About 5 years, when i was 20 i received an other than honorable discharge from the Army National Guard for going “AWOL”. I was on my way to drill when I got into a major car accident, rolled my car 3 times and missed drill. Due to that i didn’t have a car or resources for me to get 4 hours across the state once a month so they discharged charged me. My passion is aviation. I want to take the steps to go to light school and become a pilot. Do i have a shot with the regionals or majors? Even if i were to get my discharged upgraded to general or honorable?
Most of the pilot applications I’ve seen asked the question “have you ever been other than honorably discharged from the military?” and in your case the answer would be yes. If you do well in training and your record is otherwise clean I think you should be ok for a Regional but the Majors might be a problem. Flying for a Major is the pinnacle of our industry and frankly there are many pilots with clean records who never get the call.
I also need to mention that in your explanation for your discharge you really don’t seem to take responsibility. Airline hiring panels (particularly those with military pilots which there are many) really won’t like that. You may want to give it some thought.
Thank you Adam,
Your response is much appreciated. I have overcame a lot of hurdles in my life and i know that i still have more. Im sorry for not sounding like i dont take responsibility for my actions, when all actually i jut dont want to give a sob story. I made that mistake when i was 20 and im now 25. I have learned to not come up with excuses and just take ownership. Im sorry if i dont want to bring light or go deeper into it. That is something that i work on and well be prepared for. Thank you for your time.
I could see this being an issue for you. I would think most companies would be very hesitant to hire somebody that had gone AWOL from the service. Keep in mind that the airlines have a huge amount of former military pilots, all of them officers. I can’t imagine them having much tolerance for such things. Even for us civilian folk, an AWOL charge brings up images of draft dodgers running to Canada during the Vietnam War. I would highly recommend trying to get your discharge upgraded. You could also reach out to the recruiting departments of several regionals and ask them directly.
Would the same apply to someone who has a OTH from underage drinking? this occurrence happened 7 years ago when I was 19. I am 26 now, and just wanted to ask these questions first before I decide to dedicate 4 years to my local college for aviation.
It’s alcohol related so you will need to inform the FAA and the airlines. If you’ve been clean since and remain so you should be fine but there are no guarantees.
Thank you a ton for the information. My record is clean. Do you know how long it will take the FAA to do a check? I plan on getting checked right away
It can vary considerably. The more info you can provide the less digging they have to. I suggest you consult with an AME.
I think that if you have an otherwise clean record, you should be okay. I would recommend calling a few regional airlines and asking them directly.
I do worry that it might be hard for you to get the initial interview if a computer is just sorting people out and you have to select that option, this is why I recommend calling the airlines and asking.
having an oth discharge will only affect you for federal careers that being said there are many pilots working for the regionals airlines who have an oth discharge . also there are other options out there for flying careers other than the airlines …business aviation for one and general aviation…also if you really want an airline career you dont have to work for a us company meaning other airlines overseas that fly to the us and have bases in the us. so your oth is not even an issue. hope this helps.
I would say that having an Other than Honorable discharge is a huge deal for the major airlines nd if the pilot shortage eases, it will for the regionals too. Yes, there are other avenues that do not seem to care as much, but to say it only matters for federal careers is simply not true.
I agree but considering a oth discharge is not a crime and it’s an administrative discharge not a bad conduct or dishonorable why does it matter so much ?
I’m not an authority but a quick Google search states:
An Other Than Honorable discharge refers to administrative discharges in which your military command can remove you from military service . Disciplinary issues, lapses in military good order, or failing a drug test could all lead to an Other Than Honorable discharge.
Ok but still not a conviction or crime
It seems you’re not really getting the idea here (or maybe you’re just kidding?). Regardless let’s go…
First off there’s actually an FAR (Federal Aviation Regulation) which states: 14 CFR 61.153(c) candidates for an ATP license must "be of good moral character. Know why the FAA put that in there? Because by granting a person their ATP cert they’re literally putting the lives of hundreds of people into the pilots hands everyday. This is a huge responsibility and one they take very seriously. Further the airlines don’t just hand the keys to $100mil aircraft (and pay 6 figure salaries) to people who can’t or won’t follow the rules, have disciplinary problems and or substance issues. Know why? Because they don’t have to! Being an airline pilot is the dream for many and a highly respected career and there are MANY MANY pilots who haven’t been OTH discharged.p
Finally let’s be honest. I know alot of people who served and not all of them were model soldiers but all received Honorable Discharges. My understanding is you have to screw up pretty good to not.
Btw, I’m also curious which non-US airline has a US base?
Not all oth discharge people are bad … unfortunately it is the kind of discharge that is criticized and stereotyped alot let me give you an example I served in the us military for 8 years did 2 tours in Iraq served honorably until due to my experience in combat caused me to disobey an order. So I got kicked out with an oth. I went to flight school got my ratings and landed a job with ameriflight hauling cargo . As I built my flight time I put my applications to the regionals yes some gave me a hard time about my discharge and forgot the 2 wars I was in but that’s not the point . So what did I do I applied over seas got at job at a regional airline and eventually to a major airline that flys to the USA . I live in the USA but work for another airline outside of the us…the point is if you have military service issues you can still fly for the majors OuT side the US . It’s not the end of the world. And to answer your question I work for united Emirates as a captain with a oth discharge that means nothing outside the USA. Hope this helps someone who falls for the stigma of an oth . You can do it regardless but in the USA it can be difficult but not impossible.
Jose and Adam,
I appreciate both of your responses to the challenge that I have created for myself. Unfortunately, I understand to some this type of discharge will define me for the rest of my life, and I am not running away from my past. But as twenty seven year old minority, I know what it feels like to be judged at surface level. I, like most of you, have not had the opportunity to start life with an equal playing field. I am learning and striving for wisdom as I progress in my life/career. The one thing that I have taken away from this conversation thread is that I have to try and put myself out there, I only have one life and one dream. I don’t want to live my life with any regrets or “what ifs”.
The reason why I got an OTH was purely because of geography and lack of financial resources. How is a person supposed to a functioning adult, fulfill a military contract, and pay my debt to society with no resources making minimum wage. I’m not asking for sympathy but empathy. I have made my mistakes, became an exponentially better person/father since, and I refuse to look back. I promise I am not a bad/evil person. I have good morals and intentions.
Thanks for taking the time to enlighten me with different perspectives and how this industry thinks. Take care
No one is saying you’re a bad person. I was simply addressing Jose’s statement/question that it’s not an issue or a big deal. It is.
Right or wrong people’s actions have consequences. The airlines receive thousands of applications and simply don’t have the resources (or the desire) to interview everyone. This is why they ask the questions they ask regarding degrees, arrests and military discharges. It’s a way to thin the herd. Are they always right? Are there sometimes extraordinary circumstances? Sure. But the bottomline is if they have a bunch of applicants without a potentially negative box checked they’re always going to pick one of them first.
And that’s all we’ve been saying.