How do I get a US Air Force Pilot Training Slot?
How can I prepare for the AFOQT and BAT tests?
How do I get into an Air Guard or Reserve Unit?

These are popular questions and answers from the Baseops.Net Discussion Forums.

USAF UPT Archive

We have arranged this archive into 7 Areas of Focus, each with several questions and answers. Some questions have multiple answers, so that you may see many different viewpoints. Additional Air Force Officer Qualifying Test information, advice, practice tests, and more can be found at our AFOQT Preparation Website. For additional Basic Attributes Test (BAT) information, check out our Basic Attributes Test Website. To ask questions yourself and discuss issues with other students, candidates, cadets, student pilots, instructor pilots and other officers, please visit the Military Aviation Discussion Forum. For specific Aviation Medicine and UPT medical questions, visit our Aviation Medicine Archive. Check out our new section on Military Pilot Training – Information on USAF IFT, UPT, and the T-6 Texan II

Who is contributing to this material:

  • Officers who recently picked up UPT slots from Air National Guard / Air Force Reserve units.
  • Active duty officers who have received waivers to attend UPT.
  • Current pilots reflecting on their endeavors for a UPT slot.
  • Pilots from various units who recount selection processes, or are on selection boards themselves.

Areas of Focus:

Q1. What study materials, study guides can I purchase to help me prepare for the AFOQT?A. I would highly recommend the ARCO book. There is one called “Officer Candidate Tests” and another called “Military Flight Aptitude Tests.” Get the second one. 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.

A. I used the one from ARCO. ASA also has one. Both can be found here at the Aviation Book Store.

Q2. Anyone know of a way (or formula) to use that would give me some type of idea on how I would score on the real deal? Not sure if this is possible but it would be nice! Thanks for the help!

A. Probably not possible. The AFOQT scores are percentiles, which effectively ranks you against other test-takers. Since AFPC maintains the database, I doubt there is any way to determine a percentile score without knowing the test scores of the subject population. When I took the test, there were several areas that I did not even have time to finish, and I thought I might have a lousy score. I ended up with a 98 or 99 in my pilot and nav scores, so don’t get discouraged if you run out of time during portions of the test. My strategy was to make the best balance between speed and accuracy, and it seemed to work. Good Luck.

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Q3. I am looking for study and preparation advice for the AFOQT.

A. I don’t think there is a single better way to prepare for this than studying with the Military Flight Aptitude Tests book. I spent about four weeks with it, but only two were serious. Every spare chance I got, I studied electrical mazes, since that was the one I had trouble keeping in the time limit with. I would do them out of order to kind of mix it up. I even drew my own. Then on the actual test, I found that they were printed a bit larger and more clearly than in the ARCO book, and I buzzed right through them with no problem. As others have indicated, I did feel like the math sections kicked my butt, and quantitative did end up being my weakest score, though still respectable. I bet if you’ve studied, taken some timed practice exams seriously, and are well-rested, you will do great. What blows my mind is when I hear from some of my buddies who went through ROTC tell me that when they were given the AFOQT, they were pretty much told “Oh by the way, you’re taking the AFOQT on Wednesday, be here at this time.” When I took the test at the Houston MEPS last year, there were just two of us in the room with a Navy NCO proctor. I did not feel like it was a stressful situation. My scores were: Pilot 98, Nav 95, A/A 87, Verbal 93, and Quantitative 75.

A. 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 / 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.

The table reading is much different than the study guide, so do your best. They have a 8×10 sheet of paper with probably 40 rows vertical and horizontal ( x and y like the book ) that you match to grid numbers and provide the corresponding number that appears in the designated block. The type is about 10 pitch, and straight edges are NOT allowed (nor can you fold your paper in half like I did). In the exam, don’t feel like an idiot – this test is a bear…. and all of us felt like the math sections kicked our butts. The problems were much harder than the study guide, though there were similarities.

One “emphasis area” in the aviation knowledge would be to know:
What is the unique characteristic of te Beech BE55 multi engine aircraft?
a) Open Cockpit
b) Flexable wingtips
c) Landing Gear
d) Butterfly tail.

Officer Candidate Tests

If I had to choose from this practice question (hint hint), I would eliminate A, b, and D. Though no flight instructor, or BE55 pilot at Langley could answer the question. We all “figure” it must be the landing gear, but apparently the army and air force forgot to include that info in the Pilot’s Operating Handbook.

Other supplemental materials that may be of interest are Air Force Officer’s Guide – the authority on career success and planning, schooling, promotions, social life, benefits, retirement; and some of you may be interested in the Air Force Academy Candidate Book – How to prepare, how to get in, how to survive – this book offers much more than just an explanation of how candidates succeed in the selection process. Indoctrination into the school before you even get there.

A. Taking a Practice AFOQT test can help out too. It is a limited practice test, but can give you a feel for what the test is all about. This is a good starting point, after which I bought a few of the study guides listed here. Find out more about the AFOQT.

Military Flight Aptitude Tests

Check out the rest of our books in our Book Store

Whether you’re in the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marines, you’ll need to be well prepared for your exam to compete for a seat in flight school. Use this book to get hands-on experience with the same kind of test material you’ll see on exam day, and pass your exam with flying colors.

Find out how to:

    • Score your best on the AFOQT, AFAST, or ASTB.
    • Conquer test anxiety and boost confidence.
    • Build a study plan and learn time management techniques.
    • Practice the same kinds of questions you’ll see on the actual exam.
    • Use the process of elimination and make educated guesses to answer tough questions.
    • Get career tips to maximize your promotion potential.

The Complete Preparation Guide for Military Flight Aptitude Tests includes sample tests for the:

  • AFOQT (Air Force Officer Qualifying Test)
  • AFAST (Alternate Flight Aptitude Selection Test)
  • ASTB (Aviation Selection Test Battery)

Q4. Is there anything else that I can do to prepare myself better for Pilot Training?

A. Recently there have been a DOD study that has shown that Pilot Training students that used the Microsoft Flight Simulator program scored better than their peers that did not. A Naval pilot training student performed so well in training that the Navy instituted the Flight Simulator program into the syllabus and have strongly endorsed students use this program to practice. Having used this program myself and having been able to download many military aircraft for the program, I have found it immensely helpful as a training aid. There is no doubt that a student pilot flying this flight simulator program will improve his / her skills.You can outfit your own flight simulator in your own home, to practice civilian flying, or like many today, to practice for USAF or USN Flight School. Check out our list of items you should consider buying. Each item listed has been tested in a complete home flight simulator. Read about how the Military has used Microsoft’s Flight Simulator software. On your way to UPT? Get the best flight gear for the IFT pre-UPT flight program.

Q1. Just wondering what the meaning of the AFOQT scores is – I realize higher is better, but is it a percentile rank? I blew the minimums away and am curious to see if my scores are “good” or not. Also, any info on BAT scores? What is considered a “good” score on that bad boy?A. Depends on many things. What are you applying for. How are you applying for it (i.e. AD, ROTC, OTS) It is a percentile based on the bell curve, if you’re in college check out any statistics book. I personally would say that scores 80% or above are generally considered pretty darn good. For UFT applicants you definitely want to strive for the highest scores possible, however, other factors can come into play for UFT. The BAT score is usually not released, however, to the best of my knowledge it is also based on a percentile basis.

A. The BAT test scores are not released. However, they are used in conjunction with your civilian pilot ratings and pilot hours to determine a PCSM (Pilot Candidate Selection Method) score. This score is supposed to reflect how you will fare in Air Force Pilot Training. The PCSM score is a percentile ranking from 1 to 99, 99 being the best

Q2. I have read several accounts of how guys have taken the SAME AFOQT practice test in a study guide three and four times to help prepare them for the real thing. Can this really be beneficial?

A. I think they definitely helped me. If you know what to expect and have practiced several times, you will be much more relaxed and will definitely do better.

A. Do the cost/benefit analysis. Is it worth 8-10 hours of your time studying from the books to get a 98 or 99 on the Pilot section?

A. In the Military Flight Aptitude Tests book, there is a “Practice Test” and a “Sample Test.” I think it is extremely beneficial to do that, in retrospect, as I had some of the same concerns that you do back before I took the exam. Make four copies of each of the answer sheets, and do them all. Save two Practice Tests to do under strictly timed conditions. You’ll hopefully find that a few of the answers in the answer key of the ARCO book are wrong. But some of the questions were the exact same as in the test. I was doing practice electrical mazes (can’t do enough of those) and a few other sections in the hotel room they put us in the night before we went to the MEPS. As they say, practice makes perfect. I think you’ll find that many of the problems on the test are actually a little less complex than those in the book…though some are a little harder. Really, just do the book, study, do it again and repeat, and I bet you’ll be fine. It helps a little too if you are already a pilot.

1) Does it matter what order I take the AFOQT/BAT? Any recommendations?
2) How long does it take to get my AFOQT/BAT results?

1) A: It does not matter what order you take the AFOQT and the BAT. I think almost everybody takes the AFOQT first simply because of timing, but just know that you can’t study for the BAT. I would really concentrate on studying for the AFOQT, and worry about the BAT later. My buddy that got picked up by the Cheyenne, WY unit hadn’t taken the BAT (or his FC1) when he got selected.

2) A: For the AFOQT, they’ll tell you how long it’s going to take, but it will likely be quicker than they say. Mine took a little over a week. Same thing with the BAT: they said to call back in ten days or something, and my recruiter had the scores that afternoon. I took the BAT at Lackland AFB, so I don’t know if that made a difference at all (compared to taking it on a college campus or at a recruiter’s office somewhere).

Thinking further, it might be that you have to take the AFOQT before the BAT. Not sure but it wouldn’t surprise me. You obviously won’t get a PCSM composite until the BAT is complete…

Q4. Does anyone have AFOQT test-taking advice / comments?

A.We simply asked the proctor to provide a halfway, 2 minute, and 30 second warning. I had a chrono on my stopwatch that I set each time, but never even looked at it during the test.

The time limits are part of the aptitude equation. They measure accuracy against speed, knowledge, and dexterity. After taking the exam I can say this: Nobody is expected to accurately finish every problem in the exam. Remember to guess when time gets tight, and educated guesses are even better. You get scored on the number of correct answers, so unfilled blocks are an opportunity lost. Find a way, and ensure you fill in every block. Don’t get “off” a block by skipping answers, because you can’t correct that mistake later (like the Sgt. behind me did – 3rd retest also!)

Some parts simply take longer than others, and some of it has to do with your personal abilities. For instance, I zipped through the aviation info section, checked each answer, and sat around for an eternity while others were hard at work reading the problems – all the way until the end. A couple other sections were easy too, but some (mazes) were impossible.

Air Force Officer’s Guide

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Naval Officer’s Guide

Q1. I am applying to several guard units soon. With my LOR is it okay just to have the person recommending me to just title it “To whom it may concern?” Any other suggestions are welcome. Thanks!A.To whom it may concern” is the most appropriate address, since a) you will be applying to several different units, and b) the review board within those units probably changes from time to time. They’re concerned with the content of the letter and not so much whether it says “To whom it may concern” or what have you. Another good one if you’d like to switch it up is simply: “Letter of Recommendation for Billy Hopeful (but use your real name)” across the top and right to the content. I had both addresses in all of mine.

Q2. Another question on LORs (letter of recommendation)…You said to keep it titled To Whom It May Concern because you’d be applying to several guard units. Does that mean it’d be best to get the person writing it for you to make several copyie of the letter? I’d imagine you couldn’t send an LOR with the whole thing, signature and all, photocopied. Any suggestions for getting all the LORs that you’ll need to apply for many units?

A. Sending off photocopies is definitely not a big deal. It’s really not a deal of any kind at all. I am going active duty, but when I was putting this all together, I decided to apply to a bunch of ANG units as well, just to open a few more options (which was last June, way before 9/11). I took all my letters to Kinko’s and had 30 copies of each made. I put the originals in the AD application package, but sent the copy letters and the applications off to 23 different Guard units and heard back from 8 of them. A good friend of mine did this as well, and eventually got hired by the 153rd AW up in Cheyenne, WY for pilot training (C-130). I’ve already decided on going active, but I am definitely sure that sending photocopy letters of recommendation is a non-issue. They know that theirs is not the only unit you are applying to, regardless of how much you say things like “I am very interested in YOUR unit and have always wanted to live in the Boise, ID area.” It works, but they know. Good luck.

Q1. I am close to finishing my CFI as a civilian pilot. Should I wait to take the BAT after I get my CFI to help my PCSM score or won’t it make that much difference as far as my score goes? Any help appreciated!A.The PCSM score isn’t concerned with your ratings but it is with your flight hours. There are different Flight Hour Codes (0-9), which are part of the top-secret algorithm, along with your AFOQT Pilot score and actual BAT “scores.” The Flight Hour Codes are the following:

(0) 0 hours
(1) 1-5 hours
(2) 6-10 hours
(3) 11-20 hours
(4) 21-40 hours
(5) 41-60 hours
(6) 61-80 hours
(7) 81-100 hours
(8) 101-200 hours
(9) 201+ hours

And it is upgradeable, so if you were at a Flight Hour Code 6 when you took the test and got your score (like I was), but are now at a Flight Hour Code 8 (like I am), you can submit the paperwork and potentially raise your score (like I did). But I’d imagine you’re higher than that if you’re going for your CFI. Good luck to you. Here’s a link to the USAF PCSM public website with all the dirt on the test that they make you swear up and down that you’ll never discuss with anyone. Silly logic, but hey. Check it out the USAF PCSM Site

A. One thing to note about the PCSM is that it is not a linear scale. If you jump from a Cat 0 to 3, your PCSM may go up 30 points, whereas if you go from 7 to 8 or 8 to 9, it may only go up 1 or 2 points. The nice thing is that once you take the AFOQT and BAT, they will list your score and your projected score for each flying hour bracket. In my case, even if I flew 100 more hours my PCSM would have only gone up 2 points. Hardly enough to justify spending the money on hours.

Q2. I’d really like to go for a pilot slot at OTS, but I have no flight hours. Now, there is no way I can afford to get my PPL. However, I think I can save up enough to get about 5 flight hours. Do you think this is enough to make a difference?

A. As an Air Force Pilot & OTS interviewer, maybe I can shed some light on the importance of flying time and some other areas. There are several things I look at when interviewing an applicant:
1. Competitiveness. (GPA over 3.0; Pilot score mid 80s; Quantitative over 60) These are what it takes at the board, but it also gives me a guage about how the person will do. Any of these numbers can be lower & do not rule you out, but obviously, the higher the better.
2. Interview. Looking for someone who expresses themselves well. In the big picture, are you someone who I would like to fly a 3-week trip around the orient with, or do I want to leave you in Korea? Do you look the part of an Air Force officer, or do I need to spend time at the end of the interview telling you about the physical requirements of OTS?
3. Motivation. THIS IS THE ONE YOU ASKED ABOUT. I will give a higher recommendation to a person who has flying time over a person with a higher GPA almost every time. You are also given a score based on how much flying time you have as a means to predict your success in pilot training. By being that person who works pumping gas at the FBO to get the money to pay for your private pilot ticket speaks volumes about your love of aviation and dedication to succeed. If you have no flying time, then for all we know, you are someone who thinks it will be cool & liked watching Top Gun.
4. Well rounded. This also plays into flying time answer. If you are applying to be an engineer, then yes, a 4.0 from MIT is great. To be a pilot, you need to show a more varied background: Eagle Scout, Captain of a sports team, put self through college, volunteer in community. Basically a leader (potential officer) and self-motivator.
5. Someone who follows through. An Eagle Scout stuck with things through thick & thin. Someone who was a Scout, great, but why didn’t they finish the program? If you have your private pilot, great! If you have 5 hours in a C-152, at least you know you like flying, but where is the dedication? We are looking for someone who will face the toughest & best year of their life. When at pilot training you are ALWAYS one week from washing out, and despite that fact, you are getting to learn from the best instructors on earth…while getting paid! And by the way, when you graduate, you will fly the most advanced aircraft in the world, no matter what you are flying.
6. Prior enlisted. If you are prior enlisted, that is one of the biggest things you can have going for you besides flying time. You already know what the AF is about & are working to improve yourself & your career. What else could we ask for?
7. Going to Nav School first. If you truly want to be an AF pilot, then you are probably better off delaying your application to get more flight time than going for the nav slot & trying to get into pilot training. I don’t have the numbers, but they aren’t very good for switching from nav to pilot.
8. Letters of recommendation. These help. If you have one from a military officer, all the better.
9. Your paperwork. That is the first impression for the interviewer. I won’t meet the person until I have gone through the entire package. Do yourself a favor…have someone look over your paperwork first. The recruiters do a good job, but who would find more errors, the recruiter or your high school Englsh teacher?
10. Log book. I am required to validate your log book. I recommend a Master Log, available on-line or at any good FBO. Make your entries neat, and watch what you put in there. If you put in that you buzzed your old school & the FAA notices it, you just bought yourself a violation. Factual, accurate, each page signed.

This was a long answer to a short question. There are probably very few posts on this site from current AF pilots with over 5000 hours telling you what they think is important, and you may not agree with everything I say–that’s your choice. Here is the big picture summed up: You are trying to get a job as a pilot, so GET THE FLYING TIME OR YOU PROBABLY WON’T GET THE JOB. Best of luck to all of you.

A. A couple more things:
1. A flight simulator may help you with crosscheck, but it will not help your chances to be selected for UPT. To further explain a post above, the hours breakdown for jumps in the PCSM scores are as follows 1-5; 6-10; 11-20; 21-40; 41-60; 61-80; 81-100; 101-200; 200+ hours. Use this info to determine if you should get a few extra hours. If you have 5 hours total, 10 more makes a big difference; but if you have 150 hours, 10 more does nothing to your score.
PCSM is a predictor of success in UPT. On a “rated” board, it is the #1 factor considered, so anything you can do to improve it helps.
2. Show up for the interview ready to address holes in your package. OK, your GPA was so, but you were working 2 jobs & supporting a family. The interviews are relatively short and you need to give us something to work with when we fill out the recommendation. A good interviewer will draw that out of you, but a good interviewee will make sure they don’t have to. “Dress for Sucess” There is a book by that name, but the big picture here is having a suit that fits, well groomed, and yes, shave off the beard, gote & probably even the mustache. Why? Because when the interviewer looks at you, you want him to see someone who belongs in AF blue, not someone who belongs in the surf! Same goes for any interview, but I realize most reading this probably have limited interview experience & no military interview experience.
3. Despite what I just said, relax. The more relaxed you are, the better the chances of the interviewer getting to know you.
4. By the way, when you read my postings, 100% of the people I supported to go to UPT are either waiting to go, or there.

Part I
These posts mainly deal with OTS, but all can probably benefit. Want to let you all know what is involved with the interview, some ground rules, and why it is important to you. Some comments may ruffle feathers. Fine. Hit the “Back” key! No skin off my back.1. First of all, the interview is an opportunity for an AF officer to see if we want you in our ranks. If you are fortunate enough to interview with a pilot, then it is a chance to see if we want you in that “club.” It helps us validate the information presented by the recruiter.

2. The recruiter’s job is to push people forward who he/she thinks meet the qualifications, or at least come close. For them it is very much a numbers game. Yes, if you make a good impression, they will work harder for you, but either way your package should eventually end up going forward.

3. That said, the recruiter really doesn’t eliminate people based on things like personality or ability to communicate effectively. Interviewers do that. It makes good sense. We are the only gauge the board has to know if you fit the billet. Interviewers have no quota. INTERVIEWERS HAVE NO QUOTA. Big point. Why? We can recommend all or none of the people who walk through the door. You are competing against yourself.

Before going any further, the #1 thing that will blow you out of the water is attitude. I have seen the posts by a couple of CAP folks, and the interview would only last 15-20 minutes max before I could see through the unwarranted arrogance and tell them “Thanks for coming in, that should just about do it.” Not dogging on CAP, just on the folks who made those posts. Being fake will also show through.

Initial Prep:
Hit the gym & run. Don’t make me have to tell you that the AF has fitness standards.
Start collecting letters of rec.
Order copies of your transcripts.

What to bring:
Briefcase is not needed. If you have a nice one, fine. Usually they are cumbersome and you probably won’t open it except to pull out your log book.
I recommend having a 1″ black binder with you. Inside the binder have extra copies of everything you gave the recruiter.
Personal statements
Letters of Rec
Social Security card
FAA license
Copy of last 2 pages of log book
All in plastic sheets
You may not need to pull any of it out, but you are ready.

Bring your Log Book:
Make sure every completed page is signed
Check the totals for accuracy
DO NOT have any comments in there about buzzing a house, joining the mile high club, or breaking any FAR. Even if the interviewer doesn’t see it, a Fed may someday & you will regret it.

Interview day:
Ground rules at the interview:
Show up at least 10-15 mins early.
Your recruiter will probably escort you to the interview.
No matter what your recruiter says, personal appearance counts.
Buy the book “Dress for Success”
Suit that fits.
Shirt that is ironed.
Clean shoes.
Good haircut. It does not need to be a military cut, but what job are you applying for?
No military member has a beard.
Most officers do not have a mustache.
Almost none part their hair in the middle.
No earrings for men.
Very few officers have tattoos…hide any you have.
Leave the cell phone in the car, nothing is more important at that moment.
“Sir” or “Ma’am”
No cursing at all. Avoid words like “dude.” Yes, we are looking for a well-rounded individual, but we are also looking for a professional military officer.
Do not even think of bad-mouthing the recruiter, MEPS, or the process. You may be interviewing with the person who hired that recruiter. That recruiter may be the top recruiter in the command. You don’t know.
Good posture.

Dress nice, but not too nice! Skirt is fine. So are slacks. You don’t want to look Amish or be too distracting. And you may end up interviewed by a female officer who would appreciate flaunting sexuality even less.
Minimal jewelry: post earrings, not hoops. Nothing dangling.
Minimal makeup.
If your hair is long, you may want to pull it back.
Avoid perfume…never know when an interviewer is allergic.
By no means am I saying to hide the fact you are a woman. But you have seen pictures of women in uniform, and that is the image you want to portray.

Areas graded:
This just changed around Oct 04. Used to be able to write comments on things like appearance, now it is tougher for you the interviewee. The areas graded are:
a) appearance
b) confidence, maturity
c) attitude
d) motivation
e) work experience
f) leadership potential
g) mental alertness
h) communications skills
i) potential to complete program and
j) overall evaluation.

Eventually I may break those areas down for you, but it gives you a good idea of what is required to be graded on the form.

Those areas have blocks to check which are:
below average; fair; average; excellent; & outstanding.

Part II
Now, why is the above important to you? What do you think your chances are of getting a UPT slot if you are rated “Average” in any single area? About the same as me volunteering to go through SERE again, just in case I missed something the first time. Probably not happening.

Now another area that can make or break you:
k) Comments and Recommendations. This is a blank field in which the interviewer can input up to 18 lines of information. This is the best area where your alibis can be input without sounding like you are making excuses. If you have seen my other posts, you know that an interviewer can explain away to the board a low GPA and many other things. IF you give them the ammo & make them want to use it.
Where do we get our comments for section k? Mainly from the interview, but also from you scores, GPA, resume, letters of rec. Some will use these items, some won’t.
Some may even call the references listed. I called one by a 1LT, not to gain more info, but to thank her for an outstanding letter of recommendation & to let her know the applicant did great & would almost definitely get a slot–yes, he is at UPT.

If your interview goes OK, there is probably not enough info to fill up 18 lines without adding tons of fluff. You want all 18 lines full. You have no direct control over it, but you can influence it. Because you can have a 2 page resume, list everything you have done.

*****Want a hint that will put you over the top? (Of course, or you wouldn’t still be reading). I have not seen this yet, but I would highly recommend you doing this if you are serious about joining our ranks:*****

Make a one page sheet that is a summary of your accomplishments. Just type “Supplemental Information for Applicant CAVOK”, “Summary of Major Accomplishments for Applicant CAVOK”, or whatever you like, at the top. Then break it down into a few area–
Leadership (at work & play);
Volunteer work;
Go back and include things from high school too. Do not be verbose, just simple bullets like
– Captain of high school soccer team for 2 years
– PADI Advanced SCUBA diver with Nitrox certification
– Sales manager at Dollar Store 3 years while in college

Some of it may be on your resume, but that is OK. Do not give it or show it to the recruiter because it does not fit the normal mold. Instead, have it in one of the plastic sheets and at some point near the end of the interview just say to the interviewer “Sir, I have a summary sheet of some of my accomplishments, would you like a copy of it?” You have nothing to lose because even if they say no, it gives you a chance to summarize things you can talk about to strengthen your interview, and may clue you into weak areas or things that should be on your resume.
Believe me, with me putting this on this site; it will probably become the standard within 1-2 years, and may become required at some point. Luckily for you, it is a fresh idea.

Part III
Things that may be asked:
How did you get interested in the military?
Why the AF?
Did you apply to the other services?
How do you match up with your peers? i.e. What separates you from your hometown classmates?
What got you interested in aviation?
Tell me about your flying history?
Did you work while going to college?
Did you earn any scholarships for college?
Why did you pick that major?
Do you still beat your dog?!
Why were your grades so low your Freshman year?
Are you familiar with how frequently you may be required to move?
How does your family feel about you moving every 2-3 years, possibly overseas?
Are you familiar with remote assignments? Do you have a problem with them?
Are you familiar with the AF Core Values?
What are they? What do they mean to you?
Have you researched OTS?
Any concerns with the program?
Are you familiar with the AF fitness standards?
What is your typical workout?
What do you find most appealing about the AF?
What do you find least appealing about the AF?
How did you pay for your flight training?
What will you do if you are not selected?
I see you only want to come in the AF if you can be a pilot, why?
I see you are willing to take a nav slot if you can’t get a pilot slot, why?
I see you are starting to sweat profusely, is that normal?
Have you had the opportunity to talk with AF officers and pilots?
If you had your choice out of UPT, what do you currently think it would be?
Tell me about your leadership qualities.
Tell me about your leadership style.
Have you done much volunteer work?
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
… and the list goes on!!!

For those who read this and say “Thanks, sounds great, makes sense” then you will probably do well on your interview. For those of you who are mentally arguing with me as you read this, ask yourself a couple more questions. Do I really want to serve in the AF, or am I just trying to get someone else to pay for my flying? Is the military a good fit for me?

Some of you are picking your jaw up off the ground right now. Good. Those are the types of questions I will hit you with. If you handle them well and come across with honesty & not a canned patriotic answer, then, and only then, will the interviewer go the extra mile and spend a couple of hours to get those 18 lines perfect!

Thanks to CAVOK

Mental Math for Pilots

Airline Pilot Interview Success

Airline Pilot Interviews

Q1. Just wondering how you compiled your packets for the Guard units you applied to, (ie did you bind them, paper clip them, make a fancy cover for it etc..) I know some don’t like them to be bound but is there a classier way than to just paper clip ’em? And with LOR’s did you bother to have the person date them? Also, I know that the Guard looks at the “complete applicant” but can you see one or two things out there that would really help land a fighter slot (or any other slot for that matter)?A. I am a Guard pilot, who not too long ago was in your position. Now, I am already in charge of running the board. I do all phone call making, prepare the list of interviewees, and select the board members and board chief for the year. What my unit looks for first of all, is the applicant a member of our unit? We are a unit that hires from within. If we don’t have enough applicants from the unit itself, we then invite off-the-street folks to interview. If we like them, we encourage them to join and come back for another interview. However, for the last 8 years there is a waiting list of names from within my unit waiting to interview. It has become very competitive to say the least. I know not all units practice this. Keep in mind the units that do practice this are looking for a level of loyalty to their unit. We want to select folks that are going to stick around for 20 years. We know that a UPT slot can open doors up to airlines, but we still want to maintain a high level of experience at our unit. We have Captains and Majors in our unit with 3 to 5 thousand hours in our airframe. These guys are able to pass on their experience to the rookies. Since we typically look from within, my unit does not require a private pilot license, only that the individual is pursuing a private. We do look highly on that individual’s supervisor recommendation. That way we get an idea of work ethic, so we can have an idea if the candidate can handle an IP grabbing your oxygen mask hose while you are in the practice area and shakes the hell out of it asking if you are stupid. It happens, I know. So if you are not a member of the unit you want to fly with, consider biting the bullet and join. The only reason I mention that is a LOR in military terms is a Letter of Reprimand, even though I think you mean it as recommendation. So, I am only guessing you are not a military member yet. Also, the folks that have been selected at my unit in the last few years have had nothing less than a 90 on the “pilot” score of the AFOQT. As far as packages, it should be put together in a professional manner. No, you do not have to spend 50 dollars to put it together. A nice cover letter and resume on nice paper is fine. I will say it should be bound in some sort of folder. Where I would go one step more is to have copies of your package for every board member. Basically, present the board with a nice packet for the board chief and provide a xerox copy for each board member bound with a “paper clip”. Another point, I would have a date on your recommendations, and if it over 6 months old I would get a new recommendation letter. Like I said, this all pertains to the pilot hiring in my unit. When I was enlisted, I interviewed with other units. Each one has different practices. When it comes to interviewing, just be yourself. Be honest with all your answers. Remember that even though you might have a private license, you do not know how to fly the military way. I have seen guys with 2000 civilian hours washout of UPT. So, maintain a good, “can-do” attitude at your interview and when you go to UPT and you will go far. GOOD LUCK.

One thing I have seen in the people I have interviewed is they seem to be looking for a hand out. Getting a UPT slot is not easy, nor should it be. Part of what boards look for is “Who wants it the most?” Are you going to TAKE the slot or look for a hand out? When you finish your interview and leave the room, you want the pilot board saying “we would be stupid not to hire Woody”. That’s when you TAKE it. I guess I did a poor job of explaining it in the last post. I have had so many sharp people come in to interview and just bomb. These folks talked a mean game then came to the interview with terrible AFOQT or PCSM scores or no physical. Of course, we knew it before they came in, but these people acted like they should still get the slot anyway. All I am saying is do your best. Yes, I was in the same spot you are a few years ago. I was hired in 97 to fly the C-130. I interviewed with my unit twice and once with another unit. I got hired after my second interview with the unit I am in now. After I got hired, one of the interviewers told me one of the board members told the board “we would be stupid not to hire him” when I left the room. Thus, I was the number one hired guy. In reading some of your posts, you remind me of me in 97. That it is why I answered you post. And let me tell you what, this is the best gig I have ever had. You will love it, what ever airframe you get. I have been from Okinawa to Bosnia. I have flown over the fighting watching mortar rounds blow up in Tetevo, Macedonia. I have been through Puerto Rico, Gitmo, Jamiaca. I run into guys from my AMS class and UPT class all over the world. I have been in a dogfight with an F-16 at Airlift Tactics school. Believe it or not we defeated the F-16 several times. We broke his radar lock three times and he never could get off a shot. The fighter dude was pissed at the debrief when he brought in the guncam. However, the first day we went against the F-16, he blew us out of the sky. You will probably fly more than your active duty counter part. When my active duty flying partner from C-130 school cracked 400 hours, I had almost double the time and was approved for AC school. His jaw dropped.

Q2. I will be going in front of a board for the first time this summer. I was wondering what kind of questions are usually asked in these boards. I’m sure that it varies some unit by unit but any ideas or better yet examples would be much appreciated. I’m really interested in the questions that may have caught you off guard. Thanks for you time.

A. So your interview is this summer. Okay, here are some ideas/topics you need to consider. Most Guard units have the same big picture idea, look at the “overall person”. By the time you meet the board, they have already seen your upt package. They are focused on trying to find out what kind of person you are. Questions in the back of their mind are is this person going to function well among a crew or as #3 in a fighter formation. If I had to put a percentage with interviews, I would have to say my unit is a 50/50 unit. We take 50% of your accomplishments/test scores and 50% personality. The personality has to do with trust. Can you be trusted to help the crew complete a mission rather than hinder it. When you do get hired, I would develop some thick skin fast. You will need it when you get to your upt base. UPT is more of a mind game. In the beginning of Tweets, they are trying to weed out the weak. Although they will not say it, Tweets is still the unofficial weed out program.

Okay back to the interview stuff. First of all, you need to look at yourself and your UPT package. You need to look at your weaknesses first. Let’s take GPA’s, for example 🙂 . GPA’s do not mean you can not fly an airplane. I have a friend that barely graduated from Annapolis, he ended up getting an F-18 and is a good pilot. Think about how the board may trip you up with picking apart a less than stellar GPA. Here are some bullets on topics to consider:

  • College GPA; expect questions if it is not perfect.
  • Flight Time; they may look at how often you flew and question that, especially if your flight training was/is inconsistent. Expect questions regardless.
  • Work history; expect questions here. They may even ask questions about you working at a McDonalds in college. Since you are in the Guard they may ask what has been the most complicated situation you have had in your squadron and how you handled it. Expect for the board to call your section supervisor.
  • Personal attributes; What are you going to bring to the table for the unit?
  • Blanket Open Ended Questions; these are a given. The favorite interview question is “So tell us about yourself?” or “So what do you want to do with your life?” There are a couple reasons for simple open ended questions. One, they want to know a little about you and two, they want to see you go into the “Gray Area” and make it black and white. Make sure you include the fact that you have want to be a pilot for a long time. However, do not come across as a whiner. You have to be smooth. Example; “So Meghan tell us about yourself?” “Well, I am a recent graduate and a member of the Guard unit over in the Aerial Port shop. I originally joined the unit with the intention of becoming a pilot for the flying squdron once I finished college……..” (I started in Aerial Port before I got my pilot slot that is why I used Port) See how that flowed and you just told them you have wanted to be a pilot for a long time without begging. If that was not why you joined the Guard, come up with something else. “I joined the Guard to get through college. I really did not know what I wanted to do with my life when I first enlisted. Since I have been in I have become interested in flying. I began taking flight lessons and decided that becoming a pilot with this unit is what I want to do with my life……” I think you are getting the idea now.
  • Attitude; I cannot stress how far a great attitude can go! This is where the board determines if you truly want to be a pilot. Are you going into your interview looking for a hand out or are you going to take it! Believe me, if they do not see the “That’s my slot don’t give it to anybody else” attitude, you may be disapponited at the end of the day. You still need to be yourself, however, you need that fire in your eyes!One more piece of info. Wear your BLUES to your interview. My unit generally interviews on Sunday of drill. Uniform of the Day is a board policy. So we have people that show up in BDUs. However, there is alot to be said for the person who wears there blues. And to be honest when people interview in their blues they seems to be in the “GAME ON” mode.
Q1. Lately, I have been reading up on the ANG. It looks like flying for the guard is a great deal! No PCS, you virtually pick your airframe… So I just set a long term of getting a slot with the guard. Currently, I am in AFROTC and will commission next spring. Here’s my plan: Work as a maintenance officer on active duty for 4 years, get some flying hours for my PCSM, bust my butt at work to get some good letters of rec., separate and apply for some guard units. What do you think? I’ve always wanted to fly fighters, and I would like to live in the south. I have it narrowed down to about 10 units that I would love to fly for. I have heard that it is best to apply for as many units as possible, but I have also heard that it helps to “get to know” the people in the unit. How do I do this without joining? I have considered going to a unit that is close to me and visiting; do you think I may get to talk to a pilot or someone in ops if I do this?A. So you want to fly in the Guard. That is great! It is a great deal. I myself am a “Guard Bum” right now and I love my job. If you have not heard the term “Guard Bum”, it means I only get paid when I fly or work for the squadron. Sometimes the well runs dry for a week or two. However, there is a lot of flying to do, so I love it. As a “bum”, I have flown over 900 hours in 1.5 years of operational flying.

So you are a ROTC cadet. I guess you have passed that mark where you must take an active duty tour for 4 years. I was going to say if you have not passed that mark and can get out of your active duty/ROTC commitment, start trying to get a pilot slot now. Why wait 4 years, try going to UPT now. There is a pilot in my unit that went through the same thing. He joined a ROTC program while he was enlisted in a Guard unit. The ROTC commander said he had to give up ROTC or the Guard. He ask the ROTC commander his opinion and he actually said if you want to fly “go guard”. So the pilot said I’ll stay in the guard. He is now an evaluator pilot with us and flies with one of the largest commercial carriers.

I highly suggest if you are serious about a Guard pilot slot you should go to a Guard unit and talk to them. Go straight to the flying squadron. Do not go to the recruiting office. The flying squadrons handle pilot hiring not the recruiters! Meet as many pilots as you can. Especially meet the hiring pilots and the Squadron Commander. Every unit generally has a POC for pilot hiring. My best advice for meeting the pilots in the squadron is to show up during a drill. Go by during the week, meet the full time technician pilots. Ask if you can come out and meet the other pilots during drill weekend. After roll call on drill Saturday most units go socialize. Ask to go with them. Hang out get to know them. Understand you may go to war with these pilots someday and pilots have to trust each other whether it is a fighter or crew weapons platform.

If you do have to go active duty, you may want to consider getting an active duty pilot slot before your four year tour is up. If your long term goal is to fly, you need to hit it now. Active duty needs pilots. Yeah, you would have to sign the 10 year commitment but you would be flying. I’m just saying look at all your options. I’m just being straight forward with you. From your post, you at least have a plan. I have talked to so many people that want to be a pilot but have no plan. It’s as if they think were hiring for the Boy Scouts. Just remember to keep your focus on reaching your goal! Take care and good luck!!!

Q1. How heavily does College GPA weigh in being selected for a UPT slot?A. GPA is a factor in selection. However, the weight of the GPA is up to each individual unit and their hiring practices. I’ll have to get the reg out, but a high AFOQT score can basically overcome a low GPA. I don’t think you could get the 90 hour college waiver, so you will have to finish your degree before you go to UPT. I’ll try and do a little research in the reg and get back to you. Keep this in mind, Guard UPT slots are highly competitive. Therefore, if you and another person are the front runners for one UPT slot, GPA may be the deciding factor. Now, I myself do not look for a 4.0 GPA or 90% across the board on the AFOQT, mostly because that was not me. I look at the overall person. Since my unit hires from within the unit only, we look highly at the supervisor’s recommendation. We use this to get an idea of work ethic, because it takes a solid work ethic to get through UPT. I was enlisted in my unit for 3.5 years before I went to UPT. The first thing the board did after my interview was call my supervisor. I was hired 6 months after I graduated college. Your story is unique. It sounds like you had to bust your @ss to get through college. You worked 40 hours a week while carrying a full load and you have not been kicked out of college. That is awesome. So when you go to your interview and you get that one interviewer that keeps asking college questions like “you want to go to UPT for us, however, your GPA is terrible, why should we send you?” There are probably two things they are trying to address: 1) why are your grades low? 2) How are you going to handle being put on the spot? Just be honest. “Yes sir/maam I agree my GPA is lower than what you have probably seen here today, however, I have had to keep a fulltime job while keeping a full load at college in order to graduate young enough so I do not go over the age limit to attend UPT.” Something like that. Maybe you had to do that to pay for flight lessons. How you answer it will determine if you answer questions like this from your USEM during stand up: “You are rolling down eastside runway at Vance in the T-37, you are 10 knots from refusal speed and you see a red light, Lt Mehgan you have the aircraft?” Sure everyone can solve it from a chair, but there is something about standing in front of your class and IP’s trying to solve the problem. Can you see what I’m getting at. GPA is not the only thing a pilot board looks at in a candidate. Can you handle yourself well under pressure? Just be yourself and you will do great. Try and think of answers to diffcult questions a board may ask to pick you apart? If you anticipate the question and already have a solid answer, you have taken your first step to becoming a pilot because anticipation, itself, transfers to the flight deck! Good Luck!!!

Q2. I was wondering if someone could be honest with me and let me know the truth about how many hours you need for a spot in the Guard? I have a 4 year degree and a minor in Airport management and currently in my first semester of my masters at Embry-Riddle aeronautical University. I did four years in the Air Force and one year in the Air Guard as a Jet engine mechanic, I have my A & P License and currently have 35 hours of flight time. My AFOQT scores were pretty good and my BAT score was 86 and goes to 90 when I recieve 40 hours of flight time. So with my background and everything I’ve told you what are my chances with roughly 40 hours?

A. You have great scores. You have plenty of flight time to get hired. You have filled the squares for the administrative stuff. I have a couple of questions for you.

Are you in a Guard unit already? Are you sending out packages or making phone calls to units? Are you visiting units? Can you walk into the squadron you want to fly for and someone know you?

With those questions in mind, you need to network now. What people do not realize is that getting a Guard UPT slot is like getting a high power job with a Fortune 500 company. A little networking does help. Yes you have great scores to go to UPT by the reg. However, the Guard is a unique beast. You will fly with the same people for 15 to 20 years at your unit. They do not care about scores or what college you attended. They want to know and trust that you will not leave your wingman in your fighter during a fight or forget to hit the green light at the right time to put the Rangers on the DZ in your cargo plane. With scores like that I am surprised you have not been picked up by a unit. Just keep at it. You are doing great so far. Good Luck!!!

A. Okay, several of you have asked questions about GPA’s and AFOQT scores for Guard slots. The following is straight out of a Guard reg, ANGI36-2005. This is the minimum qualification to attend UPT for the Guard. This does not take into consideration the competitive nature of obtaining a slot.

ANGI 36-2005; section 3, page 43.13 Education and AFOQT Requirements. A baccalaureate or higher degree from an educational institution listed in the current Accredited Institutions of Post Secondary Education is required for all appointments. Education requirements for specific AFSC’s are contained in AFMAN 36-2105 and AFI 36-2005. AFOQT requirements are contained in Table 3.2. Appointments in professional specailties are exempt from AFOQT requirements.

Table 3.1 Grade Point Average (GPA) Requirements for Non-College Graduates.
Rule#/If the applicant has completed/ The minimum acceptable GPA is:

  • 90 but less than 105 semester hours or 135 but less than 157 quarter hours/ 2.30
  • 105 but less than 120 semester hours or 157 but less than 180 quarter hours/ 2.2
  • 120 or more semester hours or 180 or more quarter hours/ 2.1

Table 3.2. An AFOQT Minimum Score Requirements for Appointment
Rule/ If the applicant has: / and is to be appointed;/ Then the minimum score is(Note 1)

Verbal Quantitative Pilot Nav TOTAL P+N
1./ a bachelor’s degree / to attend UPT / 15 10 25 10 50
4./ not completed a bachelor’s degree / to attend UPT / 30 25 50 25 90

NOTE 1: “Total” is the minimum composite score needed when adding both “Pilot” and “Nav” scores together. Example: UPT applicant has a bacholer’s degree and scores “35” Pilot and “15” Nav, the applicant meets the minumum scores required to attend UPT.

3.14. Exceptionally well-qualified initial appointment applicants may request a waiver of the degree requirement. To be eligible for a degree waiver, applicants must possess a consolidated transcript from an accredited 4-year degree granting institution. See Tables 3.1 and 3.2 for minimum requirements.

  • The applicant must initiate the education waiver. The waiver request must outline a degree plan that will result in a four-year degree by the end of the fifth year of commissioned service.
  • The commander must justify the selection of a non-degree candidate Include the following:
    • Number of candidates considered for the position.
    • Explanation as to why the individual is considered the most qualified.
    • Explanation of other factors which may assist in evaluating the applicant based on the “whole person” concept.

3.14.1. The Adjutant General or the Assistant Adjutant General for AIR is the approval authority for education waivers. Further delegation is not authorized.
3.14.2. Officers transferring from another service or from another component of the Air Force and former officers must possess a baccalaureate or higher from an accredited educational institution.

Alright, what the above basically says is that if you attend UPT without a degree, you need to have a GPA above the applicable one in Table 3.1 and a minimum AFOQT score from Table 3.2. If you have a degree you just need to meet the AFOQT min scores in Table 3.2. The min numbers from AFOQT score list is concrete. First of all, you need the min score on the verb and Quant. Second, you need at least the min score for the Pilot and Nav, plus the combination must add up to 90 without a degree and 50 with a degree.

Example: Without a degree
You score a 49/Pilot and 41/Nav. (yes the sum equals 90, however, you failed because your pilot score needed to be a min of 50)

With a degree:
You score a 30/Pilot and 15/Nav (yes you scored above the min of 25 and 10 respectively, however, the sum of these numbers still needed to be a min sum of 50 [no UPT for you].)

If you have a degree, GPA is not a driving factor per the regulation. You just need to meet the minimum AFOQT score in Table 3.2 rule #1. I will not say that your GPA will not get looked at during an interview. So keep that in mind. Furthermore, these are just the minimums to process paperwork to go to UPT. A hiring board may have higher standards than the mins simply because they CAN! If you have “min run” the AFOQT, even though the scores qualify you to attend UPT, you may want to consider taking it again in 6 months. The active duty may take you but a Guard unit probably won’t.

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“I just wanted to let you know how helpful this site was to me. It helped me prepare for both the AFOQT and BATs Test, both of which I scored high on, and most importantly, prepared me for the most crucial part of acquiring a Guard pilot slot; the interview. Even though there were 16 other applicants being interviewed, I was selected as primary to be their next F-16 pilot. The sample interview questions that your site has were more or less exactly what I was asked in both of my interviews. I took your advice and went into the interviews determined to show the Selection Boards that I wanted the slot more than anyone else, and they obviously saw that I meant it. Thank you very much for the useful information, and I hope you continue to provide it to others who are trying to do the same thing I am doing. I know how tough and competitive USAF pilot positions are, especially Guard spots. THANKS!!!!!”

New Archive (as of 18Feb07): C-17 Deployment FAQs