One of the odd things about the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirements for a pilot certificate is the medical. There is no medical exam required for glider pilots, but if you want to fly a plane with an engine (and combustible fuel), you need one.

This morning I paid the requisite $95 for 20 minutes of a doctor's time and a few sheets of paperwork. We chatted about flying for a bit, took blood pressure, poked around, reviewed medical history, and so on.

Nothing earth-shattering.

The end result is that I now have a third class medical certificate and student pilot certificate good for the next three years. The only restriction is "holder shall wear corrective lenses" which is fine with me. I'd be pretty uncomforatable flying without my glasses on!

The FAA's Aeromedical Institute provides an Aviation Medical Examiner Directory that can be used to find a local examiner. As far as I can tell, most of them are family doctors who became pilots and realized that this requirement is a nice little goldmine. It's a bit more papwerwork for them, but there are always pilots who need medical certification or re-certification.

One more thing to cross off the TODO list...

Posted by jzawodn at September 26, 2005 06:24 PM

Reader Comments
# dan isaacs said:

Where was the poking? :)

on September 26, 2005 07:30 PM
# Jeffrey Friedl said:

Indeed, be sure to wear those glasses -- it really sucks when the police helicopter pulls you over for a broken tailfin, and then you also get nicked for not wearing your parachute, and not wearing your corrective lenses. Happens all the time....

on September 26, 2005 07:39 PM
# Marc said:

Think of it as a regular physical commensurate with your age, just with more paperwork. If they find anything wrong you get to wait for a few months while the 3 federal employees in Oklahoma review the hundreds that get deferred due to silly regs--they are backlogged about 5 months now. I think it must take them a day to review each one. I can't imagine that there are that many deferrals.

Every once in awhile you find an AME that just holds a mirror under your nose and fills out the paperwork.

on September 26, 2005 09:57 PM
# Andy Nardone said:

"but if you want to fly a plane with an engine (and combustible fuel), you need one."

Not so. You do not need a medical exam for the new sport pilot license. A valid state driver's license will do just fine. EAA, among others, was instrumental in pushing this legislation through and it should be a real boost to general aviation. Word just has to get out that this is available.

This license class has restrictions, but it offers more than enough for a large segment of pilots and would-be pilots.

on September 27, 2005 06:16 AM
# Tyler said:

Do you actually need a student certificate? I was under the impression that the FAA only considered you a student once, and since you hold a CPL-G you don't need one. You’re actually not getting a new license, just adding a rating. Anyone know if that's true?

on September 27, 2005 06:54 AM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

Anyy, good point. I forgot about the sport pilot class.

Now this makes even less sense, doesn't it? I could do a heck of a lot of damage as a sport pilot if I had a medical problem in the air, no?

on September 27, 2005 07:18 AM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

Tyler: yeah, apparently I *do* need a student certificate again. It's a weird system, but that's the way it works.

on September 27, 2005 07:20 AM
# Brett Hinze said:

Hi Jeremy,

Glad to hear you're doing well with your power transition - one of these days after the semester's over I'll get back into flying and join there at Amelia Reid. BTW, you don't actually need a student pilot license for the transition - it's fine that you got one though. When I got my medical I got it without the student license and got my rating without ever having one, and I started with the same Commercial Glider that you have. Anyway, doesn't matter now but I had to add my two cents.

Have fun out there!


on October 3, 2005 10:32 PM
# Jim Van Vranken said:

The FAA medical examination is a valid and prudent requirement. I always recommend getting a 1st class medical from the beginning if you intend to become a prfessional pilot. You want to find out early if you are unable to qualify before spending tons of money on advanced ratings.
The FAA is not your enemy they are very helpful and will do all possible to keep you in the air. Flying with a known medical condition is foolish and deadly. Work with your AME and enjoy the pleasure of flying.

on September 27, 2006 04:52 PM
# Zoey said:

I was wondering, when you go in for a third class medical exam, do they prick your finger for blood, or have you pee in a cup?

on May 22, 2007 02:12 PM
# Brad Jackson said:

@ Jim Van Vranken: Asking for a Class 1 if you don't need one is risky.

I used to do this in my early flying days, until an older and much wiser pilot pointed out to me that if during a Class 1 exam the AME finds anything at all out of the ordinary, he's required to notify the feds, and your certificate(s) are likely to be suspended or revoked, possibly for a long time. Even if it's something fairly benign that you can get fixed really quick, getting your certs reinstated can be a nightmare lasting months or even years.

The wiser course is to get the minimum level of exam you need; for most folks thats a Class 3. If you really need a Class 1, then first go to your own MD and get a suitable workup - hematocrit, EKG, etc. If anything untoward turns up, you at least have the option to get treatment and hopefully fix whatever is broken *without* going through the endless federal paper shuffle to get your airman cert back.

"The FAA is not your enemy ... and will do all possible to keep you in the air" - you're being facetious, right? They may not be your enemy per se, but they darn sure aren't your best buddies.

@ Zoey: Pee in a cup, yes. Also measure height, weight, check eyesight, hearing, BP/pulse, reflexes (knee tap, foot scrape) and general mental function (can you hold a conversation). EKG (heart chart) if old enough. No blood :-)

on February 26, 2008 08:22 AM
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