Not everyone who aspires to be a fighter pilot can become one. You have to have the makings of a first class officer dedicated to defend your country in the toughest of situations. The technical part of flying fighter jets comes after that.
Openings In The Air Force, Navy, Marines, Army And Coast Guard
The openings for a career as a fighter pilot exist only in the Air Force and the Marine Corps. The Coast Guard or the Army does not have fighter pilots. In any case, you cannot directly become a pilot, let alone a fighter pilot. You must first become an officer and then, just before being commissioned, put in a request to become a pilot. If you are selected, you will have to undergo further training known as UPT (Undergraduate Pilot Training).
Even after you are in pilot training, you will not know whether you will be a fighter pilot or will be flying helicopters or heavies. In the Air Force, you will find this out only after four to five months of training. The class will then be split up into different groups. Each group will be trained in flying different categories of aircraft. In the Marine Corps, it will take longer for this split meant for specialized training. Being a full-fledged fighter pilot in the Air Force takes around two years of training as a pilot.
Different Streams Through Which One Can Become A Fighter Pilot
Air Force/ Navy Academies - If you are passionate about being a fighter pilot, you have to start preparing for it right from school. You have to become an officer first, for which you need to apply to a service academy while in high school. A high school GPA of 3.8 is a minimum requirement. For math and verbal the minimum is 1050 and the SAT score should be 1300. You must also have a strong extracurricular activities record. This will make you eligible to compete in the entrance to one of the academies to become an officer. You would need to apply to either to the Air Force Academy (Colo.) or Naval Academy, Annapolis (Navy and Marines). If selected, you would go through extensive and rigorous military training. On completion of the course you will also be awarded with a Bachelor's degree in science.
Other ways would be through the OCS (Officer Candidate School) or the ROTC (Reserve Officer's Training Corps).
ROTC (Reserve Officer's Training Corps) - In the ROTC (Reserve Officer's Training Corps) you will go through your college/university education in the normal way but along with additional training fit to prepare you as an officer. This additional training will be through attending military training courses, weekly meetings. You will be required to spend at least one summer at a military training camp. Uniform requirements are only for attending military classes. Once you become an officer, you can then apply for being trained as a pilot. The medical and academic requirements are of high standards and the competition is very tough.
OCS (Officer Candidate School) - The OCS also known as the Officer's training school is the shortest way to becoming a fighter pilot. A college graduate with absolutely no military background can become an officer within four months. He also would be required to apply for pilot's training after becoming an officer similar to others. Since you are required to begin your pilot's training before the age of twenty-seven, this gives you limited time to become a fighter pilot.
A career as a fighter pilot offers adventure, prestige and a high standing in society along with excellent monetary compensation. But it is not easy to become a fighter pilot. You have to face tough competition and undergo rigorous training to succeed.
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