Army aviation can trace its roots to the balloon observers in the Civil War. Steeped in history and tradition, being an Army aviator means you can look forward to a challenging career flying difficult airframes.

The Army mission and aircraft

The mission of Army aviation is to conduct prompt and sustained combat operations. To accomplish this mission, aviation units are generally organized into combat, combat support, and combat service support units.

The Army uses aircraft to provide another prong to the attack in an air-land battle. Aviators in the Army fly differing missions, ranging from attack to medical evacuation. The Army primarily utilizes helicopters, so it conducts all initial flight training in rotary-wing rather than fixed-wing aircraft. The other military branches conduct primary flight training in fixed-wing aircraft.

Army selection criteria/requirements for pilots and demographics

The U.S. Army has developed its selection criteria based on the experiences and traits that past successful warrant and commissioned officer flight candidates have shown. The Army actively recruits and trains previous enlisted personnel from the other branches of the military who want to fly but may not have the civilian educational requirements that the other military services require for flying assignments.

Because so many aviation officers come from an enlisted background, aviation warrant officers understand the needs of (and have an affinity toward) the soldiers on the ground. Demographically, approximately 80 percent of new Army aviation warrant officers come from the enlisted ranks of all the different service branches.

Selection is based on academic qualification, previous flight experience, demonstrated performance and potential, and the following criteria:

  • U.S. citizenship.

  • Age: 18 to 32.

  • Minimum score of 40 on the Selection Instrument for Flight Training (SIFT). This requirement may change over time as this new test is validated.

  • Education: High school graduate (most do have a college degree, but it’s not required).

  • Medical: Ability to meet the standards of a Class 1A flight physical (Army Regulation 40-501).

  • Vision: 20/50 uncorrected and correctable to 20/20 with normal color and depth perception. Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) is waiverable, but the Lasik eye procedure is not.

  • Standard height/weight per Army Regulation 600-9.

  • Eligibility for security clearance.

Army flight training programs

The U.S. Army currently conducts all primary and most advanced training at Fort Rucker, Alabama. (Note: Flight training is the same for warrant and commissioned officers.) Not counting the specific warrant officer candidate training or commissioned officer initial branch training, Army flight school involves approximately 34 to 43 weeks of training, depending on the aircraft you’ll be flying.