure of the reserves where we are now getting back previously lost experienced pilots who did get out. They now have a chance to come back and stroke their egos by flying something fun as opposed to simply getting paid lots to manage their highly automated flight decks on milk runs, but more importantly than this flippant statement, is these pilots can provide a pool of relatively experienced pilots. From what I have seen of the few so far morale is sky high amongst these blokes and why wouldn't it be, they are getting paid shed loads then "on the weekend" they come and fly RAAF toys and get the best of both worlds?
We could always flog a few pilots from 2SQN for another couple of years to fill any immediate holes.
So as I said before the only real problem the RAAF has with pilots is the there are a lot that thinks the RAAF owes them a flying job. The quicker that you realise the RAAF doesn't want you flying beyond 35 the better off you will be financially and job wise. By job wise I mean take a desk job in the RAAF and try and become CAF or get out, flying airliners, keep the family happy, watch the bank account and assets grow (or at least spend more!) and then if you really want to fly something with a military rego, join the reserves and help out the boggies who are yet to come to grips with reality!
Additional post to add: It is not only Pilots where I believe what I have posted above applies. It is all trades within the RAAF. Have a look at Aircraft Techo's now vs even ten years ago. The whole RAAF is changing. Techo's now wouldn't have a clue as to how to take apart a fuel control unit or trouble shoot an actual WRA. They are now simply Removal and Installation specialists. Everything is sent back to OEM or manufacturer for anything other than basic repair and overhaul. In fact I had a rather senior RAAF officer tell me about 6 months ago, that with the introduction of all the new airframes, the RAAF doing absolutely nothing except flightline stuff, in about 20 or so years the only people on aircraft still in uniform will be Pilots and Gunnies! If you think about it and actually look with both eyes open, you can see how this statement might indeed be more than a senior officers musings.... (Sorry to get off topic - back to pilot retention now)
Hats off - you've just managed to order and clarify the swirling cloud of career-confusion I've been playing with for a while. I guess the frustration comes from the fact that a lot of guys give their heart and soul to the job for a lot of years (because it's feking great), and expect something in return. In reality, the return comes in the form of the irreplacable times you have and the mates you share experiences with. As a very talented old-and-bold recently told me, his resignation was a huge anti-climax; where was the brass band after 20 years of sweat?
That was very good. I very much enjoyed your précis. You seem to have a very firm grip on reality and you will be rewarded well in your next job I am very sure!
I left the RAAF after more than 18 years service. And that delayed leaving was only because they kept giving me such great jobs! When I did leave people were saying I was a dick for leaving before 20 years and the reward of a lifetime pension. As it turned out, I was then able to then earn just the "barely adequate" amount of money in less than the next 20 years. So much so, that I am now financially independent! And this was after me leaving the RAAF as a pauper with a large mortgage in my late thirties.
My advice to all military aviation souls is to suck up the training, the fun and the experience and then go on out into the world to make some serious money with your talents before it is too late.
I have quite a few absolutely brilliant friends that went to the bitter end and retired as one and two star generals, and I feel very sad for their situations in their retirements.
Firstly there is no better flying career opportunity than is offered in the military, sadly, it does end all too soon. Just make the most of it as you go, don't let the puny allowances and annoying blunts etc spoil the fun, just enjoy the time spent with SQN mates, the experiences and freedom allowed and flexibility afforded you by the organisation. Believe me, you will be living on the memories for the rest of your life.
Some guys seem to think that they'll enjoy the airline life far more, or it will be easier on the family, but this can be a false perception. Think about how many guys get divorced soon after joining an airline. I reckon its because the missus thinks everything will be different and was blaming the RAAF for all their troubles, but then found that little changed after the transition to civvy street. It can be a good move as long as you are sure that you have experienced and achieved all that you wanted from the RAAF and you have no false perceptions about airline life. For some, this will occur at the end of ROSO as they probably never really fitted in with the system, or it was obvious that their onward RAAF career was limited anyway. For most, its the tricky decision of... do I get out, or take the C17/C130J/BBJ/A330/QFI etc opportunity and stay for a few more years? True, financially it is better to get out ASAP, but did you join for the money?...I didn't and I didn't leave for the extra cash either. Money is a means to an end not a raison d'etre, if it is for you then you're wasting your time in the flying game -become a tradesman and charge whatever you want for your services!
Bottom line is, don't leave too early and be under no illusion, airline life is not that satisfying, however it can be pleasant, even fun at times and if you're in a similar position as I was towards the end of my RAAF career, you can get your life back after having it squeezed out of you through ridiculous workloads.
How do you know it's for you? - easy, if you currently enjoy flying and socialising with workmates when downroute and think you can maintain an interested in the flying biz, then you'll be fine. If not, don't expect it all to be magically better in the airlines. Also, if you're not a SQNLDR by the end of your 2nd flying tour, are you really that interested in what the RAAF has to offer long term? Consider that you must move up to be a senior officer at some stage, which requires you to be a manager with piloting experience not the other way round. For those who stay in to climb to the dizzying heights of Air Rank, I applaude you, you are better men than me.
"Also, if you're not a SQNLDR by the end of your 2nd flying tour, are you really that interested in what the RAAF has to offer long term?"
I got to the end of my 8th and still wasn't a SQNLDR - some intricate ducking and weaving to get to that point but!
I understand the arguments about the need for progression through the system and so on, but surely there's a place for the specialist pilot to help with the retention of all those small but important bits of knowledge about why we do things in certain ways that seem to get lost so easily when experienced people rush out or get pushed out the door, as the case may be.
A bit like your US Army CW4s, the crusty old individuals who are there to know all that stuff while the young thrusters wash in and out of their lives on their way to bigger and 'better' things.
Some good well thought out posts here about whether to stay or go.
In regards to the Air force structure Cloud Basher is right to say the airforce doesn't want everyone to stay after their ROSO expires. However having been in a Squadron with an average of 1 1/2 years on type and a Squadron with an average of 5 years on type I know which one I'd rather go to war with. I think the airforce leans too heavily on the high through put model.
As for myself I firmly believe that after 10 years of ROSO you have the right to look after number one when it comes to deciding whether to stay or go. If the airforce wants higher experience levels over youth it needs to do something about retention. If not then people will vote with their feet.
Cloud Basher, I’d like to reply to a few points you made in your post #60. It’s not my intention to have a go at you, it’s just I see in you some of the same opinions and frustrations that lead me to part ways with Ronnie over 10 years ago. Firstly, congratulations on your new job. It’s a big step leaving the “sheltered workshop”, but I’m sure you’ll adapt just fine. You didn’t actually state if it was a flying job you’re going to, but whatever it is I hope it all works out. I’ll start at the end……….
No I’m not bitter and twisted
I put it to you that you are. That’s perfectly normal for someone in your position, and that’s because you have:
understand the reality of the RAAF and also what PAF put down as the financial reality of the military pay and super system.
and it really p!sses you off. I was exactly the same. I agree entirely with your points 1 and 3. The RAAF is designed for turn over. They will screw you, and keep screwing you until you do something about it. However you must agree that the ADF’s job is to fulfil the military objectives of the government of the day, whether or not the actual individual agrees with their motives. I’d like to reply in more detail to your point 2. if I may.
I’m not sure if you noticed but there are fewer SQNLDR positions than FLTLT, few WGCDR than SQNLDR etc and there is only one CAF. So the whole system is designed to actively get people promoted as you get older/more experienced away from flying in order to open the spots to new younger fresher greener spots. The older guys either get promoted if that is what they want or get out, jack of not flying.
You’re dead right, of course. That’s how a hierarchical system like the military works, and that’s the point I was making. There is only 1 Chief, and the “system” must provide a few more 2-star’s, more 1-star’s, even more GPCAPT’s etc etc. What I was trying to articulate was the idea that the RAAF places more importance on manning an already bloated command chain at the expense of keeping experience at the sharp end. The RAAF is both acquiring lots of new airframes and is more operationally busy than the Vietnam era. Surely the RAAF can change it’s priorities to ensure the experience is placed where it is most beneficial – supervising the young blokes as they whistle around Iraq for example, rather than ensuring the CAF’s coffee is the right temperature. As an aside, senior officers always bang on about “the 60 Minutes test”. I wonder what those sensationalistic muck-rakers would make of this?
To say it is wrong just because you, who feel your experience of stick and rudder skills flying aircraft in the RAAF, counts for something in the RAAF, means you have completely missed the whole way the defence force recruits and retains people.
Trust me mate, I know it! That’s why I got out in the first place! And that’s why you’re getting out too, I wager. Are you trying to tell me that if the RAAF had offered you a real long term flying tenure that you still would have left? Ironically, during the years I was out I continued to gain more “stick and rudder skills” in my area, which was one of the reasons Ronnie re-hired me! I can assure you that the only reason I’m still here is because the RAAF has agreed to afford me locational stability in a flying job.
Good luck to those staying in, hope you enjoy your desks and promotion
This pretty well sums it up. Stay in and get promoted/grounded. Again, that’s my point. If retention is really the goal (as they say it is) the RAAF needs to make a fundamental change in the way it manages their people. In addition the RAAF must review manning with a view to minimising those ground positions that must be manned by pilots. Ripping pilots out of flying positions at the point where they’re becoming really useful (i.e. senior FLTLT/SQNLDR level) in order to feed the bloated command chain only pisses them off. Giving people more of a say in their career must contribute to retention. There will always be those that want to climb the greasy pole of promotion – leave it to them. Moving to your post #67……..
the only real problem the RAAF has with pilots is the there are a lot that thinks the RAAF owes them a flying job
No-one owes anyone a job. You are correct in that the RAAF doesn't want you flying beyond about 35. The fact that the RAAF is willing to spend literally millions on recruiting and training pilot’s, only to chuck them behind a desk right at the point where they really useful is quite absurd. We both know that, and we have both done something about it. You have pulled the pin, and I am benefiting from their own short sightedness.
By job wise I mean take a desk job in the RAAF and try and become CAF
Ah, so you do agree with me! My (and many others) perception of the command chain is that they are too blinkered to look outside a very small box and make concrete changes to improve retention – if they are genuinely interested in that. My prediction is that the same old tried and proven (not to make much of a difference at all, that is!) strategies will be trotted out, and those senior officers responsible will move to their next promotion with a smug feeling of “having done something” without having to rock the boat by actually doing nothing that will really make a difference.
The other point with QFI' is they are still flying. Might not be exactly as they envisaged, but they are still in an aircraft.
And that’s me to a tee!! My No 1 priority is locational stability for the family. The RAAF have given me that with a flying job as well. Might not be exactly what I’d really like, but it’s not about me any more. Once again, best of luck in your new job C.B.
I entirely agree with you that is an individual decision on whether one choses to stay or to go. But it is also a life changing decision that should be taken with the best available advice of those who have previously been faced with the same decision in the similar circumstances.
Those individuals with previous experience include both you and me. We both can throw our two bob's worth into the mix for whatever it is worth. Whether or not anyone actually listens to old despots like us, let alone take heed of our advice, is neither here nor there. Our life experiences are offered to the younger chaps for them to evaluate and pick and choose. Best regards to you and the other milts and hope all are in good health!
Those individuals with previous experience include both you and me. We both can throw our two bob's worth into the mix for whatever it is worth. Whether or not anyone actually listens to old despots like us, let alone take heed of our advice, is neither here nor there. Our life experiences are offered to the younger chaps for them to evaluate and pick and choose.
As someone who, sometime this week, will be signing on for a six and a half year ROSO, I can vouch that some of us younger chaps (haven't been called that in a while) do listen, and even take notes of what you old despots pass on. The problem lies in the fact that while taking notice, us young-uns tend to want to repeat said mistakes. Perhaps it's that the stories just are not believable
No worries FR, agree with you. Just thought your post was more written as 'guidance' rather than 'opinion'.
Agree with Cloud Basher; pretty well summed up.
Captain Sand Dune; do you know for a fact that:
the RAAF places more importance on manning an already bloated command chain
or is that just your opinion of the system. I don't disagree with you in that there could definitely be improvement (always can be; and again how depends on the eye of the beholder) but there is certainly a lot of cynicism in the way you write. For example:
rather than ensuring the CAF’s coffee is the right temperature.
I hope hope you make the right decision for you and your family.
As an aside I wonder if you took long service leave (and possibly delaying your re-sign commitment) and had a sniff around the outside world if that would make a difference?
Just over a year after I resigned from the RAAF, they sent me a letter offering me my job, rank and pay back as if I hadn't left! Sometime later still, they were offering jobs to many of us carry out flying training. So perhaps if one does leave and subsequently has regrets, all is not lost?
I'll be out of ROSO in my mid - late 30's. Im single at the moment (shhhh, just don't tell the girlfriend that) so i'll most probably acquire one of those family things along the way. Never had the intention of being a lifer/careerist anyway, threads like these just confirm my beliefs.
OK, I just hope ftrplt doesn't read this post because already I have got into trouble for offering guidance rather than opinion.
Shit man, get your arse out of there now! Right now! You are too old to be in the Service unless you are absolutely dedicated to progress to the top. It does not matter if you don't even have a civvie job lined up just now. Get your civvie quals sorted quick and start the application process asap.
In the meantime, if the Service throws you out because you haven't signed up again, so be it. You have plenty of savings to keep you going for at least six months. You WILL get a job in that time. In any case, if you have second thoughts, you can go back to the service with cap in hand and beg.
You will NOT have to do that!
A single man in his thirties flying airliners? Life doesn't get any better!
Thanks for the concern and the advice (I wont tell ftrplt if you don’t )
I think you've got the wrong idea of my situation (although it was a nice look into my future ) I'm 25. I'm not in the mob, yet. I sign up, for the first time 11th July. Traipse into RMC 12th July and endure a fun loving 18 months. This is what I’ve been working towards for years. Hence me not being all that worried about my ROSO being up in my mid - late 30's.
Thanks again for the advice and that goes to everyone here. Lots of gen, now it's just up to me to remember it and figure out what to do with it all.