Command pilots lead a squadron, flight operations group, or command an air facility. They direct flight operations of a major flying unit and advise headquarters commanders on squadron operations. They continue to fly missions to maintain expert flying skills.
Flight leaders command several airplanes on flying missions, such as air strikes, patrols, or transporting cargo. They manage combat missions, planning target selections and personnel utilization as well as a squadron department, such as maintenance, training, or safety. They also instruct pilots in squadron missions and tactics and evaluate pilots’ flying, leadership, and management skills.
Senior pilots plan and fly operational missions, fly as first pilot in large airplanes, and lead flights of two or more aircraft on missions. They also instruct new pilots and explain mission plans and assignments to flight crews.
Pilots plan flights, considering weather, fuel, and aircraft loading. They also participate in planning missions and tactics. They may fly missions alone, as part of a group of airplanes, or as copilot in a large airplane.