Working Pilot Recruitment From All Angles

In conjunction with National STEM Day, United States Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson took to Twitter to promote science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) with a little help from Sesame Street characters Elmo and Abby Cadabby. In a brief message, Wilson talked about the importance that STEM education plays in aerospace and defense careers.

Thanks to @elmo & @AbbyCadabbySST for stopping by to help me encourage kids to reach for the stars. Fueling the natural curiosity of children into an interest in #STEM early will pave the way for the #innovation of tomorrow. @SesameStreet #NationalSTEMDay

— Dr. Heather Wilson (@SecAFOfficial) November 8, 2018

While Secretary Wilson states that an education in STEM could help with becoming an Air Force scientist, space operator, or engineer, the first thing that comes to mind is “Air Force pilot [shortage].”

The Air Force’s pilot shortfall is continuing to get worse and worse. A report earlier this year from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the gap between the number of Air Force fighter pilots and “authorizations” or funded empty positions reached 27 percent. The report attributed these gaps to aircraft readiness challenges, reduced training opportunities, and a loss of existing pilots due to career dissatisfaction.

This is compounded by the time and cost involved in training a fighter pilot: about five years and between $3 million and $11 million.

To help increase fighter pilot numbers, the military services are taking actions, including increasing financial incentives to retain pilots and – as it seems – raising early childhood STEM awareness.

[This Friday post is part of our “Composite coverage: real lightweight stuff” series and a departure from SAE International’s traditional reporting approach. Let us know if you like our fun, conversational, and most likely irreverent coverage of legitimate news and notable events.] 

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