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The sky is truly the limit for those who pursue a career as a pilot in the US Air Force. From flying the world’s most advanced fighter jets to leading aircrews, Air Force pilots serve as members of the military’s elite. However, before taking off, pilots must meet several qualifications. To begin training, a candidate must be between the ages of 18 and 34, a US citizen, and have a bachelor’s degree. To become a pilot, a candidate must pass tests, selection and officer school.
What Do You Need To Become A Fighter Jet Pilot
Aspiring pilots must take the Air Force Officer Qualification Test, which measures knowledge and reasoning skills and helps the service pass applicants to officer training school. The five-hour, 12-part test tests candidates on verbal analogies, math, instrument comprehension, aviation information and general science. It also asks candidates to describe themselves. To qualify for pilot training, candidates must be able to determine the altitude of an aircraft based on instruments, knowledge of aeronautical concepts and perceptual speed. Candidates have two chances to pass the test. The latest score is the one that counts.
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Applicants who pass the Air Force Officer Qualification Test go to a military entry processing station for a medical examination. Pilots need normal color vision and must meet requirements for visual refraction and astigmatism. Distance vision must be at least 20/70 uncorrected, and near vision must be 20/30 uncorrected, but both distance and near vision must be corrected to 20/20. Corrective eye surgery could disqualify an applicant from flying. Pilots also cannot have a history of hay fever, asthma or allergies after age 12.
Pilots must meet Air Force height, weight and physical fitness requirements. They must be 64 to 77 inches tall when standing, and 34 to 40 inches when sitting. Applicants who do not meet the aviation height requirements can apply for a height deduction and still become a pilot because modern airplane seats can be adjusted to virtually any height. Anthropometric measurements including sitting eye height and arm span were also completed. Applicants must weigh between 160 and 231 pounds, depending on height. Depending on age, men can have no more than 20 to 24 percent body fat, while women can have no more than 28 to 32 percent body fat. Pilots must also be able to complete a minimum number of push-ups and sit-ups and complete a 1 ½ mile run.
The Officer Training School selection committee screens all pilot applicants to determine their eligibility for training. The board evaluates applicants based on college grades, Officer Qualification Test scores, and subjective criteria, including experience, accomplishments, character, leadership talent, and growth potential.
Before receiving a pilot’s commission, candidates must complete 12 weeks of officer training school. In addition to daily exercise, including gymnastics, stretching and running, pilot candidates take courses in strategy writing, principles of war, management and aviation history. Participants learn through lectures, readings, guided discussions, classroom exercises, field leadership exercises, and after-hours training activities. Candidates learn high standards of conduct, basic military knowledge and skills for effective leadership. A candidate who has completed the Officer Training School is eligible to become a pilot.
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Military pilots, especially those who fly supersonic aircraft, belong to one of the most respected and elite groups in the US Armed Forces. Their profession is on the list of the most interesting and amazing jobs. After all, who doesn’t want to be like Tom Cruise for a second and fly out of a carrier while watching the movie “Top Gun”? It is no wonder that many young people dream about it and tie their future to it. Every branch of the United States Armed Forces is equipped with a military aircraft, but only the US Air Force, US Navy, and US Marine Corps have fighter jets. The path to becoming a military pilot, especially a fighter pilot is difficult and not possible for everyone.
First and foremost is a university degree. To be a military pilot you have to become an officer, and to be an officer you need a college degree. This means you must have a bachelor’s degree and complete Officer Candidate School (OCS) to become a fighter pilot. Also, becoming an officer does not guarantee that you will fly a fighter jet before becoming a pilot. This is due to the fact that the medical and physical requirements are so high that those who cannot meet them cannot become fighter pilots.
For those still in high school who want to be fighter pilots, the best route is through the Air Force and Naval Academy. Getting into one of the academies is extremely difficult and requires hard work during high school. Not only are high ranks and perfect exam scores a minimum requirement, but additional activities that demonstrate leadership abilities or athletic skills are also necessary. Furthermore, letters of recommendation and endorsements from local congressmen are very helpful.
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However, there is still much to do after entering the academy. Many cadets want pilot slots and the competition starts again. Being hired as a pilot depends on class rank, additional activities and, of course, medical and physical predispositions. For those lucky young cadets at the aviation academies, there is Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT), a one-year initial flight training course. It begins with a screening program, similar to a private pilot’s license course. After that, the class is divided into those who will fly helicopters, heavy aircraft and fighter jets. Priority is given to the best students and they are likely to fly supersonic jets in the future. The rest have to make do with other planes. Those cadets who accept fighters compete throughout the remainder of the course for the opportunity to become pilots of the aircraft they would like to fly. Again it depends on class rank, instructor opinion and aviation requirements.
Finally, after this big competition and graduation, the pilot training cadets have centrifuge and survival training. For those who pass it, the Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals (IFF) course begins, which is conducted on the Northrop T-38 Talon. This is the last flight course before going into the main weapon operating system (main aircraft). The basic course (B-course) and introductory training course for selected fighters is the last stop before transferring to an operational unit. After several months of training, the cadet becomes a Mission Readiness Wing Leader (MR) and a full operational fighter pilot.
The path to becoming a fighter pilot after the Naval Academies looks similar, especially during the early years. After obtaining a pilot slot, training begins with an introductory flight inspection (IFS) and pre-flight indoctrination (API). After completing API, basic flight training begins and student pilots learn to fly the T-6 Tekan II Beechcraft or T-34C Turbo Mentor. At this point, cadets choose intermediate and advanced flying tracks: helicopters, MV-22 Ospreys, heavy military aircraft and finally Tailhook aircraft. After advanced training, pilots go to Fleet Replacement Squadrons (FRS) where they begin flying their specific aircraft.
Another way to become a fighter pilot is through the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTS). This solution is for those who want to be educated in the normal way as a civilian, but in parallel with preparatory training for officers during higher or university education. It is the student’s duty to attend military training and courses, mostly on weekends, and spend at least one summer in boot camp. Once officer training is completed, there is an option to apply for pilot training. The competition is fierce and the requirements are high, so it’s a tough road, but eventually you can get a pilot slot and start your UPT or IFS training.
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The third and final avenue for future pilots is Officer Candidate School (OCS), also known as Officer Training School. Those who graduate from civilian colleges and obtain a diploma without a military background can attend officer courses. During the four months of training, a cadet can become an officer and apply for pilot training. The same rule applies to this group: excellent health and mental condition is required, moreover, candidates must be under the age of twenty-seven. All this means that it does not exist
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