U.S. Army helicopter pilots are responsible for supporting ground operations by operating one of the service's many rotary wing aircraft, including the AH-64 Apache, UH-60 Black Hawk, OH-58 Kiowa and the CH-47 Chinook. To become a rotary wing aviator in the Army, applicants must meet certain requirements to demonstrate their capabilities to fly and meet Army qualificiations.
In general, warrant officers make up the majority of helicopter pilots and fly on a day-to-day basis. Commissioned officers also fly, but have greater responsibility in planning air operations and training personnel.
Rotary-wing aviator applicants must be at least 18 years old but younger than 33 on the selection date in which the board convenes. According the the U.S. Army Recruiting Command, age waivers may be considered for applicants on a case-by-case basis, if there are compelling circumstances.
To qualify for flying service, helicopter pilots in the Army must pass a Class I Flying Duty Medical Exam as described in the Army Regulation (AR) 40-501 Standards of Medical Fitness. The requirements list for this exam is lengthy. As a general rule, applicants should not have any health conditions or ailments that would interfere with their ability to operate an aircraft in combat situations.
Most notably, the Class I Flying Duty Medical Exam sets certain eyesight requirements for candidates. Applicants must have uncorrected near vision of 20/20 and distant vision of 20/50 that is correctable to 20/20. They also must pass a color vision and depth perception test.
Army helicopter pilots must possess a high school diploma or its equivalent to fly as a warrant officer. Commissioned officers, meanwhile, must have a bachelor's degree prior to admission. Applicants must also have a General Technical score of 110 or higher on the Armed Service Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) and score 90 or higher on the Alternate Flight Aptitude Selection Test (AFAST) [Reference 1].
Applicants must meet certain fitness requirements prior to joining the Army--as a helicopter pilot or in any other field. All soldiers must pass the three-event Army Physical Fitness Test. This examination consists of a sit-up test, push-up test and a 2-mile run. Additionally, all soldiers prior to joining must meet certain weight requirements. These minimum and maximum weights are based on an applicant's height and laid out in a chart published by the Army in AR 40-501.
All Army helicopter pilots must have or be eligible for a secret security clearance from the U.S. Defense Department, since the nature of information necessary for flight operations is highly classified.
- Photo Credit Woman pilot getting into a helicopter image by Elzbieta Sekowska from Fotolia.com
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