Military Pilot

Military pilots are highly trained professional pilots who work for the air force or army, flying military aircraft.

Military pilots perform a variety of duties and may, for example, transport military cargo and passengers. They may conduct reconnaissance where high-flying photographically equipped aircraft are used. They could be involved in aerial combat where fighter aircraft are used as weapons’ platforms.

The duties of military pilots depend to some extent on the type of aircraft on which they were trained. More experienced military pilots could train new recruits as well as be involved in the conversion training of qualified pilots.

There are usually two pilots on board during military aircraft operations, the pilot-in-command (captain) and the co-pilot (first officer). There may, however be more, depending on the type of aircraft and the specific operation.

The captain is responsible for the safety of the aircraft, passengers, crew and cargo. The captain supervises the crew, giving instructions, making decisions, checking the aircraft, route, weather and specific operational orders before take-off. The co-pilot assists or relieves the captain in the operation of the aircraft. The co-pilot also monitors flight instruments.

Personal Requirements

  • excellent health and stamina
  • good hearing, eyesight and good colour discrimination
  • no history of organic or nervous disease, mental disorders, drug addiction or alcoholism
  • responsible
  • above average intelligence
  • excellent leadership abilities
  • able to work well under stress
  • emotionally stable and mature
  • able to work in a team
  • undergo a selection procedure

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

National Senior Certificate

What to Study

SA Air Force: The training in the SA Air Force is physically and mentally very demanding. The applicant must be a South African citizen, medically fit and between 17 and 25 years old when training commences.

After exhaustive medical and psychological screening, pupil pilots are sent to the flying training school to qualify as pilots and be awarded their wings. After completing this training pilot officers have to serve contract periods with the SA Air Force.

Advanced Training: Pupil pilots start training on Pilatus PC 7 (MKII) (Astra) aircraft. After successfully completing this training and serving the required flight hours pilots may do conversion training on other aircraft eg. helicopters or cheetahs.

After obtaining their wings, candidates may apply for further studies at the Military Academy or undertake a BSc degree at an approved university.


  • SA Air Force
  • self-employment, as a freelance pilot with charter companies or with an instructor’s rating work at flying schools on a freelance basis.

Further Information

Airline Pilots’ Association of South Africa (ALPA- SA)
P O Box 796
Kempton Park, 1620
Tel: (011) 394-5310

South African National Defence Force (SANDF)
Media Liaison Officer
Department of Defence Information Centre
Private Bag X161
Pretoria, 0001
Tel: (012) 355-6372/3

South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA)
Ikhaya Lokundiza
Building 16, Treur Close
Waterfall Park, Bekker Street
Tel: (011) 545-1000

Getting Started

  • try to obtain vacation or voluntary work at an airport or in the Airforce
  • make an appointment to speak to a military pilot about this type of career

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