Piloting Questions

Hey, I have a few questions for some pilots.

  1. Why is the age to be a pilot so high? Is there a reason it is 16 and not 14? I’ve done some research and it seems that usually younger pilots are as safe as older pilots, and lowering the age would help with the pilot shortage.
  2. I want to go into the Air Force and then commercial piloting after I retire. Do airlines like/dislike Air Force pilots?
  3. How many pilots do airlines lose each year? I’ve read that there has been an increase in retirement rates as well as man shortages, but how many do we lose every year? And how does that compare to the number we gain? Is it an even ratio or are we losing more pilots than gaining or vice versa?


Welcome to the forum.

  1. The FAA sets the age at which they think it is safe for people to become pilots. I was not part of that decision making process, but I am sure it involved looking at maturity. Fourteen year olds are not allowed to drive cars, there is no way they would be allowed to fly an airplane. Flying is much more complex than driving and takes some real knowledge, skills and maturity. This is not a video game.

  2. The airlines generally like military pilots from all branches.

  3. The airlines generally lose about 4,100 pilots per year to retirements. I am honestly not sure how many are gained, but the current pace of pay increases and bonuses to attract new pilots shows that there clearly is a shortage.



  1. Let’s understand what we’re talking about. First while you need to be 16 to earn your Private, the age is 18 for your Commercial, 21 for a Restricted ATP and 23 for a full ATP. Therefore lowering the age to 14 for your PPL wouldn’t do anything for the pilot shortage. I wasn’t there when the FAA was setting age limits I suspect the min age was set to mirror driving ages. Having your pilot license is a huge responsibility and there is some risk. The fact is younger drivers are of greater risk, get more tickets, get more DUIs which is why many going drivers can’t even get their own car insurance. Doesn’t mean they have less skill but they do have less experience and even more important less maturity which is critical in decision making. Long short that ain’t gonna change.

  2. Many airline pilots are former military. Frankly I don’t believe most airline pilots are bothered either way. Btw, I know many former military pilots and every one of them will tell you the same thing. If you want to serve your country then by all means enlist BUT do not do so if you simply want free flying lessons. It’s a huge commitment and there are far easier routes. Also don’t expect the military to lower their minimum age anytime soon either.

  3. I don’t have the numbers (but I’m sure you could Google) but I believe we’re losing more than gaining, hence the pilot shortage.


I am not a pilot and haven’t started school with ATP yet but it is my plan, however, I have been in the US Air Force for the past 18 years. If you are thinking about going Air Force and want to fly, I will say that it isn’t easy to do both. The youngest you can join the military is 17 with parental permission - I will say that being enlisted and trying to do pilot training at the same time is not ideal. The military will not provide flight training to you unless you are a commissioned officer with a 4 year degree. Any pilot training that you would want to do while in the military would come out of your own pocket and I hate to say it but enlisted military pay, especially in the junior ranks, is not great and pilot training is expensive. You are also required to be at work a lot, depending on what specialty you’d go into, you could work strange hours making flight training even more difficult. Personally, I would advise against enlisting if your goal is to be a pilot. I think you’d be better off looking into ATP.

Feel free to ask me any questions you might have about the Air Force as I have no problem sharing my experiences. I joined straight out of high school when I was 18 but always wanted to be a pilot but the cost was too much for me - I’ve enjoyed my career but am really looking forward to retiring in the next year and change so that I can then start my pilot training through ATP. I’ve been very fortunate in the Air Force and probably wouldn’t change anything about my career path - I’ve been stationed all over the world, good and bad, made amazing friends, but if your goal is Pilot, I’d advise against the military.
Good luck!

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