Are Fighter Jets Hard to Fly?

Fighter With Mask
Fighter With Mask

Whether you just finished Top Gun: Maverick or you simply were thinking about becoming a fighter jet pilot, you might be wondering about the difficulty of flying fighter jets. Fighter jets are among the most remarkable machines in the world, so having a curiosity about them is completely natural.

To answer your question — yes, flying a fighter jet is incredibly difficult. That’s why it’s reserved for the very best pilots and why it takes years of training to be able to fly one. However, recent advancements in technology have certainly made it easier.

If you’re curious to learn more about flying fighter jets and the difficulty of flying them, then keep reading! We’ll tell you more about fighter jets, how to become a fighter jet pilot, and what the process of flying a fighter jet looks like.

Can a Normal Person Fly a Fighter Jet?

The simple answer is no. While it might be fun to imagine going for a joyride in a fighter jet, the reality is that only highly trained pilots can fly them. It’s not like driving a car–you can’t just get in and go.

Fighter jets are designed for speed, agility, and manoeuvrability. They can fly at supersonic speeds and make turns that would make a normal person blackout. So, unless you have the training to handle all of that, it’s best to leave the flying to the professionals.

Now, that’s not to say that you can’t ever achieve fighter pilot status. But, you can’t just get into a plane and fly it without having all of the training and experience that is required to operate this extremely advanced machinery. Still, there are some ways that you can achieve the experience of flying a fighter jet.

Flying Simulators

If you want to get the experience of flying a fighter jet without actually doing it, then you can try flying simulators. There are many different types of flight simulators available, and some of them are specifically designed to mimic the experience of flying a fighter jet.

Of course, simulators will never be exactly the same as the real thing. But, they can give you a pretty good idea of what it’s like to fly a fighter jet and how difficult it can be. Plus, they’re a lot of fun!

Ride With an Experienced Pilot

If you want to get a little closer to the real thing, then you can try riding with an experienced pilot. This is actually a pretty common way for people to experience fighter jets.

There are many businesses that offer rides in fighter jets. You’ll be able to strap into the back seat and enjoy the ride as the pilot takes you for a spin. While you won’t be able to fly the jet yourself, you’ll still get an idea of what it’s like and how difficult it can be.

Train to Become a Pilot

Of course, the best way to experience flying a fighter jet is to actually train to become a pilot. This is obviously a lot more difficult than just taking a ride or playing a simulator game. But, it will give you the full experience of what it’s like to fly a fighter jet.

If you’re interested in becoming a fighter jet pilot, then you should start by talking to your local air force recruiter. They will be able to tell you more about the process and what is required.

In general, you’ll need to have a college degree, pass a physical examination, and complete Officer Training School. After that, you’ll need to attend Pilot Training school, where you’ll learn how to fly different types of aircraft.

Once you’ve completed all of that, you’ll be able to apply for a position as a fighter jet pilot. If you’re accepted, then you’ll finally be able to experience what it’s like to fly one of these amazing machines.

Is Being a Fighter Pilot Tough?

Now that you know a little more about fighter jets and how to become a pilot, you might be wondering if it’s really as tough as it sounds. After all, it does take years of training and experience to become a fighter jet pilot.

The truth is, being a fighter jet pilot is certainly not an easy job. It takes a lot of skill, coordination, and concentration to fly one of these jets. Plus, you need to be able to make split-second decisions in order to stay safe.

So, while it might not be easy, it’s certainly a very rewarding career. If you have the passion and determination to become a fighter jet pilot, then you’ll find that it’s an incredible experience.

How Long Does it Take to Learn to Fly a Fighter Jet?

In most cases, it takes years to ascend to become a fighter pilot. This is because of the amount of trust and good judgment that fighter pilots need to exhibit. It’s not easy to train these lethal fighters, and for that reason, the success rate of applicants isn’t high. This highly selective category of fighter is not easy to train in a short period of time. In total, becoming a pilot in the Air Force can take 3 years or more. For the Navy, you can become a pilot in about 2 years.

Requirements for Being a Fighter Pilot

Each branch of the military has its own requirements for what it takes to become a fighter pilot in that branch. The one thing that they have in common is that regardless of which branch you go through, the requirements are quite strict, and not many people make it past the training. Here is a rundown of what each branch of the military requires to be a part of their pilot program.

Navy

To be a pilot in the navy, you need to be in excellent physical shape. This goes beyond the generally fit physique that you need to have to even be in the armed forces. You must be in good condition, have the right height and weight, and meet vision quality thresholds.

To be accepted, you will need to have eyesight that is 20/40 or better, and you also cannot be colorblind.

As for height and weight requirements–navy fighter pilots must be at least 5′ 2″ and not taller than 6′ 5″. You will also need to weigh in consistently under 245 pounds. You cannot weigh less than 103 pounds if you want to be a fighter pilot.

As an example of how strict these requirements are and how few people actually make it into the program, the US Naval Academy class of 2024 reported that 15,669 applicants tried to gain entry. In total, they admitted only 1,194. It’s estimated that 1,100 in total will graduate 3 years from now. Of those who graduate, only about 240 will be selected to actually become a pilot for the Navy. Not even all of those selected will become fighter pilots. Some will perform other duties on a carrier or work in maintenance.

Air Force

Air Force requirements for their fighter pilot program are equally as strict, if not more. The program requires that you be between the ages of 18 and 33. You also must be between 5’4″ and 6’5″. As of now, there is no published weight limit.

The vision requirements for the Air Force are much more strict. The Air Force fields a very elite fighter pilot group, and as such, they are particularly selective of who they allow being a pilot.

To be a pilot in the AIr Force, you must have 20/70 in both eyes for near vision. You must also have 20/200 or better for distant vision. You can’t have colorblindness or poor depth perception, or any condition that would affect either of these things.

As for physical shape, you must be in excellent physical condition, have no prior drug use, and you cannot have a history of asthma or ADHD. Certain surgeries could also disqualify you from becoming a pilot for the Air Force.

Marines

Since the Air Force fields the best Air Force and makes every effort to make their fighter pilots some of the best in the world, the Marines train with them. As such, the requirements to become a fighter pilot in the Marines are much the same as they are in the Air Force.

However, there is some additional training that you will have to go through if you want to pursue this path. For one, basic training for the marines is tougher than any other branch. You’ll need to go through additional infantry training, which can be highly difficult.

As for becoming a fighter pilot, however, the training schedule is identical to the Air Force candidates.

Key Takeaways

Here are some of the key takeaways from our deep dive into the difficulty of becoming a fighter pilot and flying a fighter jet:

Flying a fighter jet is by no means easy. It takes years to train well enough to operate a fighter jet. You can be a fighter pilot in the Air Force, Navy, or Marines

Now that you know this information, you can decide whether becoming a fighter pilot or aspiring to fly a fighter jet is right for you!

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