Wanna make an extra $225,000 just to fly planes and kick ass for America? Then the government has got a deal for you! The Air Force is so short on pilots at the moment that they're offering sweet incentive deals for fighter jocks.
(In before commenters: Yes, dammit, I know that Maverick flew for the Navy, not the Air Force. Until the Air Force gets a movie as cool as Top Gun, the topshot stands.)
The Los Angeles Times reports that the Air Force is boosting its salary package to lure more fighter pilots into the field. It seems that it has a shortage of about 200 pilots this year, and Pentagon officials fear the shortfall could rise to 700 pilots or more by 2021.
The LAT reports that several factors have led to this situation, including deployment burnout, reassignments to piloting drones by remote control, and a surge in demand for commercial pilots who tend to get paid better. As such, the Air Force is offering an incentive package for experienced pilots that includes a signing bonus of $25,000 each year for nine years, which is twice as long as the normal contract.
A shortage of pilots comes at an extremely embarrassing time for the Air Force, as the government continues to dump obscene amounts of money into the F-35 program. If those cockpits go empty, it's extremely bad news.
Now is a great time to try and become a pilot, and not just for the military. The LAT notes that last year, Boeing released a report that estimated a global need for 460,000 new commercial pilots over the next 20 years.
If you're looking for a career change, you could do a heck of a lot worse. Just ask Maverick up there.