An aviation-only career path could get its first trial in 2018 if the head of Air Mobility Command has his way.

Gen. Carlton Everhart has been gathering feedback from airmen on ways the Air Force can retain much-needed talent in the face of a national pilot shortage. One common theme that stood out, Everhart said, was how pilots wanted to keep flying without being bogged down by additional duties.

This prompted Everhart to brainstorm an aviation-only career path, where pilots would still have to perform certain non-flying duties but could cut down on some that might be unnecessary.

“What I envision is you come into the military, and after so many years, you say, ‘Hey instead of getting out, I want to stay in and just fly,’” he said.

Everhart said he’s working with the Air Force on the details and wants to start a pilot program for this initiative within six months, if everything checks out.

“It’s still in the skeletal stage,” Everhart said. “I need to get after this. If that prevents people from getting out, I’ll take it.”

The Air Force is currently short almost 2,000 pilots — especially fighter pilots — and has upped bonuses and incentives to try to compete with the commercial airline industry.

Over the next four years, about 1,600 mobility pilots will be eligible to separate from the active-duty force, according to Air Mobility Command.

Charlsy is a Reporter and Engagement Manager for Military Times. Email her at

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