Pilot officer

Pilot officer (Plt Off officially in the RAF; PLTOFF in the RAAF and RNZAF; formerly P/O in all services, and still often used in the RAF) is the lowest commissioned rank in the Royal Air Force[1] and the air forces of many other Commonwealth countries. It ranks immediately below flying officer.

It has a NATO ranking code of OF-1 and is equivalent to a second lieutenant in the British Army or the Royal Marines. The Royal Navy has no exact equivalent rank, and a pilot officer is senior to a Royal Navy midshipman and junior to a Royal Navy sub-lieutenant. In the Australian Armed Forces, the rank of pilot officer is equivalent to acting sub lieutenant in the Royal Australian Navy.

The equivalent rank in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) was "assistant section officer".

British RAF OF-1a
An RAF pilot officer's sleeve/shoulder insignia


In the Royal Flying Corps, officers were designated pilot officers at the end of pilot training. As they retained their commissions in their customary ranks (usually second lieutenant or lieutenant), and many of them had been seconded from their ground units, the designation of pilot officer was a position title rather than a rank.

On 1 April 1918, the newly created RAF adopted its officer rank titles from the British Army, with Royal Flying Corps second lieutenants becoming second lieutenants in the RAF. Consideration was given to renaming second lieutenants as ensigns. However, when the RAF's own rank structure was introduced on 1 August 1919, RAF second lieutenants who were qualified pilots were redesignated pilot officers, a rank which has been in continuous use ever since. Those who were not qualified pilots were redesignated observer officers, but this was later phased out and all officers of this rank became pilot officers.

RAF usage

The rank of pilot officer does not imply that the officer is aircrew. Following recent reforms to the Royal Air Force's promotion system, wherein previously University graduates passed out of RAF Cranwell at a higher substantive rank than their non-graduate peers, pilot officer rank is now only applicable to ground branches. Aircrew and engineers receive their commissions as flying officers and skip the rank altogether. A ground branch officer will remain in the pilot officer rank for six months following commissioning, before an automatic promotion to flying officer. Because of the nature of Phase II training (professional training after the Phase I Initial Officer Training), a pilot officer will generally spend time in rank on a further training course, and is not likely to be operationally active.

Some students in the University Air Squadrons are promoted to the rank of acting pilot officer (which includes a week long course at RAF Cranwell) as part of the leadership element of their squadron. UAS students wear pilot officer rank insignia with Officers headdress and are commissioned into the Volunteer Reserve. Pilot officers are more likely to be found in the CCF and Air Training Corps organisations of the VR(T) branch, because they are likely to spend far longer in rank than those serving in the RAF.


The rank insignia consists of a thin blue band on slightly wider black band. This is worn on both the lower sleeves of the tunic or on the shoulders of the flying suit or the casual uniform.

Although no current Royal Navy rank has an insignia of a single half width ring, a pilot officer's mess insignia of one thin band of gold running around each cuff is similar to the insignia formerly worn by Royal Navy Warrant Officers. As with the mess insignia for other RAF officer ranks, the band of gold does not have the Royal Navy's loop.


An RAF pilot officer's sleeve/shoulder insignia


An RAF pilot officer's sleeve mess insignia

RAF-Plt Off-OF-1

An RAF pilot officer's sleeve on No.1 best dress uniform

Other air forces

The rank of pilot officer is also used in a number of the air forces in the Commonwealth, including the Bangladesh Air Force, Pakistan Air Force, Royal Australian Air Force, Royal New Zealand Air Force and Sri Lanka Air Force. The rank is no longer used by the Indian Air Force and all trainee cadets are commissioned into the force as flying officers.

The Royal Canadian Air Force used the rank until the three armed services were unified into the Canadian Forces in 1968 and army-type ranks were adopted. A Canadian pilot officer then became a second lieutenant. In official French Canadian usage, a pilot officer's rank title was sous-lieutenant d'aviation. The Royal Malaysian Air Force used "young lieutenant".

RAAF O1 rank

An RAAF pilot officer's sleeve/shoulder insignia

Hellenic Air Force OF-1B

A Hellenic Air Force anthiposminagos (pilot officer's) rank insignia

Pilot Officer of IAF

An Indian Air Force pilot officer's rank insignia; rank is no longer used

A RTAF pilot officer's rank insignia

Plt Off Pakistan Air Force

PAF pilot officer's rank insignia.

See also


  1. ^ "Ranks and Badges of the Royal Air Force". Royal Air Force. 2007. Retrieved 1 December 2007.
412 Transport Squadron

No. 412 Transport Squadron is one of three Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) transport squadrons attached to Ottawa, Ontario. The squadron operates with a strength of about 29 out of the Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee, Jr. Annex. The Annex officially opened on January 11, 1995.No. 412 Squadron began as a unit of the RCAF during the Second World War.

Acting pilot officer

Acting pilot officer (A/Plt Off) is the lowest commissioned grade in the Royal Air Force, being immediately junior to pilot officer. Unlike other RAF ranks which officers may hold in an acting capacity, acting pilot officer is maintained as a separate grade. It normally denotes an officer who has recently been commissioned and joined as a non-graduate direct entrant. Acting pilot officer is not an actual rank, and A/Plt Off's are later regraded to pilot officer, not promoted.

Although acting pilot officer has a NATO ranking code of OF(D), neither the British Army, Royal Marines nor Royal Navy has an exactly equivalent rank. As acting pilot officers are junior to second lieutenants in the British Army or the Royal Marines and to Royal Navy midshipmen, the rank is the most junior commissioned rank in the British Armed Forces.

On a University Air Squadron, students can apply for the position of acting pilot officer in order to undertake a Senior Student or Flight Commander role, usually four per each UAS. In order to be awarded a Volunteer Reserve commission they have to complete an intensive course run by the Officer and Aircrew Cadet Training Unit at RAFC Cranwell. On graduation, RAFVR Acting Pilot Officers hold a full commission for one year. This can be extended if serving for more than one year in a senior position on squadron or retained if serving the RAF reserves.

Up to 2012, 3 Flying Training School (3FTS) were responsible for the training of UAS APOs. However starting in 2013 OACTU took over the duties of training APOs with a course aligned with the commissioning course of the RAF reserves.

The rank insignia is identical to that of a pilot officer, consisting of a thin blue band on slightly wider black band. This is worn on both the lower sleeves of the tunic or on the shoulders of the flying suit or the casual uniform. RAFVR APOs have a VR marking on their rank slides, either a small brass VR pin mounted on the stipe or embroidered underneath.

Assender Glacier

Assender Glacier is a glacier flowing west into Spooner Bay in Enderby Land, Antarctica. It was plotted from air photos taken from Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions aircraft in 1956, and named by the Antarctic Names Committee of Australia for Pilot Officer Ken J. Assender, RAAF, pilot at Mawson Station in 1959.

Battle of Sunchon (air)

The Battle of Sunchon was an air battle fought near the city of Sunchon, North Korea on 1 December 1951, during the Korean War. Up to 14 Gloster Meteor jets of the RAAF's No. 77 Squadron were attacked by at least 20 MiG-15s of the Soviet Union's 176th Guards Fighter Aviation Regiment (176 GIAP). The MiGs carried Chinese air force markings, as the USSR was not officially a combatant in the Korean War. Its experience in the battle led to No. 77 Squadron's being redeployed to ground attack duties.

No. 77 Squadron was engaged in an offensive sweep, at 19,000 feet (5,800 metres) when the action commenced, at about 0900 hours. During the ensuing 10 minute action, air combat ranged across North Korean air space, at altitudes of 20,000 to 33,000 feet (6,100 to 10,000 metres). Pilots on both sides were veterans of World War II, with several years experience flying fighters. However, the Meteor was a World War II-era design that was outclassed by the new MiG-15.

Soviet pilots, according to the RAAF, destroyed three Meteors. A total of nine kill claims were made by Soviet pilots, including one by a future ace, Captain Sergei Kramarenko.Officially, no aircraft from 176 GIAP were lost on this occasion, according to Soviet records. Lieutenant Stepa Kirichenko reportedly lost control of his MiG, but recovered at an altitude of about 500 metres and returned to base. Flying Officer Bruce Gogerly claimed hits on two MiGs and RAAF records claimed one MiG destroyed and one damaged or "probable".

Two Australian pilots, Flying Officer Bruce Thompson and Pilot Officer Vance Drummond managed to eject and landed in North Korea where they became prisoners of war, while Pilot Officer E. D. (Don) Armit was reported missing in action, presumed killed.This encounter, along with previous actions between the Meteors and MiGs, highlighted the inferiority of the Meteor in aerial combat against the newer Soviet aircraft and No. 77 Squadron was subsequently reassigned to ground attack. It was also the only engagement during the course of the war in which Australia and the Soviet Union directly clashed in battle.

Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum

The Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum is a Canadian aviation museum located at the John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport in Hamilton, Ontario. The museum has 47 military jets, propeller-driven aircraft and helicopters on display.Displayed is a collection of Canadian military aircraft, many in flying condition. The museum is also restoring several Second World War and Cold War aircraft, including a TBM Avenger a De Havilland Canada built S-2 Tracker and a Bristol Bolingbroke. The flying collection performs at air shows and is made available for local flights by museum visitors.The Avro Lancaster flown by the museum is one of only two airworthy Lancasters in the world. Known as the Mynarski Memorial Lancaster in honour of Pilot Officer Andrew Charles Mynarski, it is painted in the markings of his aircraft. An Ontario Historical Plaque near the entrance commemorates Eileen Vollick's role in Ontario's heritage as Canada's first licensed female pilot.

Christie Memorial Provincial Park

Christie Memorial Provincial Park is a provincial park in British Columbia, Canada, located in the town of Okanagan Falls at the south end of Skaha Lake.

The park was established on 5 October 1965, in remembrance of RCAF Pilot Officer Robert G. Christie, DFM. Christie was serving as a Navigator (flight officer) with No. 97 Squadron RAF when he was killed in action 23 September 1943. As the only serviceman from Okanagan Falls killed in action during World War II, this Provincial Park was named after him.

He is buried at Rheinberg War Cemetery, Kamp-Lintfort, Nordrhein-Westfal, Germany, grave 8. C. 18.

Comparative air force officer ranks of Africa

Rank comparison chart of air forces of African states.

Comparative air force officer ranks of Oceania

Rank comparison chart of air forces of Oceanian states.

Comparative air force officer ranks of the Commonwealth

Rank comparison chart of air forces of Commonwealth of Nations states.


Eringhem is a commune in the Nord department and Hauts-de-France region of northern France.

Located about halfway between Dunkirk and Saint-Omer in the historical region of French Westhoek, its West Flemish name is Eringem.

The village churchyard contains the graves of three Royal Air Force men killed in action in May 1940, among them Pilot Officer Sir Arnold Talbot Wilson.

Flying officer

Flying officer (Fg Off in the RAF and IAF; FLGOFF in the RAAF; FGOFF in the RNZAF; formerly F/O in all services and still frequently in the RAF) is a junior commissioned rank in the Royal Air Force and the air forces of many countries which have historical British influence. It is also sometimes used as the English translation of an equivalent rank in countries which have a non-English air force-specific rank structure. In these cases a flying officer usually ranks above pilot officer and immediately below flight lieutenant.

It has a NATO ranking code of OF-1 and is equivalent to a lieutenant in the British Army or the Royal Marines. However, it is superior to the nearest equivalent rank of sub-lieutenant in the Royal Navy.The equivalent rank in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force was "section officer".

Hans-Joachim Marseille

Hans-Joachim Walter Rudolf Siegfried Marseille (13 December 1919 – 30 September 1942) was a German fighter pilot who fought during World War II. A flying ace, he is noted for his aerial battles during the North African Campaign. All but seven of his 158 claimed victories were against the British Desert Air Force over North Africa. No other pilot claimed as many Western Allied aircraft as Marseille.

Marseille joined the Luftwaffe in 1938. At the age of 20, he participated in the Battle of Britain, without notable success. As a result of poor discipline, he was transferred to Jagdgeschwader 27 (Fighter Wing 27, JG 27), which relocated to North Africa in April 1941.

Under the guidance of his new commander, Marseille quickly developed his abilities as a fighter pilot. On 1 September 1942, he claimed 17 [?] Allied aircraft. For this he received the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds. A month later, Marseille was killed in a flying accident after his aircraft suffered an engine failure. Forced to abandon his fighter, Marseille struck its vertical stabiliser and was killed.

Matiur Rahman (military pilot)

Matiur Rahman (29 November 1941 – 20 August 1971) was a flight lieutenant of Pakistan Air Force and a recipient of Bir Sreshtho, Bangladesh's highest military gallantry award for his actions during the Liberation War of Bangladesh.

He attempted to escape from Pakistan and join the Bangladesh Liberation War, to hijack a Lockheed T-33 aircraft being flown by a 21 year old Pilot Officer Rashid Minhas, who was conducting his second solo flight. Rahman stopped the aircraft on the runway, climbed into the cockpit and steered the aircraft toward the Indian border, but Rashid Minhas fought against him through the mechanically linked controls. Minhas then released the canopy, and since he was not properly strapped in, Rahman flew out of the cockpit. The jet was flying too low for Minhas to recover so it crashed, killing him. For his support to the state of Bangladesh, Rahman was decorated by Bangladesh with the Bir Sreshtho award.

Military ranks of Trinidad and Tobago

The Military ranks of Trinidad and Tobago are the military insignia used by the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force. Being a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, Trinidad and Tobago shares a rank structure similar to that of the United Kingdom.

No. 466 Squadron RAAF

No. 466 Squadron RAAF was a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) bomber squadron during World War II. Formed in the United Kingdom in late 1942, the squadron undertook combat operations in Europe until the end of the war, flying heavy bomber aircraft. Following the conclusion of hostilities with Germany, the squadron began retraining to undertake operations in the Pacific against the Japanese, but the war came to an end before it left the UK. In late 1945, the squadron was disbanded.

RAF officer ranks

The officer ranks of the Royal Air Force, as they are today, were introduced in 1919. Prior to that Army ranks were used.

Rashid Minhas

Pilot Officer Rashid Minhas(Urdu: راشد منہاس‎b. 17 February 1951 – August 20, 1971) NH, was a military officer in the Pakistan Air Force (PAF). Minhas was the only PAF officer to receive the highest valour award, the Nishan-e-Haider. He was also the youngest person and the shortest-serving officer to have received this award. He is remembered for his death in 1971 in a jet trainer crash while struggling to regain the controls from a defecting pilot: Flight Lieutenant Matiur Rahman.

In spite of having a short military career in the Pakistan Air Force, he has the unique distinction of being the youngest and yet the only air force personnel to be cited with the highest gallant award for his combat services. During the routine training mission in August of 1971, P/Off. Minhas attempted to gain control of his jet trainer when his commanding officer Flight Lieutenant Matiur Rahman was trying to defect to India, and deliberately commandeer his plane that crashed near the Thatta District, Sindh in Pakistan.

Royal Hellenic Air Force ranks

This article contains the rank insignia of the Royal Hellenic Air Force (until 1973).

Second lieutenant

Second lieutenant (called lieutenant governor in some countries) is a junior commissioned officer military rank in many armed forces, comparable to NATO OF-1a rank.

Navies Armies Air forces
Commissioned officers
Admiral of
the fleet
Field marshal or
General of the army
Marshal of
the air force
Admiral General Air chief marshal
Vice admiral Lieutenant general Air marshal
Rear admiral Major general Air vice-marshal
Commodore Brigadier or
brigadier general
Air commodore
Captain Colonel Group captain
Commander Lieutenant colonel Wing commander
Major or
Squadron leader
Lieutenant Captain Flight lieutenant
junior grade
Lieutenant or
first lieutenant
Flying officer
Ensign or
Second lieutenant Pilot officer
Officer cadet Officer cadet Flight cadet
Enlisted grades
Warrant officer or
chief petty officer
Warrant officer or
sergeant major
Warrant officer
Petty officer Sergeant Flight sergeant
Leading seaman Corporal or
Seaman Private or
gunner or
Aircraftman or
NATO rank code Student officer OF-1 OF-2 OF-3 OF-4 OF-5 OF-6
Royal Navy O Cdt Mid SLt Lt Lt Cdr Cdr Capt Cdre RAdm VAdm Adm Adm of the Fleet
Royal Marines O Cdt 2Lt Lt Capt Maj Lt Col Col Brig Maj-Gen Lt-Gen Gen Capt-Gen
Army O Cdt 2Lt Lt Capt Maj Lt Col Col Brig Maj-Gen Lt-Gen Gen Fd Mshl
Royal Air Force Off Cdt / SO APO / Plt Off Fg Off Flt Lt Sqn Ldr Wg Cdr Gp Capt Air Cdre AVM Air Mshl Air Chf Mshl Mshl of the RAF


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