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RAF in 2018

Old 28th Aug 2018, 13:50
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RAF in 2018

Are more of the younger generation pursing careers in commercial aviation these days? Seldom do I meet anyone interested in pursuing a career within the military these days. My FI, ex RAF, doesn't speak highly of what a pilot's role has become - his words not mine. Just curious to know how it really is.
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Old 28th Aug 2018, 14:10
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I could guess that “career” is somewhat restrictive now, with such a relatively small force. If you are not one of the ‘blessed’ at an early stage, you will finish as a flt lt/sqn ldr. The pyramid has shrunk enormously.

And the ‘Overseas tours’ tend to be less attractive than they were in my day!!
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Old 28th Aug 2018, 14:29
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Surely the intention of the RAF at almost anytime in it's history is that the majority of aircrew leave at what used to be called the 36/16 point, so finishing as a Flt Lt/Sqn Ldr would be fine. Don't see how career opportunities are affected at all by it being a smaller force, as a smaller number are recruited in the first place, the pyramid may have shrunk but it's still; the same shape!
And in the modern world who is aiming at a single career for life, old hat these days, the gif economy and shirt term contracts all providing variety and career progression for the individual by managing what they do and for whom they do it, not leaving all to the whim of a single large organisation that, despite it protesting to the contrary, is always only interested in its own best interests.

As for Field Required's question, it has always been a very small percentage of the population who are either qualified or wish to have such a career, I suspect that it is still just as hard to get in and make it through as it ever was. I doubt that anyone has ever met loads of folk who were interested, so no surprise then that you don't.
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Old 28th Aug 2018, 19:10
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More to life than aircrew, of course, but a fair point when there are temptations outside the wire.

As a former member of a small Branch, it was a bit different. Just 5 gp capts and an air cdre at the top of our tree. Most stuck at sqn ldr because there was no room at the top, and the ~30 wg cdrs were just bloody lucky!!

I do accept that I never heard any contemporaries discussing a Military career in the 60s ... I guess I was just strange!!
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Old 29th Aug 2018, 08:14
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Originally Posted by pr00ne View Post
it has always been a very small percentage of the population who are either qualified or wish to have such a career, I suspect that it is still just as hard to get in and make it through as it ever was. I doubt that anyone has ever met loads of folk who were interested, so no surprise then that you don't.
As a fresh faced PO I met a retired sqn ldr the night Kennedy was shot. He gave me a word of advice - resign. The following year, first day out of OCU and my first operational station I was given the same advice. The OPs Flying Instructor has gone one better Don't.

I think Pr00ne isn't quite right about how hard it is to get it. We used to have over 100 per month starting training with perhaps only 100 per year needed now. The eligible population is also significantly larger being more than doubled. This would lead to much stiffer competition.

Low unemployment and more people in higher education and perceived greater competition there may be fewer actually coming forward. That trend is apparent from the few aspirants seeking advice here.

Military v Civil pilot training offers a n 'inexpensive ' way to learn to fly compared to Ł100k plus up front cost for civilian licences. However military flying is not free. They get their pound of flesh in other ways.

Last edited by Pontius Navigator; 29th Aug 2018 at 08:27.
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Old 29th Aug 2018, 11:10
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Originally Posted by Field Required View Post
Are more of the younger generation pursing careers in commercial aviation these days? Seldom do I meet anyone interested in pursuing a career within the military these days. My FI, ex RAF, doesn't speak highly of what a pilot's role has become - his words not mine. Just curious to know how it really is.
I can assure you that in terms of the next generation of pilots, they are highly motivated, more individually skilled, intelligent and fit than was the case in my day.

Luckily, when the pyramid gets smaller, we can raise the entrance bar and choose the best of the best....cue cheesy jokes!
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Old 29th Aug 2018, 11:29
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Originally Posted by MPN11 View Post
I could guess that “career” is somewhat restrictive now, with such a relatively small force. If you are not one of the ‘blessed’ at an early stage, you will finish as a flt lt/sqn ldr. The pyramid has shrunk enormously.

And the ‘Overseas tours’ tend to be less attractive than they were in my day!!
I think the RAF needs to redefine how it views success, because from what I’m seeing its view is starting to diverge rather rapidly from many individuals’ views of success. At a recent meeting I was at, a Gp Capt from Air, well renowned for being at the back of the queue when emotional intelligence and empathy was being issued, noted it was all about climbing the ranks and importantly hitting ACSC and that we lived in a selective society. Those that made it were the best (I don’t think he quite appreciated the irony) and the rest were, well, just there to do the other jobs. When I pointed out I certainly didn’t view ACSC as the sole barometer of sucess he spluttered a lot and didn’t quite know what to say. My card is probably marked out as being ‘awkward’ an not playing by the rules, but frankly I don’t care it needed saying.

And the reason I relate that exchange is that as noted by the response so far, things have changed massively, but the RAF seems to be lagging behind in appreciating that folks want different things from life and don’t view the RAF playbook as being gospel. And good on them I say, it will likely lead to a more diverse Force, where we have different views and backgrounds and should make for more rigorous thinking, and god knows Defence has been short of that for some while now.

As for the overseas tours, yes, often far less attractive for multiple reasons - partners have their own careers, they are expensive and there’s no guarantee that it ‘will be good for your profile’ as we are often told. I was offered a job in Washington and turned it down, much to the deskie’s surprise. The only problem being when he offered it, I was already deployed and had been extended and they wanted me to come home, lose all my leave and turn my entire life around in under 2 weeks with no flexibility on timings. Bonkers thinkin with no recognition of family or home life and issues. Many of the other NATO tours are pushed hard but in career terms are actually viewed as second rate a won’t help you out career wise (more inconsistent thinking). But those that have done them have quickly worked out the quality of life is excellent, so they re-tour and stay out of the RAF system. In short, the RAF needs to do something to redefine success in broader terms and close the rapidly growing gap between service requirements and quality of life or individuals will do it for them.

Last edited by Melchett01; 29th Aug 2018 at 12:38.
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Old 29th Aug 2018, 13:27
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Good post above from Melchett - I have also thought similar about ACSC for a long time. It turns out the same narrow minded automatons who then carry on spouting the Gospel knowing that they will get promoted for doing so at some point. Original thinking - naaaa.

Overseas tours are great and widen one's perspective to include the lightbulb moment of realisation that the UK is struggling to avoid relegation from the Defence Vauxhall Conference League.
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Old 29th Aug 2018, 14:03
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Once upon a time I was leading 3 x Bulldogs back from Northolt (yes, we had a specific route clearance) to Benson. Our route took us over AHQ at High Wycombe at lunchtime and we could see all the poor sods trudging back up the hill to the HQ.

"I'll bet they wish they were up here instead!" piped up my student.
"Indeed, you've got it in one. Do well in the RAF and you'll be down there pushing files about. Do as I did and avoid the 'C' exam, ISS and other adult literacy courses and you'll probably have 25 years in the cockpit!"
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Old 29th Aug 2018, 14:20
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When the Wall came down in 89, I was working in an Investment Bank in London. One of our analysts said, ' I wouldn't want to be a career military individual now.However I bet in twenty years or so, Russia will be a threat again'. I thought of all the people I knew who had joined full time and who would shortly feature in GW1. My old Boss by then a G/C left soon after, having been advised to. Governments have used the peace divi again and again to cull the forces. The fact that Russia again is a threat, doesn't seem to have made much impression on our masters.
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Old 29th Aug 2018, 16:49
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Well said, Melchett01 and rolling20.

As an humble ATCO, post ASC and wg cdr, I just plodded on into the sunset doing ATC and MoD stuff ... until they offered me a lump of money to go away (with 5 years left to do). No chance of promotion, as the ‘chosen’ were already identifiable amidst my peer group. However, when the ‘rush to the EXIT’ occurred in the early 90s (and in retrospect) I might have had the chance for the ‘brass hat’. Mates I hadn’t expected suddenly rushed up the ladder to fill the voids created! *
But by then my personal life desires overtook service to HM ... and happy ever after, as it turned out!

* It was the same in the 60s, when the WW2 guys departed - a major demographic surge up the ladder! Suddenly many of our Branch senior officers were gone, and those in the right place at the right time had an almost unimpeded progress to the top. I joined 2 years too late!!
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Old 29th Aug 2018, 19:40
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Do they have short service careers still? Sign up and leave after ten years and join the airline industry for minimal cost.
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Old 29th Aug 2018, 21:15
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All I say as a recent graduate of ACSC, the Wing Commanders uniformly impressed me, and were not at all automatons. Even the FJ lot were good fun...

Perhaps its all your age?
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Old 29th Aug 2018, 23:25
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I have to confess that although I gathered it meant Staff College, I wasn't exactly sure what ACSC meant, so I Googled it.

Any members of the Association of Carolina Shag Clubs here?

(And yes I do know that if a girl in Carolina invites you to shag you would be unwise to start taking your trousers off!)
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Old 30th Aug 2018, 06:28
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Steady on, old chap - there is a code!

None of your Doncaster rhetoric here, if you don't mind.
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Old 30th Aug 2018, 07:46
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I don't think TTN made Doncaster but might have met the Barnsley Witch at Marham.
​​​​
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Old 30th Aug 2018, 09:13
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I did actually live in Doncaster for a year when I was holding at Finningley then doing the NBS course at Lindholme. Mrs TTN kept me on a tight rein there (as she always has!)

Barnsley witch?
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Old 30th Aug 2018, 12:04
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Sounds as though the RAF was a good place to be up until the the 00's. Is there anyone currently serving who could shed some light on how it is today?
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Old 30th Aug 2018, 13:35
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To look at what the OP asked, and broaden it slightly, there are young people interested in serving in the military these days. One lad I know has just joined the RN, and my daughter's young man is applying for an Eng Off position in the same service. But to reflect what others have said, he sees that as part of a career pathway - he will get training and qualifications in the Navy which he will later be able to use later in civillian life.

In repect of flying, a friend's son is applying to one of the commercial airlines who still recruit cadets; I asked did he not fancy the RAF, but he wasn't interested in military life. From first hand experience with young people, disciplined service is not attractive to many these days, even in youth organisations
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Old 30th Aug 2018, 17:33
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Indeed the world has changed and we cannot expect the emerging generation of servicemen and women to reflect our patterns of motivation as the postwar generation. It's just not the U.K. I had a French Air Force boss who 25 years ago was dismayed at the questions asked at interview by candidates. Very much of the "What's in it for me?" approach :terms and conditions,pensions, transfer ability of skills to the civil world etc.etc.
All topics which most of us only vaguely considered in the 60's.
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