Medical X
1 min read
Pilot medical certificate

Not worth the paper it’s printed on?

The FAA medical exam, a key milestone on a pilot’s journey towards a private certificate, is under fire. For years, many pilots have blasted the whole process as a bureaucratic mess that does nothing to improve safety but does a lot to discourage new student pilots. This fight gained momentum last Spring, when AOPA and EAA submitted a request to the FAA that would essentially eliminate the third class medical for pilots exercising the rights of a Recreational Pilot (one passenger, 180 hp or less, daytime, etc.).

Opponents of the medical exam point out that hardly any accidents are caused by medical problems, so the system is trying to fix a problem that does not exist. Besides, with third class medical certificates lasting for 3 or 5 years (depending on age), pilots are already self-certifying their health for years in between visits to the doctor.

Proponents aren’t ready to ditch the medical just yet. They suggest that all it takes to pass a third class medical exam is a heartbeat, and anyone who can’t meet such basic standards shouldn’t fly. Others worry about the impact a rule change would have on the Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) market, whose main appeal right now is the ability to fly such airplanes without an FAA medical. Would this market evaporate?

What do you think? Is the AOPA/EAA proposal a good one? Should we go further and eliminate the medical entirely? Or is it an important safety check? Share your comments below.

Air Facts Staff
166 replies
  1. Meredith
    Meredith says:

    If someone’s certified to drive, they should be able to fly a small private aircraft. I say ditch the 3rd class and don’t worry about the effect on the LSA market.

    • Eddie
      Eddie says:

      The so called Lite sport industry wants to sell over priced aircraft so they will do their damnest to torpedo the proposel.

    • Walt
      Walt says:

      I don’t think we have any 3 year 3rd class medicals left. I know that mine (at age 65) are only 2 years. They are annoying and for the most part, of little value.

    • Bobby D.
      Bobby D. says:

      What would you rather have? An 80 year old guy passing you in a 4000 lb car going 60 mph!
      Or an 80 year old man flying overhead in a 1500 lb aircraft. No question about it ! GET RID OF THE THIRD CLASS MEDICAL ! It will also help general aviation come back.

    • JcGarcia
      JcGarcia says:

      I agree. Ditch the medical cert for private pilots. But we should be in one okay or the other write our request in the FAA site and congressman for your area as they are the ones that will make the change. I like this discussion but they must gear it too. If I can fly a 4 seater aircraft I want to be able to fly with my family not just one passenger as the EAA and AOPA are proposing. Ditch the medical.

    • Paul
      Paul says:

      The only purpose of the 3rd class med is to perpetuate an overblown big government agency. Can the 3rd class and save a ton of money without effecting safetu

    • Bob
      Bob says:

      Consider flying in remote areas, like Maine, Alaska and Montana plus many more states and Canada. Put the health vs risk in the states hands. The risk in remote places, or lack of risk, is not worrying about falling on anyone, but perhaps finding us. Simply holding a drivers license is enough, everywhere. Flying in remote areas shouldn’t require even a drivers license just a 2 year flight review. I’m 73, and flying since 1956 as a PP float rated to go fishing. I’ve never been pulled over yet with acceptable documentation for me and my plane. Now, I can’t pass a medical. Do you think I will quit fishing?

  2. Jeff Woiton
    Jeff Woiton says:

    Too little too late, for me. I tried last year to get my 3rd class medical cert, but since I had once been on anti-depressants (an SSRI, the kind permitted by a 2010 FAA ruling), they wanted me to undergo $1700 of psychological testing before they would pass me. I went round and round with my local FAA advisor, including providing letters from 3 psychologists and over 200 pages of clinical notes proving my depression had gone into remission, but the FAA’s only acceptable resolution was to toe the line. All this just to pursue a hobby – excuse me, just to GET STARTED at it? I can’t wait until this requirement is repealed!

    • Eddie
      Eddie says:

      You are right, it’s the additional exams the FCC demands that are expensive that discorage people from going for the 3rd class medical and the Privae License.
      HMM I wonder how many so called Light Sport Aircraft are sold to privat pilots, because they are more economicle to fly?.

      • Larry Baker
        Larry Baker says:

        I agree with Jeff. I had a cardiac bypass graft in 2007 without any further heart problems. Yet, to obtain my medical I would have to endure very expensive annual cardiac tests and a cardiologist evaluation. Though my medical would technically be valid for 3 years, in effect it would be the same as a 2nd class medical in that failure to do the annual testing and submitting it to the FAA, my medical would become invalid.

        I would love to fly but I cannot afford the cost or the time from work to do these tests, which are unnecessary and prohibitive.

        With regard to the LSA market, they did not keep their promise of inexpensive aircraft, except in comparison to new production aircraft such as Cessna, Piper, Beech, etc. For this reason the LSA may go the way of the dodo bird. If a Sport Pilot cannot afford to own or rent an LSA airplane fewer people will opt for this license.

        • Harry Rudin
          Harry Rudin says:

          I am in the same situation as Larry. My understanding is that with 99% probability I could pass the medical but would have to repeat it every 6 months. The process is so complicated that I would spend much more time on documentation preparation than flying.

          Further, with or without a valid medical, all pilots have to decide if they are fit to fly before every flight. I believe that getting rid of the 3rd class medical would lead pilots to being more honest with themselves.

        • Charlie
          Charlie says:

          I had a similar problem, I had one of the smaller arteries collapse and the cardiologist inserted a small stent, I don’t have CAD. But FAA Medical wants a full reevaluation every year. This past year my one year medical expired in September, I completed the test in late July and sent them in in August. It’s now January 2014 and FAA is still sitting on it. I have been unable to fly for nearly four months. FAA is simply another big government agency slowing things down. I will most likely quite flying because of this. And the test they require are about $1200-$1800 each year.

  3. John
    John says:

    LSA versus repeal of 3rd class… what a tangled web we weave with ever increasing regulation… easy to see how special interests rule Washington isn’t it? Think about the tax code and how every little change affects pocket groups…”wait a minute, you can’t change that rule” …with so many rules how do we ever agree to change anything? Our government is WAY too BIG friends…..

    • Kathy
      Kathy says:

      Only eliminating the LSA pilots from a 3rd class medical is ridiculous. Private pilots and those with higher licenses but only exercise the privileges of a private pilot should be exempt from the third class medical, regardless of what aircraft they fly. What is the difference between two pilots who fly for fun, one in a light sport airplane and the other in a light twin? None!

    • Gary
      Gary says:

      I agree with John. I went for my medical & the doctor should have retired 100 years ago. My blood pressure was high (?) It was 160/120. They took it 3x’s. I was in a rage & drove to my regular doctor’s office and it was 132/80. I drove back & demanded to have them re-take it. Again 160/120….It probably didn’t work at all. I have since looked at LSA but yes they priced it out of the general publics reach. As for Big Govt, (don’t get me wrong with this) it is not ‘Of the People, By the People & For the People,’ Its of the Rich by the Rich & for the Rich. (I read that in the LA Times back in 1990). Yes, its getting too big.

  4. Tom Yarsley
    Tom Yarsley says:

    The accident record does support a conclusion that the 3rd class medical is a solution to a problem that – statistically – does not exist.

    • Jack Bennett
      Jack Bennett says:

      I may not have looked hard enough, but for more than 40 years, I have asked the FAA
      to show me any research that clearly demonstrates that there is any relationship between
      the date of a valid medical and the accident record. They have never even replied!
      Obviously reality has no meaning to them on the issue.
      I have registered my support for the EAA/AOPA petition with the FAA. Every pilot should.

  5. MikePrevost
    MikePrevost says:

    Could it be that there are so few accidents caused by medical issues BECAUSE of the medical screening.

    Think about how many pilots with cardio vascular disease and uncontrolled diabetes have been removed from the pool. Think about the number of pilots on medications that (could) impair piloting ability have been barred from flying (legally).

    Maybe we are receiving the benefits of medical certification but just can’t quantify them.

    • John
      John says:

      Under this logic sounds like we need to really ramp up medical certification for car and bicycle drivers

      • MikePrevost
        MikePrevost says:

        John, despite your ironic overtone, I respectfully suggest that would be a very *good* thing in some cases.

        For example, I think every driver over some age… 65? 70? should have an annual medical and road test. The accident rate vs miles driven attest to the degraded capabilities of older drivers. The rampant anecdotal stories of people needing to assertively take the car keys from their parents after the accidents and incidents begin to pile up (no pun intended) says much, does it?

        Pilots are not immune from the arrogance of convincing ourselves that we are still ‘okay to fly’ even when the medical evidence is quite the contrary.

        The issue isn’t as simple as fighting a ‘big government’ that wants to control us, as some assert.

        • Chris
          Chris says:

          The suggestion that there are so few medical related incidents because of the 3rd class medical is flawed for one big reason – LSA. If it’s the 3rd class medical that keeps unfit pilots grounded, or from medical problems causing accidents, you’d expect to see more incidents in sport certificate holders. As has been pointed out, though, we don’t.

          It’s not the 3rd class medical that keeps unhealthy pilots grounded, it’s the self-assessment that all pilots are required to do prior to flying, whether they hold a 3rd class medical or not. We don’t invest tens of thousands of dollars only to put ourselves in a hazardous situation. The only thing that the 3rd class medical accomplishes is to keep people out of GA.

        • Ralph DeCarli
          Ralph DeCarli says:

          At 55 I am in favor of maintaining the 3rd Class Medical. A significant hernia was detected during one of mine that I thought was a herniated disc in my back because that was where the pain eminated from. I had emergency surgery the following day. I am thankful my doctor performed a complete and thorough exam.

          I am not one to want to have more regulations imposed on an already teetering avocation but, it is not only in our interest but those we fly over.

          And judging by the aging driving population, the requirements for a driver’s license should be equally as compelling.

          When my dad was 84 and still driving he got into 5 accidents on one momth before I had to demand his keys and sell his car. Luckily it was only property that was damanged.

          Sometimes, common sense must prevail over self interests and egos. My two sense. From age comes wisdom…hopefully.

          • Cliff Ball
            Cliff Ball says:

            Dear Ralph,
            Age is not the determining factor. I had a friend who was still (legally) flying at 97. I will admit when he turned 95 he changed from a Pitts Special to a Cub. Your father obviously had other issues.
            At age 72 I had to have a stent inserted anad then denyed a Third Class. I see my Cardiologist at least every three months. He says he would fly with me anytime. Did you know they don’t have a Cardiologist on the Review Board at Ok City?

          • Eddie
            Eddie says:

            Go back and read your first paragraph “MY Doctor Discovered a heriniated Disc” Not the FAA.
            MY DOCTOR watches over me!!!

          • Janet Brasfield
            Janet Brasfield says:

            Your logic is a wee bit flawed; you should be getting an annual physical exam every year as it is and your hernia certainly would have been found
            ( maybe sooner) and fixed. The third class medical is not designed to replace regular and prudent medical care.

        • Eddie
          Eddie says:

          Can’t agree Check the records of age 17 to 24 and see just who should not drive. But it will never happen it’s easier to pick on us old farts.

    • Jack Burson
      Jack Burson says:

      I passed a class III medical with flying colors – blood pressure lowest reading in my adult life – 7 years ago in August. 6 months later I had quintuple bypass surgery. Nothing on the class III had any influence on catching the condition.

      Since we caught the CAD prior to a heart attack, my surgeon indicated I likely would have 20 – 25 years without any related problems. (At my age I’ll die from something else before that’s up.)

      Never the less, to maintain my special issuance class III, I have to spend approx $1AMU per year in unneeded tests…

    • Richard Warner
      Richard Warner says:

      I doubt it Mike. These same people, likely to die or become incapacitated suddenly are still allowed to drive and pass within a very few feet of meeting head on with another car or truck, or hopefully not a school bus loaded with children. I’ve been taking physicals since I was 17 years old, 60 years ago, and for 30 years they were first class ones. The last time I went, even though my eyesight is 20/20, my hearing is acceptable, my blood pressure is 120 over 65, I take no medications, and I am overweight, the doctor told me that if I didn’t lose weight he wouldn’t pass me on another physical. Guess what, my Cessna 180 has become a hangar queen and I fly an Aeronca Champ because I don’t want to take a chance on failing that third class physical. Anybody need a Cessna 180?

  6. Moses Lonn
    Moses Lonn says:

    Truth be told, the FAA is all about control. Of course the 3rd class medical makes no sense whatsoever. When pilots don’t feel good, or when they know their flying days are over, they don’t fly. The incidence of medically related accidents and incidents is trivial. But FAA wants the power to determine whether or not you can fly. It’s that simple. Despite the needless cost to FAA and the eternal discouragement that 3rd class medicals entail, they will be with us until there is no more FAA. And by then there will be no flying.

    • Mike F
      Mike F says:

      Yes, it is all about control… and may I add, empire building like all government bureaucrats.
      They want to justify big budgets and don’t mind in the least spending other peoples (ours!) money.

  7. Wayne
    Wayne says:

    I say keep it – how many of us baby boomers are looking at taking the car keys away from our parents, hate to add the need to take the aircraft keys. Granted there is a lot that can be improved for those with medical issues that have been resolved. But I agree that maybe the statistics prove that the medical is keeping accidents down.

  8. Lewis
    Lewis says:

    Don’t know how I feel about this. It may change with time. If you are an old-timer or have lost your medical, try looking up a young pilot to go flying with you. They may be looking to build time – especially with the new 121 ATP requirements coming up. It is also great for GA in general to build community ang get to know one and other.

  9. Steve Phoenix
    Steve Phoenix says:

    I’ve often thought it odd that one can drive a large motorhome down the freeway with just a driver’s license, but not fly a 2000 lb airplane. Of course, that observation can be carried further, noting that the motorhome doesn’t require an annual inspection either. So one comes to the conclusion that either aviation is way different than other forms of mechanized transport or, aviation is carrying around too much baggage from WWI.

    • Eddie
      Eddie says:

      Yup just think of all the motor homes on the road from Michigan and Florida. Flew down to the fun & sun a few years back. I think we saw three or four aircraft all the way down. untill we got in the pattern. at lakeland.

  10. David Megginson
    David Megginson says:

    We already have the Recreational Pilot Permit in Canada, which allows pretty-much what the article describes. I don’t know many people who have taken it up.

    For me, my biennial class 3 medical is a reminder to make sure my blood pressure is under control.

  11. Brent-S
    Brent-S says:

    I often wonder if the motor vehicle and the airplane had evolved differently in American society, how different the regulatory environment might be today.

    What if the personal airplane was as common as the automobile? Would medical standards be what they are today?

    On the other hand, what if we had something like an instrument rating, that was required for drivers to use the Interstate Highway System? Or say different speed limits, for different skill levels? None of these things would ever be written into law for drivers. Yet, the FAA can limit flying privledges as they see fit.

  12. Gene M
    Gene M says:

    As a Sport Pilot who could pass a 3rd class medical I find it a ridiculous requirement for PPL. I maintain my health to higher standards than even the FAA. But, as stated, I drive a big truck and pull a 10,000lb 5th Wheel with nothing more than my drivers license. I chose the Sport Pilot route along with an EA-B aircraft that was built to Light Sport standards and now have over 200hrs without an incident. If I do not feel good I do not fly. My annual physical is more than enough without submitting to a AME who may or may not like how I look that day. I say ditch the medical and save the government some money.

    • Eddie
      Eddie says:

      I have been told that even if I pass the medical the FCC will want more expense tests because of my age.
      I still say age is only a number!!

  13. Sam Staton
    Sam Staton says:

    I take serious issue with a statement in the article that ‘anyone with a heartbeat’ can pass the 3rd class medical. That is pure bunkum – even if it attributed to ‘some people’. Also, I would LOVE to have a 3 year medical. Since I am past the magic age (I think it is 40, but not sure), I ‘get’ to do it every two years. The medical requirement for private pilots is a dinosaur that should become extinct immediately.

  14. Barry
    Barry says:

    I get a physical every year from my regular doctor. It makes the FAA physical a joke. I say scrap the 3rd class medical.

  15. Fred Gerr
    Fred Gerr says:

    If you pass the flight test but take the common antidepressant, Cymbalta, you can’t get a Class 3 medical. On the other hand, you are allowed to be a completely unrestricted physician and practice medicine and surgery in all 50 states. You can drive a bus with 50 passengers or a commercial truck weighing tens of thousands of pounds. But not a 152. This is absurd and should be ended. Employment discrimination on the basis of medical category is illegal under most circumstances in the US (re. the Americans with Disabilities Act). The better approach for flying light aircraft is performance testing, not blanket restrictions based on arbitrary criteria.

  16. Lawrence Babb
    Lawrence Babb says:

    I am in support of the AOPA/EAA proposal for medical exemption, I was also a flight instructor but let it laps hold a commercial pilot license with instrument multi engine land ratings. I believe with the LSA data that there has been no incapacitation because of health issues support this petition. GA needs a good shot in the arm and this would do it. This will help stimulate the GA aircraft industry more aircraft, more mechanics needed, more people back to work building, selling aircraft. I also believe the AOPA/EAA has the right approach for self certifying pilots, we do that now. Teaching pilots about medical issues is the best way. There is no way that the FAA will know if a health problem can come up between AME visits. Also pilot skip out from going to the doctor because they don’t want a medical track record, when they probably need much needed medical help which would make them healthier to fly. I have no problem with the limitation of flying 180hp or less, fixed gear, day VFR, and with one passenger. This would be a great step for GA. Please put this through this would be a very good thing.

  17. Jake Williams
    Jake Williams says:

    Let’s face it. Regulations are the legalization that makes lawyers rich.
    If a person flies without a medical certificate, or for that matter, a pilot certificate; a ramp check (highly unlikely) or a tattle tale, or an actual accident/incident, who is to know ? Only having someone sue the dastardly flyer will it ever matter. In my state, it takes 4 DUI’s to become a class e felony. It only takes one (1) “fly without license or medical certificate” to achieve the same doubtful honor. Are we over regulated ? Absolutely. Does it make the world safer. No.

    Face it; this is really not about wheather a person is safe to fly or not, it about the loss of liberty that the citizens are suffering at the hands of the few that are totally convinced that they have all the answers.Zero accidents/incidents is not achievable, and never will be.

    In law enforcement the “follow/look for the money” is one of the first rules. The same is true of regulations. Why was the LSA weight limit set at 600kg/1320 lbs ? Did the legend manufacturers want all those 150/152’s & Pa-28s to be LSA ? Is 120 kts safer for a non-medical pilot than 125kts ? Is 1320lbs safer than 1550 lbs. ?

    This being said, do not look for a change in the regulations soon. I do not not know the stats but how many laws/regulations have ever been repealed/ rescinded ? Not many.

  18. ron sterba
    ron sterba says:

    Government trying to hold onto another office. Stats don’t show a problem in the LSA group because we are of Moral Character! Thats why we LIVE! Can’t wait til Donald Trump gets in OFFICE as President!

    • Eddie
      Eddie says:

      Now you know that if we eliminate jobs in the government , Just how are all them Politicions going to find jobs for the people who helped them get elected??

  19. Waldo
    Waldo says:

    What surprised me was the amount of nonsense I had to go through after a brush with cancer solved by removal of all cancerous cells. And it kept up for several years afterward, as if I was going to drop dead at the controls from the reoccurance of cancer!

    • Kathy
      Kathy says:

      AMEN, Ken. I believe that if anyone exercises the privileges of a Private Pilot, no third class should be required. Even though my license says ATP, I only fly for fun and only exercise the privileges of a private pilot. I like to fly light twins and fly IFR but only as a private pilot. I disagree with the VFR only, fixed gear only stuff because that adds too many restrictions for those who just fly for fun and not for a livelihood. Ken said it perfectly, in just a few words. I say enough already on medical certification for those who fly for fun, regardless of what aircraft they fly or if they fly IFR or VFR.

      Fly Safe!

      • Eddie
        Eddie says:

        Kathy all pilots should learn how to fly IFR evrn if they don’t get the endorsment.
        Practice on a simulator like FS4 or FSX. A real airplane flys much better than most simulators.

  20. Lauren Ward
    Lauren Ward says:

    As the FAA is under the gun to cut costs and the LSA experience shows that no medically related accidents have occurred from flying without a medical, let’s wipe out the entire third class medical bureaucracy and put the money saved into retaining Controllers who really do affect flight safety.

  21. Larry S
    Larry S says:

    There have been no medical incapacitations in the light sport pilot population. There are very few incapacitations in the higher classes of pilot licenses, as well. As all of us know, there HAVE been incapacitations of airline pilots who receive the closest scrutiny by both the FAA and their respective Companies. Often, this happens right after a medical exam. So what’s the point??

    As one commenter said, it’s all about “power” and control by the FAA. One of these days, there will be more FAA types than pilots … THEN what are they gonna do.

    I say, do away with the medical and see what happens. IF a problem arises, solve IT … not the non-existent problem they imagine.

    • Eddie
      Eddie says:

      Most of the Airline acidents are not medical but stupidity. Auto pilots flying the aircraft and pilots forgeting how to fly. just button pushers.

  22. Allan
    Allan says:

    In Australia we now have whit you guys want
    Drivers Medical for GA with some restrictions
    Mtow 1500 kg
    Single engine plane
    Only one pax
    Day VFR

  23. Don Mack
    Don Mack says:

    As a 63 year old retiree getting back into GA flying (1st solo was in 1973… then life happened… Oh well…) I’m all for elimination of the 3rd class medical. I have way too much going on with grandchildren, a wife of 42 years and such to risk it all flying when I’m not up to it… And the 3rd class medical is just one more expense with no statistical safety benefit. I do disagree with the scope of the AOPA/EAA “exemption”. In these financially stresses times I would hope the FAA would study the financial and safety data and simply “eliminate” the 3rd class medical for all private/recreational certificated aviation. Flying for hire should require additional medical requirements as the public should be able to expect an additional layer of oversight (even if again, statistically unwarranted…) And who knows if the medial requirements were also eliminated for Private/Recreational Pilots, that might force down the prices for the LSA aircraft as their only benefit would be economy… I whole heartedly agree with Ken: Eliminate medicals for all but ATP and Commercial.

    Fly Safe…

  24. Ron D
    Ron D says:

    I had bypass (quad) prior to obtaining my initial 3rd class medical. I passed a treadmill stress test, and the FAA required that it be repeated every two years. When my employer changed health insurance providers, I could no longer get a bi-annual physical except if I paid for it myself, and the additional stress test cost ended any hope of completing my Private ticket. My surgeon told me that he never expected to see me again, due to complete recovery. FAA doctor requested of FAA that stress test be ended for me, to no avail. The price of lessons, insurance, rentals, etc., is high, but the medical costs would outweigh them combined, for me. Now retired, and in excellent health, but can’t afford to fly due to an FAA demand that the doctors who have actually seen me say is unneeded, and unjustified. Yes, I commented in favor of the AOPA / EAA proposal!

  25. Tom I
    Tom I says:

    I’m not flying light sport by choice. I was one of those who had to renew my special issuance medical every year after bypass surgery in order to fly my Cessna. I did so for over ten years at exorbitant cost for tests which I can no longer afford. The cause of the change-over to LSA however, was not the cost or that my conditioned changed but rather that the FAA on two accounts grounded me for six months each because my cardiologist’s staff sent them copies of my EKG instead of the originals. Then the last straw was when I was grounded for five months because my Dr. slipped up and mentioned in my report that I had some arthritis. Who doesn’t at age 65? Yes, after a couple expensive range-of-motion tests, I was back in the air. The point is once you are in the system you are condemned to ridiculous policies that can ground you without provocation. I have been flying for over 40 years without a single incident and I am in better health than most pilots younger than me but after awhile you just give up fighting the FEDS. They have a way of beating you down to your knees. At least with flying a light sport I am no longer hassled, but if the 3rd class medical does goes the way of the wind (and I am all for it) I will go back to flying a Cessna again, a much, much safer airplane.

    • Mike F
      Mike F says:

      Ah yes, the oft-touted Special Issurance (SI) …. that often amounts to unnecessary, and EXPENSIVE, hoop-jumping.
      I agree with what you said and how you said it.
      I had a stent put in my leg, since then I’m on an SI …. which means every year I have to have, and pay for, a battery of expensive tests and letters from my doctors. Each of the doctors have said what is required by the FAA is overdone… in their letters they have stated I’m no more likely to have an incapacitating event than any other member of the general public… but still EVERY YEAR I have to go through these expensive tests.

      And then to add insult to injury… I send everything in just as they require, and 6 weeks ahead of when my SI expires but still end up grounded for 4-8 weeks because they take 2-3 months to re-certify my SI.

      • Thomas Ivines
        Thomas Ivines says:

        Yes, I should have added having to wait with an expired special issuance many times because the FAA Medical team could not renew it in time, even when everything was sent in early, somtimes by as much as two months late. And, do you think they care? Right. Someone once said it correctly when they said the FAA’s motto must be, “We are not satisfied are until you are totally unsatisfied.”

  26. Frank L. Zrinsky
    Frank L. Zrinsky says:

    I am in favor of the AOPA/EAA proposal. One less expense to contend with. It’s getting harder and harder to stay in the hobby. When I don’t feel well, I don’t fly.

  27. b fisher
    b fisher says:

    yes, eliminate the 3rd class, serves little purpose but to add expense to the process…..besides i usually have a “real” comprehensive med annually done by another physican(s) each 2 years anyway….

  28. Gordon Hughes
    Gordon Hughes says:

    Absolutely eliminate medicals for recreational non-commercial pilots.
    I made a mistake of sending a FAA medical replacement form after my wallet and 2012 Class 3 medical were lost. That resulted in a letter canceling 2010 AND 2010 medicals unless I sent them a EKG and extensive blood work on my thyroid and blood pressure.
    All because I was using medications for both that are on the AOPA approved list.
    I didn’t know that adding a new medication to a medical exam form can trigger these tests.
    (I got my medical but now its a “special issuance” that requires the same extensive testing for my next renewal.)

    I just may quit flying instead…

    I should have just called my AME. Never talk to the FAA unless absolutely forced.

  29. Dan
    Dan says:

    How about restricting qualified pilots who want to fly on a “drivers license medical” above the 1320lbs.LSA weight limit, to (SOLO.Day,VFR only)? This should eliminate a lot of safety concerns..
    By so doing many older qualified pilots who just want to fly their 172’s, etc. or Antique aircraft for “fun and personal satisfaction” could continue to do so..

  30. lou
    lou says:

    I failed the last two flight physicals for potential conditions which, it turned out, I do not have. I don’t fault the flight surgeons but it has ended my flying because in both cases it took over a year to get my certificate back. Never mind the thousands of dollars it cost to disprove the suspected ailments. For both suspected ailments there is medication which is approved by the FAA for continued flying. The point is that since I never fly with a non-pilot, what is the danger to the public? Let’s make pilots aware of the dangers, require online knowledge testing of the effects of various common medical factors but stop the testing for private pilots.

  31. Moses Lonn
    Moses Lonn says:

    With all these rational comments about the issue, I assure you that the FAA is paying about as much attention to them as they will pay to the thousands of impassioned pleas to stop 3rd class medical insanity that were posted during the official comment period. It’s all about power and control. As Edith Ann (Lily Tomlin) would say, ‘They don’t care. They don’t have to.’ Sorry to be so cynical – I’m a realist. Washington wants to stay firmly in control of you.

  32. jim machuga
    jim machuga says:

    The 3rd class medical should go the way of the dinasor and be eliminated. It serves no practical purpose except proving you can sign your name to a check.

  33. Jon Allen
    Jon Allen says:

    From my having lost and then regained a medical, I would certainly like to see the 3rd class medical removed. I begin flying in my early 20’s. In my late 30’s I discovered I had minor hypertension. I was placed on medication which addressed the problem completely. The next medical I took I passed with no problem (listing the medication I was on). About three months after passing the medical I received a letter from the FAA revoking my medical due to the medication I was taking. After several letters back and forth I got a list of approved medications from the FAA. When I presented the list to my doctor he was astounded. He said the medication were from the “dark ages”. None the less, I switched to an approved medication and passed a new medical. However, the approved medication caused such fatigue I was almost unable to put in a 8 hour work day. I put up with this for a half a year and gave up on it. I went back to my previous medication, had no problems with fatigue nor hypertension, and quite flying as I knew I would not pass the next medical due to the medication situation. 20 years later and still healthy, I learned about LSA, and since I had a current medical with the last go around, I decided to get back into flying. Got my bi-annual in a 172 (since there were no LSA’s around), bought a kit and started building. I now have a LSA I can fly, but I sure would like to be able to take my grandkids for a ride other than one at a time. I see no value in the 3rd class. To tell the truth, if one reads accident reports, how many times to you see the PIC did not have a current medical. There are always going to be a small (and I believe very small) group that will fly when they should not. Either they have a current medical, but have a condition they know should keep them out of the cockpit, but they fly regardless. Then there are those few who have lost the medical and also fly regardless. Just like drivers on the highway who drive without a license, unfortunatly there will be some that will fly also. We can’t change that. The monies spent by the government to administer 3rd class medicals would be better spent educating pilots on how to self certify for medical purposes.

  34. Alberto Silva
    Alberto Silva says:

    LSA’s have “grown” to be something other than what was envisioned. Not only are they too expensive but, I would propose that a large percentage of them are harder to fly than a heavier airplane. LSA’s light wing loading make them succeptible to what may seem like turbulence when there is none. In addition, any taildragger is more difficult to land than my C-172 or any tricycle airplane. If LSA was truly supposed to be an easier plane to fly, there would be a requirement banning taildraggers. The time has come to eliminate the third class medical and let LSA’s compete with other airplanes on their own merits.

  35. Lauren Ward
    Lauren Ward says:

    LSA’s leave some things to be desired but they have several advantages that are significant. First, they’re far more efficient fuel-wise than conventional aircraft. My Jabiru burns 5 gph and cruises at 120 kts TAS, essentially the same speed as a new 172. And second, the entire avionics package, because it doesn’t have to be FAA certified, was $17,000 and it’s a great system, far superior to the one in the P-210 I used to fly. Would I rather fly at 20,000′ and 165 kts TAS? Of course but along with getting rid of the third class medical, we should free up instrument makers so all of us can fly with up to date avionics.

  36. Dave Huprich
    Dave Huprich says:

    My “vote”: Do away with the Class III entirely, or at the very least adopt the Recreational Pilot regs.

    More than anything, flying comes down to judgment, the most basic of which is the question before every flight: Do I feel well enough today to fly?

    Some will say it should continue to be both a Class III and the before flight health question. But having the Class III in your pocket may have a tendency to minimize adverse health signs on a given day.

    By making your health-of-day as the sole criteria, including subjective and objective self-testing, we would be placing the health issue squarely where it should be: on the pilot. That kind of spotlight should at least reduce, if not eliminate, the tendency of self-dilusioning reliance on a piece of paper in your pocket.

  37. Cliff Ball
    Cliff Ball says:

    Pilots already have to certify their health prior to ever flight. I can take a 4,000 lb vehicle, 500 hp out on the highway with all kinds of things to hit but I can’t fly my 2200 lb 150 hp Cheetah because I had a stent inplant. Stents are getting about as common as a cold. Do you know there is not one Cardiologist on the certification commitee at OK City?

  38. Larry Eckstein
    Larry Eckstein says:

    It’s a mis statement of fact to say that all that’s required for a 3rd. class medical is a heartbeat. The FAA is actually quite particular about certain medicines and about past potential medical events even if they have been proven to not have existed. I know. I currently have a 3rd. class with a 6 yr. authorization for special issuance that I have to get re approved each year! I’ve never had a heart attack. I ride a bike, walk, lift weights and exercise at the gym regularly. But each year I have to submit a bunch of medical tests and reports to the FAA to keep my medical so I can bore holes in the sky with my C150! Ridiculous and a BIG waste of money.

  39. Stephen Goode
    Stephen Goode says:

    Let’s face it, Training is the most critical part of flying, I see no reason (when eliminating the 3rd class med.) that restrictions of 180hp and only one passenger should apply. If you are qualified to fly complex aircraft with log book endorsements,then that’s what should count. Like one gentelman said, you don’t spend thousands of dollars on an airplane just to do something stupid like flying when you don’t feel well. I say lets do away with the FAA and alow some organization like the EAA regulate the industry.
    Back in 80’s Ronald Regan deregulated the trucking industry, and that why you see more trucks on the road today because it’s more profitable. Lets DeRegulate the FAA and send them packing. They have out lived thier usefullness.

    • John Zimmerman
      John Zimmerman says:

      Let’s not forget why EAA/AOPA are asking for the 180hp, daytime, 1 passenger limit–it’s because these are the Recreational Pilot limitations and these groups think this is the only chance for success. I know we’d all like to see the 3rd class medical go away for all types of personal flying, but asking for that is a surefire way to get denied by the FAA. This is a first step, and a smart one in my opinion.

  40. Stephen Goode
    Stephen Goode says:

    I ageree somewhat with your premmis John, but lets not forget that if the 3rd class med. is eleminated then no one will be able to fly IFR or Multi-engine with a privete license. In order to do so would require a commercial license and a second class med, even if you could pass a 3rd class med. because now it’s been eleminated.

  41. Glenn
    Glenn says:

    To say hardly any accidents are caused due to medical problems,in my opinion is true. I have a special issuance medical certificate. To retain my privledge to fly,I must see my AME four months concurrently before he will make his decision to let me fly for another year.I believe that because of this,many responsible pilots are still flying today knowing they are in the best possible health. I owe that much to myself,my passengers and all who would be effected by me not being medicaly sound. I believe there is a place for the 3rd class medical. It is a chore for me to keep,but it is well worth my effort to keep it.

  42. KBaxter
    KBaxter says:

    Ya know…this is all well and good, that most of us here agree to do away with the 3rd class. But, what good does it do if the FAA wants nothing to do with serving “We the People”? After all, isn’t it our tax dollars paying their salary? Saddens me to know end that we are really not even paid attention to.

    • Stephen Goode
      Stephen Goode says:

      To K Baxter. — I agree, because what you are talking about is Taxation without reprensentation. If the auto industry was as over regulated as much as the aircraft industry, the whole country would be in an uproar. I can see where the FAA should have a presents in A, B, &C airspace and at ratings above private pilot, but I just wish they would leave the rest of us alone.

      • KBaxter
        KBaxter says:

        Stephen Goode.
        BINGO…you read exactly as I meant!!!! And you made even better arguments!!! Leave us alone!!!

  43. Doyle
    Doyle says:

    I don’t think the problem lies with OK City. It lies with the professional beaurocrats in Washington, D.C. I can see the LSA market, as well as the light standard aircraft market, not caring for this, as there are too many variables for them to care to deal with. Especially when it comes to money, (as mentioned previously, by others.)
    A lot of people are getting plenty of money with the current Class III medical procedures. For my S.I., I have to get specific information from my primary care doc, which is then sent to the FAA, and eventually, providing my PMD doesn’t screw up, (as has happened several times,)I may get a one year issuance, after I take the approval letter to the nearest AME. In other words, I have to go through three doctors, primary care, AME, and finally, FAA. About six months a year is spent chasing that certificate. Then, that doesn’t include the actual cash outlay for the different doctor visits to meet the standards. Is it any wonder there is a market for change, but at what TRUE cost?

  44. Bob M
    Bob M says:

    I also think the EAA/AOPA proposal has too many restrictions. If I want to fly a Piper Arrow instead of my usual Archer, what difference does that make? I want the flexibility to get my Instrument rating, fly at night, and fly complex and high performance aircraft.

  45. martin siegwart
    martin siegwart says:

    Since the implementation of the sport pilot rules, we have all known the weight restriction was chosen to eliminate inexpensive aircraft such as the Cessna 150 and 172. This whole idea of marketing LSA planes to elderly pilots that have maintained proficiency in their Skyhawk and force them into a glass panel Jabiru or an antiquated tail dragger is utterly rediculous. Case in point, we bought a beutiful 1965 Skyhawk with a modern panel, STEC auto pilot , new paint and interior, etc. from a 81 yr. old gentleman that flew the plane back and forth to Florida every year for 15 yrs. Due to open heart surgery he very reluctantly sold us the Skyhawk and purchased a higher performance glass panel Jabiru airplane that he never mastered and ended up taking a big loss on. He no longer flys at all. Let pilots that are proficient in a certain airplane continue to fly it (no matter what it is) and implement restrictions on those that do not want to jump through the Medical Certificate hoops. #1 rule is that if you do not have a medical then you should be required to inform any potential passengers and let them decide if they want to ride. #2 rule is common sense, no IFR, no nights, no passengers that are uninformed of the risk of flying with those whose skills are assumed to be waning. Lets keep our aging pilot population in the plane they are good at flying for as long as we can, medical or not. I was riding with my 90+ year old uncle in a car a while back and he pulled in front of a large truck at the last minute and almost got us T-boned. He is still allowed to drive, I just choose not to ride any longer. Let people have the freedoms we were promised!

  46. Joe Schlunk
    Joe Schlunk says:

    I no longer qualify for a 3rd class as I have a partial blockge in what the doctors refer to as a “minor” artery. The cardiologist told me that even if the artery was completely blocked, I wouldn’t even know it. I was told to exercise vigorously and do. I can complete a 9 minute treadmill stress test. The cardiologists tell me that I am in no danger of a suden incapacatating cardiac event. Inquiring of the cardiologists as to why the FAA would deny my 3rd class, the response is that FAA is far behind current treatment protocols. So, unless the FAA can keep up with current medical treatment protocols, the 3rd class should be eliminated.

  47. Lester Sutherland
    Lester Sutherland says:

    It is really even worse, as once you apply for a 3rd class and are denied you cannot be a sport pilot. You must not apply for a third to be a sport pilot, once denied you loose the ability to be a sport pilot.

    14 CFR 61.53 seems to indicate this, though you have to be a Philadelphia Lawyer to understand it…

  48. Joe Brown
    Joe Brown says:

    Ever since I had open heart surgery 10 years ago I have to undergo an expensive set of stress tests, a Holter monitor and every other year a nuclear stress test. My cartoonist says most of that is unnecessary and not a predictor of a future problem. Fortunately Medicare and Tricare pays for all this. But it is a unnecessary expense that does not add to safety. Classes on when to ground yourself would be far cheaper and more useful.

    The catch 22 about being denied a sport pilot exemption needs to be resolved. Two pilots with identical history yet totally different results. This makes sense only to a bureaucracy that lacks common sense.

    One solution would to be do away with the third class and use the money to keep more control towers open. I expect that would do more for safety than the third class medical.

  49. Lester Sutherland
    Lester Sutherland says:

    For this Great Debate on 3rd class medicals your spell checker may have been right ;)

  50. James D.
    James D. says:

    Moves like this are often made to establish precedent for later ones planned (as in, why do you think the NRA is as steadfast as it is?). If it succeeds, how long will it be before the 2nd class certificate comes under such fire?

    • Ron D
      Ron D says:

      To my way of thinking, there’s a sharp line of demarcation between Private and Commercial tickets. In general, expenses incurred because of a vocational requirement can be deducted against income taxes. Obtaining a 2nd class medical is part of the cost of doing business, in other words, and can be treated as such. Private pilots have no such balancing factor, and must bear the entire brunt of costs. Further, if a commercial pilot were permitted to self-certify, there would be considerable incentive to fly in order to obtain a paycheck; Private pilots don’t have that “thumb on the scale” encouraging them to fly when they shouldn’t, or certainly not to anything like the same degree.

  51. Tari Bell
    Tari Bell says:

    3rd Class Medical News

    Record of Meeting
    Docket No. FAA-2012-0350
    Subject: Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) /Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Petition for Exemption regarding Medical Certificates
    On April 1, 2013, several representatives of AOPA met with Federal Aviation Administration Aviation Safety (AVS) representatives to discuss a Request for Exemption filed by AOPA and EAA.
    The organizations requested exemption from various Federal Aviation
    Regulations related to FAA-issued medical certificates. The AOPA
    representatives stated their members are very interested in this request
    and they expressed concern with the slow pace of FAA’s efforts to
    address the request. They asked whether budget limitations or
    sequestration would impact the pace at which FAA would complete its work
    on the request. Finally, they reiterated the safety case they put forth in the Request
    for Exemption. Briefing slides are attached to this summary.
    AVS representatives stated that the request was published for comment
    and over 16,000 comments were received. The comments are being reviewed
    and final decisions are being considered. Because the Administrator has
    a meeting scheduled next week with senior representatives from AOPA and
    EAA where this exemption will be raised, we will wait until after that
    meeting to make final decisions. A summary of that meeting will be
    included in the docket as well.

  52. John
    John says:

    Lets look at this quantitatively and from the relative risks compared to other risks. There are about 600 fatalities a year in all of GA. Of those, a tiny fraction is due to medical impairment. Say it is 5%, which is probably a high figure. That would mean 30 fatalities a year from medical impairment. What is rediculous is having an intrusive federal bureaucracy policing such a tiny risk. By comparison, as many people die from falling out of bed, or being struck by lightning. Some 35,000 deaths occur every year on the nation’s highways, with many more seriously injured. You can look up statistics for causes of death and confirm these approximate numbers.

    Now consider isomeone with a condition that could result in sudden death. There are 8760 hours in a year. Typically an elderly person flies 100 hrs or less a year. Assuming this, the probability of the sudden death occuring in flight is 100/8760 or .011. In reality it would be even less than that, because sudden death is usually preceded by some symptoms that would likely cause the pilot to not fly. And of course only a small fraction have significant sudden death potential in the first place. The FAA often focuses on long term issues like blood pressure, which have very low potential for sudden death. One can live a whole lifetime with high bloodpressure. Yet the FAA grounds them for having HBP. It really is an absurdly distorted view of relative risk. But they have to justify their existence, so they constantly generate more and more restrictions. The result is a real loss of freedom.

    There is no rational justification for such over zealous oversight by the federal government. It fails any cost-benefit analysis and is way out of proportion to the risks. But yes, bureaucracies tend to promote their power, money and control.

    • Stephen Goode
      Stephen Goode says:

      John, I’m going to assume your math is fairly correct, but I was going to revert to your second paragraph concerning sudden death. I’m 72 yrs. old, have had 3 heart attacks (mild ones) with 3 stents in my heart. Having survived 3 heart attacks sort of makes me somewhat of an expert on the subject.
      Just for everyone’s information, sudden heart failure can happen at any age from around 14 to 90. That’s not a heart attack. A heart attack comes from blockage in the arteries to the heart. Symptoms of a heart attack come long before damage is done, but many people simply ignore the symptoms thinking it’s something else. Sudden heart failure is due to an electrical problem in the heart to which there is hardly any warning. This has happened to many athletes and it could happen to anyone with a current medical. First rule is don’t ignore the symptoms and you will be around to fly another day.
      As long as everyone gets educated on what to expect and how to deal with it, the third class medical should be eliminated.
      P.S — You just might be around to see your grand kids grow up!!

  53. Gordon Hughes
    Gordon Hughes says:

    If the 3rd class medical must stay, it should be made far less restrictive than for pilots flying passengers commercially. I recently requested a duplicate copy of my (lost) 2012 3rd class medical from OKC and they responded by threatening to void my past 2010 medical !!

    I had to get an EKG, several blood tests, and several letters from doctors to OKC to get my medical revalidated.

    How utterly stupid to demand transport pilot medical test standards that even heavy truck drivers need not comply with, who drive vehicles far more dangerous to the public.

    Non-commercial pilot medicals are unnecessary and should be eliminated

  54. Lawrence A Babb
    Lawrence A Babb says:

    Will I finally gave up waiting on the exemption. I went in for my 3rd class medical. I called AOPA and made sure my oral medication was acceptable and the combination of med’s were OK. Doctor report, all the lab test that I could dig up. The AME said everything looked OK. Lets see how long it takes to get my letter that it’s OK to get my 3rd class medical. I will keep you posted. They change allot for hart patience but not for diabetics why. I have almost a year & a half of A1c at 7 just above the norm the max is 9. All my test show that the only thing wrong with me is a elevated A1c. I ride my bike everyday for 6 miles. I have no hart disease and normal blood pressure, also sent them a EKG. There should be no reason to turn me down. All this to punch holes in the sky with my C172. The AME should be able to look at the lab results do this and give the 3rd class on the spot. I can drive my 4000lbs RV down the road but I cant fly my 1400lbs aircraft makes no since. If they still wunt you to get a flight phisical then make a sport flight phisical that is very lenient with the restriction that are for the exemption.

  55. C burnett
    C burnett says:

    Great comments by everyone.As a cardiologist who has often been a consultant for pilots with medical problems & pilot myself(ASMELI)of many decades,I have concluded that the 3rd class exemption is appropriate.After having read AOPA/Craig Fuller’s recent comments on the FAA’s reluctance to even consider it,I think that the most likely way to get support for this measure is through direct communication with our US senators and congressmen to pressure the FAA to give this issue its fair consideration.A limited study could quickly support or refute the validity of self-certification.
    There is really no medical data that justifies a 3rd class exam vs regular education and self certification for the proposed privelidges.The monumental conservatism of the FAA and its aeromedical branch’s apparent power struggle have quashed all enthusiasm for this potentially “life saving” measure for GA.Perhaps they are fearful of getting blamed.
    Failure of the exemption to pass will add another barrier(along with fuel prices,maint. costs,etc) to use of the widely available (and cheaper) fleet of “legacy”aircraft for private flying for many of us who are unwilling or unable to use LSA’s.
    I suggest that we all urge Congress to get involved. Charles Burnett MD

  56. Lawrence Babb
    Lawrence Babb says:

    Update: The AME called and faxed all my medical records to Oak. City. Oak. City said it would take about three day’s to review and get back to the AME about getting the 3rd class exemption. All give updates to show progress to other pilots that are going threw the same thing.

    • Lester Sutherland
      Lester Sutherland says:

      Good Luck, keep us posted. My AME did the same thing, but it is now three weeks later and FAA in Oak City keeps saying they are waiting for the information to be “processed”. I decided to get AOPA on the case ….

  57. Lawrence Babb
    Lawrence Babb says:

    Hi Lester Hopfully you will get it soon. With all the changes with in the airmedical branch of the FAA where the AME can issue the 3rd class medical exemption on the spot to hart & cancer pilots it will free up the other. The AOPA people told me the air medical branch is in kind of crazy mode right now with all the changes.

  58. Lawrence Babb
    Lawrence Babb says:

    Good news for me just recieved a call from my AME FAA air medical approved me for a year. Lester did your AME fax all the test results to Oak. City?

  59. mmmhennis
    mmmhennis says:

    Don’t worry as much about the 80 yr old guy driving a 4000 lb car.
    Worry about the 80 yr old guy (or any age person for that matter) driving the 30,000 lb motor home who in most states does not need a medical or any special training. Hmmm, 30,000lbs going down the road at 75 mph or a Cessna 172 going 130 mph. ?? I say ditch then third class med.

  60. Lawrence Babb
    Lawrence Babb says:

    Will the AME called me back and have to wait for the FAA to send me my medical. I made a mistake on 8500-8 form where I check 3rd class medical student pilot license instead of airmen’s medical. They seen I had a commercial license so thy assumed I wanted a 2nd class medical. when I checked the 3rd medical box. My AME called and got this straitened out this has been about two weeks now. I sent AOPA a request to check on the status. So hopefully I will receive it soon. It seems to me once the FAA gives the AME the ok they should be able to issue it on the spot.

  61. Eddie
    Eddie says:

    Two groups don’t like the proposal to eliminate the third class one is the who, it will hurt their pocketbook. The second is the so called Lightsport Industry who thinks it will hurt their pocketbook also. what is a lightsport any way, it’s just another AIRCRAFT!! that happens to meet certian rules. It just happens that the Aircraft that meet those rules only burn only about 4.5 gallons per hour, and there are a lot of Aircraft out there that are not those NEW over priced $100,000 Airplanes.!!! As for myself, I hear to many sad stories about the FAA hasseling us old duffers because of our AGE. and want more tests that we can’t afford. I say AGE is only a number and many of us old Duffers are healther than many who are a lot younger. That’s why I am working on the Lightsport License.
    I say the Third class is not needed and is discourging a lot of potential Pilots, who maybe would go for the regular pilot license if the 3rd class would go away.

  62. Eddie
    Eddie says:

    For the future of Aviation we should never give up. We have to keep after the Bureaucrates, until they listen to reason.
    To those Bureaucrates it’s job security anyway.

  63. Lawrence A Babb
    Lawrence A Babb says:

    Will guys I got the letter from air medical with my one year 3rd class medical in it. It took exactly three weeks, If I hadn’t made the on mistake on the 8500-8 form it would of only taken two weeks. Next time it will just be a visit to my AME with some test results and a letter from my doctor. Should be know problem.
    PS I didn’t know they closed the petition sorry. We need to start another one through the AOPA / EAA to get more signatures. Like Eddie said above we should never give up. We have to keep after the Bureaucrats. I think because of the EOPA petition the air medical wouldn’t have lightened up on allot of this stuff.

  64. Eddie
    Eddie says:

    Due to the petition the FCC will probably lighten up for a while, then back to the same old BS and hassles again. the petition needs to be resubmitted after changing a few things, like the weight and power to include like the Cessna 152? and not ask for to much for now. even though I believe the third class should go away compleatly.

  65. Caleb
    Caleb says:

    I’m flying a Cessna 162 that I really hate for $120/hr when for $1 more I could be flying a real airplane. I have absolutely nothing wrong with me but was prescribed an anti during a terrible divorce and now I don’t even know if it would be worth it to try to get a medical. I will just keep flying the expensive gnat I guess.

  66. Randy
    Randy says:

    Maybe if the same type of criteria were applied to the decision makers at the FAA: “What? Your wife wanted to separate and you went to a marriage counselor to try to help? Hmm, take six months off without pay while we sort this out”

  67. Lynque
    Lynque says:

    This whole issue of lesser medical requirement based on lesser ratings, equipment, or fewer souls aboard is no more than an attempt to put piloting aircraft closer to the level of driving cars by those ignorant of, too lazy about, or unappreciative of the difference between the two.

    For that, it’s not worth discussion, and for those who might be offended, keep in mind that without black and white, there are no shades of grey.

    • Lester
      Lester says:


      It is almost as if you missed all the previous comments. The debate is really about what medical conditions really impact the ability to fly. Gray and Grey are the same thing, a color. Perhaps you should go beck to your popular novel…

  68. Cliff Ball
    Cliff Ball says:

    I have been driving for 65 yrs, 1 accident. I have been flying for 47 yrs, 0 accidents. 5 yrs ago, I had a stent implanted. 0 accidents. After fighting with OK City for 2.5 yrs, I sold my airplane. I became a much safer pilot after the stent was inserted. OK City, at my last check, has NO cardiologist on their review board. MY cardiologist says he would fly with me anytime.
    With 4,000+ flt hrs, I can’t fly a single, 180hp, VFR safely? Did I mention 45 yrs with the ATC System?

  69. Andrew
    Andrew says:

    The FAA should ditch the Class III medical. When I was younger, I was a much more avid flight enthusiast. When I was 17, I had my first introductory flight lesson and loved it. I didn’t want to have flying as a career, more of a recreational thing. My instructor didn’t tell me that for LSA the class III wasn’t necessary (otherwise I would have skipped the medical altogether).

    I was failed the Class III medical for a the occasional migraine. My migraines occur 10 times a year, last only for a couple of hours and are easily treated with some over the counter pain medication. Never has it been severe enough to stop me from doing my work. I haven’t had a history of seizures, narcolepsy, or anything that could incapacitate me.

  70. Robert
    Robert says:

    I had received a Special Issuance for medication controlled diabetes and two weeks later I received a letter from the FAA saying that my medical would be revoked because I indicated on the application that I was taking blood pressure medication. I don’t have high blood pressure, never have. I was prescribed a medication that is commonly used to treat high blood pressure but that is not why my doctor prescribed it. I was taking it to prevent kidney damage. It took a letter from my doctor and two months to sort it out.

    • Ed
      Ed says:

      Yup it looks like they want us to just go away or mybe just a few down there in Oklahoma.

      If you get it back just fly a Light sport. It has perks no Medical, a lot less expencive most burn around 4 1/2 gallons per hour and the anual should cost less. Find a good Taylorcraft, Aeronca ect. or maybe a cub but Cubs are over priced. all the current Aircraft being made now that meet the Lite sport rules ar way over priced.
      That is why we need the 3rd class medical to go away or raise the weight limit for the Lite sport class raised, to include more of the older Aircraft.
      BUT remember one thing, you have to have passed the LAST medical. so if you get the problem straightened out, don’t take it again. Of course you have to be sure yourself you are OK to fly.

      • Robert
        Robert says:

        Oh, I got the problem straightened out 4 years ago, since then I have decided to let it lapse as I don’t want to be revoked and never fly again. I agree that the whole “Light Sport” concept i.e. “Cheap Flying” is a joke. You could pick up a good used piston twin for the cost of a new LSA. However that only works for those that are young, aren’t taking any medications, and have no medical issues. I would love to see the Class III medical go bye bye, but I regret that with Congress making policy regarding aviation matters instead of the FAA (who are actually supposed to know something about airplanes) I am resigned that it will not happen in my lifetime. I think I’ll get a bunch of ballons and a BB pistol. Seems like flying my lawn chair is the only affordable option.

        • Sam Morse
          Sam Morse says:

          Robert (Or is that Lawn Chair Larry) Stranger things have happened. I wouldn’t hold your breath for the elimination of the 3rd class but at the same time stranger things have happened. I have not had a medical for over 25 years & my aircraft still flies fine without one. Imagine that!

  71. Bruce
    Bruce says:

    Have a special issuance since 2010 for antidepressants. Need to be seen every 6 months. About to go on a Medicare. What happens then? Are exams still covered? About ready to hang it up.

  72. Lawrence Babb
    Lawrence Babb says:

    Will I have six more months on my 3rd class medical then it’s back to the doctor for more rounds of test that are very expensive. Ditch the 3rd class medical it is not needed.

  73. Lawrence Babb
    Lawrence Babb says:

    It looks to me like the AOPA has also put this on the back burner. We need help to keep pushing this issue in front of the FAA face. Nothing is going to get done if the AOPA does not push. They need to get those politicians that are on our side to start speaking up.

  74. Sam Morse
    Sam Morse says:

    Ditching the 3rd class will definitely help GA come back. Seems that I agree with everyone else. Eliminate the 3rd class medical.

  75. Brucew56
    Brucew56 says:

    Sorry folks, not happening. Talked to my AME today. People in line to run aeromedical division at FAA say not over their dead body.

  76. Lawrence Babb
    Lawrence Babb says:

    New bill would expand driver’s license medical
    After nearly two years of FAA inaction on the AOPA/EAA third-class medical petition, Congress has taken matters into its own hands, offering up legislation that would vastly expand the number of pilots who could fly without going through the expensive and time-consuming third-class medical certification process. Reps. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.), a member of the House General Aviation Caucus, and GA Caucus Co-Chair Sam Graves (R-Mo.) on Dec. 11 introduced the General Aviation Pilot Protection Act. The legislation would dramatically expand the parameters for flying under the driver’s license medical standard. Rokita and Graves are both AOPA members and active pilots.

    “We have waited far too long for the FAA to expand the third-class medical exemption to more pilots and more aircraft,” said AOPA President Mark Baker. “Congressmen Rokita and Graves stepped forward to take decisive action in the best interests of general aviation when the FAA refused to act. We appreciate their outstanding leadership on this issue and look forward to seeing this bill move forward.”

    The General Aviation Pilot Protection Act would allow pilots to use the driver’s license medical standard for noncommercial VFR flights in aircraft weighing up to 6,000 pounds with no more than six seats. That includes virtually all single-engine airplanes with six or fewer seats, including Beech Bonanzas, as well as many light twins like the Piper Aztec, Beech Baron 55 and 58, and Cessna 310. By way of comparison, most large SUVs on the roads today weigh more than 6,000 pounds and can carry six to seven passengers, making them larger than the aircraft that would be operated with proof of a valid driver’s license under this new bill.

    Pilots would be allowed to carry up to five passengers, fly at altitudes below 14,000 feet msl, and fly no faster than 250 knots. The act also would require the FAA to report on the safety consequences of the new rule after five years.

    “As a pilot, I am pleased to introduce this important legislation with my colleagues and fellow pilots,” said Rokita. “This bill eliminates a duplicative and therefore unnecessary medical certification regulation that drives up costs for pilots and prevents the general aviation industry from fulfilling its economic potential.”

    “For many recreational pilots, the FAA’s third class medical certification process is nothing more than a bureaucratic hoop to jump through,” said Graves. “It discourages new pilots and does not truly improve safety. As a pilot, I have gone through this process several times. However, like all pilots, I am responsible for determining whether I am medically fit to fly during the time between my mandated medical certifications. Expanding the current exemption makes sense and will promote greater recreational aviation activity across the U.S. without an impact on safety.”

    In addition to Rokita and Graves, the bill was co-sponsored by Reps. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), Bill Flores (R-Texas), Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.), and Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.). All four co-sponsors are members of the GA Caucus.

    The legislative action comes after the FAA has repeatedly declined to rule on a March 2012 petition filed by AOPA and EAA. That petition asked the FAA to expand the driver’s license medical standard already used by sport pilots for nearly a decade. Under the petition, pilots would be able to operate noncommercial VFR flights in single-engine aircraft with 180 horsepower or less, four or fewer seats, fixed gear, and a maximum of one passenger. To participate, pilots would need a valid driver’s license and would be required to take recurrent safety training to help them accurately assess their fitness to fly.

    More than 16,000 overwhelmingly favorable comments were filed during the public comment period on the petition. But despite strong support from the aviation community and solid evidence that the exemption would maintain or improve safety, the FAA failed to act, so AOPA turned to supporters in Congress for help.

    Building support for the General Aviation Pilot Protection Act will be critical to its passage, and AOPA will be calling on members to show their support in January after Congress returns from recess. Look for details about how you can help in upcoming issues of AOPA ePilot and on

    • Bob
      Bob says:

      Happy that pro GA legislators have stepped in. Seems like eliminating the 3rd Class would give a needed boost to GA flying. Might cause a reduction in price of the light sports for those who are leaning in that direction. Would think a major opposition would come from those who administer the medicals through their lobbyists. Lot’s of money there! Hopefully the bill will be a success. As someone said age is a number. Some should hang it up much sooner than others. You know who you are.

  77. Robert Kelly
    Robert Kelly says:

    Although I am not a proponent of Congress getting involved in aviation matters or even more involved in our personal lives, I welcome this action and hope that it passes. This bill if ratified would give us pilots even more liberty than the proposed rule change submitted by the AOPA and EAA. I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

  78. kevin s
    kevin s says:

    I was under the impression that my medical was for valid for two years after 40 but my AME said to get a second class and let it expire it reverts to a third class for one year making three years. I do not see this in the regs where did you come up with 5 and 3 years for the 3rd class medical.
    The AME i went to for renewal said the same thing the FAA is stating differently.

  79. Don
    Don says:

    All of our inputs are extremely important to waking the FAA to an issue that has to be addressed. The fact is they work for us. Logic tells me we’re looking at the wrong end of the problem. If the list of air planes such as all light two places (there are many) were approved for light sport there would a much larger selection. That would lower the cost of air planes and help make GA flying more affordable. I am a CFII,MEI,X- airline and X-military, of 40 years, and currently a SPDPE. Believe me, if given a fair chance Light Sport aviation enjoyable works. Check it out.
    Thanks Don

    • Bruce
      Bruce says:

      Really, Don? Politics runs GA, just like it runs everything else now, INCLUDING THE FAA. There is very little credibility left in anything. It’s all about getting “the edge”, market share and money. Small 4 place airplanes are a threat to LSA manufacturers and marketers.
      Keep the “little guys” on the ground so the rich scan gave their toys.
      I’ll be dead before the 3rd class medical changes.

  80. Charles
    Charles says:

    I have a minor medical problem and it requires I submit to tests that the FAA specified. My doctor says the are unnecessary. But in order to obtain my Class III Medical Certification I have to do it. I had the test done in July 2013 and submitted to FAA in August 2013, my medical expired the end of September 2013. I have not flown since September 26, 2013. Its been in the FAA’s hands in Oklahoma City since August, I’ve been grounded almost five months and no response from FAA. They will tell you it is the sequestration in early October that is causing the delay. That was for two weeks. They have a big problem, people like me are stuck in their system and can not get an answer. I’ve worked with AOPA, they can’t do anything either. I’ve written two Congressmen and two Senators and they can’t get things moving either.

    I’ll probably sell my Cessna and move to an LSA if this continues.

    • Bruce
      Bruce says:

      Charles, been there, done that. The FAA is a dinosaur that hasn’t modernized or used technology to speed up any processes. For crying out loud, my stuff has to go through Washington for approval. My AME is just as frustrated as I am. I don’t have an airplane to sell or access to LSA’s.

  81. Don
    Don says:

    Hey there Bruce,
    Thanks for the response. What you believe may be so at this point but if you
    have any faith in the American aviator you then know we (with determination)
    do have the ability change the policy’s structure. I don’t have the ability
    to be a sheeple. Don

  82. Don
    Don says:

    After reading all the postings relative to this topic I observe a major defeatist attitude. That is not how to achieve favorable results. Why even post if you have already given up? I challenge you to reflect back
    to the drive, the spirit and love you had for aviation when it was new to you. Then maybe you wouldn’t give up so easily. I’ll bet everyone would enjoy reading that. Thanks for letting me vent and express my passion for aviation. Don

    • Bob
      Bob says:

      What can I do? I have the passion to help get this fixed. I’m a retired engineer, 73 years young, been flying since 1956.

  83. Don
    Don says:

    We can keep spreading the word to all who are interested that sport aviation is alive and well and needs to stay that way. If you love aviation then speak aviation. I do and I have more students, flight reviews and tail wheel applicants than I can hardly keep up with. I’m 71
    love instructing/examining and can’t say no. Remember the Squeaking Wheel analogy.

  84. David
    David says:

    Does anyone know the number of accidents avoided by those pilots who lost their medical? I am having trouble counting them.

  85. Tom
    Tom says:

    In the interest of statistical analysis it would be interesting to know:

    1. The number of medical/health related accidents that have occurred per 1,000 of flight hours over the last 25 years.
    2.The medical rating (Self, 3rd-Class, 2nd-Class, 1st-Class) held by the pilot in command for each of the accidents identified in 1.
    3. A determination of how a higher class of medical rating – or any medical rating at all – would have contributed to preventing any of the accidents identified in 1.

    Perhaps a FOIA request to the FAA can serve to answer the foregoing questions. However, if the folks at the FAA, Office of Aerospace Medicine were to provide answers to the questions, they would no longer be able to justify their existence.

    Insofar as any flying for compensation requires a minimum of a 2nd-Class medical, the public can feel safe about the medical condition of the pilot in command of the airplane in which s/he may be flying. This because we all know that being in possession of a 2nd-Class or 1st-Class medical saves a pilot in command harmless of ever suffering a debilitating medical/health related event while in the left seat of an airplane!

  86. Marc
    Marc says:

    I’m a non-current private pilot planning on buying an LSA. Can I legally fly it without any medical or bi-annual check ride or do I have to revert to a sport pilot ticket? Thanks!

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