Want to be an Air Force Pilot? This is How You Do It

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so if you clicked on this video i

imagine you've thought about what it

would be like to strap into a fighter

jet and rip across the skies pulling g's

and flying faster than the speed of


if you're anything like me maybe you saw

the movie top gun or went to an air show

as a kid

and said yep that looks incredible

however it's

one thing to say that's what i want to

do and another to know how to actually

get there well today i'm going to answer

that question

because this is how you can become an

air force

pilot what's up everyone my name is sam

eckham and i am currently an officer

serving active duty in the united states

air force

over the past several years i have

received hundreds of questions asking

how to become an air force pilot

as well as what the best route is to get


now to start off what i will tell you is

there are multiple paths you can take

and it can get a bit confusing so i

promise to take it slow and try and

break it

all down however no matter what path you


there are a few basic requirements that

you must meet

in order to be accepted into the pilot

training program

so let's go ahead and start with those

first off you must have a college degree

now this does need to be a four-year

bachelor's degree from an accredited


or at a minimum you must have at least

90 credit hours to be eligible

now with this being said a question i

get all the time is whether or not you

need to major in anything specific to be

a pilot

and i'm happy to tell you that the

answer is no

there is no requirement for what you

study just

that you study meaning you can major in

anything from aeronautical engineering

to english and fine arts

as long as you have a college degree you

will be good to go

oh and one more thing no you don't need

to be good at math or science to be a


i promise you the air force will teach

you everything you need to know

next up in order to be eligible for

pilot training you must be between the

ages of 18

to 33. now you must also be a u.s


and be in what i like to call good


what i mean by this is that every pilot

in the air force must go through a

single scope

background check that allows them to

receive a top secret clearance

now while this definitely sounds a bit

intimidating there's no real need to


this background check is just an

opportunity for the air force to examine

things like your credit

jobs you've worked in the past and

places you've lived to ensure that

you're responsible enough to be

entrusted with the keys

to a multi-million dollar aircraft

now i do want everyone to notice that

nowhere on the list of requirements is

prior flight

experience another big misconception is

thinking that you have to have a private

pilot's license

or have logged some sort of flight time

ahead of applying

once again that is absolutely not true

there are tons of air force pilots whose

first time

sitting behind the stick of an airplane

was after being accepted to pilot


so while having prior experience may

give you a bit of a leg up in the


there's absolutely no requirement to

have it

okay let's talk briefly about physical

requirements and medical requirements

generally speaking yes you do need to be

in good overall health

however everything is looked at on a

case-by-case basis

and before you are accepted into pilot

training you'll actually go through a

medical and physical evaluation

so with that being said if you've ever

heard that you need perfect vision or

need to be a certain height to become a


that's simply not true in most cases if

your eyes can be correctable to 2020

you'll be okay now in terms of height

there's no given

requirement meaning that if you are

short or tall

please don't let that discourage you

from applying height specifications

actually vary by aircraft and most

applicants will be able to pursue a

career in aviation

with the air force regardless of what

your height is

in the end what i like to say is that if

there's a will there's a waiver

meaning every individual is looked at

independently and a lot of times a

waiver can be granted for specific


you may not meet alright so once you've


all of those basic requirements the next

thing you need to focus on

is earning a commission as an officer in

the u.s air force

now to do this there are three routes

you can take

the first two are options you can go

through if you have not yet been to


and the last is an option for those who

have already finished college

so let's start out with the first two

you can attend the united states air

force academy

which is a four-year university located

in colorado

springs upon graduation not only will

you receive a bachelor's degree

but you will also receive a commission

as an officer in the air force

now the academy is a military school

meaning that you won't necessarily get

the typical college experience

however there are tons of unique

benefits in going to the academy and i

actually made an entire video covering


which you can watch here now

alternatively you could look at what's

called rotc

which stands for the reserved officer

training corps

this is a program established in over

1700 colleges and universities across

the country

and the programs designed to prepare

college students to become

officers in the air force now the way it

works is that you will apply

directly for an rotc scholarship which

if awarded can be used at any one of a

number of schools

this scholarship will help you pay for

your education and in return

you will be required to attend weekly

military classes

throughout your four years so that when

you graduate you are ready to go

to become an officer this is a great

option for those who want to attend a

civilian school and maybe want that

flexibility to have a more typical

college experience

than you would get at the academy now

the way it works with both the academy

and rotc is that once your junior and

senior years roll around

you will put in preferences for what air

force career field you are interested in

if that answer is pilot assuming you

meet all the requirements we talked

about earlier

you will then compete for a slot this

decision is merit-based

meaning the air force will look at how

you performed throughout your four years

in college

so make sure you are keeping your grades

as high as possible because you

definitely don't want that to come

around to bite you

alright now what about those people out

there who already have a college degree

or who might be currently enlisted in

the air force but are still interested

in becoming a pilot

well you will need to apply for what's

called officer training school

or ots this nine and a half week program

is located at maxwell air force base

near montgomery alabama

and is designed to take you from a

civilian to an officer in just over two


now the way it works in ots is that when

you submit your application you will

indicate that you are seeking a pilot


so when you find out if you are accepted

in the program in most cases you will

also then find out whether or not you

have been selected for pilot training as


now i should also note that as part of

your ots application

and also before you graduate from the

academy in rotc

you will be required to take what's

called the afoqt

in tbas the afoqt stands for air force

officer qualifying test

which you can think of as the air

force's version of the sat

or act your score on this test will

determine which career fields you're

eligible for

and for those wanting to be a pilot

there is a pilot and navigator specific

section that you will need to score high

enough on

now the tbas stands for test of basic


skills wait a second i thought you said

we didn't need any prior flight

experience what is this

test of basic aviation skills

don't worry the tbas is not really a

knowledge based test

and in fact is much more aimed at

testing your spatial ability

as well as your ability to multitask now

luckily there are a lot of resources

available online for you to prepare for

both the afo qt

and tbas so i'll make sure to include a

few links below so that you can get


preparing okay that was a lot of

information let's take a breath

shake it out regroup because it's time

to get to the exciting stuff

what can you expect throughout pilot


well the first thing that happens once

you're selected for pilot training is

what's called

ift or initial flight training

this is about a 40-day program located

in pueblo colorado

where you will fly roughly 20 hours in

the diamond aircraft d820

the purpose of ift is to allow you to

learn some basic flight maneuvers

so that when it's time for you to report

to upt or undergraduate pilot training

you are ready to go after you graduate

from ift

you will then head off to one of four

pilot training bases

columbus air force base mississippi

vance air force base oklahoma

laughlin air force base texas or shepard

air force base which is also located in


each base operates very similar in terms

of training with the exception of

shepard which hosts

student pilots from allied countries and

focuses primarily on developing fighter


regardless the entire pilot training

syllabus will be broken up into

three separate phases phase one

is the academics portion where you will

spend about six weeks in the classroom

covering everything from aircraft

systems to basic instrument flying

following academics you will move to the

flight line and start phase 2 which

lasts about

22 weeks it's during this time that

you'll learn to fly the t6

texan 2 while also learning basic flight

maneuvers aerobatics basic instrument

flying and basic two ship formation


now upon the completion of phase two you

will follow one of

three different tracks for phase three

each of which lasts between 24 and 28

weeks the first track is for those who

will go on to fly airlift and tankers

and this training is done on the t1a

jayhawk the second track is for those

who will go on to fly fighters or


and you'll spend phase 3 learning to fly

the t-38 talon

a twin-engine supersonic jet

the third and final track is for those

who wish to fly helicopters and you will

go on to fly the huey

now to decide which students get which

track is largely merit-based

and each student in pilot training will

be racked and stacked amongst their


the number one student gets their first

choice then the number two student and

so on

so for example if flying fighters is

your ultimate goal

you're going to want to make sure you're

at least ranked in the top 30 your class

so that you can track the t38 now you

should know that these three phases of

pilot training are very

rigorous and consist of mostly 10 to 12

hour days of classroom instruction

simulator training and flying as i say

with everything it's important that you

know what you're getting yourself

into and so please continue to ask

questions and do some research on your

own to figure out if going to pilot

training is for you

okay so after you finish phase three you

should finally start seeing that light

at the end of the tunnel

because you are ready to receive those

silver pilot wings

during your drop night you will be

awarded your aircraft which like most

things is also

largely merit-based once again you will

have the chance to put together a dream

sheet of preferences for which aircraft

you'd like to fly

and starting with the number one ranked

student in the class each aircraft will


awarded needs of the air force does come

into play here

and it's difficult to say what types of

aircraft will be available to each pilot

training class

regardless once you get your airframe

and get those wings pinned on your chest

you should definitely be proud because

this is an accomplishment

that very very few people can say they

have done

so yeah that's essentially the road map

to how you can become a pilot in the air


of course the process doesn't end here

because as soon as you get your wings

you will then move on to train on your

specific airframe before being fully


however the type of training you do and

the length will vary quite a bit

depending on what you are flying

so i think for now it's safe to leave it

at that

however i do want to mention another

great option for becoming an air force


and this is one that i had never really

heard about until i was already in the

air force myself

you can actually apply directly to the

air force reserve

and air national guard the benefits of

going this route is that you will be

applying to a specific

unit meaning that you will know what

aircraft you are flying and what base

you will be stationed at before even

getting to pilot training

so let's say for example you want to fly

f-35s the air force's newest fighter jet

well you can actually apply directly to

the vermont air national guard

and after you complete the application

and are accepted you'll head to ots and

then pilot training

knowing that when you get your wings you

will be flying the f-35

now the application process for this

route does vary from unit to unit

so i recommend you do some research and

take the first step of reaching out to

your local air force reserve or air

national guard recruiter

to express your interest now as most of

you know

i personally chose not to go to pilot

training for several different reasons

however i do think that it's important

that you hear from someone who not only

made it through upt

but also managed to drop one of the

coolest fighters in the world

his name is corey clark callsign punch

and he is currently stationed at langley

air force base where he flies

f22 raptors

hey punch how's it going man hey sam how

are you good

so i just finished wrapping up filming a

video on how to become a pilot in the

air force and i thought it would be cool

if people could hear from you

someone who's flying one of the coolest

jets out there so do you have any words

of advice or words of wisdom to someone

out there who would one day

possibly want to follow in your shoes

yeah man

absolutely first big thing is just work

as hard as you possibly can

and second thing is obviously love what

you do so as

people always say you won't work a day

in your life if you absolutely love what

you do

so yeah two big things man well that's

perfect well i appreciate it i hope to

see you soon man hopefully you're

enjoying flying

all right man have fun all right talk to

you soon

all right well there you have it i hope

this video helped give you somewhat of

an idea as to how you can become a pilot

in the air force

and of course if you have any questions

please drop them in the comments below

other than that you can follow me on my

instagram where i post about my

experiences in the air force

traveling the world and highlighting the

dozens of different career fields that

are available

i wish you guys all the best and i look

forward to seeing you in the next