Fighter Pilot Duty Shift

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A day in the life of a Fighter Pilot...

Like many professions, coming up with a “standard” day is difficult. Every squadron on every starship or starbase in every command is slightly different. Each has its own nuances, and all of them cannot possibly be included here. What follows is a generalized “day in the life of a starfighter pilot.” Times are flexible and subject to change due to current mission objectives. The following is only an example for those who will be flying that day. Pilots who are not flying that day will be assigned other duties on the Flight Deck or training in the holodeck, etc.

Sample Shift

Alpha Shift

  • 0700: Arrive at work
  • 0730: Mass Brief Flight Ops Briefing Room
  • 0800: Flight Brief
  • 0830: Step to Valkyries and take off if assigned flight training, Black Hawk escort duty, or Combat Air Patrol
  • 1030: Land
  • 1045: Debrief
  • 1100: Lunch
  • 1200: Complete Debrief
  • 1230: Additional Duties
  • 1300: Standard End of Alpha Shift

The Day

A typical fighter pilot day revolves around the flying schedule, and the flying schedule very often depends on the starship's current mission. Let's imagine that our young Ensign fresh from the Academy and Advanced Flight School is scheduled to fly a “standard” mission for his squadron. The precise mission is unimportant, but it may be a four-ship escort mission with some “red air,” one or two squadron mates pretending to be the enemy.

The Preparation

The first thing the Ensign has to do is plan the mission. Like every good wingman, he talked to his flight lead the day prior and discussed what the requirements of the mission were going to be. Once given the direction of the flight lead, he tried to find one of the other pilots in their formation. Assuming they’re not busy with other tasks (or currently flying another mission), they’ll team together to plan the mission.

In the morning, our young fighter pilot will go through two briefings. The first is a Mass Brief, in which the squadron leadership will brief very generic administrative things. Everyone who is flying that day will attend the brief. Not every pilot flies every day. Some will be training in the holodeck and some willl be assigned other duties on the Flight Deck. The Ensign will then move to his Flight Brief where they’ll brief the actual mechanics of the sortie. The sortie duration varies depending on the mission. The Ensign lands and goes through a quick debrief before lunch. After lunch, he finishes with a Complete Debrief which typically lasts no longer than thirty minutes.

Not Done Yet: More Jobs

Besides flying, which you can see has virtually filled the day already, our Ensign also has a “real job.” We picked scheduling, but it could have been any one of the multitude of jobs in the squadron: Stan/Eval, Training, Weapons, Life Support, and Safety are the most common. In any one of those jobs, our Ensign may have reports to generate, briefings to give, or other deadlines to meet or products to create. As a scheduler, after the Mass Brief at 0730 ended, our Ensign may have to build the next day’s schedule, generate reports off of the previous days’ flying, or plan an airspace meeting.

Virtually every fighter pilot has a similar workload, and the workload generally increases with increased rank and responsibility. That’s why time management and teamwork are vital. Let’s say our Ensign does have another flight on Thursday. He also has a scheduling report due to the squadron commander the same day as well as a briefing on Friday. He finds the other members of his flight for Thursday and gets them to do the initial planning by themselves; he’ll join them for the last hour or so. That frees up two hours to work on other things. Now time management kicks in. If he’s giving a briefing on Friday, he’s probably not flying, which means he won’t have to mission plan on Thursday. This means he can use Thursday afternoon to work the briefing and can dedicate his two “free” hours today to writing the report for the commander. Thanks to the help of his flight mates, he’s able to get his work done. It’s very likely that he’ll repay the favor next week, when he mission plans for one of them while they get something else done. Most people think that all pilots do is fly; they can’t comprehend the preparation, execution, or analysis each sortie entails—nor the fact that pilots fly and accomplish other duties.

External Information

IMPORTANT ERRATA 325th Fighter Squadron325th Fighter Squadron PositionsFighter Pilot Basics
Fighter Pilot Duty ShiftFighter Squadron Duty Roster
IN FLIGHT INFORMATION Flight SuitDefensive ManeuversOffensive Maneuvers
FIGHTER CRAFT 21x Gryphon Fighter
NOTABLE LOCATIONS Flight DeckFlight Ops Briefing RoomSquadron Command Center
Squadron Commander's OfficeShuttle Storage and Maintenance
PERSONNEL FUNCTIONS Alert StatusCabin AssignmentsComputer Access LevelsDeck ListingDepartment HeadDuty RosterOperating ModesSecurity ClearancesStarfleet Rank GuideUniforms
DEPARTMENTS CommandFlight ControlIntelligenceOperationsEngineering