HOW STUFF WORKS
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How High in the Air Force Would You Rank?
by Mark Lichtenstein
The United States Air Force is one of the hardest branches of the military to do well in. It handles not just air superiority, but also much of our intelligence gathering and nuclear capabilities. How far would you go?

How hard do you work?

  • I am consumed by work
  • 6 days a week
  • I work hard when I'm on the job
  • I work as hard as I'm told to

Do you have any natural leadership qualities?

  • Yes, and they have been sharpened with training and practice
  • I do, but I think I could use some formal education
  • Some, but I wouldn't know
  • None

How badly do you want to be a pilot?

  • I'm not hot to be a pilot in combat
  • I would love to be in air combat
  • I'd love to be a pilot, though not necessarily in a dogfight
  • I just want to contribute something valuable

Can you be trusted with secrets?

  • Absolutely
  • Some secrets I'd rather not know
  • Any secrets my life depends on, yes
  • No

How old are you?

  • 50
  • 32
  • 22
  • 18

How long do you plan to stay in the service?

  • I'm a lifer
  • I'll put in my 20s
  • I'm thinking maybe 20 years
  • 7 years or so

Do you have an advanced degree?

  • Several
  • One
  • I've been to college
  • no

Are you a medical doctor?

  • No, but I hold several advanced degrees
  • Yes
  • No, but I have some medical training
  • No

How intelligent are you?

  • Very
  • I'm fairly clever
  • I'm about average
  • I have no way of knowing

Are you a strategic thinker?

  • Yes
  • Only in the small scale
  • Only in terms of shopping
  • No

How good are you at games like chess?

  • I'm a grandmaster
  • I know the Italian defense
  • I know how knights move
  • I don't know anything about it

How do you fare in the game Risk?

  • I do very well in it
  • I can hold my own
  • I don't remember, it has been so long
  • I don't even know what that is

Can you keep your politics separate from your job?

  • I can try, but politics can have a way of intruding on your job unbidden
  • Yes, sir
  • Absolutely
  • I might paint something rude on a bomb

Do you have a fear of heights?

  • Not anymore
  • Not at all
  • Maybe a little
  • Very much so

Are you very good at boring, technical jobs?

  • I can and will do them if called upon
  • I am, but I think I have better ways of contributing
  • I'm very good at those
  • I think I can learn them

When you played team sports, what was your relationship with the team?

  • I was the captain
  • I was the quarterback
  • I was the manager
  • I was a defensive end

Were you part of your school's student government?

  • I ran the yearbook
  • I was the secretary
  • I took photos for the yearbook
  • No

If you were in another industry, which would that be?

  • Manufacturing
  • Finance
  • Travel
  • Entertainment

Which contemporary airplane is the most useful?

  • The F-18 Hornet
  • The F-22 Interceptor
  • The A-10 Warthog
  • The F-35 Lightning II

What World War I aircraft was probably the best one?

  • Fokker D VII
  • Spad XIII
  • Sopwith Camel
  • Albatros III

Which World War II aircraft was probably the best one?

  • Focke-Wulf FW-190
  • Soviet Yakovlev Yak-3
  • Grumman F6F Hellcat
  • P-51 Mustang

Other than the air force, which branch of the military has the best mastery of the skies?

  • The Navy
  • The Coast Guard
  • The Marines
  • The Army

Would you mind fetching a bucket of jetwash?

  • I'm not falling for that
  • Ha! Nice try. I fell for that when I enlisted.
  • Sure, I have a bucket right here!
  • What's jetwash?

What must one do when dining in, and one does not toast with a properly charged glass?

  • Drink from the grog bowl
  • I have no idea
  • Be the designated driver
  • What is a properly charged glass?

What section of the US military does not allow names to be engraved on challenge coins?

  • Stratcom
  • NORAD
  • The Coast Guard
  • The Navy

Is the F-35 a waste of money?

  • So far, but it's still being worked on
  • Give me a fighter for the job I have, not every job there is
  • It's better than a $50,000 hammer
  • Yes

What is the oldest aircraft in service today?

  • Technically the Boeing PT-17, in Mexico.
  • The Antonov An-2, in North Korea
  • The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17, in Tanzania
  • Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, in the USA

What are your feelings on drones?

  • They keep our people from getting killed, and they are less expensive than other hardware we're running
  • They're fine, but the operators can still wind up with PTSD
  • They're pretty exciting, and soon they may replace manned aircraft in war altogether
  • They're pretty cool, but not as cool as the F-22

Would you have volunteered for Project Daedalus?

  • Thanks, but I don't have the right stuff
  • I would have
  • I would have, but they wouldn't have taken me
  • There's no way I'd have volunteered. It was suicidal.

In the event of nuclear war, what is more likely to be used than Peacekeeper ICBMs?

  • The Trident system
  • Ship-launched cruise missiles
  • Conventional long range missiles
  • Stealth bombers