So you want to fly in the Army? The opportunity is there, and even allows you to fly without a college degree unlike all other branches (For more info check out our Street to Seat e-course that looks into getting into an Army cockpit without a college degree HERE). Also, If you’re discounting the Army because you think you’ll only have the chance to fly rotor wing, you’d be wrong (Learn more about the history of the U.S. Army Aviation HERE). The Army flies a few fixed wing platforms comprised of four missions, 11 designs, and 25 series deployed to all 50 states and 11 countries. These fixed wing platforms consist of mostly the C-12, but also the opportunity to fly the UV-18, C-147, C-26, UC-35, C-20 and C-37. The Rotor wing side of the house in the Army flies includes the multiple variants of the UH-60, CH-47, AH-64, and OH-6. It is also important to note the fixed wing platform opportunity in the Army is competitive and pales in comparison to its rotor wing counterparts, but the opportunity is there!
The age limit to fly for the Army both in Active Duty or with the National Guard, before your 33rd birthday at the time of the board selection.
For commitment to the Army, you will incur a 10 Year commitment upon graduation of the Army Aviation Center of Excellence at Fort Novosel, AL. This along with flight school totals around 12ish years.
Now that you know of the airframes and the age limit, it’s important to highlight the different avenues to getting into Army flight school.
- Officer (requires a college degree) (Learn more HERE)
- Warrant Officer (requires a high school diploma or equivalent qualification). Many Warrant Officers also come from prior enlisted soldiers who are accepted into WOCS. (Learn more HERE and HERE)
First, we’ll touch on the Officer side of things. Becoming an Officer in the Army can happen through a commissioning source like USMA, ROTC or evenArmy Officer Candidate School (OCS) (College Degree required) which is a 12-week course in Fort Moore, GA.
To become a Warrant Officer, this entails attending the Army Basic Combat Training (BCT) which is a 9-week course out of Fort Jackson in Columbia, SC. Warrant Officers then will attend Warrant Officer Candidate School (WOCS) which is a 5-week course, similar in its intensity to basic training at Fort Novosel, AL.
Upon receiving your commission from ROTC or USMA or graduation from OCS or WOCS, you will attend Basic Officer Leaders Course (BOLC) or Warrant Officer Basic Course (WOBC). BOLC or WOBC are held at Fort Novosel, AL and are 4-week programs focusing on re-testing skills that have been learned and tested in the process of gaining a commission: Land Navigation, Basic Tactics, Weapons Qualification, a whole lot of Army stuff.
After BOLC or WOBC you will be off to attend Survival Escape Resistance and Evasion (SERE-C) school, which is a course in Fort Novosel, AL. SERE-C is a course is one that’s not really spoken of unless you’ve gone through it. Following SERE-C school, you will begin Army Flight School, formally known as Initial Entry Rotary Wing Training (IERW) in Fort Novosel, AL. IERW currently consists of 4 phases:
- Phase 1: The beginning phase lasts about 2 weeks and consists of pre-flight instruction, aerodynamics, weather and start up procedures.
- Phase 2: Flying begins in phase 2 which lasts about 7-weeks and includes 60 flight hours in the UH-72A Lakota training helicopter. Throughout this phase you will learn about basic flight fundamentals, solo, and learn to perform approaches and basic stage field maneuvers. It is not uncommon for pilots to fly nearly every day in this phase spending half the day on the flight line and the other half doing classroom instruction.
- Phase 3: This phase consists of 30 hours in the flight simulator and 20 hours in the UH-72A Lakota are on syllabus for the 7-weeks of instrument training. You will go from basic instrument interpretation, procedures and navigation to navigation on federal airways using FAA en-route controlling agencies. Upon successful completion of this phase, the students are instrument qualified and receive a helicopter instrument rating.
- Phase 4: The fourth phase of training is the combat skills and dual track phase. This phase is combat-mission oriented. This phase also focuses on extensive night vision goggles training and tactical night operations. Upon completion of phase 4 you will receive your follow-on assignment and airframe. Follow-on assignment and airframe for Active Duty is dependent upon performance throughout flight school and the needs of the Army. National Guard pilots know their airframe going into flight school.
Advanced Graduate Flight Training proceeds IERW and is where students become qualified in the AH-64, CH-47 and UH-60, or learn to become a fixed-wing pilot. The duration of this training is anywhere between 6-14 weeks and varies greatly on the airframe.
Once you wrap up Advanced Graduate Flight Training, you receive your wings and active-duty bubbas PCS to their first unit and National Guard bubbas head back to their home unit.
In regard to Army Aviator PCS’ing timeline, it is common to move units on a revolving 3-4 year basis unless you are with the National Guard, in that case you remain with your unit throughout the duration of your career.
Any of this preliminary info spark your interest? Be sure to check out our other Army e-courses Introduction to U.S. Army Aviation and Street to Seat. Also don’t miss all the remaining articles about the Army BogiDope has to offer by going HERE.