ALTUS, Okla. (TNN) - There is a great need for pilots in the Air Force and officials from Altus Air Force Base are busting a few myths about the requirements to do the job.
One of those requirements is height. The Air Force wants its pilots to be between five foot four and six foot five, but there’s actually a lot of wiggle room with that requirement. In fact, over the last few years, about 90-percent of the people who are not in that range but still want to fly were able to do receive a waiver to do so.
Across the country, the Air Force is looking for more pilots.
"That’s how we defend our nation. It’s how we execute the national defense strategy. When we’re short on pilots, we’re short on being able to serve this country,” said Captain Alana Benischek.
"Not only to backfill our retiring pilots, but to fill the need for the new aircraft coming on board, we have to get more pilots in seats. In order for us to defend the nation and carry out the mission that we’re tasked and charged to do, we’ve got to have pilots in those seats to be able to fly those aircraft,” said Major Tyler Price.
There are several requirements you need to meet if you want to become a pilot, including hitting a height requirement.
"The 64 to 77 inches is there primarily as a safety factor to make sure folks are safe enough to fly the aircraft that the Air Force has deployed for them to fly in. But also, to make sure people are able to see the things they need to see and do the job they need to do,” Price said.
While the Air Force likes every pilot to meet their set requirements, they won’t actually turn you away just for not meeting them. Instead, you can fill out a waiver that could allow you to continue to follow your dreams, as both Captain Benischek and Major Price did themselves.
"They don’t need to be limited by their height, they might feel like they can’t be a pilot because they’re short or too tall but there is a process. I’m one inch too short technically and I got a waiver to be a pilot. The Air Force will send you through a waiver process and make sure it is safe for you to fit in specific aircraft,” Benischek said.
"Never take no for an answer. Me personally, as a flight doc, I do fly. I have to meet the same requirements that these pilots have to meet as well and I personally didn’t meet some of the requirements for certain things. But through a process of waivers, I was able to be approved and I personally am a testament to that and able to fly. If that is a dream of yours to be in the air and to serve this nation in the Air Force, give it a shot,” Price said.
There is the chance to get a waiver for any of the requirements, so they encourage anyone who has any interest in becoming a pilot to give it a shot. Captain Benischek also encouraged women who want to be pilots to get involved, saying only about 5 or 10 percent of pilots are women, which is a number she’d like to see much higher.