Q&A: What steps should I take to become a fighter pilot?

What steps should I take to become a fighter pilot?
Hi I’m 16 and a sophomore in high school. My eyesight is 20/20 as of my last eye exam. My GPA is currently a 3.7 and I have taken biology, and have taken math through advanced algebra so far. My Pre ACT test predicts my ACT to be a 33 (35 in science, 33 in math)…. I plan on taking physics, chemistry, pre calculus, junior english, and other electives next year, as we have just gotten our class selection sheets for next year. I am a decent athlete as I was All Conference in football and track. I really desire to be a fighter pilot because i am hard pressed to think of another job that would be as exciting or rewarding. I want to know, is the air force academy my best bet? Should i get a private pilots license first? Any tips that I can use and plan for over the next 2-3 years would be great!!! Thanks to all!!! God bless!

Suggestion by Wine, wine U dirty skunk
The “average” fighter pilot in the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps is a top (in the top 10%) graduate of the Academy (USAFA or USNA) or ROTC (AFROTC or NROTC) with a major in engineering, science, math or technology.

That is the “average” fighter pilot.

You could get in through OCS/OTS or without an engineering, science, math or technology degree but your chances become much more difficult.

Suggestion by Michael
Now for a real answer from a former Naval Flight Officer.

An engineering degree is only required if you want to become a test pilot at a later date. You DO NOT have to have a technical degree and you DO NOT have to be in the top 10% of your graduating class.

The Air Force gets almost all of their pilot candidates from the AF Academy and AFROTC. They take virtually no walk-ins “off the street.” The pilot training pipeline for the Air Force is easier than for the Navy/Marines – the Air Force graduates about 90% of their pilot candidates while the Navy/Marines make it much tougher to get wings – as a result the Air Force “pulls the wings” on about 10% of their pilots in the first four years of service while the Navy/Marines takes the same action on only about 1/10% of their first tour aviators.

With the Navy you can literally walk in off the street and if you qualify you can get a spot in Aviation Officer Candidate School. NO, you DO NOT need a technical degree and I knew very few Naval Aviators (pilots or NFO) who had a technical degree. NO, you do not have to be in the top 10% – I was in the top 25% of my graduating class.

To get a slot at AOCS you have to score sufficiently on the AQT (Academic Qualification Test) and the FAR (Flight Aptitude Regime)…at the time I went in it was at least 6/9 on both tests. Testing isn’t over, though, because the first two days you have to take and pass four, four-hour standardized tests – you have two tries to pass all or you are out.

Once at AOCS you are under the loving care of Marine Drill Instructors. In my class we started with 33 candidates and approximately one year later seven of us were still around to pin on Navy wings of gold.

Technical degree required? My degree was a BS in Psychology and I served as an Airborne Electronic Warfare Officer – Aircraft Commander, Mission Commander and the only O3 aviator to be an Event Commander. I also wound up with Military Warfare Subspecialty Code 0046S in Electronic Warfare.

As for being a fighter pilot…that is all up to you but the Air Force, Navy and Marines do not guarantee you any specific mission/platform up-front. What you get depends on your performance in basic flight training and the needs of the service. Anyone who says they can guarantee you a fighter pilot slot is a liar.

Good luck and really dig deep on your research!

Suggestion by Tom
The Air Force by has about 2,000 fighters, the Navy around 1,000.
Half of Usafa Cadets go on to flight school; 60% of Usafa Cadets are pilot qualified and not all want to be Pilots(500 slots for 10000 newly commissioning Usafa Cadets.)
Pilot slots are more competitive for Afrotc Cadets(500 slots for 2200 newly commissioning Afrotc Cadets.)


For the Navy, Nrotc and Usna each commission around 850 Ensigns and each source gets about the same number of flight school slots, around 250.


A private pilot’s license is not necessary and is considered another extracurricular activity. Honestly, they’d as soon have potential cadets/mids spend that time becoming a D1 recruit caliber standout athlete or involved in another sport or some other school leadership activity with relevance to future officers such as Debate, Drama, School Newspaper etc
The Air Force Academy website offers outstanding advice to students prepping for a service academy, rotc scholarship or any highly selective university. Open all links to the right of the page. Be sure to open the “Character Matters” link and read it carefully.”


Page 19 of Chapter 2 of the Naval Academy Catalog indicates classes for a high school student to take to make himself competitive for admission. The classes are arranged in a hierarchy:
Helpful to read the advice on prepping for college offered on Harvard’s website:


The selection process is nearly identical at the Naval Academy, West Point, and the Air Force Academy, so, whatever is stated on one service academy website or in its catalog with regard to admissions, course selection etc generally holds for the others. If you read the following answer and open the links it should help to explain the selection process and the path to an appointment:


The application cycle for the service academies begins December 1 of junior year when the Air Force Academy begins accepting pre candidate questionnaires from juniors applying to attend the Air Force Academy Summer Seminar.
West Point SLS begins accepting pre candidate questionnaires in January. The Naval Academy Summer Seminar begins accepting preliminary applications on February 1.

Uscga AIM also begins accepting applications in February. It is best to apply to all since they are similar and going to one indicates to the Admissions Boards at all that a Candidate is well aware of the regimented lifestyle of an academy Cadet/Midshipman. An applicant needs Psat, Sat or Act scores to be considered for the Summer Seminars. The Psat Math section tests Algebra 1 and Geometry and should be taken the first time the Fall after completing these classes. The Psat is only offered once each October. The Sat Math section tests Algebra 1 and 2 and Geometry and should be taken the first time the Spring of the year taking Algebra 2. The Act Math section tests these subjects and Trigonometry. An extracurricular reading program looking up unknown words in a dictionary helps with the Cr and Writing sections of the Sat:


Colonel Batchelder indicates the attributes SLS seeks in applicants:

All the summer programs seek pre-candidates with essentially the same attributes. Usna’s is the largest accepting 2250, Usafa Summer Seminar accepts 1125 and West Point SLS 1,000.
Good Luck!

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Where can I find a free online database of Organic molecules?
I need to find the melting point of a rare organic molecule. I was wondering if anyone knew of a free online version of the Merck Index or the Dictionary of Organic Compounds?
Chemfinder.com does not have the molecule I’m searching for.

Suggestion by Worm 11
I would contact Sigma-Aldrich’s Discovery CPR group – they have access to their Rare Chemical Library (100,000 + compounds) and may have some information on the molecule you are looking for:


Happy Chemistry!

Suggestion by orgopete
eMolecules or just search for the compound. If it is not common (why are you looking for it?), then just search with Google or Google Scholar.

If you have access to a college library, then Chemical Abstracts (online) is the best source, especially SciFinder.

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