Age Requirements to Become a Military Pilot

Minimum and Maximum Ages for Military Pilots

An aggressor pilot makes his way to the runway for a Joint Red Flag mission. The F-16 Fighting Falcons flown by 64th Aggressor Squadron pilots are used to replicate the tactics of potential threats and are painted to resemble enemy aircraft.. Official USAF Photo

United States Military pilots are selected and trained to be some of the best pilots in the world.  Each of the services have different age requirements to become a pilot or navigator.

Navy and Marine Corps

To become a Naval or Marine Corps Aviator, you must be between the ages of 19 and 26 at the time you enter flight training. Adjustments (waivers) can be made up to 24 months for those with prior service, and up to 48 months for those already in the military at the time of application.

 To become a Naval / USMC aviator, you will have to pass the Aviation Selection Test Battery (ASTB).  It consists of five timed subsets: mathematics and verbal, mechanical comprehension, aviation and nautical, spatial perception, and a survey gauging interest in aviation. About 10,000 candidates sit for the exam each year. The Aviation Selection Test Battery (ASTB) is used by the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard to select candidates for pilot and flight officer training programs. 

Air Force

Must meet a selection board before age 28 1/2. Must enter Undergraduate Flying Training (UPT) before age 30.  Age waivers up to the age of 35 are considered.  To qualify as an air force pilot, you will need at least a bachelor’s degree, earned at either a civilian college or university, or at the Air Force Academy, located outside Colorado Springs, Colo.

The Air Force prefers science. math, and engineering degrees, such as aerospace engineering, physics, computer science, and chemistry.

You will also need to have a high college grade point average, generally 3.4 or above, to be competitive.

Candidates with civilian flight training, such as a private pilot's license, also tend to fare better with the selection board than those with no flying experience.

Army (Rotary Wing) - All NEW aviators fly helicopters.

Must not have reached the 33rd birthday as of the date of the convening board. Waivers for those who are 33 or 34 years of age at the time of the board may be considered, provided the applicant is otherwise exceptionally highly qualified. (Note: this means the applicant has a bachelor's degree, a high college GPA, flight training, or very high scores on the Army Flight Aptitude Exam.

However, you can also join the Aviation Community of the Army right out of high school if you qualify for the Army Warrant Officer Flight Training Program.  The Army does have several fixed-wing aircraft in its inventory, but these are limited to seasoned and experienced aviators. Secondly, the Army is unique because Warrant Officer Flight Training (WOFT) contains a program casually called “street-to-seat” or “high-school-to-flight-school.” Civilians (college degree not required) may apply for this program. If selected, you sign a contract. If not selected, you have no obligation to the Army and are still a civilian.

The WOFT Application Process works to eliminate those without the motivation to follow through as it is more difficult than it appears.

Coast Guard

The Coast Guard does not accept pilot applications, unless the person has already been a military pilot in a different service. To apply, one must be over 21 and under 32 years of age, must have at least 500 hours as a rated military pilot, and must have full-time flying experience within two years of the application.  

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