Military pilots have the opportunity to fly jets with the most cutting-edge technology. Flight programs are competitive, and all five branches of the U.S. military have an air fleet and need pilots. You must specifically request to fly jets rather than helicopters if that is the path you want to take as an aviator. Jet pilots participate in combat air support and attack, and may even conduct reconnaissance missions. Men and women who want to fly jets in the military must meet strict qualification requirements and complete extensive flight training.
All pilots are commissioned officers in the military. Specific commissioning requirements vary by branch, but all candidates must be citizens of the U.S. with at least a bachelor's degree. In addition, you must be in good legal and character standing. Drug use and criminal convictions may disqualify you from service. Officers may enter the service by attending a four-year military school, such as the U.S. Naval Academy or Air Force Academy, or by participating in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps at an accredited university. If you already have completed a bachelor's degree, you may seek commission through officer candidate or training school.
To become an aviator, you must be in excellent physical health. You must get a comprehensive Class 1 Flight Physical and have normal color vision correctable to 20/20. In addition, you must meet the physical fitness and weight requirements of your branch. Pilots also face height restrictions. The Air Force, for example, requires pilots to be between 64 to 77 inches tall when standing and 34 to 40 inches tall when sitting.
Flight Aptitude Tests
Aviation applicants must take a multiple-choice military flight aptitude test. Each branch has its own aptitude test. The tests cover aviation information, instrument reading, mechanical comprehension, verbal ability and spacial skills. Prior to taking the exam, find out what topics are included in the aptitude test of your service branch and take time to study and prepare.
After being selected to become a pilot, you must complete flight training. The first year is initial training, followed by a second year of advanced flight training. You will complete classroom work and practice in simulators. Topics include FAA regulations, aerodynamics, engine operation, navigation systems and foul-weather flying. During advanced training, you will specialize in the specific jet you will fly during your career.
When you enlist in the military, you commit to serving for a specific period of time. Unlike civilian jobs, you may not simply quit the military whenever you want. The specific time commitment required for pilots varies by branch. The U.S. Navy, for example, requires pilots to serve eight years of active duty.