The relationship between higher education curricular variables and human flight performance in a preliminary flying training program

Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Higher Education

First Advisor's Name

Ralph Clem

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Co-Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Joseph Cook

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Co-Chair

Third Advisor's Name

George Pearson


Flight training, Air pilots

Date of Defense



The ability of the United States Air Force (USAF) to sustain a high level of operational ability and readiness is dependent on the proficiency and expertise of its pilots. Recruitment, education, training, and retention of its pilot force are crucial factors in the USAF's attainment of its operational mission: defense of this nation and its allies. Failure of a student pilot during a training program does not only represent a loss of costly training expenditures to the American public, but often consists of loss of human life, aircraft, and property.

This research focused on the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps' (AFROTC) selection method for student pilots for the light aircraft training (LATR) program. The LATR program is an intense 16 day flight training program that precedes the Air Force's undergraduate pilot training (UPT) program. The study subjects were 265 AFROTC cadets in the LATR program. A variety of independent variables from each subject's higher education curricular background as well as results of preselection tests, participation in varsity athletics, prior flying experience and gender were evaluated against subsequent performance in LATR. Performance was measured by a quantitative performance score developed by this researcher based on 28 graded training factors as well as overall pass or fail of the LATR program.

Study results showed participation in university varsity athletics was very significantly and positively related to performance in the LATR program, followed by prior flying experience and to a very slight degree portions of the Air Force Officers Qualifying Test. Not significantly related to success in the LATR program were independent variables such as grade point average, scholastic aptitude test scores, academic major, gender and the AFROTC selection and ranking system.



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