Two Thirds of AF Pilots Accept Bonus

Currently, Air Force offers bonuses of $125,000 to Air Force pilots who commit to stay on active duty for five years beyond their active duty service commitment.  The Air Force Times reports that 68% of eligible pilots accepted it, above the 66% goal.

Interestingly, the numbers for fighter airframes were low.

  • F-22 – 43%
  • F-16 – 51%
  • F-15C – 68%
  • A-10 – 53%

By contrast, the F-15E community had an 81% acceptance rate, and all other airframes, including heavies and helos, were above 68%.

By and large, the reasons cited for the decision on the bonus are generally personal.  They include time away from family, the degree to which the pilot feels like his job is rewarding, and the lifestyle.  While the bonus was once used to keep pilots who were enticed by high paying airline jobs, it seems it now serves to try to keep pilots from abandoning careers with which they may be somewhat dissatisfied.

One thing the numbers do not reflect is those pilots who were already committed beyond their initial training requirement.  For example, pilots who graduated from a weapons school, or those who used tuition assistance, may have already been required to serve additional time.  Thus, the bonus for them would simply be money for time already required.