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Air Force Pilots Can Start Training at Age 30

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FAYETTEVILLE — Being among the Air Force's elite has always been tough, and it is about to get even tougher. Thanks to a few changes, there are more airmen competing for the same top jobs.

After more than 50 years, theAir Forcehas changed the maximum age requirements to start pilot training. As of Oct. 1, you can start your pilot career at 30.

Dan King, 30, has been an A-10 pilot for two years. He had to get special permission to start his pilot career because he was over the 27-and-a-half year maximum age.

Now, people in his position will not have to. The new maximum age to start training is 30. King thinks that is a great idea because with age comes maturity.

"I'm in the best shape of my life right now. I'm more focused on what I want to do, so I think it's a positive thing," said King.

The Air Force made the change after receiving more than 140 waiver requests last year. The change will improve training opportunities for older candidates and allow the Air Force to be more selective.

"We'll get the cream of the crop and be able to choose now with the additional applicants we have," said Master Sgt. Kevin Cook.

The Air Force is fighting a pilot shortage, but that is not the reason for the change.

However, 40-year-old C-130 pilot Scott Cummings says it cannot hurt. Pilots who go through training at 30 would be required to stay in the Air Force for 10 years. Cummings believes at 40, pilots would be less likely to change careers.

"It's just tougher to make a mid-life change at that point to get out and start something new," said Cummings.

The Air Force definitely has a vested interest in finding and retaining pilots. It costs more than a half million dollars to train just one pilot.

Specialized training can cost up to $1.7 million.

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Melissa Buscher, Reporter
Michael Joyner, Photographer
John Clark, Web Editor

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