As a little kid at the Dalton Fly-In, I was always mesmerized by the helicopters. Coast Guard would come in with a rescue chopper; I think Air Force or Army came in with a Blackhawk as well. Little kids dream of being firefighters; I dreamed of being a Coast Guard rescue chopper pilot.
Now that dream - or something very close to it - is very possible. I could fly Combat Search And Rescue (CSAR) choppers for the Air Force. I've been talking to guys who've maintained and flown those birds and similar birds. MH-60 pilots are currently on a four-month-on, four-month-off deployment schedule to the AOR (Area Of Responsibility; Iraq and Afghanistan). Many of them are getting burned out.
But there's talk of unifying the stateside helo mission with the deployed helo mission: guys could do a couple rescue tours in the AOR, then come back to the States, flying the same birds for missile defense and VIP transport. Seems like a good solution: no burnouts, and one single helicopter to fly and maintain.
Talked with an '05 grad today who flies Hueys here at Minot. Here, they "rescue" snow-stranded missileers in the winter and fly security for missile convoys. Seems like a pretty cool mission, if boring. But last weekend, they got to fly to Fairchild to do some mountain flying and training. Sounds like they had a good time.
'05 grad also talked about pilot training - he did it at Pensacola, with the Navy. He said it's a lot more laid back than AF UPT (Undergraduate Pilot Training), but it can take a lot longer to complete. Of course, I wouldn't mind spending some extra time in Pensacola.
There are a lot of Huey bases stateside; not really an overseas mission for them. MH-60s base out of England and Japan as well as some pretty neat bases in the States. Not many bases for CV-22s yet, and no seems to know what will happen with them.
In any case, it looks like a good path. I'm looking forward to wherever God takes me.