Some people are born for adventure and love the thrill of leading a life full of risks and uncertainties. Ideals like honour, patriotism and friendship are their clarion call and they would willingly put their lives at stake to defend them. If you believe that you fit into this description, then probably a career as a fighter pilot is one that you should seriously consider. However it is a profession that can be very stressful both mentally and physically and not everyone is able to take the rigours of this kind of life. Read on to find out if you have what it takes to be a fighter pilot.
How to Begin
The very first step towards becoming a fighter pilot is to join the Air Force or the Navy as it is only these two services in the US that makes use of combat aircraft. It would be important to note that the upper age limit to apply for fighter pilot training is 28.5 years and ideally the applicant must complete training by the 30th birthday.
The basic requirement for all aspiring pilots in the Air force and Navy is that they need to be commissioned officers, which also means that they have to be college graduates. After completion of graduation, you need to apply for admission into the officer cadre. For this you would have to successfully meet the stipulated physical, intellectual and psychological tests that are deemed to be necessary traits in an officer. You would first need to fill out a detailed application which would almost be a description of your life so far. It would be in your best interests not to conceal or lie about any adverse records as your bio data will be verified by the FBI. If the FBI finds any false records or discrepancies you will be immediately disqualified.
You will also be administered a SAT (scholastic Aptitude Test) which is a blend of knowledge and psychological questions designed to test your grit and endurance levels, motivation, initiative and aggressiveness. They are looking for strong people who won’t buckle under pressure and those who are team players. Once you clear the SAT, you would have to undergo a thorough and tough physical examination. You would have to meet the high standards for fitness and also for clarity of vision.
Once you have cleared the initial round of tests you would attend officer training school where you would get basic training along with those enlisted in ranks. Here too, the emphasis is as much on academics as physical and mental endurance training as one of the intentions of the course is to eliminate those who are not able to tolerate the high levels of stress and pressure. On completion of this program, you would get commissioned through the Air Force Academy, the Officer Training School or the Reserve Officer Training Corps.
On obtaining your commission you will be ready to join flight school. Although you would be an officer, you would still continue to be a student as you have yet to earn your credential as a pilot. This program, which spans 1year, consists of learning about the various topics about aviation and its principles, aeronautical theories along with lessons in flying – both simulated and actual. Throughout the duration of the program, you will be continuously assessed and graded and those who rank among the topmost will get the best planes. Hence it is important to study hard so that you get to fly the plane of your choice. At the end of this course, you will be awarded your pilot’s wings.
Advanced Fighter Pilot training
This phase of training begins with training in a wilderness survival school where you have to learn to fend for yourself and manage to survive in the deepest wilderness. You will even be taught about which bugs, roots and leaves are edible should such a situation ever befall you. In the next stage you will be mock “captured” as a prisoner of war and would have to undergo the same treatment as a real enemy might inflict on you.
Finally at the end of these long and arduous tests, you get to complete your training in the combat aircraft of your choice. This marks the realization of your dream as you proudly join one of the most prestigious and coveted leagues of the Air Force.