How to Become a Hurricane Hunter?

Hurricane Hunter

We have five different flying jobs at the Hurricane Hunters. ALL jobs are part of the Air Force Reserve. Half of the positions are part-time (traditional reservists), and half are full-time (Air Reserve Technicians). We have 40 pilots, and 20 each of the other crew positions.

Step One: Choose A Specialty. Click on your dream job (below). We are only covering the flying jobs here, but the 403rd Wing also has many more non-flying jobs, ranging from aircraft maintenance, security police, aerial port, administration, and more. Our sister squadron, the 815th Airlift Squadron, also has flying jobs at Keesler AFB, Mississippi. Talk to our recruiter if you're interested!

Step Two: Finish SchoolIf you haven't graduated from high school yet, stick with it! All of our jobs require at least a high-school level diploma, and officer positions require a college degree (pilots, navs and weather officers). For those who wish to pursue the officer positions, be aware that Air Force ROTC and the Air Force Academy offer scholarships, but usually lead to a period of active duty service. Although this would delay your ability to join us and the Air Force Reserve, we put those links here so you can explore the great opportunities they offer.

Step Three: Talk to the Reserve Recruiter. The recruiter can tell you what job openings we have, and walk you through the initial steps. He or she will also set up an interview for you. There's no obligation, and the recruiter can answer a lot of your questions. You can reach your nearest recruiter by calling 1-800-257-1212 or if you are specifically looking for an opening in the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron call the 403rd Wing recruiter at 228-377-5236.

Where Do You Want to Work?

There are many bases and squadrons around the country. Check out the Air Force Reserve Home Page to learn where these bases are, and check out the links. It is best if you select a base near to where you plan to live, be willing to move near that base, or explain how you plan to commute to the squadron. Of course, if you have your heart set on becoming a Hurricane Hunter, most of us live along the Gulf Coast, near Biloxi, Mississippi and Keesler Air Force Base.

Step Four: Take a Military Qualification Test. The recruiter will arrange for you to take the Air Force Officer Qualification Test (AFOQT), if you're applying for a pilot or navigator job. Enlisted job positions require qualifying scores on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test. You can practice the AFOQT or ASVAB using study guides available at your bookstore or library.

Step Five: Interview With the Supervisor of that Crew Position. Certainly, you may talk by telephone first. If you are applying for a pilot position, for example, you'll talk to our chief pilot. Bring along your resume, transcripts, flying records (if any), and other paperwork requested by the supervisor. This is a great chance for you to ask specific questions to make sure this job's right for you, too. The recruiter will put you in touch with the right people.

Step Six: Pass the Flight Physical. All flying positions require that you pass an Air Force flight physical. The requirements are most stringent for pilots. In general, crewmembers should have vision correctable to 20/20, color vision and depth perception. You must have good hearing, mobility, blood pressure, overall good health, and meet weight standards. There are some conditions which are grounding, which means you cannot fly with them--BUT you may still qualify for some support jobs. We cannot possibly list all the grounding items here: that's something for the flight surgeon to determine.

Step Seven: Meet the Board.(Pilots and Navigators only) No, you don't meet the selection board in person, your paperwork does. Your sponsoring squadron will send up a package which includes your test scores, physical, grades, letters of recommendation, and other relevant documents to a Selection Board. If they decide you're well qualified, you're on your way! This is highly competitive, so you need to have the best possible test scores, grades, etc. For example, only one out of four or five candidates are selected for pilot training, but those are actually pretty good odds for one of the best jobs in the world!

YOU'RE SELECTED--WHAT'S NEXT?

Step Eight. Basic Military Training. Enlisted personnel go through Basic Military Training, while officers attend Officer Training School (OTS). This amounts to four months at Maxwell Air Force Base, near Montgomery, Alabama. You'll learn how to march, salute, and special ways to fold your socks, in addition to all the things you need to know about the military. For prior-service folks, check with your recruiter.

Step Nine. Physiological Training. Before you ever step foot in an airplane, you'll go through the altitude chamber. In this three-day course, you'll learn how your body reacts to the stresses of flight: how silly you get if you don't get enough oxygen, for example. You'll actually "fly" to high altitudes inside the chamber to feel the pressure changes and find out what happens if you ate a burrito for dinner. For pilots and navigators, this is part of your formal school.

Step Ten. Formal School. Several of the crew positions have formal schools, to learn the basics of the job, and then a course specific to the C-130. This may run for a few months to over a year, depending on your specialty. All of this training will be full time, so you'll need to be excused from any other job you may have for these long classes. Of course, you'll draw full pay while you're training.

Step Eleven. Survival School. Every aircrew member goes through Survival. There's three weeks at Fairchild AFB in Spokane, Washington for Basic Combat Survival. After classroom training, you'll spend a week in the Cascade Mountains, building shelters, setting snares, signaling rescuers, and navigating in the woods. Then you'll get four days of Water Survival in Florida, where you definitely will get wet. This class culminates with a short parasail, and some time in a life raft on the ocean. These classes are physically demanding, but very interesting!

Step Twelve. Qualification Training. Welcome to the Hurricane Hunters! You will finish some specialized training "in house", but you're on the team now--congratulations! Most of our newcomers work as part-time (traditional) reservists, which means you are free to work another job full-time. Your reserve pay will be a nice supplement to your income, but most importantly, you've joined one of the most elite organizations in the world, and will have the extreme satisfaction of knowing your work is helping to save lives.

Additional Info. Air Reserve Technicians. Half of our jobs are full time, under the ART program. This is a civil service job, and you will need to apply to the AFRC "Special Examining Unit" to have your resume rated (to see if you qualify for the job you want).

Still In School? Prepare For Your Future!

* Make the best possible grades and graduate. Your recruiter can explain educational benefits.
* Study for the Air Force Officer Qualification Test (AFOQT) or Armed Forces Aptitude Battery Test (ASVAB). There are books available at your bookstore or library.
* Pursue hobbies, part-time jobs, and/or volunteer work. As does any employer, we look for a well-rounded person.
* If you want to become an Air Force Pilot, consider getting at least a private pilot's license.
* If someone discourages you, 
get a second opinion!