Inspiring Career Opportunities

Inspiring Career: How to become an Air-force Pilot in India

One needs to stay calm under pressure and be disciplined as demanded by the code of conduct. Self-confidence and commitment is a must to fight your way bravely to victory. So if you think that you have all that it takes to become an air force pilot and serve the nation then everything else is going to fall in place automatically.

By Pankhuri Kumar

The engine is the heart of the airplane but the pilot is the soul.

To become an Air Force pilot is the dream of every youngster of the country but for most of them it remains a dream forever. There are only a few lucky ones that actually find their way till the end of this beautiful journey and become successful in serving the country.
Being an Airforce pilot is one of the most honourable jobs to choose for oneself and only the bravest of the brave can achieve this goal. This career is something which requires you to be strong on an overall level as you are continuously tested on a mental, physical and even on an emotional level. If you make it, you will be among the most elite in our country and the nation’s people will look up to you. Life as an Airforce pilot offers immense facilities, a privileged lifestyle and a life full of memories but all this has a cost too.

Airforce Pilots in India (Image Source: Indian Folk)

The Flying branch includes Fighter pilots who fly combat or fighter planes and carrying ammunition and missiles, Transport pilots who fly planes which carry men and materials, and Helicopter pilots who provide air support to a moving army, or are used for para-dropping men and supplies. Depending on one’s performance in the training it is decided what one will be flying after completing the training. It is very important to have an understanding of maths and physics and sound technical knowledge as pilots need to know how their aircraft works.
Air Force pilots can become fighter, test, bomber, trainer, helicopter, tanker, mobility, warfare or special operations pilots. Each type of pilot specializes in different aircraft and skill sets and all are very honourable professions. The leadership skills help one take charge of training and commanding crews to accomplish missions.
In India, there are two paths that can be taken to become an Air Force Pilot. These are through the National Defence Academy (NDA) or Through Combined Defence Services Exam (CDSE).

  • Through the National Defence Academy

The eligibility for joining NDA requires one to have passed 10+2 with Physics and Mathematics as subjects and fall between 16-1/2 years to 19 years of age. This is applicable only to Indian men.  But overcoming the physical standards is altogether a different level.
The very general requirements common for all the candidates include having a good physical and mental health that is free from any disease or disability, which is likely to interfere with efficient performance of duties. The chest and muscles should be well developed. Tests for hearing, eye sight, breathing and many other things are to be cleared. The internal organs and teeth also need to pass some standard requirements. There are many more things other than these that are taken into consideration.

  • Through Combined Defence Services Exam (CDSE)

The eligibility through CDSE requires one to graduate with min 60% aggregate marks in any discipline (Three Years Course) with Physics and Mathematics at 10+2 level or min 60 % aggregate marks in B.E./B.Tech. (Four years). 
The age should lie between 19 years to 23 years and the Indian citizen should be unmarried.

India’s first three women fighter pilots (Image Source: Hindustan Times)

After this the selection process begins.
Scrutiny of Applications
For seeking entry into the Flying Branch through the NDA or CDSE, your applications need to be sent to UPSC, New Delhi. The UPSC conducts a written test twice a year in April & August (NDA) and April & September (CDSE).
Testing Officer Like Qualities
After completion of the procedures mentioned above, one receives a call letter to report to any one of the Air Force Selection Boards located at Dehradun, Varanasi and Mysore.

At the Air Force Selection Boards, you undergo a number of psychological tests, an interview and group activities, which are collectively called the Officer Like Qualities (OLQ) Tests.

These tests are designed to gauge your potential and suitability as an officer in the Armed Forces. Out of all this the most important is the Pilot Aptitude Battery Test (PABT). It is aimed at assessing a candidate’s aptitude to be trained as a pilot. PABT is an independent selection device to induct potential officers into Flying Branch of Indian Air Force.
Undergoing Medical Examinations
If the Selection Board finds a candidate suitable then he/she is sent to the Air Force Central Medical Establishment, New Delhi or the Institute of Aerospace Medicine, Bangalore for a thorough medical examination.


An All India Merit List is compiled on the basis of your performance at the Air Force Selection Boards and the medical examination. Joining instructions are issued by the Air HQ according to the vacancies to join Air Force Academy for the training of a Pilot.


Indian Air Force Pilots are one of the highly paid personnel in the armed forces. According to the 7th pay commission, the flying branch earns rs. 60,000 as the first monthly pay package including various allowances. As you grow in rank and stature in the Air Force, your income and other entitlements also increase in harmony with your enhanced responsibilities.


All decisions require alertness and the the ability to think quickly in difficult situations. The pilot is required to be well coordinated and have skills to work in a team. One needs to stay calm under pressure and be disciplined as demanded by the code of conduct. Self-confidence and commitment is a must to fight your way bravely to victory. So if you think that you have all that it takes to become an air force pilot and serve the nation then everything else is going to fall in place automatically.

Be passionate inside out and gear up to follow one the most happening dreams and turn it into reality.

This job offers you everything that is needed to have inner peace and to feel as if you are living life to the fullest.
Editor’s Note: If you’re facing difficulties in choosing your career path, we are happy to help you out. Do write to us at 🙂

About the Author
Pankhuri Kumar is a student of Economics (Honours) at Hindu College, University of Delhi. She is a big believer in the power of positivity and plans to do her MBA in the future.  In her free time, Pankhuri can be found checking out new places to eat and shop at.

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