Flight Academy

  • Published


The Air Force JROTC Flight Academy is an approximately 8-week summer aviation training program, conducted at partnering universities nationwide. Upon successful completion of the program, students are awarded a Private Pilot’s Certification. Flight Academy is intended to inspire and encourage high school youth toward aviation careers. The scholarship program is a collaborative effort between the aerospace industry and the Air Force to address a national pilot shortage. Currently, Boeing predicts an annual need to hire 6,000 civilian pilots a year for the next 20 years. The military needs to quickly push that number over 8,000. 

The Flight Academy also addresses a secondary national issue of diversity. Aviation is one of the least diverse professions in industry. Currently, women make up less than 7% of pilots and minorities represent less than 12%. Air Force Junior ROTC currently has approximately 85,000 cadets enrolled in high schools across the nation and is the Air Force’s most diverse program. Minorities represent 58% of the Air Force Junior ROTC student body and females make up 40%. Cadets selected for the flight academy represented female and minorities more than three times the national averages.

The inaugural year of the Flight Academy was Summer 2018, where 120 cadets attended six universities. The Air Force has expanded the program significantly since its inception, partnering with 24 universities in 2023 to host more than 300 cadets.

Current partnering universities for 2024 are:

Who can apply?

Cadets currently enrolled in Air Force Junior ROTC programs in their high schools, who have a minimum 3.0 GPA (on a 4.0 scale) may apply. Cadets must be in good standing in their unit, take an Air Force aviation aptitude test, provide instructor and school endorsements and must have a strong interest in aviation and a “never-quit” attitude. How does this help curb the pilot shortage and increase diversity amongst the career filed?

AFJROTC currently has a 58% and 40% minority and female demographic, respectively. The scholarship program aims to grow to 2,000 cadets annually. Based on sheer numbers in the AFJROTC program, the scholarship has the potential to produce 1,160 new minority pilots each year with 800 potential female pilots. With just over 400 female pilots (FAA as of 31 Dec 2016) between the ages of 16-19, AFJROTC could double the current demographics every year.

Which universities are participating in the program? Is this a special summer camp?

Partnering universities all offer Aviation Accreditation Board International (AABI)-accredited (or AABI-member), FAA Part 141 flight programs and will be located throughout the United States territories. AFJROTC provides the scholarship to attend a university program. This is NOT a summer camp. The program is managed by each university and holds the same standard as its current university students. Cadets live, study, and perform at or above the standards. Each cadet will be provided a transcript (upon request) from the university they attended.

What benefit does this scholarship provide to universities already operating at maximum throughput?

One sixth of all licensed pilots hold a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) rating. Each partnering university has the potential to influence two to six future CFIs for their respective university’s flight program. Currently, the average tenure of a professional pilot student working as a CFI is approximately one year. Through this scholarship, a Flight Academy selectee could provide two to three years’ service as a CFI before leaving college.

What measures do universities have to put in place to protect and supervise minors?

All partnering universities regularly host weeks-long, summer programs for high school students and minors. Each program’s rules and guidelines vary, however, measures are taken by the university to ensure safety and accountability of participating cadets at all times, to include supervised time spent in classroom, flight instruction, travel and transportation, and chaperoned down-time in cadet housing and on campus.

Are there additional costs for the cadets associated with this program?

The Air Force Junior ROTC Flight Academy scholarship will cover the total cost of room, board, tuition, books, and fees for this program. HQ Air Force Junior ROTC will fund transportation from the cadet’s unit to the nearest airport. Once arrived, transportation will be provided from university to/from the airport. The only additional cost to cadets will be for incidentals the cadet might want.

Can Non – US citizens apply?

Yes. If selected for a scholarship, Non – US citizen cadets will have to apply for and pass a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) check in order to continue in the process (reimbursable from HQ Air Force Junior ROTC).

Civil Air Patrol

Civil Air Patrol is America’s premier public service organization for carrying out emergency services and disaster relief missions nationwide. As the auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, CAP’s vigilant citizen volunteers are there to search for and find the lost, provide comfort in times of disaster and work to keep the homeland safe.  CAP is America’s premiere opportunity for air-minded youth. Thanks to CAP adult volunteers, cadets learn about the fundamentals of aviation through classroom activities, self-study texts, orientation flights, and formal flight training.

Young Eagles

Launched in 1992, the Young Eagles program has dedicated more than 25 years to giving youth ages 8–17 their first free ride in an airplane. It’s the only program of its kind, with the sole mission to introduce and inspire kids in the world of aviation. Visit www.youngeagles.org for information on a flight near you. Becoming a Young Eagle is easy and it’s offered free of charge. To be eligible for a FREE EAA Student Membership you must have flown as an EAA Young Eagle, and be between the ages of 8 and 19 years old. Young Eagles membership gives you access to discounts on merchandise, flight experiences, the EAA Air Academy and EAA AirVenture Oshkosh; aviation camps, aviation scholarship opportunities, and other information resources.

Arnold Air Society and Silver Wings

Arnold Air Society and Silver Wings are national sister organizations, working together to develop future leaders through community service, professional development, and education about our national defense. The focus of the Arnold Air Society mission is to build strong officers for the United States Air Force.  AAS is formally affiliated with AFROTC and the Air Force Association. It is a national extracurricular organization available to Air Force ROTC and Academy cadets.

Silver Wings also focuses on leadership development, and both organizations work together to further each other’s’ goals. Silver Wings (SW) is a national, co-ed, professional organization dedicated to creating proactive, knowledgeable, and effective civic leaders through community service and education about national defense.

Commemorative Air Force

Collecting aircraft for nearly a half a century, the Commemorative Air Force now ranks as one of the largest air forces in the world. Today the CAF has approximately 13,000 members and a fleet of more than 175 aircraft representing more than 60 different types—including planes from several foreign countries and other military conflicts since World War II. The Headquarters of the CAF is located in Dallas. CAF Objectives: 1. To acquire, restore and preserve in flying condition a complete collection of combat aircraft which were flown by all military services of the United States and selected aircraft of other nations for the education and enjoyment of present and future generations of Americans. 2. To provide museum buildings for the permanent protection and display of these aircraft as a tribute to the thousands of men and women who built, serviced and flew them. 3. To perpetuate in the memory and in the hearts of all Americans the spirit in which these great planes were flown in the defense of our nation. 4. To establish an organization having the dedication, enthusiasm and esprit de corps necessary to operate, maintain and preserve these aircraft as symbols of our American military aviation heritage.

Women in Aviation International

Women in Aviation International (WAI) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the encouragement and advancement of women in all aviation career fields and interests. Their diverse membership includes astronauts, corporate and airline pilots, maintenance technicians, engineers, air traffic controllers, business owners, educators, journalists, flight attendants, high school and university students, air show performers, airport managers, and many others. Membership includes job search opportunities, scholarship opportunities, access to mentors in your industry, and much more.

Daedalian Foundation

The mission of the Daedalian Foundation is to promote military aviation, education, citizenship and charity. One of their goals is to inspire young Americans to pursue careers as military aviators, via college scholarships, flying instruction and other educational opportunities.

Free Course-Aviation 101, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University

For children ages 8 to 17, self-paced, six-hour online course that introduces youth to aviation fundamentals. The course explores basic aspects of flight and teaches students how to identify major parts of an airplane, describe the flight characteristics of a helicopter and discuss space exploration.

Air Force Recruiting Service DET 1

AIM High Flight Academy is a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)-based, aviation-focused, motivation and mentorship program designed to increase diversity in the aviation career field. The centers upon robust interaction with Total Force role models and mentors.

Pathways Flight Academies

Free Summer High School Flight Academy for Virginia residents. Virginia Space Grant Consortium, in partnership with the Commonwealth of Virginia, Averett University, Aviation Adventures, and the Virginia Department of Aviation, is offering flight academies for selected high school students statewide in response to the national shortage. Students admitted to this intensive program will undertake ground school and flight training that can culminate in their first solo flight at the end of the academy.

Pilot Medical Certification

Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application (IACRA)

IACRA is the web-based certification/rating application that guides the user through the FAA's airman application process. IACRA helps ensure applicants meet regulatory and policy requirements through the use of extensive data validation. It also uses electronic signatures to protect the information's integrity, eliminates paper forms, and prints temporary certificates.

Flight Standards District Offices (FSDO)

FSDO is a locally affiliated field office of the United States Federal Aviation Administration.

Federal Aviation Administration Links