Program May Offer Civilian Pilots an Advantage for a USAF Career

Pilots also qualify with previous Air National Guard, Reserve or ROTC experience.

Civilian pilots with previous Air National Guard or Reserve experience might qualify for the USAF’s Civil Path to Wings program.USAF/Lauren Ely

Thirty-three aspiring US Air Force pilots with previous civilian flight experience have joined a new program that may allow them to jump ahead in training according to a recent story at Military.com. The USAF’s “Civil Path to Wings program has approved pilot candidates from active-duty, Air National Guard and Reserve units; graduates from the Reserve Officer Training Corps; and civilian applicants aspiring to earn their Air Force wings, according to Air Education and Training Command, or AETC.”

”It is not a ‘waiver’ program,” said Aryn Lockhart, a spokeswoman for the 19th Air Force, part of AETC, in an email. “Candidates who volunteer for the program have their flying skills validated by the 19th Air Force and are then placed in training programs applicable to their skillsets.” The program applies only to pilots of fixed-wing and heavy aircraft, such as the C-17 Globemaster III. Pilots interested in flying fighters must still attend traditional undergraduate pilot training. “Applicants are screened on a set of demonstrated piloting skills, along with written and oral exams to hopefully accelerate their training in the aviation pipeline since it builds off their prior flight background,” Lockhart said. “Well-qualified applicants will take part in the Accelerated Path to Wings program, which is shorter than traditional training.”

”While the Air Force is developing more personalized programs directed at streamlining training for incoming pilots through virtual reality and simulation, it’s also looking to outsource some training to private industry in an attempt to churn out 1,500 new pilots a year. The Air Force fell short of that goal in fiscal 2020, producing only 1,263 pilots. In fiscal 2020, the Air Force came up 1,925 pilots short of the roughly 21,000 it needs overall,” spokeswoman Lt. Col. Malinda Singleton told Military.com in March.