Becoming a Pilot

Experience how everyday people like you get trainded to be fighter pilots


Becoming a Pilot

Young men and women contemplating a career as an Air Force Pilot can look forward to years of exciting and challenging flying in modern aircraft. Flying training in the Air Force not only produces trained pilots but also enhances personal development and officer qualities.

Each year receive about 500 pilot applications, of which 275 are selected for further screening.

Only 70 of these will make it to the Pilot’s Course at the Basic Flying Training School in Tamworth. Pilots commence pilot training on the CT-4B basic flying aircraft. Students then progress to the PC-9A aircraft at No 2 Flying Training School at RAAF Base Pearce.

About 45 will graduate from No 2 Flying Training School with their Pilot Wings. On graduation, pilots undertake further training to convert to operational aircraft, for example C-17 Globemasters.

Click here for more details on Pilot Selection Flight.

Becoming a Fighter Pilot

The RAAF pilot selection and training process is comprehensive, spanning four years on average from basic flying training to graduation from either the F/A-18A/B Hornet or F/A-18F Super Hornet operational conversions. This ensures the professionalism and very high standards of the select few who graduate as qualified Fighter Pilots.

Becoming a fast jet pilot is difficult – for both men and women.

Men and women are required to undergo the same basic fitness tests to become a pilot; however the standards are different for age and gender. Where possible, women have slightly adjusted requirements. For some roles, the requirement can not be adjusted for safety reasons.

As trainees progress from PC-9s to Hawks, they are required to meet advanced physiological requirements to cope with a high G environment. For example, core and neck strength are crucial in a high G environment.

Of the 45 pilots that graduate from Number 2 Flying Training School with their Pilot Wings, only around 15 each year are assessed as capable of flying fast jets, and advance to fast jet training with the Hawk 127.

The Hawk 127 is primarily used for initial or lead-in fighter training to prepare aircrew for operational conversion onto either the F/A-18A/B Hornet or the F/A-18F Super Hornet. The Introductory Fighter Course is run by 79 Squadron at RAAF Base Pearce, and the 14 week course includes general flying, instrument flying, formation flying, night flying and navigation.

Graduates then progress to RAAF Base Williamtown for 20 weeks of instruction in air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons training at Williamtown.

Of those, around 10 will successfully complete their training as fighter pilots and progress to an operational F/A-18 Hornet or F/A-18F Super Hornet conversion course.

Female Pilots

Female pilots in the Air Force are currently flying the following aircraft types:

As at January 2013, there were approximately 30 female aircrew candidates undertaking RAAF pilot or Air Combat Officer training. On completion of their training they will be eligible to be considered, in competition with their peers for a posting to fighter jets, depending on their abilities and personal preferences.

Although women are eligible to fly all aircraft in the Air Force, there are currently no female fast jet pilots. Women are successfully flying fast jets in the United States, France, Turkey, Israel and other nations, and Air Force actively encourages women to apply to fly fast jets in Australia.

Air Force is committed to being an employer of choice and providing equal opportunities for men and women. As at January 2013 women represented 17% of RAAF personnel (or 2,456). As at January 2013 there were 61 female RAAF personnel deployed on overseas operations.

Air Force’s commitment to improving gender diversity is demonstrated through a comprehensive Gender Diversity Strategy. Initiatives include the promotion of mentoring for female members, strategies for improved and expanded flexible working arrangements and support for new parents.