# Why are there age limits to becoming a pilot in the armed forces?

This may be more related to the armed forces as opposed to aviation but I have to ask: Does anyone know why most armed forces put an age limit on being a pilot in the service? Most set the cutoff at 26-30 years of age depending on the service in question.

One hypothesis I always had on this subject is the large amount of money that it costs to train a military pilot (2-3 million USD from basic flight training through advanced training and assignment to a fleet squadron) combined with a long service commitment (7-10 years once training is completed) where the individual must maintain good health and good eyesight to meet the medical standards required to fly and the mid 30s- mid 40s is when a lot of medical problems begin to crop up and can interfere with this. As such the service limits the age so they enter this range at the tail end of their military flying careers. But that's just a guess.

Another is that the competitive nature of military flight slots allow the services to be choose and only select young candidates to weed out the applicant pool.

In the civilian world there is an age limit of 65 for being a commercial airline pilot as the only real restriction to flying commercially but people frequently enter into that career in their 30s and 40s. It does seem abnormal, if you meet the other medical requirements for the armed forces to limit a career as a pilot considering that other military occupations allow people to enter well into their late 30s or early 40s. Does anyone have any information on this limit and the reasons why?

• – aeroalias Mar 16 '17 at 5:25
• That's not really an answer to the question. It just indicates an optimal age people are different and an 'optimal age' varies from person to person. – Carlo Felicione Mar 16 '17 at 5:36
• cutoff at 26-30 you sure? that would make them train the pilots just for a few years of service, not really optimal. – Federico Mar 16 '17 at 6:43
• Just an opinion: Younger people learn and memorize more (in general). From a health point of view, younger people recover more completely and quicker, from any traumatism or illness. Add that to better senses (eyesight, hearing) and reflexes, and likely more enthusiasm. Older people have more experience, but that doesn't seem to compensate. – mins Mar 16 '17 at 8:18
• In part, it's probably because it's the military, so things are often done "because that's the way we've always done it", rather than for any rational reason. – jamesqf Mar 16 '17 at 17:47