Air Force Drops Pilot Height Requirement

The service wants to attract a more diverse pool of candidates.

Air Force pilot
Women and men outside the Air Force’s previous height ranges are being urged to apply for pilot positions.Samantha Mathison/US Air Force

The US Air Force still needs more pilots, despite the effects of the COVID-19 virus on the rest of the aviation industry. Last week, the Air Force removed one more barrier to recruiting the pilots it so badly needs by eliminating the height requirement for applicants. Under the previous Medical Standards Directory requirement, a pilot applicant was required to stand between 5'4" and 6'5" with a sitting height between 34 and 40 inches. While the service said its goal in dropping the height requirement was to attract a more diverse group of candidates, it admitted in a news release, “The previous height screening criteria eliminated about 44 percent of American women between the age of 20 and 29.”

According to the Air Force Times, “Instead of a blanket height requirement, the Air Force said that it will apply an ‘anthropometric screening process’ to figure out which specific aircraft applicants would be able to fly. These measurements, in addition to standing height, also measure an applicant’s eye height while sitting, buttocks-to-knee length, and arm span, are entered into a computer to determine which aircraft the applicant could and could not safely fit in.”

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