Job Family: Aviation Airplane Pilots
Services Offering this Occupation
Army  | Navy  | Air Force  | Marine Corps  | Coast Guard

Supplemental Information
Profile  |  Career Path
Photo 1:
Fighter pilot stands in front of airplanes.
Photo 2: Pilot conducts instrument check.

Gabriel Briscoe
Occupation: Airplane Pilots

I’m an F15E Strike Eagle fighter pilot stationed at Elmendorf Air Force Base (AFB) in Alaska. I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing. Like man…

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Short Description
The military operates one of the largest fleets of specialized airplanes in the world. Supersonic fighters and bombers fly combat missions. Large transports carry troops and equipment. Intelligence gathering airplanes take photographs from high altitudes. Military airplane pilots fly the thousands of jet and propeller airplanes operated by the services.

What They Do
Airplane pilots in the military perform some or all of the following duties:
  • Check weather reports to learn about flying conditions
  • Develop flight plans showing air routes and schedules
  • Contact air traffic controllers to obtain take-off and landing instructions
  • Fly airplanes by controlling engines, rudders, elevators, and other controls
  • Monitor gauges and dials located on cockpit control panels
  • Perform combat maneuvers, take photographs, transport equipment, and patrol areas to carry out flight missions

Helpful Attributes
Helpful fields of study include physics and aerospace, electrical, or mechanical engineering. Helpful attributes include:
  • Determination to complete a very demanding training program
  • Self-confidence and ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • Strong desire to fly airplanes

Training Provided
Pilot training is generally a 2-year program covering 1 year each in initial and advanced training. Initial training includes time spent in flight simulators, classroom training, officer training, and basic flight training. This is among the most challenging training given by the services; not everyone who attempts this training can meet the strict requirements for completion. Advanced training begins when pilots successfully complete initial training and are awarded their “wings.” Advanced training consists of instruction in flying a particular type of aircraft. Course content typically includes:
  • Aircraft aerodynamics
  • Jet and propeller engine operation
  • Operation of aircraft navigation systems
  • Foul weather flying
  • Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations

Work Environment
Airplane pilots may be stationed at airbases or aboard aircraft carriers anywhere in the world. They fly in all types of weather conditions. Military pilots take off and land on airport runways and aircraft carrier landing decks.

Civilian Counterparts
Civilian airplane pilots who work for passenger airlines and air cargo businesses are called commercial pilots. Other civilian pilots work as flight instructors at local airports, as crop dusters, or as pilots transporting business executives in company planes. Many commercial pilots began their career in the military.

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