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I'm currently a junior and high school and I've had the eagerness to become a fighter pilot since I can remember. A little bit about me: weighted 4.5 GPA, soccer for all 3 years so far including have been captain of my team, involved in student body leadership, top 10% of my class, and plenty of community service. My question is what is the best way for me to become a fighter pilot? I know currently there is a shortage of fighter pilots in the air force, but a navy pilot has told me that if I took the navy route I'd have a higher chance at fighters because that's mainly what the navy flies. Is that true? Should I go OCS, ROTC, or try to go to an Academy? If I got a ROTC scholarship should I take that route? Would having a PPL be something I should do or should I wait because the military has their way of training pilots? If I went ANG I know I'd be guaranteed fighters and a base, but I'd imagine the competition for a spot at a base would be hard coming from civilian life, no? Would it be better to go ANG or active? I know there is a difference between the lifestyle of an air force pilot and navy pilot but I would do either.  Any response is greatly appreciated.

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I’m in the middle of applying for flight slots with the guard now, so I’m by no means the be all end all of advice, but I’ll give the 2¢ I wish I’d gotten when I was in high school.

ROTC or an academy does not even guarantee a flight slot, so if being a fighter pilot is the only career you can imagine and you don’t want to risk being in the military and any other job, avoid those option.

That leaves OTS(Air Force), OCS(Navy), AFR, or ANG. A PPL will make you more competitive for all of these options.

With all of these options, you’ll know you’re going to be a pilot for sure.

What the Navy guy said is true, most of their fixed wing aircraft are fighters. But from what I understand they also have a lot of helicopters, so if that’s not something you’re interested in, it is a risk.

With both OTS and OCS, you’ll be battling it out in flight school and active duty. There is risk there too, this is really where the needs of the Air Force and Navy come in. I have a friend that went to the ENJJPT, which is normally expected to have a lot of fighter drops, and there were only 2 guys in his class that got fighters. Your class may be majority T-38s and almost all fighters, or it could be the opposite.

I say that all for to get to the point that the only way to GUARANTEE fighters is through the ANG and AF Reserves.

Kick Ass in college, do the opposite of what I did. Get a good degree that interest you and do your best to have a 4.0.

If you have a passion for aviation and want to fly regardless, consider majoring in it! I didn’t realize that was an option until it was too late.

Either way, get your PPL, study your ass off for whichever aptitude test you take (AFOQT or ASTB), or both, and knock it out of the park. Take the practice tests timed so you know what to expect.

That’s all a long way away, but from the sounds of it, you have your head on straight and can do well if you stay the path!



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Competition for UPT slots with the Guard and Reserve is pretty minimal right now, people are getting hired by bomber squadrons with ~20 flight hours and a degree in zoology. But if you're set on fighters, a PPL is almost mandatory to be considered by them.

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23 minutes ago, N730 said:

I’m in the middle of applying for flight slots with the guard now, so I’m by no means the be all end all of advice, but I’ll give the 2¢ I wish I’d gotten when I was in high school.

ROTC or an academy does not even guarantee a flight slot, so if being a fighter pilot is the only career you can imagine and you don’t want to risk being in the military and any other job, avoid those option.

That leaves OTS(Air Force), OCS(Navy), AFR, or ANG. A PPL will make you more competitive for all of these options.

With all of these options, you’ll know you’re going to be a pilot for sure.

What the Navy guy said is true, most of their fixed wing aircraft are fighters. But from what I understand they also have a lot of helicopters, so if that’s not something you’re interested in, it is a risk.

With both OTS and OCS, you’ll be battling it out in flight school and active duty. There is risk there too, this is really where the needs of the Air Force and Navy come in. I have a friend that went to the ENJJPT, which is normally expected to have a lot of fighter drops, and there were only 2 guys in his class that got fighters. Your class may be majority T-38s and almost all fighters, or it could be the opposite.

I say that all for to get to the point that the only way to GUARANTEE fighters is through the ANG and AF Reserves.

Kick Ass in college, do the opposite of what I did. Get a good degree that interest you and do your best to have a 4.0.

If you have a passion for aviation and want to fly regardless, consider majoring in it! I didn’t realize that was an option until it was too late.

Either way, get your PPL, study your ass off for whichever aptitude test you take (AFOQT or ASTB), or both, and knock it out of the park. Take the practice tests timed so you know what to expect.

That’s all a long way away, but from the sounds of it, you have your head on straight and can do well if you stay the path!



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Thanks for the response! So your advice would be to go ANG/AFR? Let's say I get my PPL and get the grades in college, is there any other way to beef my application to get hired by a fighter unit? I'm friends with a Lieutenant Colonel in the AF who could give me a letter of recommendation: would that make me stand out from others and greatly increase my chances you think? I don't know much about the ANG/AFR...heard they get minimal flight time, but I'd get to also start an airline job too right? If I joined a guard unit, how do I fly for an airline because the only rating I'd have is a PPL and no multi-engine or commercial rating so I don't understand that. Thanks for the help.

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17 minutes ago, Stoker said:

Competition for UPT slots with the Guard and Reserve is pretty minimal right now, people are getting hired by bomber squadrons with ~20 flight hours and a degree in zoology. But if you're set on fighters, a PPL is almost mandatory to be considered by them.

Got it, I'll be sure to obtain a PPL. Do you know anything about the life of being a guard pilot? Thanks for the response.

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Thanks for the response! So your advice would be to go ANG/AFR? Let's say I get my PPL and get the grades in college, is there any other way to beef my application to get hired by a fighter unit? I'm friends with a Lieutenant Colonel in the AF who could give me a letter of recommendation: would that make me stand out from others and greatly increase my chances you think? I don't know much about the ANG/AFR...heard they get minimal flight time, but I'd get to also start an airline job too right? If I joined a guard unit, how do I fly for an airline because the only rating I'd have is a PPL and no multi-engine or commercial rating so I don't understand that. Thanks for the help.


There’s a couple of things here:

As for additional things to stand out, I’m in the process myself, so others that have already been success or someone that has sat a board would be able to give a better response.

As for flight time, from what I’ve seen it seems like most fighter units have a couple of years of “seasoning” orders. So after flight school, you’d be active at the unit for that time. Still, with fighters, you generally won’t get time as quickly as the heavy guys do.

A lot of the guys do have airline jobs in the ANG, but there are also engineers, lawyers, salesmen, etc. that fly for the guard. Without a lot of extra flying, you won’t have an airline job right away, for that you need an ATP. The requirements for an ATP vary depending on your background. 1500 hrs is typical, less if you have a bachelors in aviation.


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Good on you for trying to plan out your future.  Without knowing you at all, there's no crystal ball that exists that shows what the "best" option for you is to become a fighter pilot.  Finish high school strong, apply/get into good schools, and then come back to ask advice.  Hard to say if USAFA is the best choice if you don't even get in, although if what you say is true about grades/etc. I'm sure you'll have no problem.

And also realize that life happens.  It's a long road to wings, with a ton of obstacles (self-inflicted or life inflicted) along the way.  Have a good plan in place in case the fighter pilot thing doesn't work out.

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2 hours ago, Warriorboy16 said:

Good on you for trying to plan out your future.  Without knowing you at all, there's no crystal ball that exists that shows what the "best" option for you is to become a fighter pilot.  Finish high school strong, apply/get into good schools, and then come back to ask advice.  Hard to say if USAFA is the best choice if you don't even get in, although if what you say is true about grades/etc. I'm sure you'll have no problem.

And also realize that life happens.  It's a long road to wings, with a ton of obstacles (self-inflicted or life inflicted) along the way.  Have a good plan in place in case the fighter pilot thing doesn't work out.

Thanks for the tip. Are you familiar with how long flight school takes to become a regional pilot? I know the costs etc but don't know the length of total training. My backup may be to go through the full flight training in college (all 4 years) to obtain the ratings required to go regional. If the ANG falls through I'll already have my ratings and will just need the flight time to join a regional. Plus, the extra ratings may look good on my ANG app hopefully. I have a huge passion for aviation and I couldn't see myself doing any other job.

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@JGreenbaum I work at a flight school and I'd say on average a career minded student *training full-time* takes about a 1-1.5 years from 0 flight time to CFI and then 1-1.5 years after that to build to 1,500 hours.  I live up north and we get a lot of weather cancellations.  I've heard some CFI's in Florida getting to 1,500hrs within a year after they get their CFI rating. 

Keep in mind this timeline may be a different timeline than what a specific aviation college (Embry Riddle, BSU, UND) would have for you.  

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4 hours ago, JGreenbaum said:

Thanks for the tip. Are you familiar with how long flight school takes to become a regional pilot? I know the costs etc but don't know the length of total training. My backup may be to go through the full flight training in college (all 4 years) to obtain the ratings required to go regional. If the ANG falls through I'll already have my ratings and will just need the flight time to join a regional. Plus, the extra ratings may look good on my ANG app hopefully. I have a huge passion for aviation and I couldn't see myself doing any other job.

So I wasn’t in a financial position/have good enough grades to take the most “optimal” route to getting myself set for pilot training. Wasn’t able to start training for my PPL until I started AD, and even then, it was slow. I will say that I shelled out 12K for a PPL over 2.5 years, got picked up for a pilot slot (while on AD), and after UPT, received my instrument, multi-engine, commercial (saved a ton of money by having the AF train me) while having the time of my life flying higher performing planes than I did on the civilian side.

 

bottom line, every situation is different. My honest advice (again not knowing you at all)? If you really want to fly for the military, apply for ROTC/Academy and see where it goes from there. If you don’t get picked up, or the Air Force doesn’t work out, you’ll be 22-23 when you graduate. Plenty of time to work on your ratings to jump towards regionals/airlines, with insurance in the form of a degree available.  UPT isn’t super hard, it’s all the other little things that’ll get you (medical DQ,  a bad flying week, timing, needs of the AF, etc.)

 

Again, I applaud you for thinking about things this early. Like you, I wanted to be a pilot since I could remember, But things came up. I ended up getting wings, but 5 years after my “original” timeline. And you know what? Everything worked out how it was supposed to.  Just continue working hard, keep that same work ethic (e.g. 4.5 GPA) in your “adult” life, and you’ll be fine.

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The ANG is a great option.  If you want to go that route you'll need good grades, some leadership background and to get hired asap after college (while you're young).  There are advantages to both ANG and AD (I've done both).  Keep reading the forums and you'll catch on to most of the pro/cons.  Good on you for setting a goal at a young age.  Just remember you don't really know anything yet - and won't for a while - about the military and flying in the military in particular.  A lot of young people say they want to be a fighter pilot but they don't know why, don't know what the life of a fighter pilot is like and don't understand the things that go along with being a fighter pilot.  You might find out that you are much more suited for airlift, rescue, tankers, etc.  We need good people in every airframe and there are folks that love what they do in any aviation walk of life. 

 

Setting a goal is good, I recommend not getting so focused on one specific goal (that you don't know much about yet) that you don't keep your eyes open for other opportunities that might make you happy. 

 

Good luck!

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1 hour ago, EvilEagle said:

The ANG is a great option.  If you want to go that route you'll need good grades, some leadership background and to get hired asap after college (while you're young).  There are advantages to both ANG and AD (I've done both).  Keep reading the forums and you'll catch on to most of the pro/cons.  Good on you for setting a goal at a young age.  Just remember you don't really know anything yet - and won't for a while - about the military and flying in the military in particular.  A lot of young people say they want to be a fighter pilot but they don't know why, don't know what the life of a fighter pilot is like and don't understand the things that go along with being a fighter pilot.  You might find out that you are much more suited for airlift, rescue, tankers, etc.  We need good people in every airframe and there are folks that love what they do in any aviation walk of life. 

 

Setting a goal is good, I recommend not getting so focused on one specific goal (that you don't know much about yet) that you don't keep your eyes open for other opportunities that might make you happy. 

 

Good luck!

I've actually spoken to many pilots in the military about their job and decided that that is the best route for me or what I would prefer the most. The goal is to become a fighter pilot, however, if I got something else i don't think I'd cry about it. You only live once, so you gotta make the best of what's given to you. Thanks for the response.

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I chose AFROTC as my path to the Air Force back in 2009. Budget cuts and low GPA got me. Plan A was be a fighter pilot and be awesome. Plan B was be a heavy pilot and be a little less awesome. Plan C was do anything else in the Air Force and still be pretty cool. Plan D was graduate as an engineer and be boring. Life shoved me to plan D. I could have gone with an easier major to get a higher GPA but that wouldn't have left any backup if the Air Force didn't work out. Maybe I would be medically DQ and then be completely hosed. 

Don't want to discourage you just a note on how important a backup plan is. In college find something you could enjoy doing your whole life if things do go sideways. 

Then if you are like me you can eventually say screw plan D and try to be a pilot in the AFR or ANG anyway. Just don't wait as long as I did. 

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