Flying jets and unmanned systems in the name of science still takes a lot of training.
What does it take to become an elite NASA research pilot?
Nils Larson, flight crew branch chief and research pilot at NASA Armstrong research center, says a little bit of everything.
"People I have to hire generally come from a pretty diverse background," said Larson. "Always looking for a broad breadth of experience because I have a broad breadth of airplanes that are here."
Pilots have to fly F-18 jets, F-15, and Boeing 747s and a lot of experimental aircraft, all for the purpose of scientific research, including testing gear one day headed for Mars.
Trainees have to spend a lot of time in flight simulators, and conduct parachute training, for any worst-case scenarios happen in flight.
To learn more, check out the video below from Wired: