The United States Navy operates approximately 20 ships that could be called aircraft carriers, but only considers 11 to be actual “aircraft carriers.”
CVN-69 DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER
CVN-70 CARL VINSON
CVN-71 THEODORE ROOSEVELT
CVN-72 ABRAHAM LINCOLN
CVN-73 GEORGE WASHINGTON
CVN-74 JOHN C. STENNIS
CVN-75 HARRY S. TRUMAN
CVN-76 RONALD REAGAN
CVN-77 GEORGE H.W. BUSH
CVN-78 GERALD R. FORD
AIRCRAFT CARRIERS CURRENTLY UNDER CONSTRUCTION:
CVN-79 JOHN F. KENNEDY
Each aircraft carrier can carry as many as 90 aircraft, and each aircraft needs a pilot. The cost of a pilot’s training and flying experience varies depending on the type of aircraft. According to DOD, the cost to train each military pilot through basic flight training is about $1 million, and the cost to fully train a pilot with the requisite operational experience can be more than $9 million/pilot.
The exodus of pilots from the military has military leaders and government policy makers alarmed. A recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report states the military needs to get a grip on why their pilots are leaving the military. Well, duh! There are 10,250 pilots and flight officers in the Navy alone. The fighter pilot community is especially hard-hit, where shortages are as high as 27 percent and growing.
The GAO report discovered the military isn’t finding out how many pilots leave the military for the airlines. Failure to do this means military policy makers are flying blind. Common sense would dictate that in order to stem the exodus of military pilots, you find out what is attracting the pilots and come up with incentive programs to entice pilots to reconsider staying in the military. The United States government simply doesn’t care because they piss away money at a rate that is insane. They don’t seem to care how much it costs to train pilots and how many of those pilots have to be replaced in five years.
TAKE THIS JOB AND SHOVE IT
Despite raising aviation retention bonuses to be more competitive with commercial air carriers such as United, Delta and American Airlines, military pilots are continuing to sing, “Take this job and shove it, I ain’t working her no more…” The government doesn’t bother finding out how many of their pilots are going into civilian aviation after leaving the service, because they simply don’t care. They assume that a majority of military pilots leaving the service are transitioning to civil aviation. It’s like the homeless problem. No one wants to know how bad it is, because it might force them to do something about it.
The Pentagon doesn’t really want to know what’s causing the problem and they don’t want the taxpayers to know how bad the turnover rate really is. As a general rule, if the military can keep 35% of their enlisted and 50% of their officers, they’re happy as clams. When the American economy rises up as it’s doing right now, the turnover rate for the military will grow even worse.
You can bet, the military will make a case to Congress for more money to throw at the problem. Military leadership and Pentagon policy makers will hope these wavering pilots will grab the money and commit for another five years. Savvy military leaders know that transitioning to civilian aviation later in life is even more difficult, because civil aviation companies want to get at least 20 years and prefer 30 years out of each pilot they hire.
Statistically, most civil aviation pilots never make it to full retirement because of failing eyesight, hypertension, etc. In other words, the airlines prefer pilots at age 30, not 40+. Military pilots thinking about getting out had better make up their mind soon, because the transition into the civilian aviation won’t get any easier.
MAKING THE SAME MISTAKE OVER AND OVER AGAIN
Our government always makes the same mistake over and over again. If it’s broken, just throw more money at it. But, military pilots will figure out that while they can possibly buy a home easier with a big fat aviation retention bonus, they won’t get to live there very often. Navy pilots will be confronted with longer sea deployments, and pilots in the other services will be on extended unaccompanied tours of duty where they cannot take their family along.
How about corruption in the military? Could corruption be a factor for some military members to jump ship? Well, it’s not likely, because most of military members who are adversely affected by corruption will find out far too late. Even with the millions of dollars they spend to train an experience military pilot, if he/she becomes a whistle-blower, the military will find a way to rid themselves of anyone who does not go along to get along.
Your military career will have the life expectancy of a paper cup. In the civilian world, you can vote with your feet and quit. You can’t do that in the military. You could find yourself in a court-martial, or they might send you off to the mental ward of a military hospital. This has happened more than once.
A LACK OF RESPECT IS PART OF THE PROBLEM
Many military members discover there are many ways to serve your country without wearing a uniform. A blind man can see why people are leaving the military. Admittedly, money is part of the problem in some cases, but long deployments away from family and lack of respect are the primary reasons.
As an example of a lack of respect is what happened in Building #18 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center? Obviously, there were no pilots, but there were soldiers suffering from traumatic brain injuries or stress disorders, others with amputated limbs, who languished for weeks and months in vermin-infested quarters waiting for a decision on their military status. Some of these soldiers were injured in combat, and living in squalor was the way they were being treated by America.
Many of the patients were waiting for a ruling on the level of benefits they would receive if they are discharged and transferred to the civilian-run Veterans Administration (VA) healthcare system. The hospital was overrun with mice, mold and cockroaches. When the scandal broke, soldiers were pressured to keep quiet and punished with daily inspections for speaking to the press.
The real reason for the mass exodus from the military whether the individual is a pilot or serving in another capacity really boils down to a lack of RESPECT and family separations which are growing in length. It’s about respect for not only the active duty member but that member’s family as well. Many of our military members get the distinct feeling that no one really cares them or their families. And, you know what? Sometimes, they’re right.