Fighter pilot


10-Year Member
5-Year Member
Dec 8, 2007
so after graduating i either want to stay in the maritime or be a fighter pilot. I am 17 and have my private pilot's license, so i was wondering if anybody knows the best route to become a pilot for the military? when i visited there were two plebes who wanted to do the same thing i just did not have time to talk to them.

any thoughts or comments will be much appreciated!! :redface:
Boondock, so did you recieve an appointment to the Merchant Marine Academy? If so, do you intend to stay in the MM, or go the fighter pilot route. My understanding: there aren't any fighters in the MM. Try AF or Navy...
Boondock, I have to say, I love your name. A huge congrats on obtaining your pilot's license. Quite a feat for such a young age. At the Academy, you will have many opportunities to fly. KP produces many Navy Pilots. Keep in mind that as a graduate of KP, you will choose your service from Army, Navy , Airforce, Marines, Coast Guard, in reserves or active duty, and can commision directly to INTEL, NOAA & some other duties that are too indepth for me to go into here.

A recent space shuttle mission had a KP grad in charge. Read more about it here :

I've met Helo pilots for CG & guys of a very young age who are Navy pilots. All KP grads. The world is your campus & I hope that you'll do some research on how many pilots KP produces.
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Pima: no i have not recieved an appointment...yet. I plan to be a fighter pilot if i can get a slot, if not i'll be almost just as happy in the maritime buisness.

jamzmom: thanks for the compliment. My dream is to fly F-35s for the Marine Corps but i'll fly for whoever will take me. that is another reason the MMA attracted me because it is not restricted to a certain branch. Any who, do you know the route to take to become a military pilot at the academy? should I already be talking to a recruiter??
Any who, do you know the route to take to become a military pilot at the academy? should I already be talking to a recruiter??

No need to talk to anyone yet. Once you're all settled in at the Academy you can start to talk to the Marine Corps liason as well as the Navy liasons in order to let them know your interest. The Marine Corps option at the Academy is well known, they will take your interest and run with it, and you'll run with them, literally :)

The route to take to become a pilot out of Kings Point is to simply let them know you are interested. Once you become an upperclassman you will probably take the aviation test (forget the name of it at this time) and as a senior you'd also take the flight physical. Before that you can spend your internship (required of all m/n) with a wing getting some flights and seeing how a real squadron works.

Basically becoming a pilot out of KP is fairly straight forward and there are people there who will guide you through the process. It will simply be a decision of USMC vs USN vs USAF. You do realize the AF has the new Joint Strike Fighter which is an incredible airplane right?
BD, PIMA's H here. (AD AF, 2600 hrs in ftrs, currently flying the F-15E). I applaud you for knowing what you want at such an early age. I was in your shoes back in my day, chasing the dream...
My advise to you: keep doing what you're doing now. You made a great choice to get your private license, it's a huge factor for future consideration for a pilot slot, and puts you way ahead of the competition when you get to pilot school (UPT for the AF). Most of the guys I know in my community had private experience as well, so it helped their chances.
You'll want to do your best on the Qualification tests (AFOQT for the AF, I don't know what the other services call it). Like a SAT, but with extra sections testing your logic and cognitive skills (reading flight instruments, maps, etc.) Doing well in the pilot and Nav sections ups your chances for a flying slot, and your flying experience will again help you here (of course, this inofrmation may be dated, I took the AFOQT years ago. I recommend talking to a recruiter about it, and to sister service recruiters as well).

What else can I recommend: determination. Push hard for your dream, and when you reach the end of your rope, push more. Never give up, and show those in charge you will never give up. Study hard, be involved, and keep the dream....

Hope to see you get your dream. I'll be long gone by the time you're through with school and flight training, but I'll raise a toast to you getting you're wings. Bullet
Wow. thanks for all the info! ya'll have been extemely helpful and have confirmed for me that the USMMA is where i want to go!

Pima: Cheers to you as well
Good luck to you Boondock. Keep hanging out here and perhaps we can talk Pima's hubby back to tell us more if he gets some time he can give? Such cool stuff and its gotta give you some exciting thoughts for your future.

What else can I recommend: determination. Push hard for your dream, and when you reach the end of your rope, push more. Never give up, and show those in charge you will never give up. Study hard, be involved, and keep the dream....

Follow that bit of advice! :thumb:
Pima's H here (I go by Bullet. Long story on how I got that callsign), if you have more ????s
Bullet, sure hope you share that “Bullet” name story sometime. :shake: Many thanks to Pima for sharing you here. You guys are awesome. I’ve got a question, just formulated from the many I’ve seen asked on the subject - generally from the kids. Say they get to the point of being accepted into flight school towards the end of their academy days, what is the average timeline to eventually land in a pilot’s seat. I’m guessing that each service must vary in the length of their training programs & what they're flying?

Btw, thank you for your service. Takes a special person to do what you do. I’ve got one kid that flies private & one sailing thru KP. My Mom mind screams “danger danger danger” most days then other days, I’m glad they are living their dreams. All I wanted was a Doctor in the family to care for me in my old age. LOL
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Not a problem taking a few moments explaining the timeline. Always glad to help young men and women chasing their dream...

Please understand that my experience may be dated (I went 20 years ago. Ouch!), but the timeline from pilot school to fuly qualified fighter pilot has remained constant over that time. Also, please understand that my experience is AF-centric (nothing against my brothers and sisters in the sister services; their experiences may differ slightly...).

Flight school (UPT for the AF) has a limited number of slots for each class (usually 60 - 80 per class). With most new "butter bars" getting thier commissions in the May/June timeframe, you know have a huge number of kids waiting to start UPT at one time. UPT classes start year round, so most kids end up waiting a few months after Academy graduation before they start UPT. (Don't forget, you also have all those ROTC and OTS cadets! That was my route). Academy grads usually have first priority to start right away, but they may end up waiting a while for their first availble UPT slot. Many end up working at a CONUS base on "casual" status. They work around the squadrons, helping out with day to day activities, waiting for their UPT time. (Not a bad deal. I know most want to start days after getting their commission, but at least you got a paying job, and some military experience, while your waiting.)

Once you get to UPT, you can expect it to be about 10 months to a year from start to the day you get your wings. UPT is learning the basics, but at a fast and furious pace (aerobatics, instruments, cross country flying, etc.) You'll also get intruction in areas the civilian pilot won't experience (like formation flying; keep in a position a few feet from jet next to you. Think "Blue Angels" or the "Thunderbirds".) Everyone starts out flying a basic trainer. Easy to handle, very forgiving. After the first few months, the ones performing the best usually get to choose first as to what "specialty" they want to fly in; fighters, heavys (tankers and transports), etc.). Those selected for a the fighter track will go onto a more advanced jet for the rest of their training (the T-38 for the AF. A nimble and fun litle jet. They'll love it!) Near the end of your advanced flying stage, the class is ranked and each guy gets to choose what assignment they want. Based on number of requirements each air frame needs. Highest ranking guy usually gets his first choice, then down the line, trying to match what weach new pilot want with what left avaialble. DON'T WORRY, EVERY FIGHTER PILOT THINKS HIS OR HER AIRFRAME IS THE BEST THING SINCE SLICED BREAD. YO MAY NOT GET YOUR FIRST CHOICE, BUT YOU'LL ED UP LOVING WHERE YOUR AT. A typical class at UPT may get a few F-16s, a few F-15Cs (the air-to-air kind), and now a few F-22s (very limited number now, usually the top guy will get it, if their avaialble. Again, all of UPT lasts from 10 months to a year.

After UPT, new fighter pilots have to go to some specialized training. Survival (if they haven't done this at the Academy), Lead-in Fighter Training (I beleive its now called "contact". You'll learn the basics of flying fighters; (bombing, ait-to-air manuevering, etc. Lasts about three months), Water Survival, and Aerospace Physiology (they put you in the centrifuge and teach you how to pull up to 9 Gs.). All this extra training can take up to 5-6 months. Again, class sizes are limited, so you may end up waiting a few weeks for an open slot.

So after a year and a half, finally end up at the location that teaches you to fly the plane you've been selected for. Teaching you to fly the jet is the easy part, usually the first few weeks. You'll get simulator time, learn emergency procedures, and get a few flights in before yo're considered "basic qualified" in the jet (you can take off and land safely!) You'll then go on to learn how to "Employ" your fighter in combat. This is the tough part. The amount of information you'll learn on aircraft systems, tactics, threats, etc. i STAGGERING! This Initial Qualification Training can take anywhere from 8 months to a year, depending on airframe.

So, after 2 - 2 1/2 years, you finally arrive at your first "Operational" squadron. Only to go through another 4- 6 month advanced check out (Mission Qualification). Here you'll learn how your squadron prepares for war (advanced tactics on all thier types of missions).

Congratulations! After almost 2 1/2 - 3 years of beig evaluated on every thing you do, you finally get to call yourself a qualified fighter pilot. Its a long journey, but isn't every dream worth the struggle?

BTW, Jamzmom, we have flight doctors in every squadron. Fully qualified docs who apply to the AF to become aeropace specialists. They even get to fly with us a few times a month. Why not convince your S to fill both your dreams!
Errr…. Wow. The absolute commitment is amazing. Your answer is probably giving a massive case of goose bumps to kids reading here that want to fly. Have you come across any KP pilots where you are? I’ve met three so far, all around the Charleston area. All Navy. Makes me wonder how scattered throughout the country they are & what branch of service they are as well. Its hard to any find numbers. I saw them once about two years ago & haven’t been able to trace them down again.

I’m afraid I have no hopes for a doctor. The older one almost hit the deck during the delivery of his first child (needs to stick to mechanical things) & the younger one would run off any patient he had by offending them (needs to stick with mechanical things). They got this from their Dad.
It's Pima, Bullet and I talked about KP pilots, and obviously from his 1st answer we didn't even know about it. That being said tha F-15E community is very small, but that doesn't mean they are not out there in other fighters
Bullet, you have been extremely helpful and encouraging. You should copyright everything you said and sell it. I saw an ad for a guy selling a book about "the route to becoming a fighter pilot," wanted almost 100 bucks for the thing! my only other? is what should i plan on majoring in at the USMMA and what is a good gpa to have? i was planning on marine engineering

jamzmom, you were right about the goosebumps. also when i flew down to mt. pleasant to meet with the academy representative, he said a good number of candidates go to the academy to be to how many of them make it, probably a lot less
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Boondock, Bullet here. The strongest guys at flight school usually had a technical / science oriented degree. Think engineering or math. Lot of that stuff involved, so it helps to have a leg up on the competition. Any degree with a heavy dose of math, physics, and other sciences would be fine (marine engineering fits nicely).

As to GPA, just do your best. Trust me, I had semesters that would have made the guys in the Delta House (the fraternity from Animal House) proud! That being said, it was a different time and different circumstances. What kept me in the running were some great ROTC advisors who saw me beyond the GPA and had faith in me. That will also be true in your military career as well. The key is to do what it takes to get the slot. What you majored in and how well you did will mean a hill of beans starting the day you show up at pilot training. It's what you do there that counts. BUT DON'T BLOW YOUR CLASSES OFF! They can jut as easily take away your slot for poor acadmeic performance as they can fight for you for being a good cadet. (I almost lost mine by the skin of my teeth. Thank God my ROTC advisor liked me, thought I could make something of myself (more than my parents did at the time, they got my report cards!), and put his reputation on the line for me. Capt Chester, thanks for looking at for me 20 years ago!

Do your best, study hard, and keep the big picture of your goals in mind when things get tough!

As to selling my advice: I can't even get my kids to listen, who would want to pay to listen to me?:shake: Seriously, I'm just glad I can help you and other young future aviators shoot for your dream. When your old enough, I drink single malt scotch (as do most good fighter pilots). We can belly up to the bar and talk pilot shop. It involves a lot of hand gestures where you "shoot your watch".

If your ever in the North Cacalacky area (thats local jargon for North Carolina), give me a buzz and I'll gladly show you around the flight line. Bullet
Boondock, Mt. Pleasant? Dare I hope that another Carolina kid will be at KP?

SWEET! :thumb:
Here's a great link!

OK, guys. Did a little research for all of you. Here's an excellent link, loaded with information on the AF's Pilot Training School. God I love the internet: one mouse click can take away hours of me having to type away...

Enjoy! Bullet
well lets hope i will have the honor of representing SC. i have to get accepted first. however, my parents are a little concerned that if i go to KP i will be influenced by the yankees up there. lol jp

great link bullet!
Hey....we're originally yankees! Bullet of course is still a Yankee (fan that is!)