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Old 10-06-2023, 10:10 AM
 
Location: NE Mississippi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wartrace View Post
Reading a book called "Catus Airforce" about the Guadalcanal campaign. Many of the fighter and bomber pilots were enlisted. Why are all the fighter/bomber pilots today officers? It seems very wasteful to require all pilots to be officers. Yes, there are many pilots that are warrant officers but why no flying sergeant? The U.S. Marines and Navy had enlisted pilots as well as the Japanese Army & Navy.
Good enough question, I guess.
Tradition, is my answer, but it hasn't always been that way.


Chuck Yeager could not become an astronaut because he had no college degree.
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Old 10-06-2023, 12:13 PM
 
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I’ll never forget the time when we were flying out of Osan on a US Army C-12, going to Gwang Ju Air Base. I had no idea that the pilots weren’t going to be regular commissioned officers. I guess they were Warrant Officers? Also, so bizarre that they were flying in ACUs and didn’t have flight suits on. At first, I thought they were ground crew just waiting for the pilots to board.

Anyway, they did a great job flying the plane, then came back and got us later in the day after we gave our briefings.

Very professional, so based on that experience, I think enlisted and WOs could absolutely do the job if needed.
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Old 10-06-2023, 12:49 PM
 
15,086 posts, read 7,133,536 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Threestep2 View Post
Tell a kid in high school that there are university programs in aviation paid for by airlines with considerably less commitment then ten years plus real pay and options to branch out. On the other hand have them join Civil Air Patrol, get their license, get their instructor and build hours at the local airport while working a side gig then move into the airlines. Nothing personal but military fly boys are mainly button pushers.
Military pilots are hardly "button pushers". That reflects a complete lack of knowledge about military flying.
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Old 10-06-2023, 12:51 PM
 
Location: San Diego CA
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I think it was a stop gap measure initiated during the opening phases of WWII to fill an emergency need for pilots as the Air Force expanded to meet the demands of war. The enlisted pilot program was terminated in 1942. Some enlisted people were grandfathered in and kept flying.

The Japanese through much of WWII had some very competent enlisted pilots in the Army and Navy flying in China before Pearl Harbor and later throughout the Pacific theatre of operations. I believe some of them even achieved Ace status.
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Old 10-06-2023, 12:58 PM
 
Location: On the Chesapeake
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rabbit33 View Post
I think it's been the tradition for fliers to be officers ever since the beginning, the enlisted airmen during WW2 (and maybe some during Korea?) was an anomaly driven by need.

I would suspect the "officers only" tradition may have come from the high degree of autonomy and independent decision-making of flyers vs. many other troops. Consider also that in the WW1 timeframe, the enlisted ranks (I think) tended to be viewed far more as expendable grunts without decision making capability. And further, I think that the autonomy of pilots in the WW1 timeframe with no radio communication, underdeveloped squadron techniques, and all that, was probably a lot higher than it is today.
I think you'll find that aviators in WWI tended to be from the upper social classes.

The RAF had more of a tradition of enlisted pilots than did the USAAF, and again I'd bet you'll find that the flying cohort of all the US air arms at the beginning of WWII again came, at least at first, from the upper social classes and the Academies.

Yeager may be a special case but he wasn't originally slated to fly, he was originally a mechanic and only got to flight school when the standards were loosened.

The US Army currently trains high school graduates to fly helicopters (those guys become Warrants) but it really prefers the candidates have a couple years of at least community college.
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Old 10-06-2023, 04:34 PM
 
28,563 posts, read 18,566,859 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rabbit33 View Post
I think it's been the tradition for fliers to be officers ever since the beginning, the enlisted airmen during WW2 (and maybe some during Korea?) was an anomaly driven by need.

I would suspect the "officers only" tradition may have come from the high degree of autonomy and independent decision-making of flyers vs. many other troops. Consider also that in the WW1 timeframe, the enlisted ranks (I think) tended to be viewed far more as expendable grunts without decision making capability. And further, I think that the autonomy of pilots in the WW1 timeframe with no radio communication, underdeveloped squadron techniques, and all that, was probably a lot higher than it is today.
Sounds like a possible rational for fighter pilots. Less so for crewed aircraft.
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Old 10-06-2023, 04:46 PM
 
Location: Sunnybrook Farm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ralph_Kirk View Post
Sounds like a possible rational for fighter pilots. Less so for crewed aircraft.
I'm not saying it's valid, especially not now. Just theorizing about how the tradition got started.
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Old 10-06-2023, 06:11 PM
 
Location: Eastern Washington
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Well, the Army has long had a Warrant Officer Flight program. That's not exactly enlisted but you don't have to have a degree to get in, although they will hold out for a couple of years of at least community college when they can.

I guess the other services insist on a degree "because they can" - pilot is still considered a plum job, you can get out and go into any of several civilian flying jobs, with the airlines just being one of the most obvious, there are a lot of flying jobs out there. They hold out for 20/20 vision at least when you go in. If you can fill your slots with guys who remind you of Neil Armstrong, well, why not use these people?

I do wonder why they don't offer drone pilot jobs to kids who play a lot of video games, seems like a perfect fit. I have read on here that when "real" pilots get transferred to "flying" drones, they don't much like it. A fat kid who would be 4F otherwise might very well do great as a drone pilot. You could have an officer oversee a half dozen of them or so, to answer "shoot or don't shoot" questions and help with emergencies.
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Old 10-06-2023, 06:14 PM
 
Location: Amelia Island
4,792 posts, read 5,957,988 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wartrace View Post
Reading a book called "Catus Airforce" about the Guadalcanal campaign. Many of the fighter and bomber pilots were enlisted. Why are all the fighter/bomber pilots today officers? It seems very wasteful to require all pilots to be officers. Yes, there are many pilots that are warrant officers but why no flying sergeant? The U.S. Marines and Navy had enlisted pilots as well as the Japanese Army & Navy.
They were much different times and I wish I had known about my dads and my moms two bothers time in the service during WW II.

Long story short was both my moms brothers left high school during the depression as my grandmother couldn’t put enough food on the table by herself for the nine children.

All three were enlisted and became pilots during WW II. That generation did not talk about the war at least my family didn’t. I only have two pictures of my dad in uniform. One as a Marine and the other in a Navy uniform and on the back it says Naval Flight School, NC. All three flew combat in the Pacific.

Only one stayed in and retired and that uncles scrap book was given to me and he started out as radioman on a Naval ship stationed in Alaska before the war. He retired as a LT. Commander.

It was a period of time where the military couldn’t get enough pilots for the war especially on two fronts.

With the push towards autonomous aircraft I can’t see the military ever changing the requirements for pilots to be officers.

From a quick google search.

With World War II in full swing and the shift from ship-to-ship fighting became secondary to over-the-horizon, aviation-based offensive tactics expanded the need for pilots exponentially. The Bureau of Navigation further expanded the ratings for NAP to include second and third class petty officers. During World War II, at least 2,200 NAPs earned their wings (according to Bluejackets.com). By 1948 when Congress discontinued the training program for enlisted naval aviation pilots, nearly 3,800 enlisted sailors had completed the training program since it was established. Though there would be no new NAPs following April 2, 1948, those existing in the rating who continued to serve on active duty, also maintained their rating and flight status in dwindling numbers. On January. 31, 1981, the last Navy enlisted pilot, ACCM Robert Jones (who had been designated in 1947) retired, closing the book on the NAP rating and insignia.

Last edited by JBtwinz; 10-06-2023 at 06:23 PM..
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Old 10-06-2023, 06:28 PM
 
Location: Elysium
12,277 posts, read 7,981,692 times
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In the US Armed Forces the Flight Officer Act of 1942 saw all enlisted "flying sergeants" receive warrants to Flight Officer or a commission to Lieutenant to lead the new pilots. By 1945 all were commissioned officers until the Army and a few Naval aviators ramped up its requirements for helicopter pilots. The high school flight school candidates
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