Welcome to Flightinfo.com

  • Register now and join the discussion
  • Friendliest aviation Ccmmunity on the web
  • Modern site for PC's, Phones, Tablets - no 3rd party apps required
  • Ask questions, help others, promote aviation
  • Share the passion for aviation
  • Invite everyone to Flightinfo.com and let's have fun

Does prior flight experience help?

Welcome to Flightinfo.com

  • Register now and join the discussion
  • Modern secure site, no 3rd party apps required
  • Invite your friends
  • Share the passion of aviation
  • Friendliest aviation community on the web


Well-known member
Jan 26, 2002
I have a commercial pilots license and my CFII. My total time is 1200 hours with 500 multi. I have also been flying a King Air 200. Does this flight time help when applying to the military for a flight position? Or do they not care and teach people from scratch?I have been thinking about making the military a career. Are they still looking for pilots?? Any advice, please.
I don't think it will help on its own. However, the training and knowledge you have acquired along the way WILL help you score better on the FAST (Flight Aptitude Stanine Test?) and will therefore put you higher in the stack of applicants.
Flight time up to 200 hours will boast your PCSM, one of the scores that is looked at if you're trying to be selected for active duty. If you want to go into the Guard or Reserve your King Air flight time will help you at the interview.

Good Luck.
Does this flight time help when applying to the military for a flight position? Or do they not care and teach people from scratch?

The flight time may help on your application, and having a couple hundred hours will generally give you a helpful amount of airmanship. However, the pilot training program (Air Force, anyway) is designed to be a program from ground zero; they design it as if you're walking in the door knowing absolutely nothing about flying
I went to pilot training twice. The first time, I had little or no prior training, and the second time I had a decent amount of time built up.

The first time, I attended Army Initial Entry Rotary Wing flight school. I had all of 2.7 hours of fixed wing time under my belt, which didn't really help a whole lot. But one thing did help me alot. I grew up around aircraft, and just knowing what a localizer was and being familiar with the terminology made it less confusing to learn. Stick-and-rudder wise, I started at zero. We had one girl in our class who was a CFI in helos, and she didn't have too many problems. Learning the "hands-on" part was the hardest aspect for me, especially during instrument training. I can honestly say I worked my butt off in Army pilot training.

The second time around, I went through Air Force SUPT, and I had about 400 hours total when I showed up at Laughlin AFB. About 50 of that was C172 time that I got through IFT. The other 350 was logged in UH-1s and TH-67 helicopters. The academics were very easy for me, because it was all the familiar stuff. The stick-and-rudder part was pretty easy too. There were things I had to learn to do that I had never done before, mostly in the arena of acrobatics, but after a few tries, that was pretty easy.

Perhaps the thing that prior flight experienced helped me the most was in the instrument training. Aside from a few Air Force rules that differed with the FAA methods (the AF changed to the FAA method right at the end of pilot training with a re-written instrument manual), the flying was relatively easy. Granted, you still need to pay attention and apply yourself and fly that airplane well. But compared to learning instruments without prior instrument time, it was very easy.

The hardest thing I had to deal with was flying the Air Force way. Each branch has it's own regulations on top of the FAA regs. They also have their own "techniques" (sometimes called "tech-cedures" because even though they are techniques, people get upset when you don't do it that way). Incorporating those regs and techniques was the thing I worked at most in pilot training...and losing all those old Army habits.

All in all, I can say that having prior instrument experience was perhaps the #1 greatest thing that helped me. That, and I believe that civilian and Army pilots get better instrument training. In the Army, we routinely did partial-panel, flying with a mag compass only, and we did emergency landings in the soup as well. In the Air Force, I never saw partial-panel, mag compass navigation, or any of that other stuff that I hated so much in the Instrument phases of the past. That said, I think it made me a better IMC pilot and helped me master a scan, which in turn helped me in the Air Force program.

Bottom line: you're prior training will help you SOME in the VFR training. But I have to say....flying around in a pattern with 11 other aircraft at 200 knots can only be experienced in Air Force UPT. You're greatest asset, with your prior experience, will be your ability to talk on the radio, have some situational awareness that the other students won't have, and you'll have an IMC scan so that you can happily fly on instruments all day while your classmates are still trying to figure out how to maintain altitude in level flight.

That being said, don't assume that you will just walk in there and be #1. You still have to work for it. Fly lazy, and the IPs will know it, and you're flying will suffer. Honestly, MOST people with prior experience do fairly well in UPT. SOME do not, and I honestly believe it's because they just didn't apply themselves. They felt like because they had all this extra time, they could just breeze through. If you do get a slot, still work hard. It will pay off in the end with a great assignment.
Just one sentence

It won't hurt that's for sure!
I will second exactly what HueyPilot said. The only thing different in my experience was that when I applied I had some acro time in a Pitts S2B. This set me apart since the last pilot my unit hired washed out for airsickness.


Huey - class at Laughlin? 00-01 here...
Dumb question time ...

Why does the military train the tanker trash in the T-1s/BE400s and have the fighter jocks in the T-38s, etc. Are the systems in the T-1 'more' similar to the 707s and DC10s, and T-38 systems 'more' similar to the F-16 (or whatever)?

Curious Minh

(Former grunt extrordinaire ... loved the A-10 in the field!)
Why does the military train the tanker trash in the T-1s and have the fighter jocks in the T-38s. Are the systems in the T-1 'more' similar to the 707s and DC10s, and T-38 systems 'more' similar to the F-16 (or whatever)?

While the T-1 systems are more comparable to what is found in the tankers and heavies, it's the handling characteristics of the jet and the crew concept that sets the two apart. T-1 students are taught more of a 'within-the cockpit' crew concept while the T-38 students are taught the single seat mentality under the watchful eye of a flight lead. The 38C model is supposed to be out soon, but until then the 38 avionics aren't much like fighters (with the possible exception of the Hog, which I've never seen, but I know they don't have radar). The 38 has no HUD and its avionics consist of a TACAN, CDI, ILS, and one UHF radio.
I graduated 01-12 about a year ago.

The T-1 gets a pilot ready for heavy flying because heavies have their own set of peculiar problems that the T-38 doesn't really train you for. While TOLD is important in any aircraft, it's pretty important in the heavy community because of the takeoff climb gradients, braking, etc are limiting factors for heavy jets. The crew concept is hit upon pretty heavily too. The 38 students in my class loved to make fun of the CRM aspect of the T-1...they'd say things like "why do you have to ask permission from the other guy to push the power up?". They simply had no clue as to how heavy crews talk to each other in the cockpit, because they weren't trained that way. The systems of the T-1 aren't really like those in most of the heavies....the avionics in the T-1 are pretty complicated, and better than most of the aircraft in the USAF fleet. The systems of the T-1 are pretty simple and straightforward, which can't really be said of the older, much larger heavies out there.

Everyone I've talked to says the T-1 handles much worse than most of the heavies out there. That's because it has roll spoilers instead of ailerons. The T-1 is no T-38, but it does have it's quirks. It's not particularly easy to land in a crosswind, because of the full-span flaps, relatively low wing loading, and the roll spoilers. That, and you have to land with the yaw damper off, which makes it particularly squirrelly.

Latest resources