Accession Number:



The Enlisted Pilot, Helping Solve Operational Readiness: Burge, Yeager, and the RQ-4

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Technical Report,26 Jun 2017,24 May 2018

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US Army School for Advanced Military Studies Fort Leavenworth United States

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In 2016, the United States Air Force USAF testified to Congress that it was struggling to meet its operational requirements due to a massive shortage in pilots. The service was short 1,555 pilots with fighter pilots alone accounting for 1,211 of the unfilled seats. The USAF has taken multiple approaches to attempt to solve the problem with limited success. One of the many possible solutions to the problem is the expansion of the enlisted pilot program. In 2016, the USAF started the Enlisted Remotely Piloted Aircraft Pilot Program. However, for the USAF to improve its pilot manning and meet its operational requirements, senior leaders need to consider expanding aircraft eligibility of its enlisted pilot program to include manned and lethal aircraft. The USAF must move past several fallacies of enlisted personnel that are limiting one of the many necessary solutions to solving the operational readiness problem. This monograph first introduces you to three enlisted soldiers that overcame bias towards enlisted personnel to earn their pilot wings Vernon Burge, William Ocker, and Chuck Yeager. Next, an examination of policy and personnel during World War II is completed. The examination provides examples of the bias towards both enlisted pilots and women pilots prior to their necessary use during the conflict. Additionally, the monograph looks at current organizations that do not require a college degree to become a pilot. The paper examines the US Army Flight Warrant Officer Program and the Federal Aviation Administrations requirements to obtain a private pilot license. Finally, the paper dissects the fallacies that are preventing the USAF from evolving judging an individual based on their background without considering their capability, the appeal to tradition and common practice, and searching for the perfect solution.

Subject Categories:

  • Personnel Management and Labor Relations
  • Military Forces and Organizations

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