Air Force Reserve - Selecting a Unit: C-130H vs. KC-135 vs. C-5


Well-Known Member
Greetings All,

First, I would like to thank everyone in this community for providing me with the guidance, support, and knowledge necessary to pursue my dream. Long story short, I was recently hired by a C-130 unit in the Air Force Reserve. I am extremely excited about this new opportunity, however I would like to hear your inputs as it will shape the next ten years of my life as well as my family's. My deciding factors for choosing the right unit are in order of location, full time opportunity, and airframe. Your deciding factors maybe different but I would still love to hear your inputs. I already do have an idea for the locations listed below but I am not so keen on the airframes. And yes, I would like to fly for an airline one day however "when" is still undecided - after twenty years (my previous service + 11 years as an AGR) or as soon as I hit the R-ATP 750hrs. Thanks again everyone!

My home is San Antonio, TX.

Location: Maxwell, AL
Full Time Opportunity: ART positions available, AGR conversion in progress
Airframe: C-130
Hired: Yes

Location: D.C., MD
Full Time Opportunity: AGR and ART positions available
Airframe: KC-135
Hired: No, still need to be selected for interviewed and hired. No guarantee.

Location: San Antonio, TX
Full Time Opportunity: Slim, mostly traditional reservists positions
Airframe: C-5
Hired: No, still need to submit an application. No guarantee.


Well-Known Member
Does flying at 500’ in formation, landing on an unlit dirt LZ thats 3k feet long on NVGs after dropping CDS bundles sound appealing?

Or does flying across continents regularly in the flight levels supporting various operations from pax to cargo hauls to refueling?

Or does not flying often but when you do its on a continent hoper landing at some great locations and maybe spending some extra time at said location bc of mx issues (had to get a jab in there)?

This a way over simplification of their mission sets and not complete, but you have to decide what is important for you and yours.
Also, are you going to turn down one opportunity to maybe get hired by another?

Another thing is units usually want to see you deploy once or twice with them, then you won’t ruffle too many feathers if you want to switch units/airframes after a few years.

If you just want an opinion of what airframe is mo better, for me thats Hercs, I am biased though.

Beefy McGee

Well-Known Member
Go with the C-130 and the interesting flying. You can do high altitude long distance cruise the rest of your life in the airlines.

Enjoy Montgomery!


Well-Known Member
What’s with all the heavy stuff? Why aren’t fighter/attack on your list?

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Well-Known Member
Bro 130s all day given that list.

All will give you good national airspace system experience and such, but only the 130 will have additional training tasks that actually make the flying fun now and again.

Stuff like low altitude paradrop or austere landing site operations so you can act as a wet wing (fly in gas station) for a bunch of special ops helicopters... stuff like that is enjoyable to just carrying the mail around the ring route.

Though with C5s the best part of life is the weekends you’ll get to spend broke in Rota, Spain so if that appeals to you.....

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Well-Known Member
I don't know squat about military flying but one thing jumped out at me. Guarantee. If you'd have to give up the guarantee to purse a "possibility" at the others, I'd stick with the guarantee.


Well-Known Member
Thanks for the inputs!

Since Maxwell is a reverse unit, many pilots fly full time for regional and major/legacy out of Atlanta. I think that provides a good mixture of hands-on flying (C-130) and handless flying (Airline).

Beefy McGee

Well-Known Member
Thanks for the inputs!

Since Maxwell is a reverse unit, many pilots fly full time for regional and major/legacy out of Atlanta. I think that provides a good mixture of hands-on flying (C-130) and handless flying (Airline).
You’re right. Maxwell and that part of Alabama can be pretty backwards.

Get your R-ATP (takes a couple years to get to 750 hours) then get on with a regional. I say a regional because with only an R-ATP you are unikely to go straight to a higher airline with such low experience. Getting to a regional would be an easier route to get into 121 and build experience while you are simultaneously trying to get on with a higher level company. Look for a company with an Atlanta base like Endeavour or maybe PSA in CLT or TYS, depending how far you want to live from MGM.


Staff member
None of the above. :)

I can remember interviewing for ANG slots a while before my active duty years, but those were for an RF-4C unit and an OA-37B unit.


Well-Known Member
All that stuff about low level formation NVG airdrop...the coolest thing about it is telling people you do it.

Riding in back for 1.5 on a bumpy low
level then throwing your helmet and 10 pound note on to fly formation...BTDT. Sounds cool, feels awful.


New Member
you might have already made a decision and I'm late to the game here but don't discount Fred (C-5s). It's an incredible jet that does things that no other jet in the world can do. Sure we get a lot of grief for "breaking" all the time in nice spots but all jets break, we just have so few in service that ours could be down for longer. I'd imagine you'd have 2-3 years active duty orders to become a qualified pilot before you'd have to worry about becoming an ART (depending on what you did in the AF prior). I'm a loadmaster and our training is almost 1.5 years, engineers I think is close to 2.5+. Being a traditional reservist certainly has its frustrations but if location is a top priority than I'd think it's at least worth while to try and have a conversation with those guys.