Advice wanted: Offered Observer but always had Pilot as my first choice

potpouri

Newbie
Good Afternoon all

Sorry its a bit of a long one but thank you for the taking the time to read this thread

I'm sure this has been an issue for many aircrew hopefuls before me, however I'm just looking for some fresh and sound advice (with the minimum level of bias if possible) from people already in the jobs or with a good knowledge of them.

To cut a long story short(ish) at the start of march I was offered the role of Observer for the rapidly approaching May intake. Of course I'm completely chuffed and honoured to be offered a place at BRNC in any form and its a great achievement so I don't wish to sound at all ungrateful. Its just that throughout my application Pilot had always been my preference, so it initially came as it a bit of a shock to me to be offered Observer.

After talking to my ACLO it was explained to me that the reason I was offered Observer was most likely down to my aptitude score for Observer being slightly higher by 2-4 points, and my apparently very strong AIB score being more suited to the observer role. (I never actually got to see my exact FAT scores but know they were around 130 mark for both)

I by no means want to give the impression that I don't think being an Observer is a fantastic job. I believe I have a pretty solid understanding of the Observer role its training pipeline and future prospects for jobs (i.e. promotions in the navy, not so much civvy street) having been on a POAC visit, and I reckon it could well be a job that I genuinely enjoy.

However.

I cannot deny that a part of me is (currently) still slightly disappointed not to be entering as a Pilot having lived and breathed that role almost every day for the past year. Whats more these feelings were only boosted after finding out that I have in fact scored higher than a number of people who have been offered pilot for the May intake, as I know I'd find it a lot easier to accept had I simply not met the grade for Pilot.

I also cant deny that is frustrates me a little that the offer of the Observer role seems to be connected to people who haven't been 'good enough' to be offered pilot.

My Question;


Is there any advice people can give to me with regards to sticking as an observer or trying to change to Pilot, or anyone who has found (or is currently) themselves in a similar situation?

My ACLO has suggested that I've been offered Observer for a reason and that because the navy is finding it hard to get enough observers through training at the moment I have little chance of being changed to pilot. I'd rather be honest and upfront and chat to people than go down the road of playing games by rejecting the offer and being cocky enough to expect the navy to move people around to accommodate me as a Pilot.

Really appreciate you taking the time to read this and look forward to seeing what people have to say!

Thanks in advance.
 
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Ninja_Stoker

War Hero
Moderator
In my experience, those wishing to go pilot require a higher overall FATs score than Observer. It may well be that you've scored higher in certain elements which point toward Observer but, harsh as it sounds, comparatively few walk into an AFCO stating they want someone else to drive the aircraft whilst they do the sums and stuff. (To use technical aviation navigational parlance).

Best chance of becoming a Pilot? Retake FATs (or whatever they're calling it this week).
 

wave_dodger

MIA
Book Reviewer
I by no means want to give the impression that I don't think being an Observer is a fantastic job. I believe I have a pretty solid understanding of the Observer role its training pipeline and future prospects for jobs (i.e. promotions in the navy, not so much civvy street) having been on a POAC visit, and I reckon it could well be a job that I genuinely enjoy.
.
Either role will stand you in good stead in the Service, I have a number of friends (P and O) who have had surface drives and compete well at OF5/1* alongside GS and SM Warfare.

Outside a number of my O friends are commercial pilots, and of course many P commercially fly too. Some of each also work outside aviation and do well.

I get the angst, wanting to be pilot, but if the offer is O it will be pretty difficult to alter than unless you are absolutely happy to resit FATS and press the point, risking delaying entry as you may encounter a full batch.

As NJ points out, few purposely opt for self loading baggage, everyone wants to be Maverick.
 

potpouri

Newbie
In my experience, those wishing to go pilot require a higher overall FATs score than Observer. It may well be that you've scored higher in certain elements which point toward Observer
Thanks for the reply Ninja_Stoker, appreciate it. Without trying to boast and not wanting to come across as arrogant (maybe why i'd suit being an O more..) as far as i know I scored strongly for all three Pilot/Observer and ATC at my FATs. And as much as I don't want to compare myself to others because I know FATs will soon seem a very distant memory, I am aware of people being selected with scores below 120 or who have failed for Observer but passed pilot etc. So it almost feels as though I've shot myself in the foot slightly for scoring higher as an O than a P.

Either role will stand you in good stead in the Service, I have a number of friends (P and O) who have had surface drives and compete well at OF5/1* alongside GS and SM Warfare.

Outside a number of my O friends are commercial pilots, and of course many P commercially fly too. Some of each also work outside aviation and do well.
Thanks wave_dodger! Thats encouraging to hear. My ACLO mentioned similar kinds of things, about potentially faster promotion and the ability to transfer branches being easier as an O. With regard to civvy jobs its interesting to to hear that a lot of O's go on to be commercial pilots. For the moment as a fresh recruit I like to think of the navy as a long term career, but of course it would be pretty naive to just presume ill be in the service till I retire.

I get the angst, wanting to be pilot, but if the offer is O it will be pretty difficult to alter than unless you are absolutely happy to resit FATS and press the point, risking delaying entry as you may encounter a full batch.
Yeah this is exactly what i don't want to do. I'm pretty eager to just crack on and get started. After all I'm pretty fortunate to be in the position I'm in.

someone else to drive the aircraft whilst they do the sums and stuff
As NJ points out, few purposely opt for self loading baggage, everyone wants to be Maverick
haha! these are precisely the kinds of comments that make it difficult..
 

Ninja_Stoker

War Hero
Moderator
I've yet to hear an Observer claim the Pilot is the brains behind the comedy duo to be honest, so we can draw our own conclusions from this. It's a bit like an anaesthetist telling us how much smarter he is than the surgeon. They believe it too.

Telling you that you scored really, really well, better than the entry level for Pilot, so good that you could even be a, gasp, Observer, is what is otherwise commonly known as a poo sandwich.
 

potpouri

Newbie
So you're saying that Observers are generally speaking the surgeons and the pilots are the anaesthetists?

To be honest after a only a little while of listening to the repetitive bragging of some of the pilots on my POAC visits they'd probably send me off to sleep faster than any anaesthetist ever could.

I've heard all the talk about P's just being fancy bus drivers. Although I'm pretty sure i wouldn't complain about being a bus driver if the bus I'm driving is a multi million £ helicopter ..

Telling you that you scored really, really well, better than the entry level for Pilot, so good that you could even be a, gasp, Observer, is what is otherwise commonly known as a poo sandwich.
I think you're probably spot on there. I guess it could also have something to do with the fact i never said i'd refuse to accept being offered O when asked several times during my application and again at AIB. Which I've heard many P hopefuls do in fact do.
 
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Ninja_Stoker

War Hero
Moderator
O is a significantly better job than P, and I'm neither.
Me neither, but virtually every single person upon first walking into an AFCO seems to aspire to be a fast jet pilot. Even those who later become Chief Stokers, Tiffs, Submariners, CTs, TMO's, Chefs, Warfare Officers. Oh and Observers :)
 

Ninja_Stoker

War Hero
Moderator
Do you guys know of any current or ex Observers who are regulars on here?
If there are, no one has admitted it.

There are a few ex-matelots who have confessed their civilian day job is emptying dog-poo bins though :D (I jest).

@Pontius, as the name implies, is a pilot and he tends to give pretty sage, balanced aviation advice. For a pilot.
 

Sumo

War Hero
if you are that good then Submariner Engineering needs you, if not SM chef guaranteed fast track into the RN
 

Jacobus

Lantern Swinger
To answer your point. Served with a lot of O's and did a tour on an observer training squadron, 750.
Of the 20 or so observers on the course that I was squadron pilot to, a proportion of them went on to be squadron and ship CO's, and they even produced several Commodores and a Rear Admiral, Russ Harding.
A fair number went on to become pilots in civvy street, flying everything from ATR's to the A380.
As to the job itself, Observer is definitely the more cerebral of the two. Failure rate at advanced and operational training levels is high, more so than the pilots at that stage, and is indicative of the difficulty
of the course; by comparison pilots who are not going to hack it are weeded out at the elementary and basic stages.
I'm not going to pretend that being the driver isn't perhaps more fun. Then again, as a pilot I would say that. You are however being trained to be a systems
manager, in a fairly complex bit of kit such as the Merlin or the Wildcat. Career advancement as an O can be quicker than pilot, and as a flight commander or senior observer/ boss you get to order young shags ( as I was once, God help us) around, and hopefully get to stop them killing themselves, hooning around.
I'm not sure what sort of aircrew selection you do
these days. The psychometric tests may have indicated that you were better suited to 'O' (intellectual smarts, reasoning over 'stick and rudder' skills) and no amount of re sitting will change that. Or so I would have thought.
Feel free to PM me; out of touch a bit about the exact current situation,however, I know a man who does...
 

Ninja_Stoker

War Hero
Moderator
The psychometric tests may have indicated that you were better suited to 'O' (intellectual smarts, reasoning over 'stick and rudder' skills) and no amount of re sitting will change that. Or so I would have thought.
This is pretty much the party line and the presumption is that even if the scores could be improved for pilot selection, the bias toward observer selection would correspondingly increase. Catch 22.

Nevertheless it has been achieved, I'm reliably informed by a pretty recent Cdre O, better placed than me in this area. Whilst an admittedly unlikely occurrence, a retake is probably the only option on the table for a military aerial driving career that we can advise.
 

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