Air Force Fighter Pilot Requirements

Welcome. My name is Hazard. I’m an f 35 fighter pilot for the air Force. Today, I’m going to walk you through the requirements to become a pilot in the United States Air Force. Now, I was looking on the Air Force website, and unfortunately, it doesn’t have all the requirements in order to become a fighter pilot.

I see what they were trying to do. They were trying to make every job equal. But as a pilot, there are a lot of specific requirements that go into that, and they missed a lot of it. So I’ll start off with the Air Force website talking you through what they have, and then I’ve written down some additional requirements that I have found over the years. So let’s dive into it.

All right. Number one qualification, knowledge of theory of flight, air navigation, meteorology, flying directives, aircraft operating procedures, and mission tactics. So that is not qualifying in order to become a pilot. They will teach you that. So you need a four year degree.

It can be any degree. So I have friends that are history majors, english majors, the whole gamut. Now, I would say if you want to become a test pilot, then you need an engineering degree or math degree or physics degree. But other than that, it can be any four year degree. All right, next, completion of Air Force specialized undergraduate pilot training.

Yes. So you will have to go through pilot training. That’s not a requirement in order to become a pilot. They will teach you all of that. And there’s a lot of changes going on right now.

So there is a pilot retention shortage. So they’re trying to get pilots through pilot training as quickly as possible. And so there’s a new initiative called UPT 2.5. And so they’re winging people after seven months. And then the heavy pilots will go just to sims, and then the fighter pilots will go to a combined T 38 Uptif.

So that’s kind of experimental right now. There’s another thing called upt next where they’re trying to skip t 38 altogether and use virtual reality training for that. So there’s a lot of things going on. It’s really beyond the scope of this video, and it shouldn’t really matter to you. Just realize they are going to train you in how to become a pilot.

All right. Completion of single scope background investigation. So you will need to have a security clearance in order to become a pilot. Generally, where this is an issue is if you are not a us citizen. So you need to be a us citizen in order to become a pilot.

Also, if you’ve had run ins with the law. So the Air Force, from what I’ve seen, has been pretty forgiving, especially if it’s a misdemeanor one time thing. But you have to be honest on your application. If you say you’ve never run into the law and you have, they will catch it and then they will kick you out. So just be honest and make sure that you don’t get in trouble with the law.

All right. Additional requirements specific to specialty completion of OTS. Air Force Academy reserves and ots. So, yes, you have to become an officer in order to become a pilot. There are four main ways to become an officer.

So there’s Air Force academy in Colorado Springs. That’s the route that I went for your college, fully paid for. It’s a good deal. There’s ROTC, so that’s offered at over a thousand colleges. You do that for three to four years and you become an officer.

If you’ve already graduated from college, then you can go to Ots eight week course, and then you become an officer. Now, I’d caution you, eight weeks sounds great compared to four years, but it’s pretty limited in the number of slots they have, especially for pilots. So I’d only recommend that if you’ve already graduated from college and then last route is applying to a guard base. So I didn’t know much about this until I got to pilot training, and there was a guy next to me who knew he was going to fly the a ten. So the guard is essentially the state’s miniature air force, and you apply directly to a base.

So if you want to apply right now, Vermont is the only state that has f 35. So if you want to. That has guard f 35. So if you want to apply to that, you type into Google, Vermont Air National Guard pilot application. Apply to that.

If they select you, which, it’s very competitive. Typically, they get between two and five pilot slots a year, and there are hundreds that apply. But if you get selected for that, you’ll go through pilot training, you’ll learn how to fly your f 35. In this case, you’ll go back there and you’ll spend the rest of your career there. So ten to 30 years, whereas active duty, you’re going to be moving around every three years or so.

For more information on that, you can go to There’s a map on there of all the guard bases and the aircraft they fly. All right. Must have begun pilot training between the ages of 18 and 33. So 18, that’s really young.

I’ve never heard of anybody going through pilot training at 18. Typically, most people are early to mid 20s. Recently, the air force changed the upper limit to 33. So that broadens the scope of people that can apply to pilot training by quite a bit. So it’s not too late until you’re 33.

Even then, you can still potentially get a waiver, although it gets more difficult the older you get. All right. For pilot and air crew positions, height specifications vary by aircraft, and most applicants can successfully pursue a career in aviation with the air force. So the air force recently got rid of height and weight requirements, and the reason is that they were accepting over 90% of the waivers for people that were too tall, or more specifically, too short. So we found we were biasing against women, and women that applied for waivers.

We’re actually giving them waivers 90% of the time. So it has more to do with your sitting height, with your femur length, things that have to do with being able to successfully eject from the aircraft, and modern jets like the f 35. There’s now a new lightweight switch. So if you are less than the ideal weight, whatever it was back then, you can put that switch to lightweight, and now it expands the envelope for people that can fly it. So you’re not going to be able to know this until you get a flight physical.

Just know that most people will be fine regardless of their height and weight. All right, so that’s all the air Force website has, so they’re missing quite a few things. I wrote down some notes on some other requirements. Vision is always a big one. So you do not need to have perfect vision in order to become a fighter pilot.

Let me say that again. You do not need to have perfect vision in order to become a fighter pilot. You did back in the day, but now I fly with pilots who fly with contact lenses, with glasses, who’ve gotten surgery. So the whole gamut. Now, the one thing I would say with surgery is wait until you get into the air force.

The air force has a very specific way that they want the surgery done, and if you don’t get it that way, then it can auto disqualify you. So I would wait till you get in the air force. It’ll be free, and it’ll be the way that the air force wants it. All right, other things, refractive error, plus two to minus three, and no greater than 3.0 for astigmatism. So I don’t know what all those numbers mean, but if you have that and you’re within those bounds, then you’ll be fine.

For color vision. That’s one thing that the air force doesn’t usually grant waivers for. So if you have any sort of colorblindness, you can apply for a waiver, but don’t expect for it to get approved. Now, I do have a friend who became colorblind after becoming a pilot and he was granted a waiver, but that’s pretty rare. All right, asthma greater than your 13th birthday.

So if you have asthma after your 13th birthday, then generally the air force is not going to grant you a waiver. You can always try. Things change quite a bit. So I would recommend if you do want to be a fighter pilot, go and apply for the waiver. See if you get it, but don’t be surprised if it’s denied.

All right. For allergies, if you have seasonal allergies, the air force grants waivers for that greater than 99% of the time, so you’ll be fine. Now, in terms of food allergies, nut Allergies, I don’t know. So you’ll have to talk to a flight doc for specifics on that. All right.

ADHD. If you haven’t used medication or had any issues in the last four years, typically the air force is pretty good at granting waivers for that. So if you had ADHD as a child but no longer have it now, you’ll probably be fine. All right, so that’s pretty much it for the requirements. Now, I’m sorry the Air Force website doesn’t have all this stuff.

I’ll write them an email, see if they’ll update it. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of good information out there. Recruiters, they do a great job, but they aren’t specific for pilots. So oftentimes I hear people saying, oh, I’m going to enlist prior to becoming a pilot. I would not recommend that unless you’re going to the guard.

Now, the reason the guard that might be a good call is because they kind of treat it as a job interview. So they’re going to be with this pilot for the next ten to 30 years. So they like to use that as an extended job interview to see if they like you before hiring you. If you’re going active duty, I definitely would not recommend enlisting prior to trying to become a pilot. I’d recommend going to the academy, going to ROTC OTs, or applying to a guard base.

So there you go. Those are the requirements in order to become a pilot in the United States Air Force. Hopefully this helped you. If you did, make sure to subscribe. I’m going to be doing videos like this regularly.

If you have any additional questions, let me know in the comments and I’ll try to get to them, potentially doing a video on them. And I’ll talk to you next time. Bye.

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