About the Author and The Route to Becoming a Pilot

How to become a commercial pilot

Hi, I’m Jeff Van Orsow.
I am a Captain and pilot in the United States Air Force Reserve, as well as the author of the book Alternate Route: The Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Pilot in the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve. Alternate Route provides key details and information about the hybrid path toward becoming a pilot that balances the individuality and flexibility of civilian flight training, and the rigors of an active-duty military enlistment.
How to become a pilot

You Don’t Have to Choose Air Force or Civilian Pilot: You Can Do BOTH

The son of an active duty Air Force pilot, I grew up around aviation, and knew from an early age that I wanted to fly. Very early on, my dream was to have a job that let me travel all over the U.S., but not necessarily as a pilot. As I grew older, it occurred to me that instead of being a passenger in an airplane, I could be the Captain at the front, operating the aircraft and delivering people safely to their destination. Even as I began to pursue my career as a pilot, I resisted joining the military and instead, began a civilian career as a flight instructor in the hopes of self-funding my way to the cockpit of a major airline.

Along the way, I discovered that I was able to honorably serve my country as a member of the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve (a decidedly more flexible contract than the active duty Air Force) while also preparing myself to become the career commercial pilot I’d always wanted to be. I didn’t have to choose one or the other. In fact, I could use aspects of specific branches of the military (namely the United States Air Force Reserve and the United States Air National Guard) to improve and expedite the journey to my dream job as a commercial pilot.

In 2019, I became a First Officer with Alaska Airlines, and it is my goal and my passion to educate current and future pilots on this little-known opportunity with the Air National Guard or Air Force Reserve, that will allow them to land their own dream job. My book is the crucial first step.

The shortage of pilots is there.
Are you ready to fill it?

Please see my page introducing Alternate Route: The Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Pilot in the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve and contact me if you have questions. I am happy to help. In the meantime, I hope your research leads you to where you want to be, and I hope to see you on the flight deck!