I have used several terms over the years that may not be familiar to everyone; or at least the context of the terms might be a bit vague. To this end, I will use this post to clear up any misconceptions.
Shoeclerks: This is a term used to describe folks who work on base specifically to interfere with the basic mission of the pilot/aviator. You typically find them at CBPO (Consolidated Base Personnel Office). They sit on their fat asses, drinking coffee and working crossword puzzles all day. When they take leave, no one notices they are gone. The only time they seem to get busy is when they have an opportunity to screw a pilot. In some quarters, these folks are also known as REMFs (Rear Echelon Mother Fuckers!)
Aviators: There is a definite distinction between ‘aviators,’ and ‘pilots’ in the Air Force. In the context of my blog, a ‘pilot’ is one who has successfully completed UPT (Undergraduate Pilot Training). The motivation for these types is self-centered. They want to be generals, they want the ‘glamor,’ they are often ‘careerists’ with self-advancement having a higher priority than either a mission or their people.
Aviators on the other hand, are in it because of the “spirit” in their guts. They carry on the traditions of Eddie Rickenbacher, Jimmy Doolitle, Chuck Yeager and Robin Olds. They are of the “warrior” class.
In a unit commanded by aviators you tend to find a great deal of ‘esprit de corps.’ Conversely, with a pilot in command you find a culture of “professionalism.” Often we see ‘pilots’ morph into shoeclerks as they go their merry ways, climbing the command ladder…