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View Full Version : Air Force vs Navy; a difference in attitude?



erco415
11-06-2007, 09:10 AM
Hi All,
Slickstick's photos of the Naval Air Museum got me to thinking about the differences in culture between the Air Force and Navy. Visit Dayton, and they've got an incredible variety of airplanes, but they're all behind ropes and the feeling is a little impersonal. Pensacola, on the other hand, is much more hands on with it's airplanes and it seems somehow more welcoming.

I've formed the impression from discussions with both Air Force and Navy pilots/mechanics/etc that the Air Force is the more strait-laced of the two organizations. One KC135 crew chief I knew would go on about all the stuff his Navy counterparts would screw up and get away with vs what he had to deal with for any little foulup. This video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LeTHAHGgZzA certainly shows a lighter side of things. Now, I'm not questioning anyones professionalism or abilities at the bar, but is there a difference, or is it just a perception.

All of you Marines, Army, RAF, whatever, feel free to comment also.

Thanks, erco

JarheadEd
11-06-2007, 10:16 AM
Originally posted by erco415:
Hi All,
Slickstick's photos of the Naval Air Museum got me to thinking about the differences in culture between the Air Force and Navy. Visit Dayton, and they've got an incredible variety of airplanes, but they're all behind ropes and the feeling is a little impersonal. Pensacola, on the other hand, is much more hands on with it's airplanes and it seems somehow more welcoming.

I've formed the impression from discussions with both Air Force and Navy pilots/mechanics/etc that the Air Force is the more strait-laced of the two organizations. One KC135 crew chief I knew would go on about all the stuff his Navy counterparts would screw up and get away with vs what he had to deal with for any little foulup. This video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LeTHAHGgZzA certainly shows a lighter side of things. Now, I'm not questioning anyones professionalism or abilities at the bar, but is there a difference, or is it just a perception.

All of you Marines, Army, RAF, whatever, feel free to comment also.

Thanks, erco


IMHO The USAF is a divided "Class Based" society. Just from what I have seen over the years. But I want to clarify that a bit. The A-10 pilots and maintainers seemed real tight, and so did the C-130 and C-141 guys. The F-16 units, not so much. The F-15 pilots, many fit into the stereotypical "EGO Driver" that you may have heard about. OK I may be biased about the F-15 guys due to a really bad USAF exchange pilot we had in the mid '80s in our Hornet squadron. He didn't want to be with the Marines, or in Hornets, he constantly berated the plane captains, and anyone else around him. So he got his wish and went away,..and we received a new exchange pilot, from the RAF. A squadron Leader from the Tornado community. That dude wasn't afraid to talk to us unwashed masses, and he was a real "leader of men" Not like the USAF guy, who was a "barker of orders" and had no clue on how to run a basic human being.

In the Marine Corps Airwing, officer and enlisted interaction is pretty good. We often share the same facilities, go on the boat with the Navy, and are first and foremost, Marines. This gives us a common ground to work from, and really allowed for professional and tight knit units. Navy squadrons also are really tight, mostly from being on the boat, IMO. Again, its common ground. Their workplace is their home, and it needs to be kept safe, and everyone works towards that common goal. The Air Force, It seemed to me the officers aren't put into the situations the Navy and Marine Corps are. They just are kept a bit distant, and it shows.

What does it mean? Not much. At the end of the day, airplanes come back, landings=takeoffs, and everyone goes home safe. Just my rambling $.02

Blutarski2004
11-06-2007, 10:24 AM
The book "Clashes" about the air war over North Vietnam makes some observations about the difference in fighter tactics employed by the USN and the USAF. The USN flew a "loose deuce". The planes had separation and the guy with the best shot took it, irrespective of whether or not he was the flight or section leader. OTOH, the USAF flew what was described as a "welded wing" - a tight formation in which the flight leader normally always took the shot and the other a/c were tasked to cover him.

Or so the author wrote .....

K_Freddie
11-06-2007, 01:55 PM
You'll always find the Navy a lot more relaxed.
The same on the forums and squadrons where you get people open to new ideas, and some with their heads up where the sun don't shine
http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

leitmotiv
11-06-2007, 02:09 PM
A friend of mine was a career USN pharmacy officer, retired as a Commander. His father was an AAF Hump pilot in WWII, and flew with Flying Tiger for years after the war. He had a great deal of interaction with Navy pilots while stationed at Norfolk. His impressions were largely unprintable! While at Whidbey Island, among the A-6 and EA-6 people, his mood cooled down.

huggy87
11-06-2007, 05:12 PM
Be careful in generalizations about the navy. There is a huge personality difference between shoes (Surface Warfare Officers) and Naval Aviation. Not to even mention submariners! In my ten years as a navy pilot I only met two submarine officers.

And even within naval aviation there are three distinct subsects. Props, Helos, and Jets- and there is little interaction between the three. I will say within the jet community we get along pretty well. There is the usual teasing among squadrons and platforms, but in the end we do so many missions together that the rest of the airwing becomes your cousins- if your squadron is your brothers and sisters.

erco415
11-06-2007, 06:16 PM
Good point, I ought to have made that clear. While I've formed the opinion that naval aviation is perhaps more relaxed in comparison to the USAF, I've also formed the impression that the surface/subsurface navy is (in general) a tightly run ship, if you'll excuse the pun. Still, my wife found this vid: http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=074_1193508431
What did you fly?

leitmotiv
11-06-2007, 06:32 PM
I was interested to see how my friend's temper cooled re aviators while at Whidbey Island---maybe the A-6 community was mellower?

I_KG100_Prien
11-06-2007, 06:38 PM
Navy here..

I don't know if one could call the Air Force more straight laced than the Navy. There are a lot of things that the two branches do differently- Not to say either is really better. I've met some really good AF cats. My only poor experiences with them have not been so much with people but their equipment.. C-5's are a nightmare. My unit got delayed in deploying once due to C-5's not wanting to cooperate. Been delayed getting home. Been delayed just trying to get back on emergency leave due to a death in the family. (Did I mention I hate C-5's?)

One thing I do not do is look down on or judge my counterpart services. We all are here for the same purpose, we just go about it in our own ways.

HotelBushranger
11-07-2007, 07:15 AM
Although I've never served, I know a lot of blokes who've been in the Army or RAAF. From my observations, I'd say RAAF are a lot more laid back, hell even my mate was complaining about it. He's an Army pilot, and he was on leave a coupla weeks ago so I caught up with him. He says the RAAF are a lot slacker with drill and uniforms an things like that, whereas he says the Army is a lot of proper technique, yes sir no sir sorta stuff. Then again, I know heaps of laid back Army blokes. It is a bit hard to generalise considering the size of the defence force (for any country), but my 0.02 is that Air Force is more laid back than Army - in Australia that is.

Worf101
11-07-2007, 07:27 AM
My interaction with the various services was quite different. I was a Sgt. in the Army, Combat Engineer. Sometimes we'd get visitors from the other branches. Most were "nice guys" but we found that the "Air Farce" enlisted's couldn't be bothered with military decorum. The only thing sloppier than their uniforms were their salutes.

Marine Corps visitors were "strack troops" and well respected. We argued all the time about who had it tougher during WWII. I always argued that while there were usually Army units involved with every Major Pacific Landing, there weren't no Marines on Omaha Beach.

To which they Marine would usually reply, "if we'd a been there we'd had the situation well in hand in minutes. Dem Nazi's woulda turn tail n' run."

Sure.... right. But in the end, I've had all branches of the service treat me like a long lost relative whenever I show em my V.A. card. Hell the welcome I got at a Sydney Australia Servicemen's Club was one for the ages.

Da Worfster

huggy87
11-07-2007, 08:52 AM
Originally posted by erco415:
Good point, I ought to have made that clear. While I've formed the opinion that naval aviation is perhaps more relaxed in comparison to the USAF, I've also formed the impression that the surface/subsurface navy is (in general) a tightly run ship, if you'll excuse the pun. Still, my wife found this vid: http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=074_1193508431
What did you fly?

Erco,
I did one tour in hornets flying the F/A-18C. On that tour I did two deployments, one on Enterprise and then on the Teddy Roosevelt. After that I transitioned to the Super Hornet and instructed at the FRS. I'm since out.

huggy87
11-07-2007, 08:54 AM
This guy says it better than I can and with more authority since he did an exchange tour:

Bob Norris is a former Naval aviator who also did a 3 year exchange Tour flying the F-15 Eagle. He is now an accomplished author of entertaining books about US Naval Aviation including "Check Six" and "Fly-Off". Check out his web site .In response to a letter from an aspiring fighter pilot on which military academy to attend, Bob replied with the following.

Quote:
12 Feb 04

Young Man,

Congratulations on your selection to both the Naval and Air Force Academies. Your goal of becoming a fighter pilot is impressive and a fine way to serve your country.
As you requested, I'd be happy to share some insight into which service would be the best choice. Each service has a distinctly different culture. You need to ask yourself "Which one am I more likely to thrive in?" USAF Snapshot: The USAF is exceptionally well organized and well run. Their training programs are terrific.
All pilots are groomed to meet high standards for knowledge and professionalism. Their aircraft are top-notch and extremely well maintained. Their facilities are excellent. Their enlisted personnel are the brightest and the best trained. The USAF is homogenous and macro. No matter where you go, you'll know what to expect,
what is expected of you, and you'll be given the training & tools you need to meet those expectations. You will never be put in a situation over your head. Over a 20-year career, you will be home for most important family events. Your Mom would want you to be an Air Force pilot...so would your wife. Your Dad would want your sister to marry one.

Navy Snapshot: Aviators are part of the Navy, but so are Black shoes (surface warfare) and bubble heads (submariners). Furthermore, the Navy is split into two distinctly different Fleets (West and East Coast). The Navy is heterogeneous and micro. Your squadron is your home; it may be great, average, or awful. A squadron can go from one extreme to the other before you know it. You will spend months preparing for cruise and months on cruise.

The quality of the aircraft varies directly with the availability of parts. Senior Navy enlisted are salt of the earth; you'll be proud if you earn their respect. Junior enlisted vary from terrific to the troubled kid the judge made join the service. You will be given the opportunity to lead these people during your career; you will be humbled and get your hands dirty. The quality of your training will vary and sometimes you will be over your head. You will miss many important family events. There will be long stretches of tedious duty aboard ship. You will fly in very bad weather and/or at night and you will be scared many times.

You will fly with legends in the Navy and they will kick your *** until you become a lethal force. And some days - when the scheduling Gods have smiled upon you - your jet will catapult into a glorious morning over a far-away sea and you will be drop-jawed that someone would pay you to do it.

The hottest girl in the bar wants to meet the Naval Aviator.

That bar is in Singapore

Bottom line, son, if you gotta ask...pack warm & good luck in Colorado

Banzai

ploughman
11-07-2007, 09:05 AM
He's right, that bar is in Singapore.

Worf101
11-07-2007, 10:54 AM
Originally posted by Ploughman:
He's right, that bar is in Singapore.

No it isn't...

Downtown Metro Manilla... be sure.

Da Worfster

Bremspropeller
11-07-2007, 11:40 AM
So how long do cruises generally take and how much cruises do you have to participate in?

The AF guys also move around IIRC.


One thing in general really caught my interest:

What are your flying-career options like in the US?

There are two ways to get into a Helo/Jet/Prop cockpit in Germany:

"BO41"-assingment, where you'd usually stay in the army for roundabout 15 years. There is a deadline at age 41 where you'd have to leave (at least quit flying) and start a civil life.
Max achievable rank is "Hauptmann" (Captain in AF and Army language).

The other option is to join forever (requries studying at one of the Bundeswehr's own Universities) and having a career 'till retirement in your mid sixties. You'd get the chance to keep flying untill your "medical" expires - some fly to the very end.
That career will get you into command-charges ("Staffelkapitän"/ sqaudron-leader, "Kommodore"/ Wing-king), or even higher charges).
The downside is, you'd move around quite a lot - usually twice in ten years.


What are your career-chances in the US-services?

Airmail109
11-07-2007, 01:21 PM
Well for one, you don't get a sore arse in the Royal Air Force.