AMC Considering “Flying Only” Career Track

In the face of a relentless pilot shortage, Air Mobility Command is considering incentivizing airmen by allowing to spend an entire career in their cockpits. Above, A1C Elizabeth Silvers, left, an 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron C-17 Globemaster III loadmaster, and Capt. Travis Delzer, an 816th EAS C-17 pilot, prepare fa mission in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, Aug. 23, 2017, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. USAF photo by SSgt. Michael Battles.

Air Mobility Command is considering additional ways to address the “national crisis” that is the pilot shortage, and is considering giving airmen approval to spend their entire careers in the pilot’s seat.

The Air Force is projecting to be short thousands of pilots, both in its fighter and mobility ranks, and has approved multiple steps to address this, including more bonuses for aviators and efforts to increase flying hours. AMC is now working with Headquarters Air Force on the approval for a “fly-only track.” This means pilots could avoid staff positions, and instead spend their entire careers flying mobility aircraft, Everhart said.

“That has been a question mark since about 1900,” AMC Commander Gen. Carlton Everhart said at ASC17. “All I want to do is fly.”

AMC is working on the possibility for this career path, and it will likely mean pilots would have to move away from operational mobility missions. Instead of flying “gray tails,” pilots would move on to “while tails” such as C-20s, C-21s, and C-37s, among others, Everhart said. Or pilots would help with training and fly alongside students.

This possible move is one of many AMC is considering. Everhart recently put out a request to his command for ideas on how to address the pilot shortage. He received an overwhelming response of more than 700 ideas, many of which are under consideration.

“Be careful what you tweet, because you will get it back,” Everhart said.