The Air Force JROTC Flight Academy, Chief of Staff Private Pilot Scholarship program, is a collaborative effort between the aerospace industry and the Air Force to address a national pilot shortage. The Flight Academy is intended to inspire and encourage high school youth toward aviation careers.
Currently, Boeing predicts an annual need to hire 6,000 civilian pilots a year for the next 20 years. Military needs quickly push that number over 8,000. According to industry and military leadership, the nation is facing a pilot shortage “crisis."
In 2018, Air Force Junior ROTC awarded scholarships to 120 students, who attended a flight school Summer 2018 at one of six partnering universities. While AFJROTC’s primary mission is to develop citizens of character, these high school students had a chance to earn their private pilot’s license and up to 12 college credits. The programs run approximately six to eight weeks and starts mid-to late May.
Who can apply? Cadets currently enrolled in Air Force Junior ROTC programs in their high schools, who have a minimum 3.0 GPA may apply. Cadets must be in good standing in their unit, take an AF designed aptitude test, provide instructor and school endorsements, among other factors.
The Flight Academy also addresses a secondary national issue of diversity. Aviation is one of the least diverse professions in industry. Currently, women make up less than 6% of pilots and minorities represent less than 10%. AFJROTC currently has 120,000 cadets enrolled in high schools across the nation and is the Air Force’s most diverse program. Minorities represent 58% of the AFJROTC student body and females make up 40%. Selected cadets for the flight academy represented female and minorities more than three times the national averages.
Pending continued resourcing, the Air Force plans to expand the program for 250 students in 2019 and 500 in 2020.
Current partnering universities are:
Auburn University, AL
Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, FL
Kansas State University Polytechnic, KS
Liberty University, VA
Purdue University, IN
University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND
60 West Maxwell Blvd., Bldg. 835
Maxwell AFB, AL 36112