How to Become a Fighter Pilot

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The United States Navy, Air Force and Marines all have pipelines to become a jet fighter pilot. Becoming a fighter pilot is a long and difficult task. However, for the men and women who accomplish it, nothing rivals the fast pace and excitement that this career offers.

  • Decide which branch of the service you would like to join. Navy and Marine Corps fighters fly off of aircraft carriers and deploy to sea for six months at a time.

  • Enter an officer program. You must be an officer to fly in any of these services. Paths exist from the Naval or Air Force Academies, Navy or Air Force ROTC and Officer Candidate or Training School.

  • Find out if you meet the physical requirements. The requirements to fly are stricter than the regular commissioning requirements, especially regarding eye sight. There are also size requirements; you must fit in the cockpit.

  • Choose aviation as your career field upon your commission. Do as well as possible in your commissioning program to give yourself the best chance at getting your top choice. You will get to request the field of your choice, but the military will have the final say.

  • Go to flight school. Initial flight training will be the same regardless of the type of aircraft that you will be flying. Again, strong performance is vital.

  • Pick jets or fighter or bomber depending on your branch of service for the next level of flight training. The flight students are broken up into tracks such as helicopter, propeller or jets. Not everyone gets their top choice.

  • Get in good physical condition. Physical fitness is important throughout officer and flight training.

Tips & Warnings

  • Be prepared to work hard throughout the process. The training will be tough mentally and physically.
  • The better you perform the more likely you are to get your top choice.
  • Have a back-up plan. There are many reasons ranging from medical problems to tough competition that can keep you from becoming a fighter pilot.

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