From what I found on Wiki:Hal probably joined the Air Force at 18, started out as a simple Airman, but I'm sure, given his family background, and his natural aptitude, he might have gotten into an accelerated program and gotten a degree in avionics pretty quickly. There have been plenty of examples of military personnel who have started out in the lower enlisted ranks and risen to high ranking, command positions. Granted, most of those have been during war-time, but that's what suspension of disbelief is all about, right?
The first stop for all Air Force, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Command enlisted people is basic military training at Lackland AFB.
After completing BMT, airmen begin technical training in their career field specialties. Instructors conduct technical training in specialties such as aircraft maintenance, electronic principles, air transportation.
Air Force pilot candidates begin with Initial Flight Screening (IFS). In IFS, civilian instructors provide up to 25 hours of flight instruction to pilot candidates.
Pilot candidates then attend either Euro-NATO joint jet pilot training (ENJJPT) or joint specialized undergraduate pilot training (JSUPT).
During the primary phase of JSUPT, students learn basic flight skills common to all military pilots.
After the primary phase of JSUPT, student pilots elect one of several advanced training tracks based on their class standing.
I think the whole thing only takes a couple years, does anyone know how long Hal was in the service?