I'm an 18-year-old Finn and so I'll be starting my military service next summer. I'm currently applying to the Air Force to become a fighter pilot, but I don't have any previous training in aviation. I have studied a bit of theory from the internet but I just want to ask what would be the most relevant information for someone trying to become a fighter pilot.

So the quistion...

What should someone, who's wanting to become a fighter pilot, try to learn and in what order? And what are good resources for learning those things?

Thank you in advance!

  • $\begingroup$ I'm know nothing about the Finnish military but what makes you think a random website will give you better training than your future employer? $\endgroup$
    – Sanchises
    Dec 8, 2018 at 15:33
  • $\begingroup$ @Sanchises I don't. I'm just curious and want to learn in advance. And it might give me some edge when trying to get there :D $\endgroup$
    – Miksu
    Dec 8, 2018 at 15:42
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I haven’t read this one yet, but it looks like something you might like, Aerodynamics for Naval Aviators: faa.gov/regulations_policies/handbooks_manuals/aviation/media/… $\endgroup$
    – JScarry
    Dec 8, 2018 at 15:46
  • $\begingroup$ After you read all of the US FAA books on aviation and taken a few lessons, this one is useful. Stick and Rudder: An Explanation of the Art of Flying by Wolfgang Langewiesche $\endgroup$
    – JScarry
    Dec 8, 2018 at 15:48
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Miksu No. I think you should start with the free FAA flying publications. faa.gov/regulations_policies/handbooks_manuals/aviation Start with Airplane Flying Handbook, then Instrument Flying Handbook. There are also a ton of YouTube videos out there to get a feel for real flying. $\endgroup$
    – JScarry
    Dec 8, 2018 at 16:52

4 Answers 4


My experience is with US students who have joined the US Air Force, Navy or become Army Aviators.

My non-flight study guide includes:

  • Critical thinking
  • Physics problem solving
  • Math problem solving
  • argumentation (related to critical thinking)
  • FAA Private Pilot and Instrument Pilot training material
  • where possible visits to towers, TRACON, etc.
  • volunteering at: glider club, medvac company
  • public speaking
  • STEM college degree, not necessarily in aeronautical science

In college there will be more opportunities, and additional guidance. Many high school students have learned to fly. It's nice to have former students who are flying F-16s in various parts of the world. Some who wanted to be fighter pilots ended up doing things like B-2s, tankers, etc.

Since most pilot jobs involve being an officer, leadership skills are important, and help differentiate applicants. You will always have to somehow differentiate yourself, to be competitive. Every former fighter pilot I know is very competitive.


  • $\begingroup$ One followup comment...a friend who was a military aviatior (he flew generals around) suggested several times that Military History was important to understand. I agree, but it is not in my top list. For example, understanding how American love of cars influenced the battlefield in Europe, in that yankee willingness (and permission) to twiddle with vehicles, tanks and engines, meant that American tanks were not sitting ducks waiting the Herr Mechanic when the tank broke down. Others have suggested that Chinese war strategy books are good. They may be correct, I just have a different opinion $\endgroup$
    – mongo
    Dec 8, 2018 at 18:10

I’d start with something similar to the USAF’s Pilot Aptitude Test or the RAF’s COMPASS test to first evaluate your ability to be a pilot. If you like, pursue a pilot’s license in Finland or do glider training. I would not go out and begin some military pilot training regiment recommended here as it’s probably wrong and will misguide you. If you are accepted to undergo flight training in the Finnish Air Force, they will teach you all you need to know there.

Some basic recommendations:

  • Get good grades - fighter pilot is s competitive job title.
  • Pursue extra curricular activities - aviation related, if possible.
  • Network with military pilots - find good people who will write letters of recommendation for you at some point
  • Pursue leadership training and opportunities- military pilots are officers, which is the military equivalent of a manager in civilian life.
  • I also suggest doing team sports like football or similar to build hand eye coordination and working on a team.

Best of luck.


You may want to study basic aviation, but I advise you to avoid anything military or fighter pilot specific.

All armed forces spend substantial effort "untraining" recruits who picked up bad habits and mis-information before entering the service.

Military service involves absolute consistency and uniformity. Anything you learn on your own that deviates from the service's SOP will have to be unlearned before you can make progress.


You can't go wrong by picking up a copy of "Aerodynamics for Naval Aviators" -- see for example https://www.asa2fly.com/Aerodynamics-for-Naval-Aviators-P193.aspx --

It's certainly a few decades old by now, but full of excellent information.

Lots of interesting information about swept-wing flight dynamics and more--


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