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USAF Pen Requirements

I'm hoping some of you gents might be knowledgeable on this. Are there any requirements for US Air Force soldiers on the pens that they can use and carry while in uniform? My youngest brother is in the middle of USAF Officer Training School at Maxwell AFB and will be receiving his commission in February. I'd like to get him something special but useful as a graduation/commissioning gift. He's eventually going to be an RPA (UAV) pilot. The Fisher Space Pen comes to mind as something unique that he could use while on duty.

What are the requirements that something like this would need to meet? Black or blue ink? Black in color?

Hoping that you guys might be able to help me make the correct selection. Thanks in advance!
I remember black ink being the standard. Once you left basic, I do not believe there was any requirement as to the make and model. In basic everyone must be the same. We mostly used the issued Skillcrafts as a general rule. I am sure others here can give you more accurate and timely information.

I am just bumping I guess.
In the Army any pen as long as the ink is black. I assume it is pretty much the same for all services....any pen you want as long as the ink is black. BTW, the black skillcrafts seen to last forever.
I am AD Air Force and I just used a pilot Custom Heritage yesterday with Kon Peki ink.

I sign official documents with a Parker 51 and Noodlers HoD however...
Also AD AF and I've been carrying my bright red Lamy Safari and mechanical pencil combo in my flight suit pen pockets for some time now. There isn't a reg regulating what color pen you carry, so just find something he will like. I think RPA pilots wear flight suits like the those of us actually in the air, but I'd ask just to be sure. ABU pen slots are a decent bit bigger than the ones stitched into the arm of a flight suit. They're also made by the lowest bidder, so finding two the same size is akin to winning the lottery. We have guys walking around with all manner of pens/pencils from pink to black. Obnoxious pens are kind of a way to snub our noses at those who took away our morale patches and Friday shirts. That said, I'd let him decide if he wants to snub his nose or not. Stick with any basic color and he'll be fine.

As for the ink, there are only a few places that actually require black ink in the flying world. Most of the time people just think black is required and stick with it. Black has become the accepted norm and he will probably want to stick with it. I use black for everything I do at work. A pencil is also important to a flyer. There are places on our flight orders that require a pencil and some requiring a pen. A set, or at least two nice writing instruments, would probably be really appreciated. He'll be on the ground, so there won't be any concern about a FP burping as the jet climbs. I'd go that route over a space pen, personally.

One last thing...I mentioned that I carry my Safari, but didn't mention that it only fits a few of those poorly made pen slots in my flight suit. The barrel is pretty much fine in all of them, but the cap is too big for about half of my flight suits. A smaller diameter pen/pencil combo will be best, especially if he'll be in a flight suit. I just bought a Sheaffer Admiral and it fits perfectly.
AD Air Force here. My every day carry is a blue Cross Coventry with Noodlers 54th Mass in my ABU shirt pen pockets. I have also carried my Jinhao 159, but that tends to make the sleeve of my shirt heavy. I sign documents in blue or black ink with no issues.
I'm retired Air Force, and I remember a LONG time ago the requirement was for black ink because it was the only thing, other than an electrostatic lead pencil, that was allowed to be used on documents headed to the copier…black ink and the special lead were the only things that would reproduce an image when xeroxed. Copiers these days are not limited to those restrictions.

I was looking around the Air Force Personnel Center (http://www.afpc.af.mil/index.asp) web page and could not come up with any guidance other than the number of pens and locations allowed to be carried in flight suits and ABUs.

Pens are a matter of personal choice. And, again, way back when…everybody was picking up the standard issue pen marked with "US Government." At my duty station so may issue pens were being used that the Security Police were stopping people exiting the base to confiscate the "US Government" pens. I guess they were trying to cut down on the theft of government property, or else trying to balance the budget. That must have been when they were still concerned with a balanced budget.
Back when I was active duty, 69-79 black was required because of copier limitations. When I was active reserve in early to mid 90's blue was ok. I used a Cross ballpoint/pencil set in the early days, and later a couple of Parker sets. The general rule was that it could not be visible when carried in a pocket. Ballpoints are preferable to fountain pens because of carbon copies often required.
If there is no specific requirement for a colour, but black(ish) seems the "done thing" ... then this seems like the perfect choice.

Are they called "soldiers"?

It's Airmen, I don't know why I originally typed soldiers. Ha! I like the ink suggestion, Doc!

He isn't interested in FPs from what I've seen, so I don't think I want to launch one on him. At this point, I'm thinking I'll probably get him a Fisher as well as a personalized Zippo lighter with his name, commissioning date, and rank engraved on it.

Thanks for all of the input guys!
Blue Skilcraft, man, blue Skilcraft. The whole "black only" is a legacy from the 1970s. Besides, any Afghani will tell you black ain't legit.


Stumpy in cold weather
Not Airmen, Chairmen...:001_tt2:

Oh lord!


... here we go.

There were regulations on what could be used and carried regarding writing utensils. But the AF instructions have changed so much I’m not sure if it is governed or not. The attached AFI could give some guidance on the subject.


Hope this helps.

There are no stated restrictions that I have seen (AFI or otherwise). I use everything from a Lamy to a vanishing point, if you are dealing with senior leaders then I would make sure it looks classy but unless your specific career field imposes restrictions (safety of flight etc) you are good to go. As for ink, official forms are to be filled out in black, blue or pencil, depending on requirements and pending any overbearing supervisors, as others have stated. I use a lot of greys but tend to have a black pen near by just in case.

I read through the Tongue and Quill just incase but I didn't see anything in there either regarding pens or ink colors.
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