How to get an Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT) slot with the Air National Guard
(written by an actual applicant)
Pilot training slots in the Air Force are getting harder to come by. As a civilian, our options are many, and those who want to fly will get there by any means necessary.
A civilian can apply for a pilot slot with the Active Duty Air Force and go through OTS, apply to the Air Force Reserves, or apply to the Air National Guard. This document will focus on the Air National Guard side of the house, but may also be applied in part to the Reserves as their process is similar.
The regs currently state you must enter UPT before your 30th birthday. Know that the Guard usually hires a year in advance (if hired tomorrow, you probably won’t be attending UPT for another year). Plan accordingly. Get started now – don’t let this time go by. Be in good physical condition. Don’t have any skeletons in your closet.
Typically, Air National Guard units across the country are allotted one to two UPT slots per fiscal year (FY). The process is almost exactly the same across every unit.
Guard units have a window of time where they accept pilot training application packets (often simplified to “packets” or “packages”). This window is usually open from 6 months before until 2 months before the interviews. More people apply than are accepted to interview. The breakdown is typically 10% of applicants will be asked to interview. From this interview, 1 or 2 applicants are selected to attend UPT and 1 or 2 alternates will be chosen should any problems occur with the primary selects.
While every pilot slot is a challenge to achieve, some units have higher competition than others due to 1) airframe, 2) location, and/or 3) mission.
You need to start NOW on this process. It typically takes over a year from start to finish (getting hired).
As a civilian, the first thing that you need to do is take the required tests. All units require you to have scores from the tests at the time of the application. The Air Force Officer Qualifying Test (AFOQT) is a test similar to the SAT. Some sections are geared more towards aeronautics and technical areas. Check out our AFOQT page for more information on how to study for this exam, as it is quite important to getting an interview and succeeding in obtaining a pilot slot. ARCO is a company that makes the best test prep book. Amazon.com should have this book available. Sufficient time should be taken to study for this test. At least a month of studying should be used. This test can only be taken twice and only the last one counts. You must wait 180 days before retake. (Waivers are available to take it more than twice, but you shouldn’t have to).
The next test that needs to be taken is the Basic Attributes Test (BAT). This test can not be studied for, and the best advice is to get a good night’s rest and eat a good breakfast before taking it. The test is done on a computer with two joy sticks. Not much can be said about this test, but it is much like a video game. At the end, a series of questions are asked. Some information can be found about this test online, but because of the rules, not much information is available. This test can only be taken twice and only the last one counts. You must wait 180 days before retake. (Waivers are available to take it more than twice, but you shouldn’t have to). NOTE: The BAT has been replaced by the Test of Basic Aviation Skills (TBAS), but it is still essentially a joystick-based, computer-game-like test. Read more about the TBAS here.
After you have taken these two tests, you will be issued a Pilot Candidate Selection Method (PCSM) number. This number is a percentile that is supposed to predict how well one will do in pilot training. The pilot portion of your AFOQT along with your BAT score and flying hours go into an algorithm that gives this number. Nobody knows what this algorithm is as the Air Force keeps that information secret. Your PCSM score can go up as you accrue flight hours.
Contact your local ANG recruiter to set these tests up.
Finding a Unit
Check out our ANG unit pages for information on each guard unit. www.goang.com and www.ang.af.mil have units listed by state and airframe. Get to know the units in your local area and units you would like to apply to. Get in contact with recruiters there, UPT Selection Board Officials, pilots... anybody. You need to get your foot in the door.
When is your next UPT Selection Board?