Air Force pilot candidates score 100 percent

By Jeff Wright
Class of 2003

Nationwide, only 57 percent of the Air Force ROTC students who seek slots for pilot training are accepted into the highly competitive program. Citadel AFROTC cadets beat the national average by a landslide this spring with a 100 percent acceptance rate for the 9 cadet juniors who applied for pilot training.

Lt. Col. David Sullivan, executive officer of The Citadel Air Force ROTC detachment, was very pleased with the unusually high selection rate. "We're very proud of our cadets," he said. "These results are a testament to how much they want [to fly]."

The selection process for pilot training is demanding and candidates are evaluated on a broad range of criteria. Physical qualifications go far beyond a rigorous physical examination. The Air Force Basic Attributes Test measures hand-eye coordination and physical fitness test scores are also important. Selection requires a high score on the Air Force Officer Qualification Test. Undergraduate GPA as well as SAT/ACT tests administered in high school factor into academic evaluations.

Applicants must show aptitude in areas other than statistics. The commander's ranking factors heavily in the selections, ranking cadets in order of leadership aptitude and professionalism as observed during unit activities.

Mandatory events for all Air Force contracted cadets include physical training, field training exercises, combat survival training, and summer field training. After the rigorous screening and testing, only 57 percent of this year's applicants for pilots training were selected nationwide.

The difference is in desire, said Sullivan. One of the distinguishing factors was that Citadel cadets pursued more civilian and private flight time hours than previous classes.

"They just wanted [to fly] more than everyone else, and worked harder for it," said Sullivan. "This made them more competitive on the Air Force board!"

Additionally, the Air Force ROTC detachment was 50 percent for navigator applicants with the national average also at 57 percent. "We would have liked to have been 100 percent in this category also, but this gives us a benchmark to work towards with the Class of 2005," said Sullivan.

Pilot candidates from the class of 2004 are cadets Ryan C. Bachman, Jon D. Barrett, Michael J. Campbell, Christopher T. Carr, Jacoby M. Davis, Robert W. Gramling, Ryan P. Hall, Andrew C. Krisel and Stephen M. Rausa.

Cadet Matthew R. Mayer, a navigator candidate, was also selected.

Jeff Wright, a political science major, was a public affairs intern and the adjutant
for the 2002-2003 South Carolina Corps of Cadets.