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Fighter Pilots Age Limits  
User currently offlineb767 From Norway, joined Feb 2008, 127 posts, RR: 0
Posted (3 years 4 months 4 weeks 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 28090 times:

How old can you be as a fighter pilot before you have to retire,and can age give you some restrictions regarding some type of operations? I guess this can differ from country to country,but since we have members from all over the world here,it would be nice to have some answers.

19 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineTheSonntag From Germany, joined Jun 2005, 3789 posts, RR: 29
Reply 1, posted (3 years 4 months 4 weeks 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 28095 times:

In Germany, usually fighter pilots are flying until they get 39 years old. The military service ends at that period. The commander and others stay longer and fly the airplane also later on.

At least that was some years ago.


User currently offlineflybaurlax From United States of America, joined Oct 2008, 638 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (3 years 4 months 4 weeks 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 28017 times:

For the US Navy and Marines the age limit is 27, with a waiver to 29 if you had prior service. I am actually running into that issue now that I will not be able to meet the requirements before my 27th birthday. One has to be commissioned prior to the 27th birthday in order to be qualified. Oh well I have to figure something else out.

I'm not sure about the USAF or the USCG, or Army.



Boilerup! Go Purdue!
User currently offlineTheSonntag From Germany, joined Jun 2005, 3789 posts, RR: 29
Reply 3, posted (3 years 4 months 4 weeks 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 28010 times:

Quoting flybaurlax (Reply 2):

I think he meant the retirement age, not the age for beginning of training....


User currently offlinerfields5421 From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 7607 posts, RR: 32
Reply 4, posted (3 years 4 months 4 weeks 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 28002 times:

For the US military the limiting factor is 'up and out' not age.

Basically if a pilot stays in the military past age 45 or so, he/she should have been promoted to a rank where their primary duties are command or administrative, not actually flying regularly.

If you have not been promoted to such a rank, you are usually asked to leave at the 20 year mark.

Reservists and National Guard pilots are older, but not a lot older. I believe the oldest are some US Army warrant officers who fly helicopters.

At one time there was a legal limit on the number of people over age 59 on active duty for the US military. It was a point discussed every couple years because Adm Rickover was 'taking the place' of a younger officer who would be forced out.

I believe that has been rescinded - but the military is a young person's profession, especially front line combat arms - which is what fighter pilots are.

I'm sure there are people in their 50s who occasionally fly a fighter, but very few.


User currently offlineTheSonntag From Germany, joined Jun 2005, 3789 posts, RR: 29
Reply 5, posted (3 years 4 months 4 weeks 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 27920 times:

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 4):
I'm sure there are people in their 50s who occasionally fly a fighter, but very few.

Thats basically the same in Germany. Professional soldiers keep on flying, but not really in front line combat service.


User currently offlineyeelep From United States of America, joined Apr 2011, 671 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (3 years 4 months 4 weeks 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 27798 times:

Are whatever age restrictions placed on fighter pilots the same for transport pilots?

User currently offline777 From Italy, joined Sep 2005, 515 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (3 years 4 months 4 weeks 22 hours ago) and read 27738 times:

My father has been a helicopter pilot in the Italian Navy for almost 30 years.
When he was 45 years old he lost his "Combat Ready" skill and got some ground based assignments such as Flight Safety Officer, Training coordinator, etc.

During that period and until his retirement he was allowed to flight the helicopter (SH-3D Seaking) 12 hours a year, just to keep his pilot licence valid.

When he retires, in 1993, his personal flight log stopped at 6.500 flying hours.


User currently offlineKC135TopBoom From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 12185 posts, RR: 51
Reply 8, posted (3 years 4 months 4 weeks 18 hours ago) and read 27669 times:

Quoting yeelep (Reply 6):
Are whatever age restrictions placed on fighter pilots the same for transport pilots?

In the USAF they are the same in fighters, tankers, bombers, transports, reccee, command and control, support, and helios.


User currently offlineNBGSkyGod From United States of America, joined May 2004, 834 posts, RR: 1
Reply 9, posted (3 years 4 months 4 weeks 18 hours ago) and read 27664 times:

Not sure how it is in the USAF, USN, USCG, but in the navy most commands have a Air Operations Department aircraft, usually a C-12 but a few bases have other types, that are used by the upper level officers to continue to retain their flight status and pay.


"I use multi-billion dollar military satellite systems to find tupperware in the woods."
User currently offlineMD11Engineer From Germany, joined Oct 2003, 14144 posts, RR: 62
Reply 10, posted (3 years 4 months 4 weeks 11 hours ago) and read 27563 times:

Quoting TheSonntag (Reply 5):
Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 4):
I'm sure there are people in their 50s who occasionally fly a fighter, but very few.

Thats basically the same in Germany. Professional soldiers keep on flying, but not really in front line combat service.

AFAIK, due to the expensive training pilot cadets in the Luftwaffe have to enlist for 20 years. If they start at 19 (after finishing school with their Abitur certificates), they would be 39 when their 20 years are up.
Often military pilots like to move to a civilian piloting job because the pay at airlines used to be much better than in the military.

Jan


User currently offlineyeelep From United States of America, joined Apr 2011, 671 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (3 years 4 months 4 weeks 10 hours ago) and read 27545 times:

Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 8):

Thanks... I would have guessed otherwise.


User currently offlinelenbrazil From Brazil, joined Apr 2006, 114 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (2 years 1 month 4 days 16 hours ago) and read 22520 times:

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 4):
Basically if a pilot stays in the military past age 45 or so, he/she should have been promoted to a rank where their primary duties are command or administrative, not actually flying regularly.

If you have not been promoted to such a rank, you are usually asked to leave at the 20 year mark.

Reservists and National Guard pilots are older, but not a lot older. I believe the oldest are some US Army warrant officers who fly helicopters.

At one time there was a legal limit on the number of people over age 59 on active duty for the US military. It was a point discussed every couple years because Adm Rickover was 'taking the place' of a younger officer who would be forced out.

I believe that has been rescinded - but the military is a young person's profession, especially front line combat arms - which is what fighter pilots are.

I'm sure there are people in their 50s who occasionally fly a fighter, but very few.

So do you think it's possible that a retired USAF officer who had some fighter pilot experince could continue as an ANG pilot on scramble altert even in their 40s or 50s?


User currently offlinerfields5421 From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 7607 posts, RR: 32
Reply 13, posted (2 years 1 month 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 22375 times:

I didn't know a 15 month old thread could be revived on this forum.

Quoting lenbrazil (Reply 12):
So do you think it's possible that a retired USAF officer who had some fighter pilot experince could continue as an ANG pilot on scramble altert even in their 40s or 50s?


That won't happen for several reasons.

The primary one is that a retired USAF officer cannot serve as an Air National Guard pilot. That would require him to hold separate commissions and be paid twice.

Now an officer near retirement age might be able to transfer to the Air National Guard without retiring. Though I don't know why someone would choose such a financially disadvantageous option.

But I do see something I did not mention 15 months ago

The military physicals given to pilots are stringent, in my opinion, more demanding than the civilian physicals.

Age isn't usually the limiting factor. The reactions, vision and other physical abilities of the pilot do diminish, and the physical given in the military, along with the constant monitoring by the flight surgeon, is going to catch such things.

Most USAF/ USN fighter squadron comanding officers are going to be near age 40 with about 17-18 years since commissioning. They would have received their commissions about age 22 to 24 depending upon where they went to college and whether or not they were in ROTC.

Academy grads will be among the younger members of that group.

I would say the normal age range would be expecting such pilots to fly actively until age 44-48.

By that point, they should be retiring or advanced in rank to be above a daily flying job.


User currently offlinelenbrazil From Brazil, joined Apr 2006, 114 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (2 years 1 month 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 22262 times:

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 13):
The primary one is that a retired USAF officer cannot serve as an Air National Guard pilot. That would require him to hold separate commissions and be paid twice.

But wouldn't the cost in the end be the same? If John Doe got a pension of X/month and Y/month for his ANG service how would that be different from paying him X and some other guy Y? Wouldn't that actually be cheaper than training a civilain pilot to fly F15s, 16s etc. plus presumablly the increased risk of a pilot less experienced with such models screwing up?

I guess I didn't make myself clear I was specificlly interested in interceptor pilots, I don't know if the rules are different for them and the pilots flying C-130s etc.


User currently offlinerfields5421 From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 7607 posts, RR: 32
Reply 15, posted (2 years 1 month 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 22246 times:

Quoting lenbrazil (Reply 14):
If John Doe got a pension of X/month and Y/month for his ANG service how would that be different from paying him X and some other guy Y?

It would actually be cheaper for one person because benefits would be less than for two.

However, the US, and many other nations, have laws against 'double dipping' - basically drawing two salaries, or retirement, for doing one job.

Essentially that is what such a person would be doing - drawing retirement for doing the job in the USAF, and drawing ANG drill pay for doing the same job in the ANG.

Because even though there might be a slight financial savings - the reality is that whenever humans are involved - such positions become holding places for the incompetent, the over aged, the 'friends', etc. If a retiree moves to the ANG, then the ANG does not train new people. At some point, the ANG will be unable to meet mission requirements due to having too large a percentage of over-age pilots and no new young pilots.

But as I mentioned much earlier - the military - at least the US military - is not organized to train a person as a fighter pilot and leave him/her as a fighter pilot for years and years. The US military is organized to train that person to become a leader, where he is much more valuable as a squadron commander, a mentor, a trainer - than just a one skill set fighter pilot.


User currently offlinelenbrazil From Brazil, joined Apr 2006, 114 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (2 years 1 month 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 22172 times:

OK that makes sense, about how long does it take to train a civilian ANG pilot to fly an F-15 or 16 (including the use of canon and missiles etc.)? I don't know why I always assumed the ANG guys were ex-AF.

User currently offlinerfields5421 From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 7607 posts, RR: 32
Reply 17, posted (2 years 1 month 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 22134 times:

Quoting lenbrazil (Reply 16):
I don't know why I always assumed the ANG guys were ex-AF.


They are usually ex-USAF, or ex-USN or USMC pilots. Though reserve folks tend to stay in the same branch of service. They however left active duty after their initial obligation - they did not stay on active duty until reaching retirement age.

One reason many pilots leave the military is family. A lot of families don't do well with the transfers, the pay, the remote bases, the separations. It is a personal decision, and I for one have never tried to keep someone in the military whose spouse was obviously not military spouse material.

Some leave because their children require special medical care or education requirements which are impossible to obtain on many assignments.

Some just don't like the military BS 24/7 every day for 20 + years. They can take it for a few months at a time, thus remain associated through the Guard and Reserve.

I'm not current but back when I was on active duty in the Navy - ALL US Naval Reserve pilots had completed five or six years of active duty. I assume the USAF has a similar track.

Pilot training is done on active duty with a full active duty tour required after completion of training. In my experience most ANG pilots are those who chose not to make the military a full-time career. But they continued to train and fly in their reserve role.

Now, back in the 60s and into the 70s, there were programs to train ANG pilots - such as recent US President George W Bush. He had to spend two years on active duty for his OCS and pilot school. He was committed to another four years of ANG duty, monthly drills, flights, etc. However, soon after he came back to the Texas ANG - the draw down from Vietnam got into full swing.

The US military didn't want those 'weekend warrior' pilots any longer, preferring to use the slots where possible for active duty pilots whose aircraft or squadron was being disbanded.

The role of the Air National Guard, Army National Guard and the flying squadrons of the US Air Force, the US Navy, the US Marine Corps and the US Army Reserve components has changed over the past 30+ years.

They are no longer weekend warriors who never expect to spend more than one weekend a month, one two week period a year on active duty.

Especially in the past 10 years, the NG and Reserve members have become integral parts of the US military. They are no longer 'weekend warriors' and have done a fantastic job.

There is a component in the USAF Reserve and the US Navy Reserve - and I assume the US Army Reserve - where enlisted and officer reserve personnel remain on extended active duty. I also personally know two people who did so in the Arkansas National Guard from the 60s into the 90s - retiring from active duty after 30 years service.

I do know one person who was an E-5 USAF Reserve C-17 Crew Chief, who after completing his Bachelor's degree, became a C-17 pilot.

Though a reserve, he was on full-time active duty. His training was about 18 months long. He was required to commit to five years full-time active duty after training, though he remained a USAF Reserve officer.

(NOTE - I am not a fan of George W. Bush as Texas Governor nor as President. However regarding the 'controversy' over his military / Air National Guard service. He did absolutely nothing wrong.

In the mid-late 60s, two of my older cousins got into the Army National Guard and USAF Reserve. One older cousin and I both ended up on active duty - he joined the USMC after college and was a B/N in F-4s in Vietnam. I joined the Navy before college was over and served 20 years retiring as a Senior Chief including service with a USN squadron in Danang. We don't think less of them. They did what was necessary. So did we.

Unless you lived through it you cannot understand the issues facing young men at that time, knowing our government had no intention to win in Vietnam.

Also unless you were in the military in 1973-77 - you are likely unaware of how quickly the US military was getting rid of the Vietnam 'surplus' people. People like fighter pilots who the military knew had no desire to be career officers. Pilots who were only qualified in obsolete aircraft.

Former President Bush was just one of tens of thousands of people the reserves and national guard encouraged to find a way to leave early and save the government money.)

[Edited 2012-11-25 19:45:26]

User currently offlineHaveBlue From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 2124 posts, RR: 1
Reply 18, posted (2 years 1 month 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 21959 times:

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 17):
Also unless you were in the military in 1973-77 - you are likely unaware of how quickly the US military was getting rid of the Vietnam 'surplus' people. People like fighter pilots who the military knew had no desire to be career officers. Pilots who were only qualified in obsolete aircraft

Very true. My father flew Hueys in Vietnam in 68/69 (335th AHC the Cowboys) and after his tour was sent to Ft. Rucker (where I was born) to flight instruct. Shortly after that happened he was scheduled for an even more advanced position (I can't recall what he said it was) but the drawdown started and he was honorably discharged. Huey pilots were a dime a dozen and the demand wasn't there anymore. On a side note, he still flies Hueys civilian to this day, and I've been lucky enough to share the cockpit numerous times... what a treat!



Here Here for Severe Clear!
User currently offlinelenbrazil From Brazil, joined Apr 2006, 114 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (2 years 1 month 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 21899 times:

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 17):
hey are usually ex-USAF, or ex-USN or USMC pilots. Though reserve folks tend to stay in the same branch of service. They however left active duty after their initial obligation - they did not stay on active duty until reaching retirement age.

Thanks for your detailed and well written reply!!


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