How to Become an Air Force Pilot via OTS
||Air Force OTS Basics – What is it, why is it, and is it for you?
OTS is Officer Training School – a 12-week boot-camp style program that exists to graduate commissioned officers in a fast, flexible manner. (Fast, you say? Then why does the application/selection process take so long? It’s “fast” from the Air Force perspective, when compared to the four-year pipeline of the Academy and ROTC). The Air Force commissions most of its officers (and pilots) from the Academy and ROTC. OTS is more flexible (boards can be added or cancelled easily) and exists to meet the remaining needs of the Air Force after ROTC and Academy graduates have been accounted for. Thus, if the number of Academy and ROTC pilot-selects is sufficient, or if the need for pilots has decreased, there will be fewer OTS pilot slots, and vice versa (the same concept holds for OTS slots in general). According to the Air Force Recruiting Service, OTS selects 100-120 of the 800-1000 Air Force pilot candidates each year. Bottom line: The Air Force pilot selection process for OTS can be very competitive, and in some years may be impossible (few/no boards). For more information on Air Force OTS in general, visit the OTS website.
What does this mean for you if you want a pilot slot? First, if you have at least two years remaining in your college education – consider ROTC! You may get some $$$ for your college expenses, you can usually stay at your current institution, and (though you have to participate in ROTC activities) you’ll essentially continue on as you have been. Your chances of getting a pilot slot (and a commission in general) out of ROTC are much better than OTS. For more information, compare the scores of ROTC and OTS pilot-selects on our pilot slot stats page. If you’re interested in seeing what the ROTC pilot slot process is like, check out our ROTC pilot slot page. Second, you need to decide which is more important to you – becoming an Air Force pilot or becoming an Air Force officer? There are other flying career fields, such as the Combat Systems Officer (i.e. navigator-by-a-new-name) career field, that may offer you better chances. However, if you have your sights set on becoming an Air Force pilot and ROTC isn’t an option don’t give up! If you're qualified and can put together an awesome application package, you could be one of those 100 or so pilot candidates selected each year- on your way to Maxwell and UPT! GOOD LUCK!
I. The Air Force Pilot Selection Process Via OTS
II. Making Your Air Force OTS Application Competitive
III. Just How Competitive? OTS Requirements - Selection Statistics
IV. The Results Are Out - Now What?
The Air Force Pilot Selection Process for OTS
First, review the information on this page, on AirForceOTS.com (a great site for posting questions and communicating with others going through the same process) and on the links to the left. (The AF Recruiting Service used to put a lot of good information on the web, but has unfortunately put its officer recruiting information on the AF Portal, where you can't access it unless you're already affiliated with the Air Force. We've tried to pull together the latest information from what we can find on the web, but if you know something has changed, please click the link below this article ("Be a Team Player") to update our info!). Once you’ve armed yourself with information, it’s time to talk to a recruiter (OR, if you’re currently active duty enlisted, your base education office). You will have to submit your application package via a recruiter (civilian) or your base education office (active duty enlisted). NOTE: If you’re a member of the guard or reserve, you must submit your application package via a recruiter.
OTS Application Requirements
The OTS application package for pilot candidates is fairly involved and lengthy. There will likely be additional forms, but listed below are the key pieces of any rated application. The listing below contains only short descriptions of each element, for more information on maximizing your application see “Making Your Application Competitive” below.