If You Get 23/30 on This Aviation Quiz, You Could Fake it as a Pilot


By: John Miller

6 Min Quiz

Image: Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum

About This Quiz

In “Top Gun,” our handsome pair of U.S Air Force pilots utter a timeless Hollywood line: “I feel the need … the need for speed!” And then Maverick and Goose turn on the afterburners and blaze into the heavens, hunting for glory (and Communists). Real-world fighter pilots must endure incredible mental and physical training before they get the privilege of sliding behind the control stick of a multimillion-dollar jet. In this high-speed quiz, do you think you have what it takes to become a U.S. fighter pilot?

Unlike the goons in “Top Gun,” Air Force pilots are some of the most intelligent men and women in the entire American military. Not only do they have an instinctive grasp of physics, they also have the exceptional hand-eye coordination that helps them hunt enemy bombers and fighters in all sorts of weather conditions around the globe. Do you really you have what it takes to survive in the cockpit of an F-22A or F-35A? How about the iconic F-15 Eagle?

Do you know a barrel roll from a low yo-yo? And do you tend to lead your targets properly, or do you overshoot them and then wind up in a suicidal position? Leap in into the cockpit of this fighter pilot quiz now!

What sort of pilots become fighter pilots?

Fighter pilots are the best of the best pilots on Earth. They have keen minds and ultra-fast reflexes, along with superior reasoning skills that make them extraordinary pilots.


When you're about to attack, you should keep the sun in which direction from your plane?

Attack with the sun behind you. It'll make it harder for enemy pilots to spot your speeding war bird.


"G-force" refers to what?

G-forces are gravitational forces, and because modern aircraft have the power and agility to turn quickly, pilots are subjected to insanely dangerous g-forces. Their bodies can only take so much abuse before they malfunction.


What's a SAM?

A SAM is a surface-to-air missile. Modern SAMs can blast unwary fighter pilots right out of the sky from miles away.


What should you do if your wingman tells you to "check your six"?

Think the hour hand on an analog clock. If you need to "check your six," you should look behind you … and do it fast, before you get shot down.


What's a "wingman"?

When you fly into battle, you want a dependable and skilled wingman by your side. The wingman is the pilot who coordinates with you during a combat mission.


The Immelmann turn helps fighter pilots gain altitude at the expense of ______.

The Immelmann turn is also called a roll-off-the-top, and it was popularized during WWI. In this maneuver, pilots rapidly climb and then turn fast, diving in the other direction … but it costs significant speed.


What is a fighter pilot's best defense?

In the frantic, high-speed engagements of modern air combat, awareness is a pilot's best defense. All the high-tech gadgets in the world can't save a pilot who doesn't see an enemy swooping in from behind.


How many chances do you get to pass the Air Force Officer Qualifying Test?

You get two chances to the pass the Air Force Officer Qualifying Test. Fail both times and you'll never be a fighter pilot.


"Lose sight, lose fight" is a maxim of which aspect of this career?

If you engage in a dogfight with an enemy fighter, keep him in your field of vision. "Lose sight, lose fight" is a reminder that if you lose visual contact with the enemy, you may already be in his sights ... and your spouse may soon be collecting benefits.


What happens when you "overshoot" an enemy aircraft?

Pilots must be aware of their angle of attack, lest they overshoot the enemy plane they're pursuing. If you overshoot, you accidentally wind up right in front of the plane you're chasing … and the results may be disastrous.


When two or more fighters engage in combat, it's called a ______.

When fighters start shooting at each other, it's a dogfight. Given the speed and lethality of these warplanes, modern dogfights rarely last more than a few minutes.


What's the purpose of a "sandwich"?

In a sandwich, an enemy fighter drops onto the tail of one of a pair of fighters flying side by side. The besieged fighters turn 90 degrees simultaneously … allowing one fighter to drop in right behind the pursuer.


What does it mean if a pilot is "jinking"?

Jinking is often a last bit of desperate evasive maneuvering, as a defender changes direction and speed in hopes of losing an enemy pursuer.


Fighter pilots are specially trained for what purpose?

Fighter pilots learn skills meant for air-to-air combat. They can take on other enemy fighters over the hills or engage bombers at high altitude.


When fighter pilots come under attack, they are called what?

In a dogfight, pilots do everything they can to gain positional advantage over their enemies. But when they are the ones under attack, they're called defenders, and they must perform evasive maneuvers, or wind up as fireballs.


What does "ACM" stand for?

Fighter pilots must master ACM, or air combat maneuvering. It's also known as dogfighting.


How many kills does a U.S. fighter pilot need to become an "ace"?

With five air victories, or kills, a U.S. fighter pilot becomes an ace. Aces are legendary for their high-flying abilities.


What's a "wingover"?

A wingover is a maneuver in which the pilot guides the jet into rapid, quick turns and dives, and then goes the other way, leveling out without rolling the aircraft.


Fighter pilots typically use the split-s for what purpose?

The split-s is generally used when pilots are removing themselves from combat. In a split-s, they perform a half roll, followed by a descending half-loop, which quickly turns the plane around into the other direction.


What's a "combat spread"?

A combat spread is a basic fighter formation. Two fighters separate, with one at a slightly higher altitude, in hopes of sucking enemy planes into a trap.


BVR combat is the opposite of _____.

BVR stands for beyond visual range, and it predominates modern fighter combat. Close-range combat is now rare, with BVR being the norm.


You must be at least how tall in order to become a fighter pilot?

You do have to be able to see out of the cockpit, you know. The minimum height for fighter pilots is 5'4" and the max is 6'5".


What's G-LOC?

The dreaded G-LOC refers to G-induced Loss Of Consciousness. Fighter pilots must be in very good physical condition to withstand the g-forces of high-speed turns in combat.


If a defending fighter runs out of airspeed, what can he do?

When defenders run out of airspeed, they can dive into a defensive spiral. This regains some airspeed and (hopefully) makes it hard for pursuers to lock on.


How should you approach enemy fighters?

You don't want them to see you. Approach enemy fighters from behind so they can't take a shot at you. And keep in mind that many have rear-facing weapons.


To prevent G-LOC (g-induced loss of consciousness), pilots should avoid high-g maneuvers that last longer than _____.

It takes very little time for high g-forces to cause pilots to black out. To avoid this (rather dangerous) scenario, pilots should avoid high-g manuevers that last more than 4 seconds or so.


A warplane's energy-to-weight ratio is called what?

Fighter pilots know physics. A fighter's energy-to-weight ratio is its specific energy, and pilots must have a good grasp on this concept in order to maneuver during combat.


Fighter pilots use AGSM to combat which problem?

AGSM is the Anti-G Straining Maneuver. Fighter pilots may lose consciousness due to high g-forces (G-LOC), but by using the AGSM (or Hook maneuver), they can purposely control their breathing and blood flow to prevent G-LOC.


What's the maximum age to begin fighter pilot training?

In the U.S. Air Force, you must be at least 18 years old to start pilot training. And you can't be older than 34.


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