3 Bar Epaulettes - meaning (In the States)?

Hi, I'm a entry level comms pilot flying day/night VFR but am multi engine instrument rated. My question is a weird one because I have conflicting opinions here about what the 3 bar Epaulette means.

My boss (chief pilot) tells me that 2 bar is for single engine VFR, while 3 bar is for multi engine. Because I'm multi engine rated (and to show I am trained in it) she says I should wear 3 bar (so I do), but then I have a friend pilot saying that 3 bar means you are a captain or chief pilot.

What does it mean in the States?


5 Answers

  • 10 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    It means whatever your company says it means. There may be some history on how it came about, but if your company has some policy then that is what you follow.

    The norm is:

    2 bars for flight engineer

    3 bars for the first officer

    4 bars for the captain (even if flying right seat)

    I've seen them used at a flight school before. Kind of interesting but this is what they did:

    shirt with epaulet straps- you have solid

    solid black epaulets- private

    one bar- instrument

    2 bars- commercial

    3 bars- cfi working for the school

    4 bars- check airman

    Many general aviation companies don't even use epaulets.

    Couldn't agree with you more skipper. I think I managed to go a few months in a white linnen shirt and cargo pants that had zip off legs. I went there to learn to fly, not learn how to dress. It was a bit over the top.

  • 4 years ago

    Epaulette Meaning

  • 10 years ago

    In the US 3 bars means First officer 4 means captain. Cheif pilot only wears 4 bars when they fly.

    Source(s): I see 3 bars on my shoulder every day at work
  • Anonymous
    10 years ago

    My gosh - when I flew cargo flights with my airline... -

    I wore blue jeans, t-shirt, Nike shoes and baseball cap (the visor for sun) -

    That was the first thing I changed to, after entering in cockpit -

    Wear something comfortable -

    Why do you need to have a monkey suit and stripes...?

    Oh yeah, passenger airplanes...

    By the way, all airlines have slightly different stripes for ranks -

    Epaulettes, 3 stripes = first officer or flight engineer -

    That is most airlines in USA as well -

    These pilot schools with pilot uniforms are RI-DI-CU-LOUS -

    Get a t-shirt that says "will fly for a beer" -

    Source(s): Retired airline pilot
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  • 10 years ago

    Epaulettes don't mean anything in the United States; they are purely decorative, like wearing a hat or tie.

    Airlines often require their pilots to wear pseudo-military uniforms, because it inspires confidence in passengers and makes them more of an authority figure. However, uniforms, including epaulettes, have no legal meaning at all, so anyone can wear them or not wear them.

    Thus, in the U.S., you can wear anything you want, as long as there's no intent to commit fraud. For example, you couldn't dress as a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force and try to pass yourself off as one, as that would be fraudulent. But pseudo-military uniforms and decorations are just fine, if you feel you must dress up to fly.

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