Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

John H. Cain

Second Advisor

Michael A. Gallo

Third Advisor

Deborah S. Carstens

Fourth Advisor

Thomas J. Marcinkowski


The purpose of the current study was to examine the relationship fighter pilots’ personal and career variables have with respect to their beyond visual range (BVR) air-to-air combat performance. This relationship was examined from both theoretical and practical perspectives. With respect to the former, the objective was to examine the extent to which the targeted variables are aligned to Bandura’s (1978) reciprocal causation model, which posits that the dimensions of Person, Behavior, and Environment have a bidirectional influence on each other. With respect to the latter, which was derived from the theoretical model by analyzing the Person and Environment dimensions together and its influence in the Behavior dimension, the objective was to develop a data-driven model that could help guide the restructuring of an air force’s fighter pilot training program by identifying pilots’ qualifications and flight experiences that are closely aligned to optimal airto- air combat performance. Although not a specific objective of the current study, this latter model was compared to the former model for additional insight into the relationship between theory and practice. Regarding the theoretical model, data analyses in the form of multiple regression, MANOVA, and logistic regression revealed a significant mutual influence between the analyzed dimensions. These significant influences helped explain important factors influencing the other dimensions, as well as provided a practical use for the reciprocal causation model in analyzing the career and personal factors, and how they influence each other and the behavior. Regarding the practical model, data analysis in the form of multiple regression analysis revealed a significant effect of the career and personal factors in the performance of pilots in air-to-air BVR combat. This effect helped explain how a pilots’ path influence its performance. The results of the current study helped fill gaps within related literature on military aviation, helped finding alternative selection instruments for high-performance jet pilots, as well as identified areas for future research and recommendations for military aviation.


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