If you’re thinking about becoming a pilot you might be wondering if there are height requirements that you’ll have to meet.
Some people worry that they are too short to become a pilot while others are worried that they are too tall. There are many rumors about the aviation industry that get passed around and after a while people start to believe them. It’s important to clear this up and make sure that no one is discouraged from being a pilot due to rumors about the height requirements.
So, what are the height requirements to be a pilot?
There is no set minimum or maximum height to become a pilot.
There are however, some requirements that you might run into that are specific to some types of pilots and company specific guidelines. Keep in mind that even for these requirements, a vast majority of people are still well in the allowed range.
In this article we’ll take a look at the height requirements for various types of pilots and give you all the additional information you need on the subject.
Height Requirements for Airline Pilots
The FAA does not have set height requirements for airline pilots. You can see their exact policy on height in their Medical Examiner’s guide.
Their requirement is simply that pilots must be able to safely reach all necessary controls when flying the plane.
There are several options to make sure that this is not an issue for pilots.
For example, seats on airplanes are highly adjustable. This means that someone that is taller or shorter than average can adjust the seat as needed to make sure they can reach pedals and other controls just fine.
There are also seat extenders and cushions available for shorter pilots. In some aircraft, even the rudder pedals are adjustable to make sure everything is perfect for the pilot flying the plane.
One place you might run into a more awkward fit in an airplane if you are taller or shorter than average is at flight school.
This is because many flight schools don’t have access to as many aircraft as resources as your future employer will. Most airlines will go above and beyond to make sure everything is perfect for you while some smaller flight schools will have much more limited options.
Airline Specific Policies
The one rare situation that could come up is if an airline you applied to had company specific height requirements you have to meet. These are usually rare and only exist in situations where you might be flying an aircraft with limited space.
As you can see, very few people are too short or too tall to become an airline pilot.
Height Requirements for Military/Fighter Pilots
The Air Force used to have somewhat strict height guidelines for fighter pilots. They used to require you to be between 5’4 and 6’6″ tall. That all changed in 2020.
They changed their policy to allow more people to potentially become pilots. Newer technology on airplanes allows for more people to be able to safely and effectively fly.
Their new height requirements are based on what your (seated) size and reach are and if you can effectively fly the plane. To make it possible for more people to meet this requirement, they are also redesigning the interior of aircraft to be better suited to smaller pilots.
Height Requirements for Private Pilots
Much like other types of pilots mentioned here, earning your private pilot license will require you to safely reach all of the controls in the cockpit that you need to as a pilot.
There is not a specific minimum or maximum height as long as you meet that criteria. That means that most humans will meet the requirement without issue.
For those concerned that they are too short to be able to reach all of the controls/pedals, there are various techniques that can be uses to make sure you do.
That includes things like using adjustable seats, seat cushions, and extenders.
Can I be a pilot if I’m 5 feet tall?
Again, it all comes down to being able to reach all controls/rudder safely. If you meet this requirement you are able to be a commercial pilot without issue.
Keep in mind that in some cases the requirement for military/air force pilots can be different due to the limited options in some aircraft. In some cases, you might find that someone under 5′ tall or over 6’6″ might have issues with fitting correctly into the aircraft.
Can I be “too tall” to be a Pilot?
If you’re over 6’6′ you might run into issues being a pilot in the Air Force or Navy. This is mostly due to the limited space those aircraft have on board. It’s going to be exceedingly difficult to pilot an airplane or helicopter you barely fit into.
As far as being a commercial pilot or airline pilot, this will not be an issue in most cases. Modern passenger planes have larger cockpits with more room for adjustments. Most airline will help you make the necessary adjustments to safely fly the plane even if you are very tall.
When it comes to earning your pilot’s license, height is not something most people need to worry about. As you can see from the above requirements, a vast majority of people will have not have any issue being too tall or too short to be a pilot.
If you’re interested in becoming a pilot, you should take the next step and contact a flight school near you to learn more. Regardless of your goals as a pilot, you should learn more and start working towards those goals today.
Best of luck to you earning your pilot’s license!