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How hard is it to become a fighter pilot?

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posted on Nov, 23 2006 @ 08:40 PM
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I'm hoping I can get some good realistic insights on how difficult it is to become a fighter pilot?

I know that you have to be college educated, smart and quick on your feet, have good eye sight and reflexes, be in good physical shape and determined. But just how hard is it? Is it comparable to say becoming a professional athlete or a doctor?

Are slots so limited with lots of competition that even if you can meet all the requirements it still requires a bit of luck like winning the lottery?

Is getting a bomber or transport slot less intensive and a bit easier?

Is one branch more difficult than another? For instance I would assume becoming a Navy aviator might be more difficult since it involves landing on carriers but maybe not?

Are there any fighter pilots or ex ones that could provide some insight? I would even like to hear peoples opinions, insights and experiences of their friends, family or people they know that are military pilots.

Thanks

[edit on 23-11-2006 by warpboost]




posted on Nov, 23 2006 @ 09:15 PM
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Well, I too am seeking the position of a Fighter Pilot and from what I gathered it's one of the hardest things you could do.

(All of this pertains to the US)
You must be a citizen.
You must be an officer.
You must have a bachelors degree.

Also, you must have relatively good scores, a GPA of say 4.0 is where it's at (90 or better average). About 4 percent of the USAF are actually pilots, so becoming a pilot for the USAF would be even harder. Your best bet would be to go through the academy, same goes to the Navy.

I would say that the Navy and USAF are equally difficult to become pilots in. You might find it easier to become a pilot for the Marines and the Army, but be careful because if you might be stuck with one of the other jobs that are alotted under Aviation Operations. You are not by any means garaunteed a slot if you write down "Pilot". It all comes down to what they need you for and how you do on your placement tests.

If you go in as enlisted personnel, then you have atleast 4 years before you even worry about becoming a pilot, but if you go to college first or the Academy, then you can work towards it. Enlistment is the long way to it. Academy is the most direct, however is extremely difficult to get into, more so than becoming a pilot through enlistment. When they say that they only allow the "Best of the Best" to become pilots, they're not exagerrating.

They really want the Best of the Best.

Shattered OUT...



posted on Nov, 23 2006 @ 09:28 PM
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Hey Warpboost,

I assume you are in the US? I'm in Australia, so am speaking from that context, but believe that the necessary requirements are similar.

There are a lot of hoops you have to jump through to become a pilot, let alone a fighter pilot. But, like any profession, if you are keen enough, and apply yourself, then it is well within anyone's reach. To be successful I'd say the key need is the ability to learn quickly, process information effectively and come to smart conclusions in high pressure situations. The learning curve is steep, but if you want it bad enough, you'll work the long hours necessary. Good reflexes and physical fitness are also important, but not as much as the first points I mentioned. You can get fitter, and reflexes can improve, but if you can't pick things up quickly, it will be very hard to get through.

From my experience, it isn't necessarily the brightest that succeed. In fact, I've seen some brilliant students fail because they lacked application, while those that struggled through university shone when in the cockpit. The ones who told everyone during initial training that they were going to be fighter pilots generally failed, while those who quitely went about their business with the end goal in mind seemed to do much better (maybe because the weight of expectation wasn't as great?)

It is "easier" to become a transport pilot from the point of view that there are usually less fighter slots than other assignments. But it takes no less application to be able to skillfully fly a large aircraft, and the responsibility for the lives of all on board is a big one. But those who do well on pilot's course, and who have the right attitude (confident, but not arrogantly so, with an agressive streak when needed) will move on to lead-in fighter training (well, that's what the RAAF call it).

Lead-in fighter training is the next hurdle. Believe it or not, the learning curve gets steeper. Candidates still wash out here because they get behind the "drag curve". Failure doesn't necessarily mean you are a bad pilot. Attitude again becomes important, as does an ability to make quick decision in a very dynamic environment.

Conversion course follows. Once again, getting to this stage is no guarantee of success. I've seen guys scrubbed with two flights to go before graduation. It is tough when this happens, but the responsibility is ultimately to keep him/her (and those around him/her) alive. Interestingly, this is usually the stage where a number of "self scrubs" occur. Flying fighters is usually not what people expect it to be like. Each mission requires a lot of preparation, and even during BFM, there is a script which is generally followed. Then there are substantial debriefs for each mission. All up, for a one hour mission, there can be upwards of seven hours of mission preparation and debriefing. It isn't as glamourous as Top Gun makes out.

Once you graduate from conversion course, it doesn't end. You're a D category pilot. You have upgrade checks for each category. Then you need to specialise, either as an instructor or weapons qualified patch wearer. Then you get staff appointments, which reduce your flying hours, while increasing the admin you have to do. The challenges continue right through your career.

So, there you have it. My thoughts on the matter. I hope I haven't sounded too pessimistic. If you're thinking to yourself "Man, I don't know if I can handle all of that, it sounds too hard", then being a fighter pilot might not be for you. But if you are thinking "Man, I don't if I can handle all of that, but it sounds like fun", then you're off to a good start. Send me a u2u if you want to know anything else outside of the forum.

Will



posted on Nov, 23 2006 @ 10:07 PM
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I'm sure that I'll get flamed for this (which is fine, everyone is entitled to an opinion), but I think the most challenging (and exciting) piloting jobs in the military actually belongs to the helo pilots, not the fighter jockeys. Essentially, Air Force cargo pilots fly from point A to point B - it's kind of like flying a FEDEX jet, but they don't get paid as much. For bomber pilots, it seems to be more an exercise of endurance. Fighter jockeys go up and fly patrols - which become quite boring (from what I hear) and rarely get to do the Top Gun/Red Flag type stuff that we all think is so sexy. Helicopter pilots on the other hand - regardless of whether you are doing SAR, delivering troops in an air assault, flying a gunship, or doing scout/recon work - the mission is always exciting and always different from what you did yesterday. I think it may also be a little bit easier to get into flight school (vs a fighter slot).



posted on Nov, 23 2006 @ 10:09 PM
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Really you should be asking yourself, "How easy is it to become a fighter pilot?"

It's all in the spirit. The more you become involved with something, records can be achieved, than surpassed.

Read what I say. You'll find it to be true. Look at what others say, they are true too. However whats different from myself? It's simplicity vs. complexity. There is no debate.

[edit on 23-11-2006 by 7Ayreon]



posted on Nov, 23 2006 @ 10:44 PM
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6/6 NATURAL vision!!
even if you have EVERYTHING else: insight,know-how,hand-eye co-od,good g-tol,general physique it won't count..
I curse myself everyday!



posted on Nov, 23 2006 @ 10:49 PM
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Actually, I know the USN are taking people who have had corrective surgery for eyesight, and I believe Australia is trialling it too. And if your eyesight deteriorates after you join, you can still fly. I know a few guys who fly with glasses (usually during air to ground hops), but for air to air, especially BFM, most wear contacts.



posted on Nov, 23 2006 @ 10:57 PM
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Even Corrective surgery is a no-go for the IAF...doubt it will change either..

and as for the eysight deteriorating after you get your wings, well its a desk job from there on.. no contacts, no corrective surgery..nothing..


Corrective surgery for the USN?!!

What about those night-time stormy deck landings??!!

[edit on 23-11-2006 by Daedalus3]



posted on Nov, 23 2006 @ 11:01 PM
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Wow, you guys are tough! If we had that rule, we'd probably lose 70% of our fighter guys over the age of 30.

Things may change Daedalus. India is usually fairly progressive in things like that. Do you know why they have such a hardline policy?



posted on Nov, 23 2006 @ 11:04 PM
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posted on Nov, 24 2006 @ 10:59 AM
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Originally posted by Daedalus3
What about those night-time stormy deck landings??!!


What about it? You don't even get a good look at the carrier until you're up close ready to land, before that you just see a faint light in the distance, but even so they just look at their instruments, line it up right and go. Also, the only thing you can't have in the Navy, if your job entails operating on deck, is color blindness. That's because on a carrier all personnel distinguish themselves and their role by wearing different color shirts, if you don't know who who you can get hurt. I suspect color blindness is a no go for the USAF and Marines as well.

But personally I don't see what the big deal is with accepting pilots who are otherwise good but just miss the 20/20 mark. I mean if they can't read a paper in front of their face or see a sign a couple of feet away then I understand. But if it's correctable and it does not degrade their performance then they should not get the boot.



posted on Nov, 25 2006 @ 07:26 AM
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Originally posted by WestPoint23

But personally I don't see what the big deal is with accepting pilots who are otherwise good but just miss the 20/20 mark. I mean if they can't read a paper in front of their face or see a sign a couple of feet away then I understand. But if it's correctable and it does not degrade their performance then they should not get the boot.


Just missing the 20/20 mark is irrelevant..
And it isn't that stringent in the IAF. There must be a tolerance band and that too would be segregated in fighters,helis and transport.
Another plausile reason might be that AFs like the IAF still put major improtance at WVR combat,free fall iron bombing et all; majorly eyesight oriented activities.
The older gen a/c like the MiG23/27 and the MiG 21FL also require good eysight for the rather outdated targetting systems.
Although the a/c are being upgraded or replaced steadily the recruitment policy for 'fighters' has been more or less the same. I haven't bothered checking for transport or helos.. never fancied a career flying them anyways!

The detection of a degrading eyesight is of more concern; you don't want to be in a spot when your making Sqn Ldr or Wg Cdr, worse yet when you're in a combat situation irrespective of rank.
Also corrective surgery is all well and good, but its been around only recently and it is not fool proof; in India at least. There have been cases where eyesight deterioration has resumed and sometimes in a more aggressive fashion than before.
Corrective surgery like LASIK or PRK is actually not recommended by may opthalmologists for the same, again at least not in India. The mass majority of the clientele are women of marrigable age wanting get rid of those spectacles!


[edit on 25-11-2006 by Daedalus3]



posted on Nov, 25 2006 @ 08:16 AM
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Originally posted by Daedalus3
Another plausile reason might be that AFs like the IAF still put major improtance at WVR combat,free fall iron bombing et all; majorly eyesight oriented activities.
The older gen a/c like the MiG23/27 and the MiG 21FL also require good eysight for the rather outdated targetting systems.


I suspect this might be the key reason, it's no secret that the US prefers BVR combat since it is our future doctrine. As far as vision goes BVR mainly entails looking and LCD screens illuminated to the Nth degree. But I'm curious to know the requirements for Helo and CAS pilots in the US.



posted on Nov, 25 2006 @ 12:03 PM
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Warpboost,

To answer your general question, it depends on which country you wish to fly for.

For example the entrance requirements for some nations is much higher than those of others.

This is then followed through in the training regimes to actually become a qualified "fighter pilot".

The best trained Air Forces in the world are the IAF and the RAF.

Their entrance requirements and training regimes are the best in the world.

The thing you have to realise is that most of the Airforces in the west have far more applicants than they will ever need.

It is for this reason more than any that they can afford to reject all those who are not far in excess of the minimum entrance requirements.

I will end by saying that if you do go for it, then give it your all, nothing less will see you through.

Cheers

S396



posted on Nov, 25 2006 @ 12:24 PM
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Originally posted by Sandman396
The best trained Air Forces in the world are the IAF and the RAF.


What do you base this on? Combat performance, flight hours or training courses?



posted on Nov, 25 2006 @ 12:45 PM
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yea..
That way I would include AFs like SAAF, PAF, JASDF etc. etc..

Infact all AFs in which pilots chalk up 150 -200 flight hours annually can be considered to be well trained.
Also the type of training dispensed at training command, the number of instructors at Air Warfare colleges, training command infrastructure etc etc.. would all play a vital role in deciding the 'best trained' AFs..
Infact operational capability might not even count since its a relative concept and all engagements should be on a percentile basis considering that all countries do not have the same tech,logistics to work with.
Training is devoid of all that.
Good training is the 'best one can teach with what one's got'..totally relative



posted on Nov, 25 2006 @ 03:08 PM
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Originally posted by Willard856
Actually, I know the USN are taking people who have had corrective surgery for eyesight, and I believe Australia is trialling it too. And if your eyesight deteriorates after you join, you can still fly. I know a few guys who fly with glasses (usually during air to ground hops), but for air to air, especially BFM, most wear contacts.

Don't contacts kind of shift around in your eye during high G manoeuvres?

Canada only allows natural 20/20 eyesight for fighter pilots. No type of vision correction can get you in a fighter cockpit. No pilot career for me I guess



posted on Nov, 25 2006 @ 09:47 PM
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And even though I too am a victim of such recruitment policies, I feel that they are well placed. At least for another decade or so..

Taishyou,
That's a Macross Plus avataar innit?

[edit on 26-11-2006 by Daedalus3]



posted on Nov, 25 2006 @ 10:04 PM
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www.hec.afrl.af.mil...
www.sdsiou.ang.af.mil...
This should give you some info on the USAF selection process.

US Navy training will involve carrier qualifications, a.k.a. cats and traps, if you want to fly fighters so I hope you enjoy being out to sea for extended periods of time. Couldn't find any good links to post for you, but i'm sure there are some out there.

Good luck on your pursuit of this exciting career.



posted on Nov, 28 2006 @ 05:19 PM
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WestPoint,

I would judge it on the quality of the finished item - ie the pilot.

The newly arrived pilot on a frontline FJ squadron in the IAF or RAF is better equipped to do his/her job than the equivalent in any other Air arm (ie Air Force, Navy etc) anywhere in the world.

Cheers

S396



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