What Are Pilot Requirements for the Air Force?

An air force pilot sits in an F-16 Fighting Falcon.
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Many young people dream of becoming pilots in the U.S. Air Force, but only a handful of those who enlist make the cut. To become a pilot, you must meet a series of requirements, some of which are the same for all enlistees, and others that are specific to aspiring pilots only.

1 General Requirements

You must be at least 18 years of age and a citizen or legal resident of the United States to join the Air Force; only citizens may be commissioned as officers, however, and all Air Force pilots are officers.

2 Physical Requirements

You have to stand between 5 feet 4 inches and 6 feet 5 inches tall. Your height when seated has to be between 34 and 40 inches. You cannot be overweight. You cannot have experienced allergies, hay fever or asthma from age 12 on. Your uncorrected distance vision can be no worse than 20/50 in either eye, and your uncorrected close vision must be 20/20 in both eyes. You cannot become a pilot if you are colorblind or have had your vision corrected with laser surgery.

3 Examinations

You will have to pass a physical examination as well as psychological and background tests before you are accepted into the Air Force.

4 Rank and Educational Requirements

To be a pilot, you have to be an officer, which means you must have a bachelor’s degree, preferably in the sciences, and an overall GPA of at least 3.4. Prior flight school training is also a plus. You can be commissioned as a second lieutenant after completing the Reserve Officer Training Corps program at your college, going to Officer Training School after you finish college, or getting your college degree at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

5 Air Force Testing

In addition to admission testing, you will have to take the Basic Aptitude Test and Air Force Qualifying Test and score adequately on both. After you’ve met all these requirements, you have to complete flight school successfully.

6 Pilot Careers

Air Force pilots have several options when it comes to choosing a flight career. They can become fighter pilots, test pilots, bomber pilots, tanker or cargo pilots and more.