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What does it take to become a Pilot?

  1. And you'll be a member of a very special and elite club-those with the dedication, heart, intelligence and skill to earn the gold wings of a Naval Aviator. This is just a glimpse into the exciting, challenging, and fulfilling career awaiting you as a Navy pilot. But the Navy doesn't exactly hand out pilot slots on a silver platter.
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To compete for a pilot or navigator allocation you need to:

  • Be enrolled full-time in a school offering Air Force ROTC and qualify for the program
  • Meet all physical requirements
  • Achieve qualifying scores on the Air Force Officer Qualifying Test. Maintain a minimum 2.0 grade point average
  • Receive a waiver for any civil involvement (for example, speeding tickets, minor infractions, etc.)
  • Be commissioned prior to reaching your 29th birthday

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If you are interested in becoming an Air Force pilot or navigator, start talking to your detachment admissions officer (for college students) or Regional Director of Admissions (for high school students) as soon as possible. If you are medically qualified and desire a flying career, you must compete for pilot and/or navigator allocations about 15 months prior to graduation and commissioning. Your junior year in college is when things really take off.

Order of Merit

Categorization is the process by which AFROTC cadets are selected for rated slots (e.g. Pilot, Navigator, Air Battle Managers). Categorization occurs the Spring prior to graduation. Competition for rated slots is based on an “order of merit” numeric score and is very competitive. A selection board at AFROTC Headquarters determines rated positions based on nationwide scores. A cadet’s order of merit score is made up of the following:

Just like the Professional Officer’s Course (POC) selection process, your RSS is computed based on your AFROTC Detachment Unit Commander’s Ranking (UCR). Based on that ranking and the size of the class, AFROTC computes a RSS. The RSS ranges from 5-10 and is multiplied by 5 to arrive at up to 50 maximum possible OM points. This is the single-most important factor in your Order of Merit score. The significance of your Commander’s Ranking cannot be overstated. Your RSS is based on the “whole person” concept and is based on you being racked and stacked against all of your classmates. Your class ranking includes all of the members of your class, regardless of whether or not they are competing for rated slots. Your AFROTC Dommander determines your class ranking, then applies the following formula. For example, if you are ranked #3 and your class size is 25, then you are number 23 in your class. Using that example, view this RSS calculating formula: (23/25)*50 = 46 points. The #10 person in your class would have an RSS of: (16/25)*50 = 32 points.
Your Cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) , on a 4.0 scale will be computed to include ROTC courses. Next, your GPA will be multiplied by a factor 3.75 to give you up to 15 maximum possible OM points. You must also meet a GPA minimum of 2.0 in order to get commissioned in AFROTC.
You must pass the Air Force Physical Fitness Test (minimum score of 75) given every fall and spring while you’re in the POC. Your PFT score ranges from 75 to 100 and can earn you a maximum of 10 OM points. During Field Training, your PFT score will also factor into your Field Training performance rating.
Field Training is the four or six week AFROTC training camp usually accomplished the summer after your sophomore year in college. Your Field Training rating translates to the following score:
  • Distinguished Graduate, top 10% – 10 Points
  • Superior Performer, next 10% – 9 Points
  • Top Third (not including DG or SP) – 8 Points
  • Middle Third – 7 Points
  • Bottom Third – 6 Points
  • Not yet attended Field Training – 5 Points

The Pilot Candidate Selection Method (PCSM) score (applies to pilot candidates only) is worth up to 15 maximum OM points. The PCSM is an index that is supposed to quantify a pilot candidate’s aptitude for success at Undergraduate Flying Training (UFT). It incorporates your AFOQT Pilot score, the results from your TBAS test, and your flying hours. (For more on the TBAS, see below). Click here for more PCSM information.

After you have taken the AFOQT and TBAS tests, you can check your PCSM online. Along with your PCSM score, you are given a scale indicating what your PCSM would be with additional flight hours. If you can afford to spend time and money, we recommend achieving more flight hours to not online increase your PCSM, but also to get more practice and become a better aviator.

After flying, make sure you formally log your flight hours and submit them to the PCSM office at HQAETC no later than January 15 of your categorization year. That is the last point at which you can update your PCSM.

Work hard, prepare for the AFOQT. Your AFOQT score is factored into your overall score differently depending on whether you are competing for a pilot, navigator or ABM slot. All candidates must have a minimum score of 15 (Verbal) and 10 (Quantitative). These are absolute minimums and not waiverable for categorization even if you were able to get a waiver to get into the POC.

Pilot candidates must have a minimum score of 25 (Pilot), 10 (Navigator) and cumulative 50 (Pilot + Navigator). Also, your AFOQT Pilot score will factor into your PCSM score for OM purposes.

Navigator candidates must achieve a minimum score of 10 (Pilot), 25 (Navigator) and cumulative 50 (Pilot + Navigator). Also, you will receive up to 15 maximum OM points from your AFOQT Navigator score.

For ABM candidates, your AFOQT Academic Aptitude score will count for up to 15 maximum OM points.

You can take the AFOQT twice with a 180-day minimum interval between tests. You cannot take this test more than twice. Regardless of which test scores are higher, the most recent AFOQT scores are what count – so be careful when you decide to re-take the test.

Study hard, review the study guides and spend the time preparing for the AFOQT.

Test of Basic Aviation Skills (TBAS)

The Test of Basic Aviation Skills (TBAS) replaced the Basic Attributes Test (BAT) as of August 2006. All pilot candidates must take the TBAS, which just like the BAT, is a computer-based test designed to aid in pilot selection. Typically, you are offered an opportunity to take it at field training. It will be incorporated into your PCSM score and thus into your OM score. You can take the TBAS twice as long as there is a 180-day interval between tests.

You will never receive an official TBAS score. But there are indicators that can tell you whether you scored low on the test. If when you check your PCSM score online, and it is low despite a decent AFOQT Pilot score, you might want to consider a TBAS retake because this may be an indication your first TBAS attempt scored low. Only the most recent TBAS score is the one that counts.


You will not receive an additionally physical prior to the categorization board. Instead, whatever physical you used to enter onto contract status will be screened for PPQ (Potential Pilot Qualification) and/or PNQ (Potential Navigator Qualification) status. The requirements for PPQ/PNQ are:

PPQ 20/70 (distant vision), 20/20 (near), refractive limits +2.00/-1.50, .75 astigmatism

PNQ 20/200 (distant vision), 20/40 (near), refractive limits +3.00/-2.75, 2.00 astigmatism

Source: AFOATSI 36-2011, para. 3.11

Once you have been selected you will have to complete a Flying Class I (pilot) or IA (navigator) physical prior to commissioning. Check our Aerospace Medicine Archive for FAQs or join our online discussion forums and ask a Flight Doc a question.


Because pilot and navigator candidates must enter training prior to their 30th birthdays, you must be scheduled to graduate and receive your commission prior to your 29th birthday. This cannot be waived (refernce: AFROTCI 36-2013 paragraph 3.2.4).

RSS5-10550% (50 points)
GPA2.0-4.03.7515% (15 points)
PFT75-1000.1510% (10 points)
FT5-10110% (10 points)
PCSM (Pilot only)1-990.151615% (15 points)
AFOQT-N (Nav only)1-990.151615% (15 points)
AFOQT-AA (ABM only)1-990.151615% (15 points)

NOTE * :

  1. The formula for calculating the RSS is (10*((1-R/C)+0.5/C)) where R=UCR and C=Class Size
  2. The PCSM is used for categorization processing if applying for pilot slot.
  3. The AFOQT-N is used for categorization processing if applying for CSO slot.
  4. The AFOQT-AA is used for categorization processing if applying for ABM slot.

Excerpt from AFROTCI 36-2013:

9.7. Detachment Pilot/CSO/ABM Categorization Processing.

9.7.1. The Det/CC will assign each individual a UCR based on the entire Fiscal Year (FY)
commissioning class, regardless if the individual is competing for a pilot/CSO/ABM slot. As
with PSP selection, consider the cadet’s potential based on performance as a cadet before
assigning the UCR. WINGS will compute the RSS based upon the UCR and class size based
on formula in Table 9.2.
Table 9.2. Pilot/CSO/ABM Order of Merit
RSS (Note 1) 5-10 5 50%
Cumulative GPA 2.0-4.0 3.75 15%
PFT 75-100 0.15 10%
FT 5-10 1 10%
AFOQT-N (Note 2) 1-99 0.1516 15%
PCSM (Note 2) 1-99 0.1516 15%
AFOQT-AA 1-99 0.1516 15%

9.7.2. Submit pilot/CSO/ABM candidates to HQ AFROTC/RRFP by entering categorization
data into WINGS prior to nomination cut-off. Wings will compute each candidate’s OM
score using the most current information available. Once the OM is calculated and the
applicant has met the categorization process, the OM will not be adjusted. Exception:
Cadets not completing FT prior to the March board will automatically receive FT score of
“0.” Once FT is complete, upward adjustment to the OM is authorized based on FT results
only and happens automatically.

9.7.3. Cadets: Must submit preferences via memorandum to the commander prior to the
established cut-off date. Cadets competing for pilot must indicate their Undergraduate Pilot Training
(UPT) preference (Figure 9.4). Preferences must be updated in WINGS prior to
nomination cut-off. NOTE: Cadet’s volunteering for ENJJPT must understand that
ENJJPT is a fighter-oriented program and if successfully completed, will likely
result in a fighter or bomber assignment based on Air Force needs; and if
eliminated from ENJJPT, they will not be eligible for any other UPT. All cadets competing for CSO must provide their track preference: Heavy or
Strike/Strike Fighter track (Figure 9.4). Track preferences must be updated in WINGS
prior to nomination cut-off.

Check out this handy Order of Merit Calculator

AFOQT Test Advice

“I would highly recommend the ARCO book. There is one called Officer Candidate Tests and another called Military Flight Aptitude Tests I studied for about four weeks and did a few full strictly timed practice tests and ended up making a 98 on Pilot and 95 on Nav when I took the real one last July. I found that many of the practice problems were more difficult than those on the test. The book was a great asset to my scores. Good luck!”

“Study advice: The Military Flight Aptitude exam book is good for mazes, mechanical comp, word knowledge etc. However study the Officer Candidate Tests book, it is much better and more challenging in the math and arithmetic knowledge sections (spelling is obviously not my strength). Study to realistic times ONCE YOU HAVE mastered the problems.”

Air Force Pilot Training Topics

To: Future United States Naval Aviators

Re: Your Future Flying Career

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In as little as 18 months from now you could be flying:

  • F-18 Hornets off of carrier decks
  • SH-60 Seahawks off of small boys (cruisers and destroyers)
  • anti-submarine airplanes from bases all over the world

You could be:

  • providing air support for embattled troops in Afghanistan
  • inserting SEAL teams on special operations missions
  • delivering goods and supplies in a C-2 Greyhound.
  • evacuating disaster victime in an MH-53 Sea Dragon Helicopter
  • or anyone of a dozen other missions

When you're not flying you could be exploring any one of a number of exotic locales.

You'll be working and flying with some of the greatest people on the face of the earth.

And you'll be a member of a very special and elite club--those with the dedication, heart, intelligence and skill to earn the gold wings of a Naval Aviator.

This is just a glimpse into the exciting, challenging, and fulfilling career awaiting you as a Navy pilot.

But the Navy doesn't exactly hand out pilot slots on a silver platter. In fact, it's fair to say the Navy is a bit stingy.


It costs well over a million dollars to train a pilot and the Navy needs some type of reasonable assurance that you'll be able to make it through the program.

But before you become a pilot you'll need to earn a commission as a Navy officer (all pilots are commissioned officers).

And before you earn a commission you need to get past the numerous roadblocks the Navy puts in your way.

Anybody can say they want to be a Navy pilot.

Only a few can prove it.

That's why the Navy institutes a number of 'barriers' to entry. The Navy knows through years of experience what type of a person is best suited to be able to earn a commission and make it through flight training.

They look for certain character traits in you. If they don't see them they will not accept you into their ranks and you will not be given the priviledge of earning the wings of gold of a Naval Aviator.

So your first great challenge is to show the Navy that you posess the character traits they're looking for. That you're able to earn a commission, finish flight school, and go on to become a Naval Aviator in the most powerful navy to ever sail the world's oceans.

If you can't prove to the Navy that you have what it takes then this will be the beginning and end to your career. Your future as a Navy pilot rests in this one area. If you can't get into the Navy and earn a commission you have absolutly no chance of becoming a Navy pilot.

This is where the Navy Pilot Career Guide comes in. This guide can take you from where you are now (whether that be high school, college, or post college) into the cockpit of a Naval aircraft. The strategies taught in this guide are proven, time tested techniques that have worked for hundreds of aviators before you, will work for hundreds after you and there's absolutly no reason why they won't work for you.

Once you get to flight school by following the strategies and techniques in this guide, prepare to be inundated with reams of information. Some say it's like drinking from a firehose.

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The Navy Pilot Career guide gives you study strategies and techniques that will help you not only learn the huge amount of material you'll be required to but also retain and be able to recall it at a moment's notice.

And once you start actually start flying, you can use the 'secret' but highly effective techniques taught in the guide that will make you a more capable, confident, and skilled pilot.

Don't be surprised if your instructor says you're a natural.. He won't know that you've followed the techniques in this guide.

The Guide also gives you a look into your life after you get your wings.

In short, this guide, designed by me, a former naval aviator, with the input and consultation from other current and former naval aviators is designed to give you the knowledge, techniques, strategies, tips, and information you need to become a United States Navy Pilot.

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This Guide Contains:

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  • the 6 things that you can do that will make you a lock for a commission and a flight slot
  • describes the advantages and disadvantages of the different types of officer commissioning programs available
  • 3 things that you can do so that you can breeze through ground school
  • which commissioning programs offer you a guaranteed flight slot
  • a look at naval aviation operations around the world
  • what your future career as a naval aviator will look like
  • how to come out on top of your officer commissioning program
  • gives you strategies and techniques that will make you not only survive but thrive in flight school.
  • a look at the different training aircraft you'll fly while in flight school
  • studying techniques that allow you to study less and retain more
  • the different types of navy aircraft
  • the missions of each navy aircraft
  • gives you a glimpse into your future life as a Navy pilot.
  • get a first hand look at the aircraft you'll be flying while in flight school
  • how to get paid to take flying lessons
  • describes each aircraft in detail so you can make a more informed decision about what aircraft you'll like to fly
  • how to contact a recruiter the 'right way'. We all know how important first impressions are. Don't blow yours.
  • how to develop an action mind set.
  • common flight school pitfalls and how to avoid them
  • tehniques to keep you cool as a cucumber in the cockpit even when your instructor is throwing everything at you ..including the kitchen sink

This comprehensive system, designed with the input from numerous navy pilots, is like having a trusted group of ass kicking, fire breathing navy pilots advising you as you set off to accomplish your goal of earning the wings of gold of a naval aviator.

Let's take a closer look at the individual componetns of the guide.

The Navy Pilot Career Guide Manual--This is where it all begins. This is where you'll learn the strategies, techniques, and tips that will virtually guarantee you a flight slot.

These are time tested, proven techniques that have worked for naval aviators before you, will work for those that come after you and there's no reason they won't work for you.

This manual puts you in the 'driver's seat' as you proactively plan out and act on those things that will get you a flight slot.

Special Report One- Naval Aircraft And Missions

This report takes a detailed look at the aircraft and missions that make up Naval aviation.. the aircraft that you'll be flying. This special report includes aircraft performance specifications, primary and secondary missions, the types of ordnance carried, and more.

Special Report Two -Excelling At Flight School--Flight school is a mental, emotional, and physical exercise. Get tips that will help you deal with the enormous amount of information that will be thrown your way that you will be required to know and recite on demand.

Additionally get little known exercises and techniques that will keep you as cool as a cucumber when your flight instructor is throwing everything at you (even the kitchen sink).

These exercises have helped countless pilots before you become more confident, more relaxed, and ultimately better and more capable pilots.

Special Report 3- Your Navy Pilot Career-- Being a Navy pilot is about more than just flying. Remember, every Navy Pilot is first and foremost a Navy Officer.

This reports gives you a look inside your career as a Navy pilot. Get a feel for the way your career should progress. What type of ground jobs you can expect ( every Navy pilot has a flying job and a ground job) and when you can expect to be promoted.

Disc 1--Naval Aircraft and Missions--Get an overview of the types of aircraft and missions that make upNaval aviation team. Get an overall view of the roles and missions of Naval aviation in general and how aviation is used to to support the overall missions and capibilities of the U.S. Navy.

Disc 2--How to Excel At Flight School-- When you employ the strategies in this guide and make it to flight school the information in this report will give you a leg up on others.

The information at flight school comes a mile a minute--some compare it to drinking from a fire hose.

This disc gives you strategies and techniques you can use to retain more information in a shorter amount of time.

It also gives you tips on how to be a better student pilot and how to remain as cool as a cucumber in the cockpit when your instructor is throwing everything at you (including the kitchen sink).

Disc Three- Your Naval Aviation Career

Pull back the curtain and get a 'peek' at what your future career will look like. Whether you're flying jets off of a carrier, helicopters off small boys or land based patrol aircraft, this disc will let you know what to expect.

Disc 4--Flight School Reference--When you get to flight school you'll be required to take a battery of academic tests. you'll have classes in aerodynamics, meteorology, aircraft engines etc.

Get a 'sneak peek' at the official books you'll use. Additionally, take a look at some sample test questions.

This guide gives you the information, strategies, techniques, and tips that you'll need to earn a commission, get a flight slot, excel in flight school, earn your wings and get a good start in your career as a Navy Pilot.

I'm so confident that you'll see the value in this information that I offer a 60 day, no questions asked money back guarantee.

This is more than enough time for you to review the material and put your own specific plan into action.

My goal is to see you reach your goal. Being a Navy pilot is a great career choice and I'm honored to be able to help you achieve your goal. I previously offered this guide for $147 but have recently slashed the price by $50.

For a low, one time investment of $97.00 this system can be yours and you can be on your way of achieving your goals of becoming an U.S. Navy pilot.

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