SOFIA / B-747 Pilot

Job Locations US-CA-Palmdale
Business Unit
Secret Preferred


The NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center (AFRC) SOFIA / B-747 Pilot member performs duties in support of the operations of all aircraft assigned to AFRC.  Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) / B-747 Pilots will plan and fly sorties for NASA and NASA customers to ensure that quality products and safe operations are provided as tasked. AFRC aircraft are operated to meet both Center and Agency platform, research, and support aircraft requirements. AFRC aircraft are located at the main campus at Edwards Air Force Base, California, and the Science and Aircraft Integration Facility (SAIF) located in Palmdale, California, with the SOFIA B-747 primarily assigned to Palmdale. Deployed operations, both CONUS and OCONUS, are routine for these aircrew positions.


  • Conducting flight operations in accordance with FAA, Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), and other applicable directives, regulations, and instructions.
  • Maintaining performance standards in accordance with directives, training plans and Flight Crew Branch policies to include: Knowledge of safety precautions, Knowledge of airfield operations, Demonstrating Emergency Bold Face procedures from memory, and Knowledge of aircraft systems, limitations and ATC regulations / procedures.
  • Participating in i3 and NASA-directed Continuation Training meetings and other forums mandated by the on-site management team.
  • Performing any and all on-site tasks necessary at operating locations for a safe, secure, and professional operation.
  • Direct support to any administrative or flight operations scheduling / record keeping as needed.
  • Candidate must also maintain proficiency, currency, and annual requirements in accordance with NPR 7900.3C, NPD 7900.4D, AFPD 8700.1 and AFOP 7900.3-006 as applicable.

NASA will provide training and qualification checks for aircrew, including required periodic simulator training.

NASA authorized flight surgeon will provide periodic flight physicals for aircrew.


Required Skills:

  • Bachelor’s degree, or higher, from an accredited university or college (Required), with major study in an appropriate field of engineering, physical science, life science, or mathematics (Desired).
  • Must be able to pass random drug screenings. (Required)
  • Due to NASA Procedural Requirements 7900D, the maximum age for NASA pilots is 65. Candidates over this age cannot be considered.
  • Possess a current US passport, valid through period of employment. (Required)
  • Formal military training in expected duties (with DD 214 annotating AFSC / MOS qualification) or applicable civilian experience. (Highly Desired)
  • Candidates must possess an FAA commercial pilot license with instrument, multi-engine land ratings or a pilot and instrument rating from the armed services (Required)
  • Logbook and/or flight records verifying the following flight time minimums: a minimum of 1,500 hours of pilot in command (PIC), of which at least 500 hours are in transport or bomber class aircraft with a gross weight of at least 100,000 pounds (Required)
  • Must meet the security requirements of the position and pass a NASA Flight Medical Certification (Required).

Required Experience:

  • Should possess knowledge and first-hand experience necessary to succeed as a government contractor providing direct support to NASA AFRC staff as required.
  • Must be proficient in Microsoft Office programs such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Must be able to create, maintain and update briefings and statistical reporting.
  • Must be able to obtain a DoD SECRET security clearance.

Work Environment & Physical Demands:

  • Light to medium work. Ability to lift, carry, push, pull, see, hear, stoop, crouch, feel, handle; manual dexterity.
  • Outside work. Ability to tolerate conditions in a deployed environment to include inclement weather, rain, humidity, cold and extreme heat. May be exposed to dust, fumes, odors, chemicals, and confined spaces.
  • Close, distance, color and peripheral vision and depth perception.
  • Ability to read and comprehend technical manuals and instructions; procedures, safety instructions, memos, reports. Ability to write at a level to relay data, details and information. Ability to perform shop math. Ability to speak clearly and concisely to relay information.
  • Office conditions: Moderate noise level. May be required to sit at computer station and/or type on keyboard for extended periods of time. May be required to lift objects such as laptop and office copy paper. May be required to view and read computer monitor for extended periods of time. May be required to take verbal messages per phone and face-to-face contact. Will occasionally be required to stand and walk to deliver items within office or on the flight line.
  • Flight line working conditions: Will be required to work day or night. May be exposed to high noise levels. Will be required to fly long missions (up to 10 hours) at high altitude in a confined space. May be subject to the altitude or physiological risks normally associated with flying.


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