Want to fly? Don't let your height stop you

  • Published
  • Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas -- Those who aspire to one day become a U.S. Air Force aviator must first meet several requirements, including height, before they are considered for pilot training.

But don’t give up the dream of flying just because you are outside the 5-foot-4-inch minimum to 6-foot-5-inch maximum.

“Don’t automatically assume you don’t qualify because of your height,” said Maj. Gen. Craig Wills, 19th Air Force commander. “We have an incredibly thorough process for determining whether you can safely operate our assigned aircraft. Don’t let a number on a website stop you from pursuing a career with the best Air Force in the world.”

Maj. Nick Harris, an instructor pilot with the 25th Flying Training Squadron at Vance Air Force Base, Oklahoma, stands 6 feet 6 inches tall. He has flown the A-10 Thunderbolt II, a twin-engine close air support aircraft capable of destroying tanks. Currently he teaches student pilots to fly the T-38 Talon, a twin-engine high-altitude, supersonic trainer jet.

Capt. Jessica Wallander, an instructor pilot with the 3rd Flying Training Squadron at Vance Air Force Base, stands 5 feet 3 inches tall. She currently flies the T-1A Jayhawk, a medium-range, twin-engine jet trainer, preparing student pilots to fly transport and air-refueling aircraft.

Both Air Force pilots’ height was waivered.

“Height restrictions are an operational limitation, not a medical one, but the majority of our aircraft can accommodate pilots from across the height spectrum,” said Wills. “The bottom line is that the vast majority of the folks who are below 5 foot 4 inches and have applied for a waiver in the past five years have been approved.”

The pilot waiver system is in place to determine whether pilot applicants of all sizes can safely operate assigned aircraft and applicants who are significantly taller or shorter than average may require special screening.

“Some people may still not qualify,” Wills said. “But, the Air Force is doing everything that we can to make a career in aviation an option for as many people as possible. The waiver process is another example of how we can expand the pool of eligible pilot candidates.”

For more information about height waivers, contact the Air Force Call Center at 1-800-423-8723.