I'm currently attempting to write a novel which briefly features a modified B-1B undertaking a risky, highly important mission in support of a Special Access Program. Since a few scenes are set in the cockpit and feature a discussion between the crew, it would be very helpful to know what the ranks of the crew would most likely be.

I've done a little research via a number of sites and e-book previews but so far I've not turned up much other than at least one Lancer pilot who was a Major but I have no idea how the co-pilot, DSO and OSO would compare in rank, or if B-1B pilots of greater rank than Major would be realistic/believable.

  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to aviation.se! $\endgroup$
    – Federico
    Jul 11, 2015 at 11:50
  • $\begingroup$ See this WSO Page for a short paragraph discussing ranks $\endgroup$
    – CGCampbell
    Jul 11, 2015 at 14:29

1 Answer 1


In general, the pilot could be a captain, major, or lt col, the copilot probably a 1lt or captain, and the navs any of the above. For a select crew handpicked for a "fate of the world" mission, you might put 2 instructor pilots together along with two senior navs, so all 4 as lt cols wouldn't be impossible. On the other hand, if the crew is essentially detailed off to be "secret squirrels" for a while, it probably wouldn't be stacked quite that high, so maybe a mix of majors & captains. That happens because it quickly becomes disruptive to take senior guys (tactics officers, instructors, the ops officer or commander, etc) away from their regular squadron jobs for a prolonged period. The more important the mission, the more that disruption is accepted.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Definition: "the most dangerous crew combination" - 2 instructor pilots. Tongue-in-cheek, yes. But deadly serious. Relaxing one's vigilance because you assume the other guy knows what hes doing, and the other "pushing it" assuming you will keep him out of trouble. The combination may forget skills and egos never trump the laws of physics. $\endgroup$
    – radarbob
    Jul 14, 2015 at 13:43

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