If you aspire to become a helicopter pilot in the army, you need to be sure that it is not just a passing fancy or that you are not acting upon an impulsive whim. It’s a career only for those who know the kind of risks and lifestyles involved and have the determination it takes to successfully meet every challenge. It is a coveted job and one which could give you an immense sense of fulfilment.
What is the basic eligibility to apply as a pilot in the army?
Before getting started on your plans, it would be worthwhile to know the basic requirements stipulated by the army for all pilots in general:-
- You need to be between 18 and 30 years of age (age limit could, in certain cases be made flexible up to 33 years)
- You need a score of 90 and above on the Army Flight Aptitude Selection Test (AFAST)
- You need to clear your flight physical exam with a grade of 1A. You could consult your doctor about this
- Should possess 20/20 vision in each eye either naturally or corrected by lenses. Your distant vision should not be below 20/50
- The reach of your arm must measure more than 163 cm and your sitting height must be below 103 cm
These are just broad stipulations. In case you do not fulfil a minor criterion, you could still qualify based on other parameters and this is just one of many levels that you have to successfully cross.
Two kinds of helicopter pilots in the Army
There are two kinds of helicopter pilots in the army – Commissioned and Warrant Officers. Warrant officers are those who are recruited into the army with just a high school education under the WOFT or Warrant Officer Flight Training Program. Therefore the army is the only service where you don’t need a graduate degree to be able to fly. (However an associate’s degree is definitely preferred)
If you are sure about becoming a helicopter pilot in the army, then the best way would be to apply via the WOFT program as it ensures that you get to do just that. If you decide to apply through the ROTC, there is no guarantee that you would be get what you desire. You would just be able to state your preferences, but the final decision would be made by the branch officer based on your scores and the needs of the army.
However, whether you are recruited in the AFTP as a warrant or commissioned officer, you would not have much of a choice in choosing the kind of helicopter you would be flying. A lot would depend on your performance throughout the course and the higher your grades, the better chances of the army taking your preference into consideration.
Nowadays it is most convenient to apply online and you could visit the websites of the course or program that you have chosen. Once you clear and qualify all the stipulated tests, you would be formally accepted in the service and you would then begin your training. This consists of academic instruction as well as practical flying experience. It is only after practising combat manoeuvres on flight simulators that you will gain the expertise to be able to fly a helicopter for the very first time. This moment is a dream come true for all the aspiring pilots and it arrives after months of gruelling practice, hard work and surmounting many challenges. However, when you are actually controlling a flying machine and soaring high into the clouds, all your efforts would seem well worth it.