Unlike the Army, the U.S. Air Force uses other metrics to determine whether a new Airman is fit enough for service. Rather than measuring height and corresponding weight limits, the USAF uses the Body Mass Index to determine body composition.
The waist-to-height ratio provides a measurement of body fat percentage. Recently, the Air Force relaxed its weight standards to increase recruitment.
Previously, men needed to maintain 20 percent body fat or lower, and women were required to remain below 28 percent. As of April 2023, men can measure as high as 26 percent, and women as high as 36 percent.
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What’s Your Body Mass Index?
You can determine your BMI using the chart below:
If your BMI is higher than 25, you will be considered “overweight” or “obese.” You may need to lose some weight before joining the Air Force.
Keep in mind that these are the requirements for everyone joining the Air Force, whether you’re an officer or enlisted.
What’s Your Waist-to-Height Ratio?
If you’re not within the BMI limits according to the chart above, you may be better off taking the Tape Test.
This test estimates your actual percentage of body fat weight in relation to your “lean weight” (including muscle, bone, organs, etc.)
To calculate your waist-to-height ratio, measure around the narrowest point of your waist. According to the USAF, this is at the “midpoint between the lowest rib and the top of the hip bone.”
Then, divide that number by height in inches.
If the result is less than 0.55, you meet the standard. If your result is higher than that, you’re considered “high risk.”
If you’re already a member of the Air Force, you’ll have a whole year to get right with the tape measure before the service intervenes formally.
Pilot Height and Weight Requirements
With that said, pilot and aircrew positions in the Air Force have their own requirements.
For example, all pilot candidates must meet the following:
- Be no less than 64 inches short, and 77 inches tall when standing.
- Be 34 – 40 inches tall when sitting.
- Weigh no less than 160 lbs. and no more than 231 lbs.
If you fall outside these ranges it’s still possible to pursue a career in aviation. The Air Force encourages applicants of all heights to apply. Additional screening will be required to make sure you can safely perform operational duties.
There are also specific height and weight requirements for specific airframes, which will be discussed during your pilot training.
Additionally, there are other health and vision requirements that pilot candidates must meet.
- No history of hay fever, allergies, or asthma after the age of 12.
- Normal color vision with near visual acuity of 20/30 without correction.
- Distance visual acuity of no worse than 20/70 in each eye, correctable to 20/20.
- Meet refraction, accommodation, and astigmatism requirements.
Before you visit your local recruiter, be sure you meet the minimum qualifications for serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.
Related Links – References:
- Air Force Ranks and Basic Pay for 2023 - March 20, 2022
- Air Force Age Limit For 2023 - March 20, 2022
- Air Force Jobs List:A List Of All 136 AFSCs In The Air Force (2023) - March 20, 2022