The Great Debate: do pilots lie on medicals?

Doctor
Anything you need to tell me?

 

Pilot medicals are in the news again, with a proposal by EAA and AOPA to let more pilots use a driver’s license for their medical. But is the whole medical certificate process flawed? In the latest installment of The Great Debate, Richard Collins asks you to weigh in on whether pilots are truthful when they visit the AME.

 

Question: Do you think most pilots fib on applications for medical certificates?

 

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199 Comments

  • I know a guy from the US (can’t tell his name) that told me that he has lied at least one time, he was overweight and had high blood pressure, he was medicated but he never told that in his annual.

    In my case I have never lied, but if I’m at risk of loosing my license for a medical condition that is under control I might do that also.

    “It’s a basic truth of the human condition that everybody lies. The only variable is about what.” – Dr. House

    • Its funny that this question even comes up. A quick examination of the many truthful and honest individuals that are truthful during their AME exams and are no barred from ever becoming a pilot!

      And on the other hand we have people like the pilot mentioned in J. Mac McClellan’s article “Too Many Risks” in the May 2012 issue of Sport Aviation who out right lied about his substance use and abuse.

      People are who they are. Those that are honest will remain so, and those who aren’t never will be honest. It’s sad.

      • @Brian B.
        Now you tell me how sad it is when an idiot declares you have daltonism and denies you the ability to fly, so ruining your dream forever. You tell me how can a lighting designer be daltonic?

        • Are we the same person? Re test. I did years later and got totally cleared. Misdiagnosed with epilepsy. They were like “so we don’t think you ever had it…” Passed tests with flying colors. Unfortunately, nuts-deep in lighting now…whoo…..

  • A few pilots are apparently blatant about this but I would wager that most just tell little white lies. All pilots know that after taking the physical they self-certify before every flight for the next year or two.

    • This is a bit off the subject of lying on the 8500-8, but it addresses another approach to not requiring a medical examination for certain types of flying. Here is my suggestion: Expand the gross weight of light sport airplanes to something like 1800 pounds. That would include most of the trainers (Cessna 120, 140, 150, 152, Piper Tomahawk, etc.) N
      Next, instead of the Class 3 Medical Certificate being good for 5 years until age 40 when it decreases to 2 years, make the decrease more gradual. 5 years until age 40, then 4 years until age 45, then 3 years until age 50, then 2 years.
      People, in general, are in better health than they were 20-30 years ago, largely by not smoking, watching their weight, eating less fatty foods, etc. So, easing up on the medical requirements would be based on real world situations. And, actually, the FAA is making Special Issuance less of a problem for certain diseases.

  • Yes, they do. I am a nurse and I see it all of the time. My ex hubby did it yearly. I had a friend that sold very pricey aircraft (demonstration pilot) that was colorblind. He memorized the color chart. Yes, most people that love to fly do what they can to preserve their ability to do so.

    • I agree–most pilots at least fail to mention things. The big question is, though, whether it matters. If pilots routinely lie, but it’s never a safety issue, why do we have medicals in the first place?

        • I was told at a young age I could not fly with one eye, but latter in life I found out I could with a medical waver. I cheeted on a eye test flowen with out a incedent. Told the truth, The FAA took my license. I lost my younger years flying and now the hoopes I have to jump through is unbeleveable.I really love flying but the government can take the privelage away it’s not right.

          • Hmmm Wiley Post was one of the great Aviators flue around the world was he Illeagle??? Hell no!!!

          • If you have vision with only one eye, you can get a Statement of Demonstrated Ability (SODA) by taking a Medical Flight Test. I know of several pilots who have useful vision in only one eye or have amblyopia that makes it impossible for them to pass the eye exam. The all have SODA and continue to fly. Two of the pilots I know of with these problems have Class 1 Medical Certificates. And the Medical Flight Test needs to be taken only once and the SODA is good indefinitely.

      • “If pilots routinely lie, but it’s never a safety issue…”
        You’re making a mistaken assumption that it’s never a safety issue. It sometimes gets people injured and sometimes gets people killed. You can ask the Civil Aerospace Medical Institute for statistics on fatalities in which medical conditions were either the direct cause or a contributing factor. It does happen.

    • Because of the Medical, no physician is my friend and neither are their nurses because they can enter accurate or inaccurate information into your record – either one of which will condemn you. Therefore I go to a chiropractor every chance I get. I avoid medical intervention like the plague.
      Signed, RN/PPSEL/IFR

    • I aeree. They are soulless people that treat you as a thing, not a human person. The entire aeromedical FAA staff can go kill themselves for all I care.

    • Find another AME. Find one that will help you get through the maze, not simply hand your problem off to the FAA. This does not mean that the AME should ignore any “disqualifying condition” that you might have. Some of the “disqualifying conditions” are definitely going to keep someone from getting a medical certificate, but these are illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. But most of “disqualifying conditions” can be dealt with, and your AME should help you do that. Type II diabetes, coronary artery stents, history of myocardial infarction (heart attack), various cancers, and several other diseases are “disqualifying,” but Special Issuance can be obtained by doing the hoop jumping that the FAA requires, such as providing a statement from your treating physician, listing the medications that you take, do you have any side effects from the medications, do the medications actually work. A good AME will tell you how to jump through the hoops so that when you go for your FAA medical certificate, you have all the data needed for the FAA.

    • That’s just BS. The AME is there to help you get a medical LEGALLY when you have one or more “disqualifying conditions.”
      The FAA gives final denial to only 0.01% of applications.
      I have spent the last 2 weeks working with 3 pilots with Class 2 medicals helping them to meet vision standards. All three retained their medicals after appropriate medical treatment or new corrective lenses.
      Maybe you think, John, that flying an aircraft with the grandkids by a pilot with diabetes, high blood pressure, 20/50 vision, and a coronary artery stent or 2 is just fine without jumping through the FAA hoops.
      ASMEL, CFII, AME

      • Hi, I’m currently a student pilot I finally saved up the money to go after my dream. About a week before I was suppose to be soloed I went for my medical and was told by my AME that I can’t fly because I take adderal. I was shocked I never thought a medical would ever be an issue for me. I’m a 24 year old healthy male non smoker athlete with 20/20 vision and I can’t fly because I took adderal as needed for help concentrating in school. Anyway if your willing I have a ton of questions for you. Email me at tdyi22@yahoo.com. Any help would be greatly appreciated thank you

  • Regardless of whether they lie or not, the system seems to be working there seem to be very few (if any) crashes or incidents related to pilot incapacitation that they FAA/NTSB can point to a problem that should have come in a medical. When I was active duty Air Force we had a guy pass his medical and they drop from a heart attack the next day while sitting on his couch. He as a jet driver and as the sole pilot that might have been a problem during the flight he was scheduled for the next day. You just never know, and even a thorough and honest medical will never catch anything. The system does work though.

    • SOO going by the statistic that YOU pointed outof very few incidents and the comments that have been made that alot of piolts tell “little white” lies to an AME to keep their medical …. PER your admission the need for a medical is a mute issue … ” I drive there for I fly”

      • How do we know that health issues rarely cause flying accidents? Has anyone seen that data? What does NTSB say? Accident investigators at every crash look for signs of incapacitation and collect items such as medication containers to try to determine if a medical reason caused the crash. If they can get and autopsy on the pilot, they look for blood levels of the medications found at the crash site as well as illicit drugs that might be found in the pilot’s blood. Does anyone know the statistics of how often a dead pilot at a crash is found to have prescribed medications for a condition that has not been reported on the 8500-8?

  • Everyone lies – technically. One of the questions is, have you ever had “unconsciousness for any reason.”. The only truthful answer is ” yes, most every night”. But knowing that the FAA has little humor, we all put “no”. Aside from that, I think that few pilots lie but, as Huck Finn said of Mark Twain, “there was things which he stretched, but mainly he told the truth.”

    • See my comment about the unconsciousness question. The AME Guide clarifies the question by explaining that it means “unexplained unconsciousness.”

    • The AME guide expands on that question to “unexplained unconsciousness.” The AME Guide is available to all pilots on the FAA website.

  • I’m an AME. The guy who is lying about hypertension is making a huge mistake. If he admits it and is taking an approved medication, there are a few extra steps but he will maintain his medical. If the FAA ever decides to search to see if he is taking any prescription medications (which they don’t do often, but they have the ability to do), they will most likely pull his medical permanently for falsification. I have patients with heart disease who are able to continue to fly on special issuance. I think it’s a very poor decision to falsify your medical. You are better off to work truthfully with your AME.
    Speaking as a pilot, I think that there should be a way to maintain certification for those of us flying recreationally without having to see an AME every 2 years. There could be a much better system in place that would not compromise safety of small aircraft. However, I also think that the standards for commercial and airline pilots should be more stringent.

    • I have been flying with a special issuance 3rd class physical for 15 years. I have been asymptomatic for all of those years and I am on no medication. One change I would like in the current procedure for the special issuance is to have my AME rather than those in Oklohoma City decide if I am healthy enough to fly. I have thought about going Sport Pilot but if I am not healthy enough to pass tests for a 3rd class physical I am not healthy enough to fly sport pilot.

      • If you have determined that you are not healthy enough to fly sport, then you have done exactly what the Sport program is intended to do; leave the decision to the pilot. I on the other hand can only fly sport and do when I can find a plane to rent. The AOPA and the EAA are going to propose an exemption to the third class physical exam that would allow us to use our driver’s license as our medical to fly recreational. I am in full support of the exemption and hope you will support it too; after all, it has worked for the Sport program and it seems it will work for you!

      • Stan, what is the diagnosis for which you have special issuance? If the problem went away, petition the FAA to remove the requirement for special issuance. I know a pilot who lost enough weight for his sleep apnea to disappear. He petitioned the FAA to remove his special issuance for that disorder and supplied a letter from his treating physician, and the special issuance requirement went away.
        You can be a Sport Pilot if you have never had your FAA medical denied. Note, denial is different from deferral.

      • For what do you have special issuance? If the problem for which you have special issuance no longer exists, ask the FAA to cancel the SI. I do medicals on two pilots who went on a vigorous diet and lost weight. One had sleep apnea that resolved with weight loss and the other no longer has type 2 diabetes. Both asked for, and received, removal of their Special Issuance.

    • Brian is absolutely right. I am 55. I reported controlled hypertension on my questionnaire. As a result, I had to take an EKG. It revealed an “abnormality.” I then had to take an echo, which revealed I was even healthier than I thought! Those marathons at age 26 paid off. It was good news.

      I have to do the same stuff to go ice diving. It’s about cooperating with your doc so you can keep doing what you love.

      • I lost my 2012 medical cert in Istanbul, and make the mistake of sending the FAA form requesting a duplicate. That resulted in the rejection of my 2010 medical! (No misprint.) I had to get TWO EKGs to satisfy FAA medical!
        And two complete submittals of blood tests. All because of a blood pressure medication I put on my 2012 medical form.

        Congress should forbid the FAA from requiring any medical for recreational flying. Like driving big trucks and boats have no such pseudo-medical crap.

        • Gordon,
          A medical exam is required for a Commercial Driver License and for working on a commercial boat carrying passengers. And maintaining a Commercial Driver License with some illnesses is more difficult than maintaining and FAA Medical Certificate.

    • “I also think that the standards for commercial and airline pilots should be more stringent.”

      Are you serious? Anymore stringent than the First Class Medical is now would end up grounding many older pilots. This is especially true of hearing. There is so much hearing loss among the older pilot population, but current practices do not do much more than whisper a question when not facing the pilot. Back when I was an F/O we flew in airplanes with single head radios. I was always amazed at the high volume the Captains required. I was so desperate to lower the volume that I installed a volume control in my own headset so I would not be blasted out of my seat. You have to be careful what you ask for.

    • I’m not sure what I think about all this but I’ll tell you my story. I’m 64 and working on my PP license. Last summer I went to get my 3rd class med. I’m healthy, but had been to the doc a number of times over the last couple years (or whatever the reporting period was), for inconsequential (for flying) things, so, just reading the med form, as it said I could, I attached a sheet with all those doc visits. Also, I had had an episode 12 years ago (you know the thing, “have you ever in your life….” that I listed on that attachment and it hasn’t been an issue since. I have to say, this doc was thorough, checked everything, but, when he saw that attachment with all that “exposure”, he looked at me in a way like “what is all this”. In fact he asked me where did I see that I could make that attachment. I showed him on the form. Good guy, good doc, been at it a long time, I’m healthy and got my 3rd class. But, I don’t think my level of forthcoming on the application was typical.

      We report, you decipher. I’m just grateful to have my medical and hope to keep it however long I have to have it. In fact, as I write this, I see over on the corner of my screen a tweet entitled “Older pilots are safe pilots”. Probably, we certainly aren’t as full of ourselves as I was when I was a young man. Good Luck.

    • I am an AME and 4,000 hour pilot. I completely agree with you. Further more, if an airman lies and is in a serious accident with injuries or fatalities, his entire medical history will be examined and subsequent legal action may not be beneficial to his or her heirs. Fess and get a special issuance if necessary.

    • How does the FAA find out what medications you are on? You said they can search, where do they find that information?

      • The FAA can get your records from Social Security if you are on Medicare. Also, if you are too young for that, they can check other insurance companies and, apparently, a company, McKesson I believe, that gathers and compiles statistical data from and for insurance companies. The only way around this is to pay for all of your medical care yourself and not use insurance.

        • I have read articles online about pilots who get caught falsifying their medical. Most get grounded for a year? then are able to re-apply. Does the FAA really pull your medical permanently?

  • Lie by default. With holding important information. The questionaire is so impossible to answer honestly because it uses the word “ever”. Have you “ever” been dizzy etc.

    I am 64 years old. I have all kinds of things happen to me and I can not possibly put them all down or even remember them.

    I don’t lie on purpose. I don’t need to.

  • I am not an AME but am a flying physician with long experience chairing and serving on the EAA Aeromedical Council. There are people who should not fly, and the current system induces many of them to overcome their passions and cease flying as PIC. On the other hand, the FAA medical system is complex, expensive, and difficult to support with data showing “lives saved,” etc. As for lying on the medical form, lies can be undiscovered for a lifetime of flying, but if there is an incident or accident, the FAA and/or NTSB will dredge up every doctor visit, medication, hospitalization they can. Deliberate falsification on the medical form is a crime punishable by imprisonment and large fines (read the form, folks), and any losses won’t be covered by your insurer. At a minimum, the liar can lose flight provileges for good. Lying on the medical is usually unnecessary in order to keep flying, and has such potentially dire consequences for one’s life, family, and finances that it’s not worth the risk.

    • 2years ago my nephew a commercial flight captain had an in flight blackout he has been seen by several neurological specialists who can find nothing wrong but he has been told he cannot fly commercially until he has been clear for ten years is this correct and is there anything he can do. He was flying with ryanair and was due to move to emirates.

      • It is possible that the Emirates authorities will check to see if he can make an attempt at a complete sentence with capitalization and punctuation. Such disorders might be genetic.

      • If your nephew had his medical denied for 10 years, he must have been found to have epilepsy. My guess is this would have been confirmed by and EEG. The FAA requires applicants with a diagnosis of epilepsy to be seizure-free for 10 years without medication before being considered for a medical certificate. And, apparently, if and applicant for a first medical certificate with student certificate has had epilepsy, he/she can be deferred even if seizure-free for more than 10 years.

    • Every single pilot lied on their medical form.
      Let me repeat that, every single one, no exceptions.
      You may think you told the truth but you absolutely did not.

      Have you EVER been dizzy? If you didn’t say yes then you lied.
      Every child at some point decides to spin around and around until they are dizzy and fall down.
      There, see you did lie on your medical didn’t you.
      Now do you AMEs see how ridiculousness the form is?

      You know what, I think we should drown the FAA in paperwork in protest.
      Everyone should say they have been dizzy. Make the FAA do a special issue for every single pilot in the country. That would shut them down for good.

      • I suggest that every pilot take a look at the AME Guide on the FAA website. It explains a lot of stuff that seems ridiculous, like have you ever been unconscious. I am unconscious every night. I go to sleep. The AME Guide explains that the question pertains to unexplained unconsciousness. How about medical visits in past 3 years? Dental visits and visits to your AME need not be listed. Think about what the FAA is likely to be interested in: Onset of chronic disease, like high blood pressure or type II diabetes. The 8500-8 of necessity must be brief and it is very difficult to get authorization to change it. How about providing you SSAN when the FAA does not need it? That question can’t be removed from the form easily, so you have the option of clicking the box labelled “International or declining to provide” and leaving the field blank. Again, take a look at the AME Guide on the FAA website. It’s long and complex, but an occasional look at it, especially regarding your own health issues, is worth it.
        Now a question: Should 80+ year old pilots with type II diabetes, hypertension, a coronary artery stent or two, on 3-4 medications be allowed to fly a 6000# gross weight airplane with 5 passengers up to 14,000 feet, VFR or IFR without having had a medical exam by an AME? Such a person’s private physician(s) might not think so, but those physician(s) have no say in the matter. Remove the AME from the loop, and there is no one but the pilot to judge whether the above situation is safe. How about an 83 year-old on medication for type II diabetes, depression, and senility taking medication for all 3 problems? Should that person be allowed to self-certified medically and carry as many as 5 passengers?

  • My first flightdoctor told me he was very happy about having pilots as clients. All other patients was sick, so sick but pilots healthy, so healthy. I just wonder why?

  • Lie, definitely not. That’s a good way to get into a LOT of trouble. Also, if I lose my medical, I’d save a ton of money on flying and could retire a good 10-15 years earlier! 🙂 However, since I do really like flying, it does make one avoid looking too hard for problems. Free health screenings, nope, won’t do those, might turn up something (whether correctly or incorrectly) that could end up costing me a fortune to deal with. Give blood, nope, they do tests on it, might find something. I’d probably be in better shape if I *wasn’t* a pilot since I’d feel free to take advantage of those things, whereas now they’re just traps, ways to lose the ability to fly.

  • Of course people lie on the application, they want the medical so they can keep flying.

    A related question would be do people fly without a medical illegally? Of course they do. I know of several. Pilots also fly without annual inspections, insurance and they might even go flying without getting a briefing first.

    The whole thing is about safety but the FAA has never proven the need for the medicals, especially the third class, it was just randomly instituted one day a long time ago.

    Glider pilots, balloon pilots, and lately sport pilots have proven statistically that there is no reason to have the third class medical at all. I would love to see the third class go away, but I doubt any government agency will voluntarily give up any turf.

  • While I don’t think “most” will lie on their medicals, I feel that “some” will if they have an issue and are in fear of losing their certificate(s). One just hopes that the untruths are regarding “minor” medical issues they feel will disqualify them that won’t compromise their safety as well as all others around them.

  • Sorry for apparently differing from the crowd on this, but I think people are nuts if they are lying. I take my family on flights in my aircraft and there is no way I am going to put them at risk. I am probably am the only one who will answer that I like to go for the medical because if forces me to go to the doctor. Before I was flying my previous HMO physician told me I was the perfect patient for the insurance company because I hadn’t shown up for seven years. So at least the medical makes we go for a check up. Otherwise I tend to be so healthy that I simply wouldn’t ever go to the doctor.

    • Emmons – wait until you have an episode of ‘situational hypertension’ or have to see a marriage counselor. Or have a child die and see a counselor of any sort. The word EVER in the forms will toss you through a buttload of psychological tests you will be sorry you were ever honest. My ex lied and never mentioned it. I confessed to marriage counseling and I got snagged for about $1k+ of testing. Takes the wind out of your sails. No, most pilots have few issues. But sharing them with the FAA is detrimental to your health. On the part of most pilots here it’s not lying. It’s just not opening an unnecessary can of worms….

      • I’m another one that was originally honest and regrets it. Most women get frequent headaches-about once a month, and heaven forbid but we do go to the doctor and get X-rays and tests once or twice a year.

        I can understand, in the last 5 years, but most of my things are now 20 years old and I still have to report them-no change.

  • I was STUPID enough to be honest. Now I’ve been unemployed for a couple months and who knows how long before some beaurucrat decides to actually look at my file snd say ok. I’ve followed all the steps they dictated,all my tests and results are right on but because they won’t simply look and see that I’ve followed thrie rules and was honest,I’m looking at becoming a burden to the system and living on public assistance until I get my medical back.

    The system is terriably broken.

    • I’m sorry to hear that. I was dumb enough to tell them about my marriage counseling! Holy hell! Water under the bridge now 19 years later. Now I prefer Wingwalking. Parasailing. Bungee jumping. Skydiving. I’d rather be flying but I don’t require the FAA’s approval for my activities. However, my pilots do. I refer them to my TMI rule; if it was transient, don’t say it. Counseling, HTN, whatever. If it’s temporary, shaddup about it. FAA needs to justify their man hours….with scapegoats.

    • I’m sorry to hear about your bad experience. I wonder if your AME is really doing everything he can to be your advocate in this situation. I’m not a Senior AME, I’ve only been one for a year. I know there are very experienced Senior AMEs out there who may have more “influence” with a phone call to Oklahoma City. The system is imperfect in many ways and should be fixed, I do not disagree with that. However, the overriding principle here is that if you intentionally falsify your medical and are discovered, then you are done permanently.

      • I can tell you from experience that once the AME releases their ‘pronouncement’, nothing else occurs. In other words, bigger name on the other line. Ruin a life a move on. it’s the government way….

      • Brian, you are right on about AMEs being able to grease the wheels for pilots with the FAA medical people. There are too many who are afraid of liability. They defer anyone with a deferrable problem rather than have the pilot provide the necessary data from the treating physician(s) before submitting the 8500-8. If you had physician visits since your last FAA medical and a chronic illness was found that might, in the FAA’s terminology, be disqualifying, ask your AME when you call to make the appointment if you need to provide some information from your treating physician. If the AME says that you do need to provide X, Y, and Z, get all of that together before going in to see the AME. The AME might be required to defer your Medical Certificate, but you will be 3-4 months ahead by having the AME submit your medical information along with the 8500-8 rather than waiting for the FAA to ask for the information. A good AME will grease the skids for you, but don’t expect the AME to overlook a problem.
        While the bills in Congress to eliminate the Class 3 Medical Certificate are progressing slowly, the FAA is taking steps to minimize the bureaucratic red tape involved with certain illnesses, such as prostate cancer. Until recently, a new pilot who had prostate cancer 10 years ago and has no evidence of recurrence had to jump through a bunch of hoops, and might have required special issuance. Now, prostate cancer several years in the past with normal PSAs now is not a hindrance and the AME is instructed to issue the medical certificate.

    • Ask your AME to call Oklahoma City and ask to speak with a physician about your case. Sometimes, your case can be put higher up in the stack. Keep in mind that the FAA receives something like 430,000 8500-8 each year. Smaller countries use the FAA regulations for medical certification and, therefore, use the 8500-8 form and have it submitted to the FAA for approval. Something like 75% of all medicals that arrive in OKC come from outside the USA.

  • As a pilot since 1953, and now a retired vascular surgeon who still flies, I have wondered for years if there is any evidence that pilot physical exams save lives. Is the time and expense involved worth it?

    • I see a lack of evidence that this saves lives. I’ve seen pilots successfully conquer exams and die days later (in flight). Others have their dreams dashed who lived years longer flying ultralights. My admitting to counselling halted my medical. Really? While my husband sailed through after having lied. How is THAT not a red flag to someone??? I gave up on my dreams. I hope the FAA box didn’t kill more. How did the terrorists that crashed into the twin towers pass a medical that I failed for COUNSELING??! Just makes you wonder….

      • Skye, If you have not required counselling for a few years and are not taking anti-depressants you should be good to go. Find a Senior AME in your area, call and ask to speak to the AME about your problem. If you have not needed counselling for a year or more (maybe less) and are not taking an antidepressant, get a note from your counsellor and take it with you to the appoint with the AME. The AME can comment on the problem stating that it no longer exists and you are not on medication in the comments section on the 8500-8 and submit it along with the note from your counsellor to the FAA and go ahead and issue your Medical Certificate. If I remember correctly, being off antidepressant medication for 6 months or longer makes the problem that required the medication no longer an issue.

    • That’s a great question, Ben. I don’t remember the exact incidence of pilot incapacitations that they quote at the AME seminars, but it is extremely low. Logic dictates that if the medical requirement did not exist, the number of incapacitations would be somewhat higher. Still there are occasional exceptions where a commercial or airline pilot dies in the cockpit. Fortunately with the airlines, there is always a second pilot capable of flying the plane. I fly a Cirrus, my wife knows how to pull the parachute. I do think that the First and Second class medical criteria should be more stringent. They are actually almost the same as for Third Class. I also feel that anyone flying not-for-hire who can truthfully answer “no” to all the medical questions should be allowed to submit that form directly to the FAA and maintain his medical without needing to see his AME. If you do have heart disease, you would have to continue to see your Cardiologist as well as your AME to maintain your medical.

      • Of course, as others have posted here NO ONE can truthfully answer “no” to all the questions because of “ever.” Furthermore if one has the right against self-incrimination in court testimony, why should one be forced to self-incriminate before a Federal Agency that is extremely bureaucratic, slow to change, and out of touch with reality? An example is the FAA’s recent rule change on anti-depressant use. Anyone who would report this immediately loses their medical and has to wait a year. So how many depressed pilots (especially those who do it for a living) are flying? Would the FAA prefer people to auger in because they are depressed rather than get a medication. Me- private pilot ASEL, Airplane Instrument, flying since 1986.

        • N.C., one does not have the right to lie to the feds investigating an illegal act. One may invoke Fifth Amendment rights, but not outright lie. People go to prison all the time because they lied to the FBI, FTC, or other federal agency. Can you say, “Martha Stewart?”

      • “I do think that the First and Second class medical criteria should be more stringent.”

        It is so easy for those not flying professionally to prescribe stricter rules for those that do. I have been flying for 39 years and professionally since I was 18. No, I have never lied on the medical application because I understood the ramifications in the event of an accident. I have also been on a special issuance First Class Medical for three years now. It is already hard enough to convince the FAA that you are healthy enough to fly after dealing with life’s curve balls. You want to make it more difficult? Try walking in my shoes and you will not agree with that statement.

  • My AME is my regular Doctor. I don’t want to hide anything from him. Please remember, he has a liability also. Further, you fly with your family and maybe some of your employees if you use an aircraft for business transporation.
    I don’t feel it would be correct to try to hide a condition from these people. I have no problem with the current system. Certification of employees to preform tasks, medical and eye examinations are normal in the Aerospace industry.
    It may be that some of you folks are not involved as subcontractors to the Airframe manufacturers.

  • I do not think that there is anybody who does not lie or has not lied at one time or another. Commercial pilots, or military pilots or leisure pilots may have lied during their lifetimes, but it is unfair to only single out the pilots. Risk is inherent in everything humans do whether they are operating a car, a boat, an airplane or a train. The big question is whether it matters. As statistics show flying is considerably safer than any land based carrier. There are hardly any crashes or incidents related to pilot incapacitation and if there were the FAA or NTSB would have expressed grave concerns. I am not sure whether the doctors are always correct or what specifically they are looking for to justify one pilot is medically fit while another is unfit. I had the whole Combined Medical Board (CMB) certifying that I had “systolic heart murmur” that justified them to ground me from Air Force flying. Two years later fifty percent of the same Medical Board had “differences of opinion”, and being naturally frustrated I decided to visit UK, and was told by specialists there that “systolic heart murmur” does not prevent me from flying. Returning home, the Civil Aviation Medical Board cleared me for flying. Lesson learned here is that not all Air Physicians are the same when it comes to evaluating pilots. Today with the revolution in the medical diagnostic procedures, and early detection system and timely treatment most airline pilots will qualify and pass the medical exam if the questions were not “leading ones”. This is why sometimes it becomes necessary to avoid telling the attending physician more than is necessary least the physician spin the whole condition in different light by making a “mountain out of a mole hill,” thereby destroying the flying career of the pilot for something that even the physician himself or herself is not sure about. Anyway I am long through flying now. In my opinion the medical standards of evaulating pilots needs to be changed in light of new treatments.

    • Syed,
      The FAA issues updates to the AME Guide on a monthly basis. Many of the changes result in the easing or clarifying the rules for AMEs to follow.

  • Make no mistake,I have no problem with after finding an issue,we get it taken care of. My problem is with it taking MONTHS of run around after the issue is handled to the FAA’s satisfaction per the conditions they themselves tell us we need to meet.

    Once everything is done and documented properly,they should issue the medical quickly.

    • I sympathize with you. Have you asked AOPA to assist you with getting your medical back? It is probably one of the most important benefits they offer their members. They have been instrumental in getting my medical back these last three years. The FAA is hopelessly stuck in the stone age, especially in the Aeromedical division. The only way to get information to them is via the USPS, another government agency stuck in the past. No faxes or emails are allowed. Who would you send them to? The process is so closed ,opaque, and bureaucratic. In this age of fax machines, email, twitter, facebook, linked in, etc, it is obvious that the FAA is stuck in the past. I do not expect it to change in my life time.

  • As a 74 year old pilot, I feel that seeing the Aviation Doc every two years is good for my health…. If I continue to wish to fly….I had better take care of myself by good nutrition and exercise..on the issue of lying… no, I would not lie because not only is it stupid… it is cause for losing the ticket.

    • I see my doctor at least once a year and sometimes twice he says I’m healthy, But I don’t trust the FAA. the third class should go away.
      But then how would all the AME’s and some people in the FAA make a living???

      • G E King,
        You are very naïve about physicians’ income from doing FAA medicals. If you think your AME charges too much, find someone else. If you can afford to own or rent an airplane, you can afford to pay an AME.

  • Friend of mine had a partner in his business who owned a beautiful Cessna 182. He refused to take the physical his business required because his family had a history of heart trouble, he was a bit overweight, etc. He was convinced if he had the physical and they discovered something bad, he’d have to admit it to the AME. He never lied. He passed his 3rd class every time. Died of a massive heart attack.

  • My father had passed his class 2 physical 3 weeks before having a massive heart attack and dieing at the ripe old age of 50. The medical only looks at your health at the point in time. Just like the annual inspection on the aircraft, when it was signed off everything was supposed to be airworthy, what happens after that is anyones guess.
    Unfortunatley I have seen too many accident reports where the pilot was on prescription medications (found during the toxicological examination)many of them disqulifying, and none of them were reported on the medical application. Insurance companies now have a way out of paying the claim and if there were passengers or other property damage involved now lawyers get involved…something to think about!

  • I do not lie on my medical, but would love to be able to fly a 172 using a drivers licence in lieu of a class III medical. I had a single bypass in 1981 and have been operating on a special issuance since. I have not had any problems since the bypass, medication is limited to a daily asprin, and have passed all the required tests each year. I am now 75 years old, and the FAA continues to demand increasily more stringent testing to get the isssuance. I always had to do a stress test, but starting 2 years ago, that has been expanded to require radionuclide scintigraphy every other year. After 30 years without a problem, one would think the risk of incapacitation is no greater than the general pilot population flying on a normal class III medical.

  • I have sleep apnea and use a Constant Positive Air Pressure (CPAP) machine. Before treatment, when I was sleepy, FAA wasn’t concerned. Now that I have no further problems I have to take an “Awake and Alert” test annually.

    They are busy guarding the barn only after the horse is back inside. But, to the uninformed, it has an appearance of diligence. I lost some respect for FAA there.

    • Jack, petition the FAA to quit demanding the maintenance of wakefulness test. Not all applicants with OSA are required to have that test. Try to determine why it is required of you, but not others, with OSA.

  • No. It’s a losing game. Aviation medicals protect your life…and a periodic physical is smart. However, the general health standards to meet a drivers’ license requirement would seem to be a good screening source to id potential problems of health. Any deviation from general standards of health found would/should require a more intense examination/(s.)

  • The problem with the medical certification process is that on the one hand the questions are so stringent “i.e. have you ever once in your life had” and on the other hand they are so vague. They ask about “frequent or severe …” yet don’t define how frequent is frequent or how severe is severe. They leave that up to you, but just make sure you read their minds so that your interpretation matches theirs that they don’t tell you. The AME also cannot read their minds, so he cannot go beyond “a reasonable interpretation” either to help with these questions. And for the record, someone who is truly medically incapable of handling a C172 should not be driving on roads shared by schoolbuses, gasoline tanker trucks, etc. But the feds harass pilots, not drivers, because they can get away with it with pilots but not with drivers.

    • Driver licenses are not issued by the Feds. They are issued by states. The states set the standards for driver licenses and the Feds set the standards for pilot medical certificates and pilot certificates.

  • The Aviation Medical is the most expensive physical exam I have ever had and also the least thorough medical exam I have ever had. Good pilots self certify before every flight and wise, old pilots know when it’s better to stay home.

    • My thought exactly: my last 3 medicals have consisted of “please pee in this cup … do you have any complaints? no? thank you, that will be $110”. Not much of a medical exam, if you ask me.

  • Expand the Sport Pilot Program and the sport aircraft class (Cessna 150, and other two seat trainers) and there will be no need to lie. Most of us fly for recreation and a burning fire within to fly, and the Sport program can be just the ticket.

      • Increasing the gross weight limit of the Sport Aircraft class is a really good idea. The 1320 pound (600 Kg) limit is based on the European standard, I think. Seems arbitrary to me.

  • Oh sure they lie. If the FAA knew the real medical condition of most pilots, they would loose thier certificates too. I dont blame poeple for lying. The standards are too strict and the FAA bases thier decisions (especially on medication) on generalizaitons instead of listening to the pilots and doctors.

    Not only is the medical certificate process flawed, so is the new AOPA iniative. If you have ever been denied a medical, you still cannot go in and just use your driver’s license.

    Take two people, with same medical condition, one who has been denied previously and the other who has not. One will get a license. The other will not. How is that fair? Additionally, the one who was honest is punished. Furthermore, any standard of medical concern for pilots is lost because it allows the FAA to turn a blind eye to a medical condition.

    • KL,
      The FAA has panels of civilian medical experts for each speciality who meet regularly to review the FAA medical regulations and recommend changes based on new research. The regulations are not arbitrary.

  • Personally, I feel that if I am medically safe enough to drive then I should be safe enough to fly.

    There are are more decisions that have to be made while driving than flying. We all know that volume of cars on the roads vs. number of planes in the air leads to have to deal with more idiots on the ground. 🙂

  • Thanks,for the new online magazine. Hey Guys as you know there is nothing private on the internet. Ask those young people who posted personal info online and then got turned down for a job interview because of those posts they placed years ago. These blogs are linked to your name/email be truthful but be careful. Yes the present medical sytem sucks but, it’s all we have until better management goes to Washington. The real question is; Do you trust you AME? No, get a different one. Like everything els not all AME’s are created equally. Find one that will work with you to meet the necessary requirements, but lying is not an option. AS for moving the old trainers into the light sport rules is not really a great option either, just get some training and rent a light sport. I think that increasing the value of a worn out C150 to about $100K (which would happen the day they were included in the category) would take most of the trainer fleet out of circulation and the already paultry number of students would dry up completely. If you can’t pass the physical you need to find another way to fly. Fly with a friend and share expenses, help a youngster learn to fly and let them fly you around in your plane. Students and young pilots just want to fly. Fill up the plane and navigate for them. What a great time you both will have.

  • Duuuuuuuuuh… do fat babies fart? My AME is like a brother to me… and a damn good doc to boot Lamentably, if I have something which could be a liability to me on my next medical, I can not ask my AME/best friend about my problem, and discuss it with him. Oh yeah… did I mention that I live in an isolated community and that the next mediocre doc is a good four hour drive away? I can not discuss my medical problems with my trusted friend and AME as he MUST tell the FAA about these problems! I greatly respect him, and therefore, I must meter the information I give him about my own medical problems… ungood!
    The responsibility for a safe flight in my aircraft is mine… not the AME’S, and most certainly not the FAA’s. Before every flight (sometimes several per day) I self qualify myself… THAT IS MY RESPONSIBILITY AS PIC!!! If I have a bad cold, or whatever, I will DQ myself for flight, even if such action results in a profound economic penalty for me… even though I have a valid First Class Medical. Some records reviewer in OKC can not guarantee those in my aircraft a safe journey… only I can do that.
    Now then, back to your question… do pilots lie about medical conditions to their AME… naaaaaaah! Never happens! PERIOD.

  • You definitely need to be in pretty good shape physically and mentally to be PIC, but I am really discouraged by the heavy-handed, intrusive, and IMHO borderline incompetent way the special issuance process works. If you have a medical issue, may god be with you as you try to figure out exactly what you have to do (e.g. what tests you need, when you need to take these tests, etc) to satisfy the FAA that you’re good to go. I am working on my private pilot license and I was honest and admitted to an episode of seasonal depression treated with medication (which I no longer require or take). Needless to say, I don’t have my class 3 medical now. AOPA and FAA have not really been a lot of help. Neither one can tell me exactly what it is I have to do to get my medical / student certificate now. I am working with a private party who specializes in this sort of thing and he can’t really give me definitive answers either; just educated opinion and guidance. I really want to fly but I’m not sure my passion, not to mention my wallet, will be enough to get me through this process. Again, I’m not arguing against the need for medical certification, but the process needs some serious streamlining. As one previous poster mentioned, why not let the AME make more of the calls, especially for class 3?

    • XYZZY62, Check the AME Guide posted at faa.gov to determine what the FAA requires for your seasonal depression. If this is a recurrent problem, getting a class 3 medical can be difficult. If it is not recurrent, you should be able to demonstrate with help from your private treating physician that the problem no longer exists.

  • If you cannot read the serial number plate on the airplane that just flew by you then you should not be allowed to fly. That is the FAA point of view. If they can just rid the world of these bothersom pilots then their job will be much easier. Also why does your local AME put something on your report and call it insignificant but 6 months later the FAA makes a federal case of it and wants more tests for this “insignificant” thing. The AME certified you as ok to fly, now the feds second guess him. There is something very wrong with a system when every one of its users hates it. Typical government bull—-.

  • I can only speak from my personal experience as a pilot with a special issuance medical. I’ve no choice but be truthfull,but I am sure I’ve flown with other pilots who are afraid of admitting or just don’t admit that they are not fit to fly themselves or their passengers safely.Does that ache you’ve been noticing or even worse ignoring mean something? The bottom line is,if you can’t be truthfull to yourself,you can’t be truthfull at all.

  • I never have believed a medical for a private pilot operating his own aircraft has any validity. An aircraft is just another machine. Do you need a medical to operate a large motor home, car, boat, sand dune buggy, tractor, motorcycle, etc, etc. NO. What makes an airplane as a machine so different. It’s mode of travel, the air, makes it a lot more divertable than stuck to a road, and should make it safer, Especially as opposed to the majority of motor home drivers, that are in their later stages of life, howling down the freeway at 70 miles per hour in bumper to bumper traffic. Makes no logical sense.
    I can see a medical for commercial operators, just like Bus drivers, but that is all. By the way a friend of mine died 2 hours after acquiring his 2nd class medical. Always wondered if the stress from taking the medical had anything to do with it.

  • frankly I aint go no reason to lie,,,but anybody else wants to up to them,ur lic at stake..jus hope u dont endanger anybody else..if its serious..ur life at stake also…w/everybody else below you…so happy flying w/clear conscious…Rex

    • So Rex you never spun around and got dizzy as a child?
      Did you tell the FAA you snore?
      Did you answer Yes on the question and get you special issue?
      What you didn’t? Yeah thought so.
      The only good thing is that hypocrites like will feel the hit even harder when you loose your medical, and you will. It’s only a matter of time.

  • The fibbing about a little issue. Even when telling the truth the FAA doesn’t give the AME the power to decide. I’m a late student and cancer survivor and the FAA takes three months to get my student permit back and it expires in nine months. It only came after I got out of the loop and had the hospital send the info straight to OK. You know how we all type up our medical records now, at least they think so.

  • I have to weigh in on this issue. One comment referenced the fact that we don’t have to have a medical to operate a car or any other type of transportation vehicle. Well, I believe we should have to have a medical to operate a car, a motorcycle, a truck, a bus, a train or any type of machine that is exposed to or involved in transportation. So, instead of less regulation, we need more and along with that comes enforcement.

  • I would like to see how many incidents of NOT seeking medical attention, due to knowing that the FAA will pull their ticket, have led to problems. For example, what if one is tired or snores. A trip to the pulmonologist to see if you have sleep apnea and subsequent CPAP will make you lose the ticket for a long time until you have jumped through very lengthy and expensive FAA hoops. That process will have to be repeated every year. How about the person that might have some minor anxiety issues? You had better not try to get on medication to calm you down and thus make you a safer pilot because you will no longer be able to fly. Period.
    The list of silliness just goes on and on. I think that I could make a very compelling argument that, in many cases, the FAA medical actually does more harm than good.

  • R: Sleep Apnea. I’d had apnea for several years, napped daily once or twice. Would be drowsy at odd times. It was OK to fly without government harassment. I was not asked or tested for alertness.

    Then, I initiated actions to get tested, never dreaming that FAA would punish me for being conscientious and wanting to be fully alert. WOW – they had a conniption, and I lost my ticket for several months while they dithered. I’m OK now, sleep with a CPAP machine. But have to retest for “awake and alertness” annually.

    I think that FAA should be concerned about this difficulty in people. But WHILE it is a problem for the flier, not after it is treated. It doesn’t seem to exhibit much intelligence to uselessly act excited after the fact instead of before. We train for emergencies and stalls etc. before an incident so we know how to correct. FAA doesn’t. That isn’t good leadership.

  • On the subject of medical self certification, read the announcement by the AOPA and the EAA

    http://blog.aopa.org/medsense/?p=101

    I can now only fly Sport due to a medical condition that will cause me to fail the third class medical exam if I take it. I am a rental pilot as well, and unfortunately, there are no sport rentals available, and they are too expensive to buy. To stay current, I have been renting/flying 152′s and 172′s with an instructor, but that is very expensive too (the inclusion of the instructor, that is). This exemption is exactly what I need to keep flying, and I am sure there are many others like me. Additionally, I believe this would be a tremendous economic boon for the industry as a whole. I am going to start a letter campaign to ask the people who can make this happen (our elected officials), to get behind it and make it happen quickly. I hope the AOPA and the EAA will also move quickly, and I want to thank both organizations for this effort. (BTW, I am a member of both.) I love flying and if I had to give it up, I know I would feel like part of me, and who I am, has been lost.

    • It is a good thing that there are no sport airplanes to rent in your location. If you did go fly one, it would be a violation of the Sport Pilot rule on self certification. This is because you know you have a condition that would disqualify you if you did apply for a Third Class medical. You would not be alone, as there are many older pilots that fly with conditions that would disqualify them from getting the Third Class medical.

        • This is a common misunderstanding. In reality, all pilots (no matter what their license) self-certify their fitness to fly every time they fly. If you have a disqualifying medical condition, say unexplained loss of consciousness, you can’t fly. Period. We have to be honest with ourselves. Read from the question directly above the one you linked to: “Long-standing FAA regulation, § 61.53, prohibits all pilots–those who are required to hold airman medical certificates and those who are not–from exercising privileges during periods of medical deficiency. The FAA revised§ 61.53 to include under this prohibition sport pilots who use a current and valid U.S. driver’s license as medical qualification.”

          • Ok, I read the revised FAA 61.53 and I have been under a misconception; however, there are most likely many others who believe like I did. I believe those with conditions that would be considered a problem while flying (vertigo, blackouts, narcolepsy, use of medications that cause side effects that present without warning and could be debilitating, etc.) should not fly. It is important to point out, according to the AOPA, there have been no accidents related to pilots self-certifying and flying under the Sport program, and many of those pilots I’m sure, were under the same misconception as me!

  • While I share our concern about pilots going unconscious in flight, I have as much concern about FAA going unconscious while on the job. I found their reaction to my sleep apnea to be too late, ineffective, and over reacting.
    Since I asked to have myself tested for apnea, and found it was a problem, and now use a Constant Positive Air Pressure (CPAP) machine, FAA dogs me annually. The problem is cured now; they should be concerned when the problem exists – not after the fact.
    I would respect them more if they screened for problems and helped people cure them, rather than go over the hill with a knee jerk reaction.

  • I found my regular doctor because I was looking for an AME. Took the FAA medical (stand on this leg, stand on that leg — can you see anything out of this eye, can you see anything out of that eye). It was less rigorous than a regular “over 40” physical, so I took one of those too. If you can pass a regular physical, you’re probably in good enough shape to fly, physically, anyway. I think a regular physical should be required, but the special AME physical in all reality boils down to a tax disguised as safety concern. Wiley Post would have never passed a physical.

  • I disclosed everything on my original medical as a student pilot. After 7 years and three more third class medicals-the FAA medical office suddenly decided I had 30 days to provide all the records from a condition I had 20 years ago, or have my medical suspended. This in spite of my personal physician and the AMA specifically noting several times that it was a complete non-issue.
    In the end, it all worked out, but I was frustrated about having to locate records from retired doctors across the country-all because a desk bureaucrat figured they knew more about my health than 3 doctors who had recently examined me with aviation in mind.

  • ” but I was frustrated because a desk bureaucrat figured they knew more about my health than 3 doctors who had recently examined me with aviation in mind.”

    BINGO! You just hit a key to the problem. When that syndrome is cured, much of what is wrong at FAA will be cured. Much is right there too, but that practice detracts from an otherwise good performance.

  • This is truly a Great Debate. I for one, not being a medical doctor, place my trust in my AME and my PCP. I am hoping that they do the right thing when it comes to my health assessment. I manage my health daily so as to not have to place them in a position to yank my ticket or otherwise cause me not to self certify. In other words, your health is in your hands. Manage it and you will not have to lie to the FAA, or your AME, or your PCP. The message the FAA should be sending to pilots in my opinion is “Manage your health”. Eat right, excercise, don’t smoke, and don’t take drugs of any kind.

  • On a related note, has anyone used an aeromedical service company to help obtain/renew a medical certificate? Just curious, as I am considering it and wondering about others’ experiences.

  • maybe for some people want or need to lie, I jus cant do that..ur only foolin urself..I wud feel better knowin Im ok,,by bein checked..by doc,least bp anyway..if I dont feel good to drive then I wouldnt feel good to fly either..i know first hand,retired truck driver,been there done that,also their silent killers.pays to be checked by ur own doc..have idea where u stand medically.. get off fried foods n dont smoke is a BIG HELP..when I dont lie I feel better bout it too

  • A 3rd class medical should not be required for a private pilots license. Ones health does not distinguish between ones ability to pilot a 2 seater weighing 1320 lbs and a 4 seat airplane weighing 3500 lbs.

  • Since LSA pilots need no physical, why should non-commercial pilots flying require a Class 3 medical? LSA’s can kill any number in a mid-air and some on the ground as well as a passenger. The hypocrisy at the FAA hurts general aviation in lots of ways.
    Telling the truth has cost me nearly 2 years of no flying due only to a late reply by my doctor and now I am walking away from my favorite form of relaxation, anyone want to buy my plane?

    • I can empathize with that Louis. My wife bought me some flight lessons for my birthday. She rekindled an unpursued interest I buried over 30 years ago when we got married and started having children. I started flying and was completely awe-stricken. I could not stop thinking about being in the air. I was even showing a bit of talent for it and progressing very nicely towards my private pilot certificate. Flying brought some much needed joy back into my life. I’m older now and have some typical late 40s health issues. So, the medical certification process has greatly reduced my joy. I have been screwing around with Oklahoma City since May 2010 and I still really have not made a very big dent towards my certification. I used to go up about twice a week; now I haven’t flown since August. I guess it was a bit negligent on my part to get so far into before getting the medical. I was just having so much fun and I didn’t realize just how difficult it was going to be. I’m still going to try to jump through the medical hoops because I love to fly. If I’m not successful, well, I will probably just put the dream to bed again.

      • If it makes you feel any better, the doctors office transposed two numbers in the date of the exam. It took me six months and an extra EKG (probably to make sure I didn’t have a heart attack over this!) to get it straightened out. They came within 2 weeks of revoking my medical. A simple clerical error!!! This is nothing but government bureaucracy. I agree that the FAA has an interest in regulating commercial pilots but anyone else should have to produce a driver’s license.

  • I got my ticket after age 50. It was a more difficult process than if I had done it 20 years prior. Since my late 30s, I have taken meds to control my blood pressure. No problem there – both were on the “approved” list (most are).

    The real problem was that I also am prescribed anti-diarrhea medication and I take it as needed. It does nothing to me other than help prevent the “gotta go right NOW” urges. Comparatively, what I take is barely more than a prescription grade Imodium AD. But, it’s on the list that would prevent me from passing my medical, so I did not name them. Therefore, I lied.

    Needless to say, I have never taken a $100 Hamburger flight. I’m not dumb enough to eat a big meal then jump right into a plane for the flight back – unless it is one with a toilet and someone else is flying!

  • I reported hypertension and was required to have an entire cardiac work-up within the past 6 months. 6 months and 2 weeks earlier I had one done for a Peace Corps application and sent that in, which would have been good for 2 years. Nope, they requested an entirely new one…. good for 2 years.

    • Mike F, I agree, I’m probably taking the same medication, also works for IBS. As you say does nothing to hinder my ability to fly a plane in anyway, but the FAA says is not allowed, SO. Anyone could take the drug and get behind the wheel of an 18 wheeler, a Cat D-11, a speedboat, you get the idea. Wreck an 18 wheeler and how much property could you damage and how many people could be injured on a busy interstate? Fly over open country and probably be able to put the plane down in a field if there were trouble but the FAA has a BIG resounding NO for that. Seems ludicrous to me.

  • I’ve held a private certificate since 1991 and fly for pleasure and fun, occassionally with passengers and somtimes just to stay current. I was diagnosed with PTSD from my service in the infantry Vietnam in 1968/1969 and have received counseling for it.
    I served 6 years with the U.S. Secret Service, protecting POTUS and his family. I was then a County Police Officer for 21 years. I was an investigator for the CIA from 2001-2006 and armed security for CIA facilities for 4 years after that. Never used my weapon except for training.
    Yes, I lie about the counseling part. Obviously, the Veterans Administration and the military are still struggling to understand PTSD and have been dropping the ball for 50 years.
    Should I expect the FAA to understand my circumstance if they’re going to pull a pilot’s ticket for marital counseling? Are they going to question my patriotism or mental stability?

  • Any law or rule, which is widely viewed by those subject to its enforcement as being unfair, unjust, capricious and arbitrary, because it has no basis in fact, will be disrespected and thus unenforceable. Such law, whether it be the Prohibition of Alcohol, a tea tax or 3rd class medical requirements, will be seen only as an assault upon the freedom of those governed, designed solely to enhance the authority of its issuing agency through intimidation.

    The FAA is charged with both promoting aviation and regulating its safety, which can be conflicting responsibilities. Like many organizations, the FAA puts its own authority, power and existence ahead of those, whom it is supposed to serve. The FAA would, if it could, ban all general aviation to create a perfect safety record, and thus avoid any potential criticism from the press and Congress.

    Driving While Impaired (DWI) from alcohol, drugs, texting and exhaustion is obviously a serious problem and every driver self certifies, there is no evidence in the National Traffic Safety Data Base, that accidents caused by preexisting health conditions and the medications used for their treatment, is a major problem.

    While a diabetic can develop hypoglycemic coma, a cardiac patient faint from an arrhythmia, or a patient become mentally impaired from an excessive dose of a medication, the real world evidence does not support that such incidences are common enough to recommend banning driving by those with such medical conditions. Even patients, with well controlled epilepsy, may safely drive.

    Thus the FAA’s excessive emphasis, on the potential hazards of medical conditions and medications, serves only to reinforce its own bureaucratic authority. It has caused unnecessary pain and inhibits its mission to promote aviation.

    • Thus by forcing pilots to avoid medical treatment, in order to protect their medical certificate, the FAA actually promotes ill health and thus diminishes safety. We know that the incidence of major depression in the general population is 10%. Does anyone really believe that this is also not true for pilots and in fact is probably much higher, given the hard working conditions. Yet, until recently, the FAA wouldn’t allow any pilot to be treated with an SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor) a medication with an excellent safety record concerning accidents. And the FAA’s restrictions regarding SSRI’s effectively make it impossible for use by commercial pilots. So do we really want 10+% of our commercial pilots to be flying with untreated major depressive disorders?

      Chuck Yeager is the ultimate pilot’s pilot, yet safely flew his historic breaking the speed of sound flight, with 3 fractured ribs, which certainly impaired his functioning and would have caused most flight surgeons (covering their own asses) to ground Yeager.

  • By now most of you know there are way too many federal employees standing around over paid and coming up with way too many regulations to try and justify their job. Not just surprise test changes from the FAA but the FMCSA again wanting to reduce truck driver’s hours of service due to fatigue despite the lack of evidence published on the FMCSA’s own web site. With the impact these regulations and half-baked ideas have on our lives, economy, and national security in general it is time that federal employees comply with all the regulations the citizens that they regulate have to. Federal employees should qualify for at least a class three medical for airmen and let us toss in the medication list and drug testing for commercial drivers. Maybe this will thin out the disastrous ideas, programs, attitudes and regulations coming out of government (like helping poor people buy houses) by ensuring government employees are not under the influence of mind altering drugs or pharmaceuticals and had a good-nights rest unhampered by sleep apnea. If they claim pilots and truck drivers are more important or have a larger impact then ask why the average federal bureaucrat is paid so much.

  • But what happens when the FAA lies. A manager at a Fisdo reported to CAMI that an airman was on medication and had a long hospotible stay. The airman who never was on medication for depression and certinatly never had a hospitible addmitance was now having to prove a negative. Meanwhile the FAA now sits on thier collective thumbs deciding what to do. If the FAA is lieing why should we worry about non-commercial pilots?

  • I just recently got my Cat 1 medical, and honestly the doctor is pretty thorough when it comes to examining his patient, everything from blood pressure to ECG. lie if you want, he’ll find out.

  • My first experience with an AMI was when I applied for a job with the government and was required to take a physical exam. The Dr. the agency recommended was an AMI. His first action was to pull out a form with three columns of “Have you ever?” items each requiring a “yes/no” response. He proceeded to read off the list and after a half dozen items to which I responded “No”, he said ” You wouldn’t tell me if you had any of these, would you? and moved on to checking the no column for the rest of the page.
    On the other hand, when I started flying and had to take a 3rd class medical, the AMI was a personal friend and knew of my hearing problems, therefore suggested we do the hearing test with an audiometer in the evening when there was less noise and confusion in the office. He had me sit where I could not see him so that I could not tell when he hit the switch that turned on the tone I was required to listen for. Another friend had accompanied me to this testing and he sat across the table from me so that he could see the doctors actions. Each time the Dr. hit the switch, my friend kicked me under the table and I could respond that I had heard the tone in the headset as required. Needless to say, I passed. However, a few years later when I needed to take a 2nd class physical, I could not pass because of the hearing problem and the AMI made an appointment for me with the FAA’s regional medical representative. He issued my medical with a waiver. I asked him why I had to jump through all these hoops if I could get a waiver. His response was that the FAA wanted to ascertain that I was aware of the disability and take necessary actions to overcome it, In this case to use other senses to monitor the aircrafts actions, i.e. instead of just listening to the engine, watch the instruments that monitored the engine.

  • A highly experienced AME, also a 747/DC-10 Captain for a major airline, once told me that crewmembers lose consciousness in the seat about half a dozen times every year. That’s out of tens of millions of flights. Unfortunate as those events are, they do NOT cause accidents. So the Medical certification system is statistically, virtually, perfect…or..redundant… AS LONG AS you are in a multi-crew aircraft. If I have “the big one” in the seat here is what will happen: 1. The SIC will pull the body out of HIS brand new seat. 2. The other crewmembers will consult the seniority list to see how they fare after my death. 3. The flight will continue without further incident.

    However, when it comes to flying without another capable pilot on board….only friends and family..that is another matter.

    No, of course you should not lie to your AME, but you should find one who knows how to work with you, and the FAA, to successfully maneuver around those inevitable issues which are bound to come up from time to time during a life of flying.

    If you fly “only” pilot with family and friends, your Medical certification, whether with the AME/FAA or flight-to-flight, is about them.

  • Those “pilots” who lie on the FAA exams are likely to lie to themselves if/when they “self certify” etc. —dangerous individuals about whom one reads in the news at 10.

  • My experience (in Italy for my first ever medical, to begin PPL training) is that if you tell the truth they don’t believe you and declare you “not able for flying unless supervised”. I was better off lying.

  • I told the truth (that I had a very early-stage, very treatable cancer) and had my medical yanked. I can get it back, but I have to go through a fairly extensive bureaucratic morass to recover it, then jump through extra hoops over the years to keep it.

    I’ll never tell the truth again.

  • Type 2 diabetes, with oral medication, receiving a special issuance every year, until this last one, when the FAA generously determined my AME could recertify me, annually, for five years. I’ll continue to “go by the book” until such time as the rules change, or I wish to no longer fly. They yanked my 3rd class one time, because my personal physician mistyped a statement on his annual letter to the FAA. That cost me about six months of flying. But, it was not the fault of the FAA, it was mine for not verifying the doctor’s statement before submitting it. They, and AOPA, worked with me to get it corrected. My new AME, (old one finally retired,) is a pilot, as is his wife, the office manager and head nurse. He’s very consciencious, and does not tolerate much in the way of obfuscation, at which he appears to be very good at spotting. Tain’t worth messing up folks. Until the rules change, abide by them, and make sure you self monitor. Your family and friends consider you more important than any flying you may do. This is just as important an issue as the proverbial “get homeitis.”

  • Type 2 diabetes, with oral medication, receiving a special issuance every year, until this last one, when the FAA generously determined my AME could recertify me, annually, for five years. I’ll continue to “go by the book” until such time as the rules change, or I wish to no longer fly. They yanked my 3rd class one time, because my personal physician mistyped a statement on his annual letter to the FAA. That cost me about six months of flying. But, it was not the fault of the FAA, it was mine for not verifying the doctor’s statement before submitting it. They, and AOPA, worked with me to get it corrected. My new AME, (old one finally retired,) is a pilot, as is his wife, the office manager and head nurse. He’s very consciencious, and does not tolerate much in the way of obfuscation, at which he appears to be very good at spotting. Tain’t worth messing up folks. Until the rules change, abide by them, and make sure you self monitor. Your family and friends consider you more important than any flying you may do. This is just as important an issue as the proverbial “get homeitis” problem so many flyers seem to have.

  • Having spent over £10k learning to fly I was advised at my medical I had LBBB. This is left bundle branch block which is a stop as far as the CAA is concerned. If I wanted to continue learning to fly I had to pay to visit a nomiated CAA doctor. On checking this I was advised the costs would be in the region of £600+. I went to my own doctor who advised me it was nothing to worry about. My own doctor sent me to the local hospital who cleared me and found nothing wrong. However the CAA would not accept the word of the doctors at the hospital nor my own doctor and insisted I had to “follow the procedure”. I stopped learning to fly as I did not have the additional funds to have the CAA medical. My £10k already spent, to me was wasted. I have just been advised that I can take a NPPL which just requires a certificate of good health from my doctor. When learning to fly originally I was not even made aware this nor the NPPL was available. At 60 years of age you do not want to become an airline pilot you just want to be able to go up fly around and come back again. I am all in favour of your own doctors certificate of good health.

  • The Third Class is an absolute joke. Given how stress, marriage pressures, work distractions, fatigue and the hopelessly useless pee in cop’s cut, phony eye exam work, the self certification (which good pilots do anyway) and lack of medical accident experience with LSA, the fat, useless, overpaid FAA administrators should just go away in favor of driver’s license. It is a scam, a make-work project for administrators, and btw, doctors who make a practice of the bulk of business, which is 3rd class. Bury the third class in favor of drivers licenses, who cars come with inches of mine, go against lights, etc.

  • I WAS A BIRD DOG PILOT IN VIETNAM FOR 3+ YEARS WHEN I WAS SENT TO THE DECK BY SMALL ARMS FIRE. TO LOW TO BAIL SO HAD TO TO FLY IT DOWN . I HAVE NEVER ACTUALLY TRIED FOR A MEDICAL OR A LISENSE AS FAR AS THAT GOES. TH REASON IS FOR INJURIES I RECIEVED WHEN MY 01 LANDED WITH OUT A RUNWAY. BUT I HAVE 40+ YEARS AND 5100 HRS OF PIC IN MY OWN AIR CRAFT WITH OUT INCIDENT OR ACCIDENT. SO ITS FLY TILL I DIE OR GO TO PRISON. ALTHOUGH IF I HAD ONE LITTLE INKLING OF BEING UNSAFE I WOULD QUIT. PIDGON IN A HAWK PACK

  • I love what my Union representative says, “You should never lie, but there are many different ways of telling the truth.”

  • I don’t know if all pilots lie during medicals, but I do know of one who did. He was a commercial pilot flying 727s. He had diabetes. He knew it. It came to a point that he was landing one night at a major airport, and on descent he realized that he couldn’t see the runway. He landed safely, but it was his last flight. He went on to training pilots via simulators. Great guy, but he needlessly put a lot of people’s lives in danger.

  • I’m old, crazy and hard of hearing… bit like most experienced pilots I suppose. Over forty years I have watched the change from Aryan superman standards to wheelchair/ limbless PPL pilots. How come the standards are so different now? I can meet Class 1 if I fib…. see you in the cockpit!!

  • hej Jim, you couldn’t describe better the current situation: “from Aryan superman to weelchair pilot”. But the standards are not different. Here in Italy Superman still dictates. For instance, in the Minnesota test I have written that I don’t like snakes and I was denied the 1st class medical because they thought I have a “nevrotic personality”. They even asked me “are you sure you never had epilepsy attacks?”.

  • A wise man once said to me that the more you tell them the more you with have to sit through. This is very true if you were to tell them everything that has happened to you in the past medical histories etc. there would be no one to fly these jumbo jets. I don’t care who you are if you tell me that you have never been diagnosed with anything then you are the liar. Everyone at some point or another you all have been diagnosed with something. If you you diagnosed with some sort of Learning Disability like ADD,ADHD,OCD,LD it doesn’t make a difference. In everyone’s childhood years a lot of people are diagnosed with child Asthma so come on people who is the one really lying here YOU ARE. the more you say no the more you are hurting your own self. Pilots lying on the there 1st 2nd and 3rd class medical’s happens all the time, and it happens just as much as people going to MEPS for the Military. People Lie to do what they love to do. your PIC in the Cockpit might have the most serious medical condition, but will never no it that’s why the federal government made the HIPPA law. Simple you don’t need to know and if you are scared to apply for you medical because your feared in getting caught. Don’t worry about getting caught unless you lie about you criminal history you will be fine. The FAA Cannot possibly know all the doctors or hospitals you have ever been to unless you tell them. Tell them what you will be it will be you that is on the bench because you failed the medical. I’m not saying I have a medical cert, but if I did this is what I would do.

  • There shouldn’t be different standards for flying than are for driving. Both have risks. You want to be an ATP, you have two pilots. Why is it ok for a diabetic to drive without checking glucose but not a pilot? There shouldn’t be different standards. If your medical expires, there is nothing to stop you from continuing to fly. Self certification is where the FAA should focus their energy. Justify their positions by educating and hammering self certification, not for two or five years, but every flight. Who gave the FAA the power to stop pilots from flying because they take antidepressants? What next, psych eval, cholesterol screen for atherosclerosis, denying smokers because risk of copd exacerbation in unexpected decompression, genetic screening to predict addictive personality or anger tendency? Where is the limit to government infringement? I am a physician instrument pilot with an appreciation for medical limitations. The same diseases that the FAA uses to ground pilots should restrict driving. But it doesn’t because the public wouldn’t tolerate it. Pilots need to grow some, stand together, and stop tolerating it.

  • I don’t think the FAA realizes that pilots aren’t average human beings. It’s not a profession which that college students wake up and decide they want to fly a plane. Pilots most likely have wanted too fly since they were kids. Pilots that I talk to share the same dreams as I do and we all began chasing the dream at an extremely young age. So whatever reason the FAA brings to you such as your depressed or you have ADD, they don’t know what the **** they’re talking about. They’re just scared something is going to happen in the air. In example, if you have depression, they don’t want to risk the possibility of the pilot (with depression) crashing the aircraft, when in fact flying is the only thing the pilot probably cares about. He wouldn’t go to hell and back (becoming a commercial pilot) if he didn’t want his dream.

  • In certain circumstances, I wouldn’t think twice about lying on the medical form, quite frankly.

    I’m a depressed individual – I’ve been formally diagnosed with dysthemic disorder, a long-term, low grade version of chronic depression that isn’t helped with medications. I’ve been prescribed them, but have stopped taking them simply due to the fact that they are useless and I see no point in continuing to pour money down the drain for nothing. Would I report this or any depression on the 8500-8? Hell no. I’m no danger to anyone because I don’t particularly like myself. What can some shrink tell me about myself that I don’t already know? What objective proof can they present that I’m actually depressed or for that matter no longer depressed that would otherwise qualify me for a medical? Why would I want to go through the unbelievable hassle of explaining myself to a bunch of know-nothing bureaucrats and internal medicine doctors who don’t know their ass from their elbow about depression beyond some laughably simplistic characterization of the disorder in a diagnostics manual? Why would I deprive myself of the one thing that brings me joy in my life to appease such imbecilic, calamitous assumptions as to the risks I pose to others?

    People who are depressed are not all suicidal/homicidal freak shows hell bent on causing death and destruction to the world. Some of us just have problems in our lives that are difficult to deal with. No pill makes that any different – no weekly conversation with an over-paid, disinterested asshole makes it different either. Society cares little about helping people with mood disorders beyond marginalizing them and throwing them into a “risk factor” category and dismissing their issues. Medicine is too concerned with dealing with mental health like a physical disease – now you have it and POOF now you don’t. It doesn’t work like that in mental health cases, and probably never will. The premise of someone “getting over” long-term depression is laughable. The truly dangerous people are those that make impulsive decisions while in a dire mental health state brought on by outside factors. Case in point: A student pilot I was familiar with crashed his aircraft into the runway and killed himself after being arrested for drunk-driving the previous night. His career was essentially over with that arrest and he killed himself because of it. Here’s a guy who was never diagnosed with depression or showed any signs of it, but still completed the act so feared by these administrators. People who are actually depressed long term are not really at risk of doing things like this – if they were, they wouldn’t be here to start with.

  • I suffer from multiple personality disorder, but all of the voices affirm they are qualified pilots. Should I mention this to my AME?

    • If you are stupid and want to wait months for a medical waiver. That’s if they even decide to give you a medical waiver. Just do want everyone does to get into the military hide the truth. It’s not lying it’s letting them find out, which would probably never happen unless something came out about it. HIPPA Law prevents them from looking at your medical history without your consent.

  • When reading many aviation magazines and articles it seems likely that most accidents are a result of lack of proficiency rather than due to medical issues. Withholding a medical certificate by the FAA for long periods of time while (somewhat silly in many instances) paperwork is completed does not help with the proficiency issue. Many of the requirements for “special issuance” for example are redundant and simply bureaucratic paper chases. Is the medical for safety or for what other purpose? The additional costs associated with FAA medicals will reduce flying time for many of us – there goes the proficiencey issue again. The FAA Medical requirements need revision and made more rational instead of simply being a procedural nightmare for pilots.

  • I flew for 16 years in the Air Force with a known heart murmur that I know would preclude me form a civilian 1st class.

    I hid it from the FAA for 12 years – They found out I didn’t disclose it and revoked ALL my certificates – ATP multi-single engine land, Commercial rotorcraft and glider as well as all my flight instructor certificates.

    I lost my career as an airline pilot (major airline) and my life spiraled out of control.

    Funny thing is the murmur is gone but I’ll never have my life back… If you lie on your medical form – Best of luck. No mercy from the FAA and I was not even allowed to go to a hearing – I just got the notice of revocation one day and that was it.

  • I do believe all of the ideas you’ve presented for your post. They are really convincing and will definitely work. Nonetheless, the posts are very short for novices. May just you please lengthen them a little from next time? Thank you for the post.

  • Unfortunately some do lie. I know this Pilot who has type 1 Diabetes which requires insulin injections daily, drinks alcohol every night, takes an antidepressant, and every afternoon gets the shakes. He did not disclose any of his medical issues to the AME, and passed his medical in 2011.
    He showed no regard for the safety of others, nor did he feel guilty about lying, just relieved he passed. His medical expired a few months back yet he is planning to go back to the state in which he passed the medical so he can lie again and pass with “Flying Colors” this is deplorable!
    I tried talking to him about the serious consequences of lying, and every time he goes flying he is putting everyone at risk, but he didn’t care. After numerous attempts I decided to contact the FAA of the situation so he would not get away with deceiving the AME again.
    I hesitated to contact the FAA as I didn’t want to deprive this man of his dream to be a pilot but the risk of harm to himself and to others was greater than “His Dream” so I sent a detailed letter.
    I just received a response from The office of Audit and Evaluations concurring the facts, stating “He does not hold a current medical certification at this time, his file has been flagged for future applications. No further action by AWP-300. File closed.”
    I would have assumed since this person had been flying for awhile, and flying solo that they would have imposed sanctions such as the one’s discussed above. They didn’t even send him a letter informing him about his conduct.
    This is very disturbing to say the least, why bother imposing rules, laws or the like if there is no punishment implemented???
    Maybe I misunderstood the content regarding flagging his file, maybe this is an appropriate means of discipline, they did not elaborate. If anyone cares to share their thoughts or any advice I would appreciate hearing from you.
    Thank you for allowing me to share.

  • When the whole 3rd class medical requirement is seen in a larger context, it’s absurdity can be seen. There are about 450-500 deaths per year in ALL of general aviation. Of those, only a very small % are from medical causes. Let’s assume 10%, which is probably a high figure. That would translate into 45-50 deaths a year. By comparison, about that same number of deaths a year are caused by lightning strikes or even falling out of bed. Compared to all causes of death, these are infinitesimal numbers. The absurdity is having a major federal bureaucracy policing this incredibly low number of deaths. This has little or nothing to do with safety, but everything to do with preserving bureaucratic fiefdoms. It is also very much a question of freedom. Risk is a price of freedom. Gradually, our freedoms are being taken away by government regulatory entities. Once set up by politicians, these agencies rule by fiat, for which there is no recourse. They always do it under the banner of “safety”.

  • ANY RESPONSE WILL BE GREATLY APPRECIATED!

    I got the picture regarding medical, but am concerned about the section regarding legal history. My driving record is perfect, but I have been wondering if the FAA will reject my certificate because of an assault charge that happened five years ago back when I was in highschool. When I joined the military, it popped up at MEPs and I had to complete a waiver but I was allowed to go to boot camp. So, I can only assume that the FAA will see it so there is no question about having to report it myself. I just left the Marine Corps and want nothing more than to begin my flight training, but I still can’t help but wonder about the outcome, especially after all I have read on this thread. Should I be worried?

    • Future student,

      As a pilot for over 13 years and now an AME as of this month, I understand your concern. As John and Dickie do point out, there are rules and hence bureaucracy in place to protect the masses. What most folks don’t realize is that less than 1% of medical applications are denied whether it be for diabetes or criminal record. The FAA as a whole believes all people should fly if they desire. They want to approve, not deny medicals. Simply having an assault on record does not by itself result in denial. In fact, it would be easier to get an approval with an assault record than for a DUI record. What the FAA is looking for are patterns of behavior that suggest pathological conditions that may lead to gross negligence or unsafe decisions regarding flying. Multiple assaults or domestic convictions might indicate some psychiatric disturbance that requires looking into. One assault charge, not so much. There are folks flying with diabetes that are on insulin. They may only get 3rd class, but they are flying with strict guidelines on preflight accu check, inflight accu check, etc. There are heart transplant pilots flying. What you don’t want to do is lie. Lie and get caught, you will lose your ticket, get fined, and possibly go to jail. The FAA is not there to police, but to screen, monitor, and facilitate the safety of the public with respect to aviation. That is why the FAA doesn’t sanction Mr. Diabetes as Dickie would like. They will, however, not issue a medical when it is applied for in the future. The FAA will catch the application when it comes across due to the flags. What Dickie did was “tell on” someone for lying. Mr. Diabetes can still legally fly as a sport pilot. There is no rule to disclose insulin dependence for a drivers license and a drivers license, not a medical certificate, is all that is required to fly as a sport pilot. Bottom line, you are better off disclosing to the FAA if you want a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd class medical certificate. If you fear denial, speak to someone that knows what they are talking about, not a blog. Ultimately, if you have a condition that you know will result in denial, become a sport pilot. Flying is no more dangerous than driving when properly trained.

      • One correction that I expect an AME to know – if you have a condition that you KNOW will result in a medical denial, you’re not qualified to fly sport.

        If you have a condition which COULD result in a denial then get it checked out because you have a potential medical condition that could be a problem with you living.

        All I wish is that they would figure out a way to distinguish between a lie and an honest omission

  • Thank you for the advice and expertise Sir, you just saved me a $50.00 “discussion appointment” with my AME. Now I am only minutes away from completing my first flight medical form without any worries!

  • PLEASE HELP
    I’m in an odd spot and a bit of a time crunch when it comes to getting a medical certificate. I’m applying for a job where they train you to be a helicopter pilot. The application states “once hired you must obtain a class 2 medical cert”
    I wanted to go to the interview with the certificate already in hand so I could have a slight edge. I had kidney stone surgery 12 years ago and over the last two years I passed two stones at home. The most recent was a year and a half ago. If I tell the AME about this will I not get my cert that day? (And not be able to go to the interview next month with the cert in hand). If I don’t tell him would the FAA find out if I never had another attack?
    I’m not trying to be deceitful, but I really want to be prepared for this interview and I don’t see the importance of something that won’t effect flying.
    Thank you for the help

  • I’m due for a flight medical soon. I’m also struggling with depression. What to do? Seek help, get punished? I’m depressed, so their answer is to tell me I can’t do anything to fix my problem whilst simultaneously denying me something that significantly helps with my depression: Flying? At least my livelihood doesn’t depend on it. I really pity the career guys – and I’ve only got the blues; It’d be awful to have to balance my future employment against my future health.

    The FAA has created an atmosphere that not only encourages problems to go unchecked and unreported, but actually makes some of those problems worse by discouraging pilots from addressing them, instead allowing them to fester. This is one of those typical government deny-there’s-a-problem attitudes that eventually comes to a head when something major and catastrophic happens. They’ll wait until a couple of major airline pilots go postal or have a seizure over the threshold and get the front page bold type, then overreact totally inappropriately, and far too late.

    You’d think somebody in the FAA would be ashamed of being this dumb and show a little initiative and courage to fix such obvious issues instead of burying their tiny little heads in the sand. I understand why a lot of this stuff, like the sport pilot initiative, takes so long and always falls short, but c’mon, this one is easy and it’s gonna bite them in the ass. Most those fellas at the FAA seem pretty smart, but they must be pretty spineless too.

  • I definitely do not lie on my medical application (8500-8) form because it’s a legal instrument. If one does lie this is an example of what could happen facing fines of up to $250,000,and possibly up to 5 years of federal imprisonment,and certificate revocation. This doesn’t happen very often because Oklahoma City deals with up to 700,000 to one million people a year but if one does get caught then one could face some legal trouble in court. I have a perfect driving record,clean medical history,and also a clean criminal history. I do recommend that you do ask your AME any questions regarding your medications and or your medical history and assist in the gathering of medical records relating to what condition you may have and also the same for your arrest/and or correctional history to explain why on the medical form in the explanations page. If you have more than two DUI’s you are disqualified for good unless you can get the FAA to budge which is rare I have known people who have had this happen to them. Also my flight instructor was telling me that he knew an applicant who lied about his criminal history for shoplifting and two to three months later the FAA found out and pulled his medical currently and he did not hear back for any clearance to fly again so these are great examples why not lie. Also the FAA does check your National Driver Register/Record so make sure you keep your driving safe.

    I have been a private pilot since 10/05/2013 I know that the medical form is a self certifying process that can have good or bad risks but you never know what the FAA has access to since their a government organization/department. In-case if you ever get into an accident the FAA/NTSB will look through all your medical history and do a thorough check on that pilot meaning they want to look at every doctor visit and all medications you have been on. So please just be honest you they are gonna find out about one day or another just like the case out in California back in 2005 for pilots lying about question 18y Medical disability benefits and many of them were in legal trouble. Also remember Ronald Crews 16 months in jail flying with Cape Air back in 2006 for lying about his diabetes on question 18k and then he had a diabetic seizure in flight but luckily there was a student pilot there to land the plane. You never know what will happen to a pilot in flight with his medical conditions.

    As they say the truth eventually comes out but sometimes lies can go untold forever and I believe there are pilots who are flying around in our airspace with disqualifying medical conditions that should be special issuance or not even have a medical. Some Pilots tend to lie some just do not get medicals.

    Signed Private Pilot since 10/05/2013

    • Anonomous,
      You miss the point. We should not be subjected to this inquisitional questionnaire in the first place. From the details they ask about, you would think you were applying to be an astronaut.

      But here is where the absurdity of this over zealous pursuit of perfect safety is to be seen:
      The relative numbers of fatalities in all of General Aviation (GA) vs those from other causes.

      There are about 450-500 fatalities per year in all of GA. If say 10% are due to medical incapacitation, that would be 45-50 deaths a year. That is approximately the same magnitude as deaths from lightning strikes, or falling out of bed (literally). Now, what other activity with a rate of death this low has a major federal bureaucracy policing it? NONE . There are more boating accident deaths (650 or so), motorcycle deaths (4500), automobile (35,000). Yet there is no medical requirement for any of these. So why are private pilots singled out for this rediculous harrassment ?
      We have an entrenched bureaucracy that refuses to relinquish power and money. They have little to do but think up new restrictions, all under the banner of safety. I hope you realize a world that had perfect safety would be one not worth living in. Why? Because the measures necessary to achieve it would make life intolerable dull and stifling.

      • You actually do have a point and I think the same thing sometimes if people want to be private pilots they shouldn’t even have to carry a third class medical just their drivers license. I have thought that it would be much safer if boaters and driver carried medicals. Yes it’s very rare for someone to have heart attack or neurological brain seizure in flight.

    • Because you were probably the kid who sat at the front of the classroom and said yes teacher whatever you want teacher

  • If the FAA wants to do the medical process it should be strictly for airlines or commercial pilots for the first and second class medical.

    • Yes, all my discussion was only applicable to private, recreational pilots, not airline or large freight liner pilots. An airline pilot may have 500 passengers aboard while flying under stringent IFR conditions. That is an entirely different responsibility that warrants a real physical exam. But a private pilot should be able to fly his Cessna on a weekend without the 3rd class physical. I say that based on the relative numbers discussed above.

      • Yes I can agree even thought I am a pilot right now I do want to work for the airlines one day so I will need a first class which I currently hold. The med examination wasn’t any different from the third class but the vision requirements are different. What I think is if a driver goes to the DMV to go get his eyes checked then that drivers license should be his medical as his third class and it would save the government money because there wouldn’t be as many pilots to go after it would just be the professionals. Sometimes I think it’s not necessary for ATC people to have medicals.

  • The smart ones do. It is none of their business. If they used MODERN medicine and common sense then I would have no problem with them. I fly for a living. I look at the FAA as the enemy trying to take my life away.

  • Politicians create government agencies empowered to rule by edict. When a government becomes oppressive, intransigent, and unreasonable, allowing no recourse beyond it’s edicts, eventually people react. One way is by lying. While not endorsing that, it is understandable at the emotional level.

    The absurdity of these medicals resides in the tiny number of casualties from medical incapacitation, compared to most other activities requiring no medical. Consider the following tabulations on the number of deaths per year in various activities:

    Motorcycle deaths 4500
    Boating accident deaths 750
    Bicycle accident deaths 700
    Pedestrian deaths 5300
    Drowning deaths 2400
    Auto accident deaths 30,000

    None of the above activities has any significant medical requirement.
    On the other hand, the 3rd class questionnaire seems more like screening for
    astronaut training. Now compare the above tabulation with:

    GA total deaths 400
    Out of those, the number of GA deaths from medical incapacitation is tiny. Actually, in some years there are 0 attributed to sudden incapacitation, such as heart attack or stroke. Doesn’t this seem grossly out of proportion? Why do we have a federal bureaucracy policing such a low number of casualties?

    At a certain point there is the issue of freedom vs safety. Perfect safety is impossible, and an excessive attempt to achieve it will conflict with freedom. The 3rd class medical crosses the line where freedom is unreasonably denied in the pursuit of absolute safety. Why is such a standard not imposed on motorcycle or car owners ? The answer is that the population would not tolerate it. People are willing to take the risks in exchange for their freedoms. We are equally desiring of our freedom, but because we are a small group, the bureaucracy can get away with it.

  • I didn’t lie on my Class 3 medical, was a 55 yr. old student pilot, have since been told by several older pilots that I was honest but naive. Wish I would have! Special Issuance hoop jumping is expensive. I hadn’t had any issues or symptoms for over 10 yrs., doctors I’d seen always pronounced me fit & healthy…. but that wasn’t good enough for the FAA, they require me to spend a pile of money EVERY YEAR to get a SI, and then it takes Oklahoma City 3-4 months to okay it while I sit effectively grounded (adding insult to injury!) waiting for them. Have tried the polite calling routine, found they will lie to you, one time the lady told me my SI was approved & mailed 2 days prior, when I finally got it 3 weeks later the post mark date proved they had lied.
    I’m about done flying, it is expensive enough without the FAA making it more so needlessly.

    I don’t know for a fact other pilots lie on their medical, but pretty sure some I know do. Perhaps it’s not actually a lie, maybe just selectively forgetting something.

  • The FAA medical process makes it nearly impossible to comply with completely. Few people have memory of everything diagnosed as a child, how many appoinments one has been to in the last 3 years, or even knowledge of what the doctor has put in your medical record. It’s possible that a pilot could fill out a MedXpress form to the “best of their knowledge” and still leave something off that could be revealed in an investigation. There’s also the issue of things that a doctor may speculate on that they have no training or qualifications to formally diagnose. I have informed my regular doctor to please clear with me anything they might write in my record, as it could affect my FAA medical. And yet still I do not feel I can speak freely to them.

    The current system not only encourages dishonesty, it encourages pilots to avoid medical treatment and ignore symptoms. If that’s not a bigger threat to safety, I don’t know what is. I truly believe that if we allowed a 3rd class medical on only a driver’s license we would be just as safe as we are today; and pilots would be in even better health because they would feel free to see their doctor again. I’d never put my family in danger and drive a car if I wasn’t feeling well, why would anyone think I’d fly that way? 99.999999% of pilots can and should self-certify for 3rd class flying.

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