How to Become an Army Pilot

Three Parts:Joining the ArmyApplying for the Warrant Officer ProgramCompleting Warrant Officer Candidate School (WOCS)

Becoming an Army pilot for the U.S. Army means learning to pilot Army rotary wing aircraft, such as the famous Apache, Black Hawk, Chinook and Kiowa Warrior helicopters. Army pilots, also known as Warrant Officers, must be highly-qualified candidates in order to be selected for this prestigious role. That's because being a pilot for the U.S. Army requires a great deal of responsibility. Army aviators may fly on combat, rescue, or reconnaissance missions, and all prospective candidates must be capable of carrying out these dangerous and important missions. Learning how to become a Warrant Officer can help you build a prestigious and honorable military career with the U.S. Army.

Part 1
Joining the Army

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    Enlist in the U.S. Army. Anyone who wishes to become an Army pilot must first become an enlisted Soldier or an Officer in the U.S. Army. There are two types of enlisted Soldier service: full-time active duty Soldiers, and part-time members of the Army Reserve. In order to qualify for service, all prospective Soldiers must be at least 17 years of age.[1]
    • Army Reserve Soldiers serve one weekend each month on active duty with the Army and spend two weeks each year in Army training, and are free to live anywhere in the United States. Many Reserve Soldiers work civilian jobs and/or attend college while not in service.[2]
    • Active duty Soldiers serve in the Army consistently, all day and every day. They are usually stationed on a military base, and must commit to being in the Army on a full-time basis.[3]
    • The first step in enlisting with the Army is to meet with a recruiter. You can find out about recruiting opportunities by searching online or calling the local recruitment office in your phone book.[4]
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    Meet enlistment requirements. In order to enlist in the U.S. Army, you'll need to provide the required documents and pass a background check. The documents you submit are examined to confirm your identity and set up a direct deposit account for your military pay, should you be accepted to the Army. The background check evaluates your moral qualities and characteristics to ensure that you meet the Army's strict code of integrity.[5]
    • Required documents include proof of citizenship, Social Security card, valid driver's license of state ID, a completed direct-deposit form, original high school diploma or GED, original college transcripts (where applicable), and original or certified copies of your birth certificate and marriage or divorce certificates (where applicable).[6]
    • The background check examines any and all legal offenses, which must be disclosed before the background check is conducted. Any felony convictions, drug charges, domestic violence charges, and juvenile offenses may exclude you from service, though some minor offenses are occasionally waived on a case-by-case situation.[7]
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    Pass the academic evaluation. All candidates for the U.S. Army must take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB). Tis evaluation is a multiple-choice test that will help the Army determine which areas of service will be best suited to your skills and abilities. The ASVAB is valid for two years after the date of completion, and may be taken at an official Military Entrance Processing Station (usually administered as a computerized test) or at many high schools and colleges around the country (usually administered as a paper test).[8] The ASVAB tests the following areas of study:
    • General Science[9]
    • Arithmetic Reasoning[10]
    • Word Knowledge[11]
    • Paragraph Comprehension[12]
    • Mathematics Knowledge[13]
    • Electronics Information[14]
    • Auto and Shop Information[15]
    • Mechanical Comprehension[16]
    • Assembling Objects[17]
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    Take and pass the physical fitness evaluation. The physical fitness evaluation examines the prospective Soldier's height and weight and evaluates the recruit's overall body composition. The desired height range is between 5'0" and 6'8" for males and between 4'10" and 6'8" for females.[18]
    • To determine if your weight is at an acceptable range for your height and age, talk to an Army recruiter or use the Army Body Weight Range Calculator online at
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    Complete Basic Combat Training. Basic Combat Training (BCT) lasts ten weeks. It is a rigorous training course designed to teach new recruits physical conditioning, survival skills, and tactical skills, including how to load and fire a weapon, how to rappel, and how to march in formation.[19]

Part 2
Applying for the Warrant Officer Program

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    Determine your eligibility. In order to join the Warrant Officer Program, you must meet certain eligibility requirements. All prospective applicants must:
    • be a U.S. citizen[20]
    • have a high school diploma or GED[21]
    • earn FINAL Secret or Top Secret Security Clearance[22]
    • pass the standard three-event Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) within the last six months and meet basic height/weight requirements[23]
    • have 12 months remaining on a current enlistment contract[24]
    • have five to eight years of active federal service (AFS) to be considered a prime candidate, but less than 12 years of AFS at the time of application (anyone with 12 or more years of AFS must submit an AFS waiver request with the completed application)[25]
    • be under 33 years of age for 153A (aviator) service (anyone exceeding this age limit must submit an Age waiver request with the completed application)[26]
    • have 20/50 distant visual acuity, correctable with glasses or contacts to 20/20 visual acuity[27]
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    Schedule a Selection Instrument for Flight Training. All candidates for aviator service must schedule a Selection Instrument for Flight Training (SIFT) and a Class 1A Army flight physical. The SIFT may be scheduled through your education services officer. If this cannot be arranged, you should schedule the SIFT through an Army recruiter at a Military Entrance Processing Station.[28]
    • Check the Army's website for authorized testing locations, or search online or with a recruiter for DA pamphlet 611-256-2[29]
    • The Class 1A Army flight physical should be scheduled and completed at your local servicing hospital and must be approved through the Aeromedical Center (at Ft. Rucker) before being included in your application.[30]
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    Collect letters of recommendation. One of the most important parts of your Warrant Officer Program application is the letters of recommendation.[31] Your packet should contain at least each of the following letters, though an exceptionally strong packet will contain additional letters:
    • recommendation from your current company commander[32]
    • recommendation from your current battalion commander[33]
    • recommendation from a senior warrant officer in your career specialty[34]
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    Complete your packet. Your application packet must also contain an accurate and up-to-date DA Form 2-1 (note that only authorized personnel may make typed or ink-written changes to your form). You must also detail your assignment history and civilian education history. In addition, you will need an Official DA photo showing official, permanently-awarded decorations and a precise and correct uniform display (including a long-sleeved shirt and a four-in-hand tie for all male candidates).[35]
    • The photograph is very important, as it gives the board their first impression of you as a soldier. As such, it is recommended that you have an experienced soldier examine your uniform prior to taking the photo to ensure that everything is correct and in place.[36]
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    Check the selection board dates. The selection board only accepts applications during certain times of year, and all application materials must be completed and submitted by the appropriate date. For example, in January 2016 the board meets from January 11 through January 15, and the deadline for packet submissions to be considered during this session is November 20 of the previous year (2015). The next board meeting is in March 2016, in session from March 14 through March 18, and the packet must be submitted by January 15, 2016.[37]

Part 3
Completing Warrant Officer Candidate School (WOCS)

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    Prepare for physical training. Candidates in the Warrant Officer Candidate School (WOCS) will be required to participate in daily physical training, as well as weekly foot marches up to 10 kilometers in length, often in high temperatures and humid conditions.[38] The WOCS recommends that candidates begin physical conditioning prior to enrollment at WOCS and bring comfortable, WOCS-approved boots to prepare for the daily requirements expected of Warrant Officer candidates.[39]
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    Satisfy educational requirements. All WOCS candidates must complete Phase one and Phase two of training. Training can be completed through distributed learning (DL) or resident training. In order to qualify for DL, candidates must either:
    • be an Army or Marine Corps E-5 or higher at the start of the program and be a graduate of the WLC/PLDC[40] OR
    • be in USAF, USN, or USCG grade E5 or higher with previously-completed Army or USMC basic training[41]
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    Graduate from WOCS. After successful completion of the physical and educational training, candidates may advance from WOCS. After completion of WOCS, you will be appointed to the role of Warrant Officer (WO1) and assigned to flight duty.[42]


  • The Army expects you to maintain your physical and mental fitness before, during and after the process of becoming an Army pilot. Army helicopter pilots are officers and are held to high standards throughout their careers.


  • You’ll need a security clearance and a valid physical before reporting to WOCS. Not having either of these requirements met can delay your entrance.
  • It can take a long time to complete the application process to become an Army aviator, and not all candidates are accepted. Have a back-up plan in place in the event that you are not accepted.

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Categories: Careers in the Military