Enlisted pilots? Even command chiefs disagree

Has the time come for the Air Force to put enlisted airmen in the cockpit? Even among some command chief master sergeants, there’s a difference of opinion.Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh is due to make a decision this November on whether enlisted airmen should be allowed to fly drone aircraft, and has said that could open the door to enlisted airmen flying manned aircraft as well.And at a panel discussion at the Air Force Association’s Air and Space Conference on Monday, some command chief master sergeants had different thoughts on whether the Air Force is ready for enlisted airmen to fly alongside officers.

Source: Enlisted pilots? Even command chiefs disagree

If only there was a service that used warrant officers as aviators, and enlisted RPA operators that the Air Force could learn from.

11 thoughts on “Enlisted pilots? Even command chiefs disagree”

  1. “If only there was a service that used warrant officers as aviators, and enlisted RPA operators that the Air Force could learn from.”

    The Air Force leadership is way,way,way to smart to look to others for examples that work.

  2. …And if there were only a historical record of NCO aviators which we could study…

    A while back Jim Dunnigan pointed out that an M-1 Abrams costs over $8 million, which is close to that of a third generation fighter. NCOs seem to do pretty well as tank commanders. 🙂

    If memory serves it was HH Arnold who insisted that all USAF pilots be commissioned. Thanks, Hap.

    1. Marshall required that any pilot that released weapons form an aircraft was to be commissioned. People like Yeager, ended up becoming push button ossifers as a result.

      I sat next to a retired A-10 driver on a flight to New Mexico back in 2010 and we talked about such things. I predicted the USAF would be forced to revive Warrant Officers. I still think it’s going to happen.

  3. Back in the 90s, the Pave Low community had a couple of enlisted gunners cross over to the Army as warrant officers in order to fly helicopters (one of them, Billy Weaver, was an MH-47 pilot for a while). I never understood the AF just letting talent like that walk right out the door….

    1. At one time the officer requirement was simply a way to reduce the number of applicants for the number of seats available.

    2. During Vietnam the Army poached the other services for helicopter pilots. It seems that they needed quite a few for some reason, and were even willing to take sailors from ET “A” school over on TI. That got the Presidio NCO club placed on the Navy “Off Limits” list when I was out there. It didn’t matter. We always went over there in civies.

      It was fun to watch them train at Ft. Eustis.

  4. My uncle was a Navy Fighter Pilot from 1936 until 1942 as a Naval Aviation Pilot 2nd Class and was promoted to 1st Class in 1941. He was made a Temporary Ensign (Wartime Service) in 1942 and finished the war as a lieutenant. In late 1945 he reverted to enlisted pilot, having been promoted to Chief Naval Aviation Pilot. He flew off of carriers in the Central and South Pacific. As an enlisted pilot he was selected to serve as one of the weapons test pilots for the AD-1 Skyraider and deployed with the first squadron to Korea as an enlisted Pilot. While in Korea (actually off the coast) he was made a Lieutenant again and retired in 1964 as a Commander. He was on flight status for 26 years.

    I think if he could figure out how land on a carrier he could figure out how to fly a C-130.

  5. The wife & I were taught to jump out of “Perfectly Good Airplanes” by an enlisted P-47 WWII pilot.
    He did okay. Lenny said he really like strafing German steam-trains, as they “Blowed-Up real good”.

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