I’m not really sure where I am going with this post, but I find that sometimes just writing about the things that are on my mind can help me come up with solutions, or at least help me to feel more comfortable with my decisions.
I am at the point in my flying career where a change of some sort must happen and I have some mixed feelings about which direction that I want to go. It doesn’t matter if you fly in the civilian wold or in the military, change is just a part of the industry, and as technology improves, sometimes we are forced into change whether we want it or not.
In my case The C-130H is finally being entirely replaced by the C-130J in the Active Duty Air Force. I had previously thought my time in the Herk was going to be over a couple of years ago, but as luck would have it, I got almost another two years, and some of the most incredible experiences I have ever had in my life. Unfortunately, the end is officially here, and I have to make some changes.
The Air Force is more than happy to retrain me into a new airframe, or more likely just another version of the C-130, but that would most likely mean a move to the Special Operations community, and that is just not the right place for me and my family situation. The other options leave me in essentially the same position again in a few years as they phase out their navigators, and would ultimately lead to every aviators’ worst nightmare, flying a desk. There is one opportunity that would keep me on the beloved Herk, and on active duty, but unfortunately bureaucracy has made that not an option.
That leads me to the path that I am likely to take at this point. The National Guard and Air Force Reserves are still chock full of H-models, and every unit in the country, except maybe Texas, is hurting for experienced Navigators. After much deliberation with my wife and some trusted advisers, I have come to essentially the same conclusion that Rob Burgon over at TallyOne did as he reached a similar transition point.
Moving to the National Guard allows me to keep flying the plane that I love while also being able to put my family, and our future, first. If I am being honest though, I can’t help but wonder what opportunities I am leaving behind by making this switch. There is obviously no way of knowing what the future down either path would bring, but it is in my nature to wonder what could happen.
As I write this, I find myself feeling more and more certain that making the switch is the right move, and that it will pay the greatest dividends in the long run. I wish I had more to say in terms of certainty and knowing that the whole thing is going to work out as I would like, but then that would not be military life would it?
If I had anything to pass along to others who may be in some sort of similar situation I would say stick with your heart and don’t be afraid to pursue a path that is different from what you intended or that others expect of you. Listen to those that have gone before and take into account as much information as you can, but at the end of the day you will find happiness doing what you love and are passionate about.