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How to become a pilot in the RAF

Being an RAF pilot is many a young boy’s dream. It is probably one of the most dangerous and exciting jobs in aviation, which is why there is a difficult selection process and fierce competition for places, with around 450 applicants per place.

Applying to the RAF

As long as you are aged between 17 and a half and 25, a UK citizen, holder of dual UK nationality and have five grade C or above GCSEs and any two
A-levels at grades A-C, you can apply for careers in the RAF. It is helpful to have been an active member of the community and having a record of being involved in school clubs and sports. Being a member of the Air Training Corps will give you a better chance of becoming a pilot. Registration
To register your interest, you can go to your nearest Armed Forces Careers Office and ask for the relevant forms. Once this is done, you will need to attend an officer selection presentation, which will explain how the selection process happens. Interviews
Following the presentation, there are one-to-one filter interviews with an AFCO office commander about your achievements, awards and education. There will also be questions about the RAF. If you get through, your application will be sent to RAF Cranwell and you may be invited to OASC, the last stage in officer selection. Evaluation
This is four days of aptitude tests, including numerical reasoning, exercises, an interview with more RAF officers and a medical to ensure that you are fit to fly. Sponsors
Some students are lucky enough to get RAF sponsorship during sixth form or university and in return, have to join their local Air Training Corps, Combined Cadet Force or University Air Squadron. The Armed Forces Careers Service can provide more information.


Once the four days of tests are over, you have to wait 3-4 weeks for the results. If you pass, you can look forward to Initial Officer Training.
All successful applicants go through 30 weeks Initial Officer Training to become a fully commissioned officer of the RAF.
Additional training and flight specialisation
Upon graduation, student pilots undergo aviation training (Elementary Flying Training) to learn how to fly before being selected for either fast-jet, rotary or multi-engine flying and receiving further training on the aircraft type they’ve been assigned to.


Once you are used to flying your particular aircraft on a daily basis, you may be involved in air-to-air combat or sent anywhere in the world on military support or humanitarian aid missions. RAF pilots usually serve for around 12 years.

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