The Alternate Route Blog

How to become a pilot in the Air Force Reserve

If you're considering becoming an Air Force Reserve pilot, there are several steps you need to take to prepare for the hiring process. Here's what you need to know about Air Force Reserve pilot hiring.

Eligibility Requirements

Before you begin the process of becoming an Air Force Reserve pilot, you need to make sure you meet the eligibility requirements. The basic requirements are:

  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Be between the ages of 18 and 39 (maximum age limit may vary by position)
  • Have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution
  • Meet the physical and medical requirements
  • Pass the Air Force Officer Qualifying Test (AFOQT)
  • Meet the security clearance requirements


Once you have met the eligibility requirements, the next step is to complete the training required to become an Air Force Reserve pilot. This includes attending Officer Training School (OTS) and completing the Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training (SUPT) program.

During OTS, you'll learn about military customs and courtesies, leadership skills, and how to function as a member of a team. The SUPT program includes classroom instruction, simulator training, and actual flight time.

The hiring process for Air Force Reserve pilots is competitive, so it's important to do well in both OTS and SUPT to increase your chances of being selected.

Selection Process

The Air Force Reserve uses a selection board process to evaluate candidates for pilot positions. The selection board considers several factors, including:

  • AFOQT scores
  • Academic performance
  • Flight experience (if any)
  • Leadership skills
  • Physical fitness test scores
  • Security clearance status

If you're selected for a pilot position, you'll need to complete additional training specific to your aircraft and mission. This may include additional simulator training, in-flight training, and mission-specific training.

Benefits of Being an Air Force Reserve Pilot

There are many benefits to being an Air Force Reserve pilot, including:

  • Competitive pay and benefits
  • Opportunities for career advancement
  • The ability to serve your country while maintaining a civilian career
  • Training and experience that can be applied to a civilian career in aviation
  • The opportunity to fly some of the most advanced aircraft in the world


Becoming an Air Force Reserve pilot is a challenging and rewarding career path. If you meet the eligibility requirements and are willing to put in the time and effort required for training, you could have the opportunity to serve your country while pursuing your passion for aviation

What is UPT?

Air Force undergraduate pilot training (UPT) is a rigorous and intensive program designed to produce the world's best pilots. The program is open to men and women who have completed a bachelor's degree and meet the requirements for becoming an Air Force officer. The UPT program is divided into three phases: the academic phase, the primary flight training phase, and the advanced flight training phase.

The Academic Phase

The academic phase of UPT is designed to provide students with the foundational knowledge required to become a military pilot. During this phase, students learn about aerodynamics, aircraft systems, navigation, and weather. They also study leadership, military history, and Air Force culture. This phase takes approximately six weeks to complete and is followed by the primary flight training phase.

The Primary Flight Training Phase

The primary flight training phase is where students first learn to fly. During this phase, students learn the basics of flight and how to operate a single-engine aircraft. They also learn how to perform basic aerobatics, such as loops and rolls. This phase takes approximately six months to complete and is followed by the advanced flight training phase.

The Advanced Flight Training Phase

The advanced flight training phase is where students learn to fly advanced aircraft and perform advanced maneuvers. During this phase, students learn how to fly multi-engine aircraft, navigate using advanced instruments, and perform advanced aerobatics, such as inverted flight and spins. This phase takes approximately six months to complete and is followed by graduation.

Graduation and Assignment

After completing the UPT program, students are awarded their pilot wings and are assigned to fly a specific aircraft in the Air Force. Some pilots will fly fighter jets, while others will fly cargo planes or transport planes. Each pilot is assigned to a specific Air Force base, and their assignment will depend on the needs of the Air Force at the time of their graduation.


Air Force undergraduate pilot training is a challenging and rewarding program that produces some of the world's best pilots. The program is designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills required to fly advanced military aircraft in a variety of missions. If you have a passion for flying and a desire to serve your country, Air Force UPT may be the right path for you. It's a challenging program, but the rewards are well worth the effort.

Navigating Through Aviation Challenges: Tips for Pilots

As a pilot, you are responsible for the safety of your passengers, crew, and aircraft. Your training and experience have prepared you for a wide range of situations, but there may be times when unexpected challenges arise. In this blog post, we will discuss some tips for navigating through aviation challenges.

  1. Be Prepared: The first step in navigating through aviation challenges is to be prepared. Before every flight, make sure you have thoroughly reviewed the weather, your flight plan, and any potential issues that may arise during your flight. Additionally, make sure you have all necessary equipment and supplies on board.

  2. Communicate Effectively: Communication is key in aviation. It is essential to maintain clear and effective communication with air traffic control (ATC), your crew, and any other relevant parties. If you encounter an issue during your flight, make sure to communicate it immediately to ATC and your crew. This will help ensure a timely response to any challenges you may face.

  3. Prioritize Safety: Above all else, safety should be your top priority. If you encounter a challenge during your flight, prioritize the safety of your passengers, crew, and aircraft. Follow established emergency procedures, and do not hesitate to make the necessary decisions to ensure the safety of all involved.

  4. Stay Calm and Focused: It can be easy to become overwhelmed or stressed when navigating through aviation challenges. However, it is crucial to stay calm and focused. Take a deep breath, assess the situation, and make a plan. Avoid rushing or making impulsive decisions, and always prioritize safety above all else.

  5. Learn from Experience: Finally, it is essential to learn from your experiences. After each flight, take time to reflect on any challenges you faced and how you navigated through them. Consider what went well, what could have gone better, and how you can apply those lessons to future flights.

In conclusion, navigating through aviation challenges requires preparation, effective communication, prioritizing safety, staying calm and focused, and learning from experience. By following these tips, you can help ensure a safe and successful flight for you, your crew, and your passengers.

Civil Path to Wings Program (Air Force Reserve)

In an effort to cure the pilot shortage within the Air Force and specifically the Reserve Component, the Air force is implementing a new program called the Civil Path to Wings Program. This program is targeted at civilian pilots who already have experience in aviation, and build off their existing skills to train more Air Force pilots.  Accepted candidates with prior commercial aviation experience would enter UPT at one of three points based on the outcome of a Competency Validation conducted by the Air Force.  These candidates would either attend UPT 2.5, skip the T-6 syllabus and be inserted into the T-1 track, or attend a fundamentals course prior to their assigned Formal Training Unit (FTU).  In any case, these candidates are only eligible to fly crew aircraft within the Mobility Air Forces (MAF), Special Operations Forces (SOF), or Command, Control, and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C2ISR) aircraft throughout the Air Force inventory.  The hope is that this would be another way to help expedite the pipeline, produce more pilots per year, and decrease training costs while producing more qualified Air Force pilots.   

Civil Path to Wings Requirements:

·        The basic eligibility requirements are as follows:

Sponsorship by an AFR flying unit.

A current PCSM score. See the Guidebook Section “Pilot Candidate Selection Method.”

Minimum commercial certificate with MEI

Minimum 500 hours total fixed-wing/manned flight time (or an additional 250 hrs after


Minimum ~100 hrs in the last year prior to validation

Maximum possible multi-engine aircraft under IFR in the National Air Space 

Qualification determines training:

WELL QUALIFIED, you will be scheduled for an Air Force Initial Flying Class 1 (IFC1) flight physical. Upon certification of your IFC1, you will be scheduled for a CPW class where you will bypass UPT Phase 2 (T-6s) and proceed directly to UPT Phase 3 (T-1s), possibly as early as June 2021.

EXTREMELY WELL QUALIFIED, you will be scheduled for an Air Force Initial Flying Class 1 (IFC1) flight physical. Upon certification of your IFC1, you will be scheduled for the Air Force Fundamentals course (possibly as early as June 2021) and then proceed directly to the Formal Training Unit for your sponsoring unit’s aircraft.

*AFRC UFT Guidebook (Jun, 2022)

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