Military Pilot Training

I have heard that you can go through the military to get trained and certified, do your time, and get out and get a job with airlines. Is this true? If it is, how does that work? How do military hours compare to civilian hours? I have seen some topics on this, but I am still pretty lost.



Yes, in the simplest form, that is true. However, there is much more to it than that. To begin with:

  1. You will need to have a college degree to be accepted into the service as an officer, or go to one of the military academies. If you already have that, you will still need to be selected to go to flight school. You could end up on a submarine, tank, etc.

  2. “doing your time” is a minimum ten year commitment, really more like eleven years by the time it all works out.

  3. Yes, most military pilots get hired by a major airline. The flight time military pilots build is very respected, although they tend to build it much more slowly than civilian pilots do.

Sounds easy, but wait, you got selected to be a drone pilot! You get to sit in an office outside of Las Vegas and kill bad guys via drones. All important for our nations’s security, but none of that flight time counts and you will need to go to the regionals when you get out of the service.

Okay, you avoided the drones, but now it is helicopters that are coming after you. Helicopter time does count, but not in the same way that airplane time does and you will still likely need to do a tour at a regional airline before going to the majors.

Assuming you dodge both the drones and the helicopters and get assigned to airplanes, perhaps the biggest issue here is motivation. People that do well in the military do so because they have a genuine desire to live the military lifestyle and to serve the country. For them flying a jet is second to doing their patriotic duty. If you are looking at the military solely to provide free flight training, you will probably be very disappointed when you are on an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf on month four of your six month deployment and your wife if about to give birth.

Just some things to think about.


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I actually would like to do the military as a career, but given the current state of the world, I’m not sure I am willing to fight for the political state anymore. My major problem is that I can’t find a way, other than the military, to both afford flight school and living.


I know MANY former military pilots. None of them would recommend service as a means to get to the airlines. You say you can’t find any other way. I suggest you don’t give up so quickly. Perhaps there isn’t a way today? But hard work can overcome many adversities.