Destination 225°®
Cadet Pathway  

Where's your navigation leading you?

The Destination 225°® Cadet Pathway trains new or private pilots with the skills needed to become a Southwest Airlines® First Officer in as little as four years. There's no typical Candidate or background for the pathway, and all are welcome to apply.

Candidates for the cadet pathway may:​​​​​​
  • Be out in the workforce and ready to make a change in your profession 
  • Have graduated and are interested in pursuing a rewarding career 
  • Be transitioning out of a non-pilot role in the military 
  • Be a current private pilot 
  • Work in aviation and want to make your dream of flying a reality 

From the office to the skies

Hear directly from Bailey G., a cadet from our inaugural class, about how she's turned her office daydreams of the flight deck into a reality.  
What can I expect as a cadet?
Southwest Airlines partners with CAE in Mesa, Ariz., SkyWarrior in Pensacola, Fla., and US Aviation in Denton, Texas to provide flight instruction for the cadet pathway. Together, they collaborate on teaching participants how to fly The Southwest Way through integrated competency-based training. This is a direct path to becoming a First Officer at Southwest Airlines.

As a participant, you can expect: 
  • An estimated 13-month, 40-hour week training program*, earning all ratings necessary to become a Certified Flight Instructor.  
  • Personal engagement and mentorship from Southwest First Officers throughout your four years in the cadet pathway. 
  • Educational touchpoints facilitated by First Officer mentors at your respective flight school and at Southwest Airlines' state-of-the-art training facility in Dallas, Texas. 
  • Experience working as a Certified Flight Instructor that inspires. coaches, and trains future aviators.  
  • A preferential interview with a program partner, type ratings, and experience-building opportunities during your two-year commitment (note: time commitments are partner-dependent and may vary).
  • Completion of the program in approximately four years as an experienced, well-trained pilot and ready to begin a career as a Southwest First Officer. 

*Other factors, including weather, FAA availability issues, and more, may affect this timeline.

Pre-flight checklist

Dive into the basics of our Destination 225° program and prepare your application for takeoff!

Ready for your new career to take flight?

Mentorship that matters

Along with an engaging training program, cadets receive personal mentorship from active Southwest Airlines First Officers who guide their course throughout the program, from single-engines to Boeing 737s.
Destination 225° Lead Mentor Jennifer M.
"It's rewarding to see the change and the knowledge that our cadets build in such a short amount of time. Mentorship from Southwest First Officers sets Destination 225° apart."

- First Officer Jennifer M.
Destination 225° Lead Mentor

I've applied! What's next?

While you wait
Once you’ve applied, we'll review your application carefully, and you'll receive follow-up regarding the ADAPT assessment. We appreciate your patience while we select aspiring aviators for the program!

Here’s a checklist as you work to complete the ADAPT and interview for the program: 
  • Obtain an FAA First-Class Medical Certificate. 
  • Explore financing options and understand the costs related to the cadet pathway.
  • Complete a discovery flight at your local airport, if you haven't already.
Getting to know you
If you're selected to move forward in the process, you can expect to complete an aptitude assessment, and potentially, a virtual interview. (Candidates are responsible for all costs associated with the selection process.)  

You’ll hear from us post-interview. If selected for the program, you can expect to receive a class date, letter of intent from Southwest Airlines, and more information regarding the financial aid process for the cadet pathway.  
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Cadet pathway FAQs

Learn more about our partners

We're thrilled about our partnerships with the following organizations who commit to going above and beyond to train and employ Destination 225° cadets. Click each logo to learn more.