NROTC to becoming a pilot?


New Member
Jan 13, 2018
I am a junior in high school in Massachusetts and I have been looking into Naval Aviation (pilot), wether fixed-wing or rotor, and I am just curious as to how tough it is to get a commission into aviation? I am not interested in USMC aviation and am open to AF aviation (through afrotc). Academically I am a very good student, my grandfather is a pilot and I fly with him a few times a year (am looking into flight school this summer), and I am also a Petty Officer in the USNSCC (if any of that would help or boost my chances). Thank you.
You might want to consider attending a civilian college and then applying for Navy OCS once you graduate. You can apply directly to Navy OCS as a pilot candidate, and be considered for selection by the aviation community. This essentially means that you will be more or less guaranteed a pilot slot (assuming you meet the qualifications and are accepted) once you graduate from OCS. On the flip side, if you pursue ROTC (Navy or AF), there is a chance that you could end up being selected to do something other than aviation. Sure you can still become a pilot thru ROTC, but your chances are a little less certain.
So high school activities like Sea Cadets won't help you get a pilot slot, but they might help get an ROTC scholarship or get selected for OTS or OCS.

Tex is right in that OCS or OTS will let you select aviation before signing on the dotted line. With ROTC, you won't be able to take the flight physical and get officially selected until you've already locked yourself into a military commitment. So, also like Tex said, you could have your heart set on being a pilot but if you're disqualified, you could spend the next four years sitting in a missile bunker in nowheresville Wyoming.

ROTC has many pros still. If you get a scholarship, it covers tuition. It's easier to join ROTC than get selected for OTS/OCS. I know guys with pilot slots from AFROTC with sub 3.0 GPAs and guys denied from Air Force OTS with 3.9 GPAs. Also, provided you work hard, it's pretty common to get selected from aviation through ROTC. Last year, around 22% of all Lts. coming out of AFROTC were pilot candidates.

My advice? If you're dead set on doing nothing but aviation then OCS or OTS is a safe bet. If your primary goal is just to serve in the military, with aviation being the icing on the cake, then do ROTC. However, pick a branch where if you're not selected or disqualified from aviation you have a backup plan.
I agree with the above posters, especially Thunderbolt's point to select a branch you want to serve in whether or not you get aviation. However, I would be a couple of different reasons why,
1. Let's assume you get pilot.
~ There has never been a 100% winging class out of UPT in recent decades, let alone years.
~~ If you bust out of UPT the military still owns you. They may release you and you can go live a civilian, but they also can turn to you and say you will give your 4-5 years back at a desk.
2. OCS or ROTC for the AF is not applying just for pilot, but all 4 positions. Our friends DS wanted pilot only and placed pilot only (ranking) on his OCS application. Guess what he got? CSO! He went back and sated he never applied for CSO, can he reject it and re-apply for pilot on the next board? Answer was if he said no, than he could never again apply for pilot with USAF. He is now a CSO
~ He was told that for his board only 3 got pilot and they all went to either prior Es.
~ Look at OCS as an easy spigot for them to turn on and off since they are looking not at 4 yrs out like SAs and ROTC, but 6-9 months out. Thus, if they are short on numbers they can open up the spigot, if they have enough than they can turn it down or even off.
3. You do not fly 5 days a week., unless you consider flying a desk 3 of those days is flying.
~ When you go operational you will also get a desk job too. It could be in scheduling, life support, weapons, etc., but you will have a job outside of flying.
4. For the AF you will owe 10 years. See #3.
~ To make O4 you need PME, preferably in residence. SOS is 6 weeks flying time there. They may turn to you at the 8 yr marker and say it is time to take a desk assignment because you have made your 1st gate and we need fliers to fill certain positions. That means for 3 yrs your job is flying a desk.
~~ Yes, I know airlines are hiring at a fast pace, but nobody knows what their hiring rate will be in 5 yrs., let alone 10 or 15 when you are in those time periods.

Good luck.

PS I do disagree with tex about less certain getting a rated slot out of AFROTC. If you fill the squares right than your chances of getting pilot are much higher than OCS.
~ The squares are:
Strong cgpa (3.0 tech or 3.3+ non-tech in college)
Strong PFA (fitness)
Flight hours
Strong TBAS score
Strong Commanders ranking.

My DS' class had 13 get rated 11 were pilot. 13 of the cadets applied for rated, thus 100% selection rate. 1 had eyesight issues so CSO was his only option, and he got that. 1 wanted RPA, and got that. However, I will say that all of them also had every square filled. I believe the national avg that yr for rated selection was @90% nationally. Do not recall would the breakdown rate was for the 4 types.
PS I do disagree with tex about less certain getting a rated slot out of AFROTC. If you fill the squares right than your chances of getting pilot are much higher than OCS.

In the context of the question I was referring mainly to Naval Aviation. I don’t have any hard numbers on me at the moment but I’m fairly certain the Navy has more pilots coming out of OCS than the Air Force does out of OTS.
I believe the last numbers I saw for AF regarding OCS was the SecAF stated that they are increasing the number of OCS rated slots to @250 for FY17. However, that being said I don't recall how many of those slots will be pilot.
~ Again, for the AF when you apply rated you can't say pilot only. It is all 4 rated AFSCs,
With a Navy scholarship you should have a pretty good chance to get pilot if that is what you want. Just make sure you are a tier 1 or 2 with pretty good physical scores. They are getting pretty desperate for pilots its seems. Everyone at my school who requested pilot got it (so like 6 people).

Source: MIDN at Illinois
If you like working out and being very buff, consider the Marines. I understand they are short on pilots and they don't care what your major is.
Getting Aviation out of NROTC is pretty easy provided you can pass the physical and either have an outstanding ASTB or a high Tier 1 degree (EE, AE, ME, NE, CE?) with a passing ASTB.
You can look up the %'s in this board, but the way it works out: High Tier 1's get their GPA multiplied by 4, other Tier 1's by 3, other BS degrees by 2, BA's get no multiplier.
A 2.5 high tier 1 beats a 3.3 ISE, or 4.0 physics major.
Any combination of 8's or 9's on your first two scores of the ASTB will also get you in, regardless of major. Just the way the math works.
You can be the bottom ranked mid in your unit and having one of the two situations met above, you go Aviation.
PIMA has explained that OCS is a spigot. If the current president get his way, that spigot will probably start to open.
Want a guarantee to fly in the military? PLC, the warrant program in the Army or ANG is your best bet.
You may want to consider Marine Corps if you're really into aviation - they'll give you a guaranteed flight contract, which no other branch will do. As long as you graduate college, OCS, and TBS, you get a crack at flight school.
You may want to consider Marine Corps if you're really into aviation - they'll give you a guaranteed flight contract, which no other branch will do. As long as you graduate college, OCS, and TBS, you get a crack at flight school.

If you go through a SMC like VMI, do you have the same guarantee to a flight contract in the marines? Thanks
There are no guaranteed paths to the wings, even if you attend an Academy.
It's all about the opportunity to go to flight school. The only Service that offers a guaranteed path to flight school is the Marine Corps.
Go to school in Annapolis or Colorado Springs and you will generally get a flight school slot.
There have been a couple of years where there was a cut off, Pima can speak to AF, but the last one I remember at Annapolis was those in the bottom quarter that wanted it didn't get it.
SMC's have no such advantage. They compete with other ROTC candidates.
If you are a Marune Option NROTC mid, you can apply for a flight guarantee at any time. Earlier is better. Rock the ASTB and high PFT, no problem.
If you apply via the PLC or OCS programs you can ask for it when applying or while you are in the program. Earlier is better. You can also get a chance at TBS, but they are not always available at TBS, depends on needs of the MC.

TAETEG (there are expectations to every generality) but the above is for most cases.
Thank you all for the responses. I am most likely trying to go the NROTC route and apply for their scholarships. Lastly, does anyone have any recommendations regarding majors that may assist with aviation or does it not really matter (apart from trying to go test pilot later on)? I am currently interested in aeronautical (aerospace) engineering, however, I do not know if that could be considered a waste of time and effort if I am just planning on joining the military (hopefully as a pilot) for roughly 10 years after college?
Regardless of how long you plan to serve aeronautical engineering can serve you well, but it's not necessary to become a pilot. If you want to work for Boeing or some other such outfit after your time in service. it might be useful.