5 min read

There is a lot more to it than a driver’s license…

Was 05/01/2017 a day that changed the life of a lot of pilots or was it just another Monday down on the farm?

The first attempt to do away with aeromedical certification for pilots started about 70 years ago and the beginning of BasicMed on 05/01 seems to be all the progress that was possible on this sticky subject over all these many years.


BasicMed hardly eliminates the requirement to visit a doctor.

As soon as it was available, I took the FAA-approved medical self-assessment course for BasicMed and it didn’t really come across as a course. It is quite basic, almost childish in spots, and I didn’t actually realize that I had taken a course until I got to the test, which I took and passed. That took maybe 30 minutes and is no big deal nor is it educational for anyone who has been paying attention over a flying career, no matter how short.

After doing that, I read about the other things that I had to do to fly under BasicMed and I had the overwhelming feeling that if I were doing this for real I would just go get an FAA medical because that would be less trouble. BasicMed involves not only the course, it requires a physical by a physician who has read the FAA guidelines and is willing to certify that he is not aware of any medical condition that, as presently treated, would interfere with your ability to safely operate an airplane.

The BasicMed physical has to be taken every 48 months which is a definite improvement over the present requirement. The course also has to be repeated every 24 months.

Is the excitement about this because a lot of pilots who might not be able to pass a 3rd Class feel like they can now fly? I hope not. The 3rd Class requirements are not stringent and few applicants flunk. Some say that is because pilots who might flunk do not go for the medical. Will that be any different with BasicMed? The disqualifying conditions are the same and for either you have to go to a licensed physician. If there is still such a thing as a personal physician, would one give you a pass on something that would cause a denial by an FAA Aviation Medical Examiner?

Further, would a physician with no knowledge of flying be willing to sign an official FAA form that says you are fit to fly? With all the CYA stuff in the medical business today, caused by fear of liability, I don’t think too many doctors will want to sign those forms. Might a doctor with no knowledge of private flying really feel qualified to certify that there is no medical reason you can’t safely fly an airplane?

Actually, a BasicMed physical exam could prove to be more difficult to pass than one given by an FAA AME. I’ll use blood pressure as an example. If you get yours taken by a local doctor he is probably all over your case if the big number is over 120 or 125. It qualifies as hypertension if over 140. The FAA made noise about this a while back, proposing one of those low numbers as a maximum, but then they backed off and specified no limit but I heard that the guideline to AMEs was to not pass the applicant if the big number was over 155. Would your doc sign the paper if you were 15 points into hypertension? I guess the good news is that with BasicMed you can keep trying until you find a doc who will certify you.


The BasicMed checklist isn’t exactly short.

It strikes me that one bureaucratic process has just become an alternative to another bureaucratic process and that it may or not be simpler or less expensive. It in no way appears to be less restrictive when it comes to the human condition. BasicMed sure doesn’t eliminate anything. All it does is remove the AME from the picture.

If you recall, it was originally proposed that a driver’s license could substitute for a 3rd Class medical. That is what happened if you just want to fly Light Sport airplanes.

Maybe what complicated BasicMed is that it upped the ante on airplanes to six seats at or below 18,000 feet at indicated airspeeds up to 250 knots, VFR or IFR. I think what pilots envisioned was being able to fly a 172, or maybe a 182, using a driver’s license as a medical. Certainly there is a huge difference between a two-place airplane that weighs 1,320 pounds fully loaded (Light Sport) and the airplanes covered by BasicMed.

I think a lot of pilots felt like they wanted medical reform to get the FAA out of their lives, at least in this regard. I don’t know that BasicMed really does this. Personally I think a far better deal would have been to up the weight on Light Sport to 2,500 or 3,000 pounds, have a speed restriction that would allow most of the four-place fixed-gear singles to qualify, and go from there. Extending the duration of a 3rd Class to 48 months might have been a goal as well.

It has often been said that we self-certify that we are fit to fly every time we fly unless we happen to go flying the day we get a physical. That was as true before 05/01 as after.

I much prefer optimism but I just don’t think 05/01/2017 was a day that substantially changed things for pilots or that will even start to rejuvenate private aviation, though I wish mightily that it would.

What do you think?

Richard Collins
120 replies
  1. Steve
    Steve says:

    I am a CFI, and am diabetic. I have never had any episodes, but was required to jump through the FAA hoops EVERY YEAR. Which meant I had to get blood tests, see my doctor, get a report from him, see an opthalmologist, and then see the FAA doc.
    This is so much easier!

    • Yogi
      Yogi says:

      Steve, please let us know if it is truly easier once you have jumped through basic med hoops. I have spoken to a couple family doctors, and both said they were not versed on “Basic Med”, nor would they sign an FAA form certifying it. I have a fear Richard is right, as usual.

    • Frank Generoso
      Frank Generoso says:

      I agree with the article except that if you have a special issuance like I do, the FAA makes you go through hurdles every year. My case in particular requires me to see a psychiatrist every six months and report out to my HIMS AME. In addition, I need to undergo cogscreen exams every other year. The basic med appears to be simpler although I am still a bit reluctant to go tht route until we see the reaction from the medical community.

    • Randy
      Randy says:

      Yes, I agree. I have been diagnosed as diabetic also, although mine is rather borderline. Doing a BasicMed medical every 4 years through my own doctor WITHOUT having to send anything to FAA upfront sure beats the heck out of doing it EVERY YEAR via the 3rd class medical FAA route, as I was before, and wondering if I’ll pass or fail after I visit an AME.

      Also, I can’t understand nor agree with the argument that it’s “easier” to go through the FAA 3rd class medical process. Perhaps that may be true if you are 45 or less, in great health, sure you can pass it, and only have to get a medical every 5 years. But if you are over 45 and have to get your medical every 2 years, that sure doesn’t seem easier to me than getting a BasicMed exam every 4 years and having to pass a course every 2 years. Also, BasicMed will likely be less expensive for me, since I may be able to combine my exam with my follow-up 3-4 month doctor visits. Further, just the fact that I can candidly discuss my health with my own family doctor and discuss options rather than having to depend on some FAA official to make a decision on my health and ability to fly, after possibly months of waiting, makes BasicMed definitely better in my opinion.

    • Rich
      Rich says:

      The people that complain about Basic Med are the people that sat on their asses and did not help this get done.
      If the complainers had got off the couch and lobbied the House as they should have perhaps the House would not have included the stupid requirements.

      They thought the AOPA and the EAA would do the heavy lifting for them despite the fact that many of those same complainers don’t pay dues to either group.

      These are the people that go through a revolving doors on someone else’s push.

      • Richard Gerou
        Richard Gerou says:

        This is BS, many of us were very active, Chuck Schumer won’t take my calls anymore. Having said that I am on my 105th day wait on, and “working with” the FAA on the “One time” 3rd class and SI, for simple coronary stents without an MI. I drive school bus in NY, same medical as 3rd class, NY okay’d me in less than 30 days.

    • Keith
      Keith says:

      Besides, basic med doesn’t cover a CFI does it? Onl personal flying. Not For R HIRE. So you’ll have to get the dreaded AME exam.

      • Thomas F Curran
        Thomas F Curran says:

        I’d recommend reading the entire Advisory Circular on BasicMed; AC 68-1.
        Flight Instruction is covered:
        “Operations under BasicMed include flight training. A person may receive
        flight instruction from an FAA-authorized flight instructor while that person is
        operating under BasicMed. A person receiving flight training may receive
        flight instruction from a flight instructor while the flight instructor is operating
        under BasicMed, when the flight instructor is acting as PIC. While flight
        instruction for compensation is considered “other commercial flying” for
        flight and duty requirements under 14 CFR parts 121 and 135, “a certificated
        flight instructor who is acting as PIC or as a required flightcrew member and
        is receiving compensation for his or her flight instruction is only exercising
        the privileges of a private pilot.”

    • freedml
      freedml says:

      Amen. It’s _possible_ to get a 3rd Class Medical with chronic but benign conditions like Type II Diabetes, but the FAA requires so many hoops every year that BasicMed thankfully eliminates. And, when they ask for even more information, you’re SOL if your medical expires before they get around to evaluating the data you submitted. My regular doctor had no issue signing the form. But, if your regular doctor has an issue with that, why not just ask an FAA doc to examine you and sign it?

  2. Rob
    Rob says:

    I totally agree. There’s really not much of a victory here for anyone. The FAA is probably sitting in Washington laughing their backsides off because all they really did was cause a few AME’s to lose some business.

  3. Shyam Jha
    Shyam Jha says:

    I would not go as far as labeling it a cruel hoax. Clearly, it is a solution designed by a committee of politicians, which reminds me of the old joke: “A giraffe is a horse designed by a committee.”

    BasicMed is immensely useful for anyone on special issuance. Instead of jumping through hoops and incurring thousands of dollars in unnecessary tests every two years, not you can go to your specialist who takes care of your condition, and have him/her sign the paper. I have no doubt that the doctor who knows you well will have no objection to signing.

    It is one small step forward. I totally support the idea of extending the sport pilot privileges to aircraft weighing upto 6,000 lbs, operating upto 18,000 ft. That will take care of most issues.
    Time to call your congressman/woman.

    • Will
      Will says:

      You may not have doubts but in my case basic Med is a complete joke! My private physician does not or will not do the physical. An FAA physician would not even give me a physical and I have tried other doctors and even the local doc in the box without luck. I did end up driving two hour to a group that was doing basic meds but upon my arrival they told me that they would not do physicals on anyone with any cardiac issues. Thank god for the sports pilot’s license. Ps all I wanted was to fly a Tomahawk.

  4. Charlie
    Charlie says:

    BasicMed will eliminate the extras required for special issuance, and that is helpful. It is a 4 year 3rd class medical. We still fill out the MedEx form, and doctor does the same checks. I am in process of determining if either my AME or long time personal physician will sign for me.

  5. Jan Krouwer
    Jan Krouwer says:

    Another difference is that when you are fit to fly, you can be grounded for an extended an uncertain period of time while waiting for a special issuance.

  6. David Gamble
    David Gamble says:

    I’ll end up paying the same doctor that I was using as my AME because 1) he knows the environment, and 2) he has the eye test equipment. It’s not like he’s any pricier than my GP. But I’ll only do it half as often, so there is that.

  7. Johnny
    Johnny says:

    I feel like Steve, I have had High BP and cholesterol which is all inherited ….I have been flying since I was 15 and now 50…… since I was 15 I to have had to jump thur hoops…..I get a physical every year and everything is well under control…. but every time I apply for a med 3 I get denied till I get a letter from a Doc w blood work, ekg, and a bunch of other stuff . it’s much easier for me with the new basicmed …. my personal Dr is a AME and has no problem doing it for me……

  8. Marvin
    Marvin says:

    If you don’t have any medical problems and are over 40 then BasicMed only really buys you 4 year instead of 2 years for seeing a doc. On the other hand, there any many medical problems that a reasonable physician wouldn’t disqualify but the FAA would require many hoops, from simple blood test all the way up to stress tests your Cardiologist says you don’t need (and your insurance company won’t pay for). This is certainly better (although not as easy as a driver’s license medical).

  9. Jim Rice
    Jim Rice says:

    Personally, I will use BasicMed. A couple of years ago, I had to get a Special Issuance due to two separate issues. My family doc is the one who did the necessary tests and wrote the letters for the FAA. My AME did nothing but a most cursory exam and defered me to OKC…which then took over two months to get a response, asking for more information. I was finally issued my 3d Class after multiple trips to the AME, multiple trips to my family doctor for tests she felt were irrelevant to the issues she was already treating me for.

    So, yes, the ability to visit my family doctor ONCE and walk away with a BasicMed approved/signed checklist IS A BIG DEAL TO ME. Yes, I could still get my CL3, but why bother when all my flying now is within BasicMed requirements.

  10. Larry Altree
    Larry Altree says:

    I respectfully disagree. BasicMed is a game changer for me, and I suspect a lot of other pilots of a certain age (not really old, just starting to show the signs, if you know what I mean). The point isn’t that we get to fly with something wrong; I never wanted that. (Who in their right mind would want that, anyway?)

    The point is that, with BasicMed, I can have a normal patient-doctor relationship for the first time in my adult life. I’m a third-generation pilot, and I was brought up to understand that when visiting your AME it’s kind of like selling a used car: If there’s something wrong, THEY have to find it. Now I’m at a point in my life where I want to just get the darn medical help and advice when I need it, then go flying if and when I’m fit to do so.

    My physician and I now have an understanding: I am honest with him about what is ailing me and, if it’s a concern for flying (or operating a car for that matter), we work on it together. When we are mutually satisfied, I go flying! No need to convince the FAA that our solution was good enough, a process which has, in the past, required expensive, unnecessary tests and procedures and long delays. I’m confident I could still get a medical, eventually, but who needs that stress?

    I did the checklist thing already with my insurance-plan-covered physician (I’m on a big HMO-style plan). He did every last thing on the checklist (“Wow,” he said, “they really want me up in your grill.”) and after talking about the minor issues associated with getting up there in years he signed the form. It wasn’t a big deal, because he signs forms like this for people all the time for work-related requirements. If I’d needed meds (I don’t) I would have shown him the FAA approved list to choose from.

    I have someone I can simply seek medical advice from now, without fear of it ruining my summer. I’m grateful for that.

  11. PB
    PB says:

    For a few folks who deal with Special Issuances, BasicMed may be a great thing.

    But BasicMed is a bust in many ways. It IS NOT EVEN CLOSE to what was advertised, which was a “DRIVER’S LICENSE MEDICAL”. It has some bizarre CAVEATS such as the fact that you cannot act as a safety pilot, and you actually have to have a driver’s license. Okay, most, if not all pilots will have a driver’s license, but it was never required before, but with BasicMed it is. I guess they think that if the extensive physical and sign-off by the doctor just isn’t good enough, so they want to make sure your state has blessed your health as good enough to drive.

    THE WORST thing about BasicMed is that this is considered the SOLUTION. The fight is over. No one is pushing for any further medical reform. This is AS GOOD AS IT GETS. And that is a shame.

    • Rich
      Rich says:

      Was it over when they got the LSA rule through?
      What makes you think it is over now?
      Sadly with our government anything that makes sense takes longer than normal to be accepted.

      And you have the House of Representatives to blame. Not the AOPA or EAA.

      Well, them and all those that sat on the sidelines and did nothing to help.
      The FAA did not dream this up. The House is what put the screws to it.

  12. Roca
    Roca says:

    Here’s a wrench some may not have thought of: some AMEs are refusing to sign off on BasicMed because they aren’t familiar with the patient’s medical history. I had this happen to a friend two days ago. In contacting the FAA they told him they were “aware of the issue.” So- family physicians may not sign off because they are not familiar with FAA requirements…and AMEs may not sign off because they are not familiar with the patient’s entire medical history. Catch 22? Sure I guess if you’ve been going to the same family doctor and AME for 10 years this may not be an issue. But for those of us who relocate frequently it is. I’m thinking a 3rd class will be less trouble.

  13. JC
    JC says:

    Apart from special issuances, I see the biggest benefit of BasicMed is that failure to obtain a BasicMed signoff doesn’t count as a denial for the purpose of flying a LSA. This may provide a benefit to the LSA business down the road, even if not directly to BasicMed users.

  14. JohnC
    JohnC says:

    BasicMed is a typical government regulation. You would hope that at some point, the committee involved in drafting the rule would actually ask the question ‘does this make sense?’

    Case in point… and one already mentioned above. If I fly under BasicMed (assuming that I can find a physician willing to sign the BasicMed form… mine will not), I can fly as PIC in my Skylane with my IFR rated friend in the right seat. However, if my friend is wanting to practice IFR in the left seat of my Skylane, I can’t legally act as safety pilot in the very airplane in which I can serve as PIC!

    I think I’ll sell the Skylane and fly under LSA rules. Maybe the FAA will up the LSA weight limit to 2017 pounds (or some other equally arbitrary weight)? That would make as much sense as the current 1320 lb limit… sheesh… I can legally fly a Tecnam 2008, but not a Cessna 150. Go figure.

    • Laurie
      Laurie says:

      I think you can still help your friend; you just have to be acting as PIC. You can be in the right seat; he can be under the hood. Unless the regs say that his experience has to be while he is acting as PIC (I don’t know the regs), you are both good.

    • Rich
      Rich says:

      You are incorrect on the safety pilot issue.

      And here is why.
      If you want to be a safety pilot you simply state to the guy in the left seat that YOU are pilot in Command.

      HE can log it as Sole Manipulator of the controls.
      Problem solved.
      I have been down this road already.
      You’re welcome.
      Keep your Skylane.

      • Andy
        Andy says:

        Hi Rich,

        As a new IFR student, do you have a specific FAR that addresses or allows a BasicMed pilot to act as a safety pilot for a 6 month IFR currency flight? My CFII is not so certain that being the ‘sole manipulator of the controls’ is enough to meet the requirements for an IFR currency flight. His opinion (and apparently also the opinion of the nearest FAA examiner) is that the IFR pilot must act as PIC and having a BasicMed safety pilot won’t meet the legal requirements. I’m not trying to be difficult, but I’d like to show my CFII the specific FAR and I can’t seem to find it. Most likely it’s my un-legal mind not being able to decipher the FARs.

        As an aside, although I don’t need BasicMed, I asked my personal physician if he would be willing to sign off on BasicMed should I ever go that route. He is not a pilot, but is very familiar with aviation. His answer was “No”

        • Laurie
          Laurie says:

          I’m not Rich, but 14 CFR 61.57 (c)(1) which relates to instrument flight in airplanes, only states that “Within the 6 calendar months preceding the month of the flight, that person performed and logged at least the following tasks…” It says nothing about being PIC.

    • MARK
      MARK says:

      Hey John C. good thoughts. I think many of us out here are thinking the same thing. The the GW should be perhaps be increased to allow more common aircraft to still be flown under the LSA rules. This simple change would naturally have more overqualified pilots move into the LSA realm. I consider myself a very qualified commercial intrument rated CFI. As a commercial pilot I logged some 4000 hours in the ag aviation industry which provided me with valuable pilot skills, skills that you really need when moving into the LSA categoy-hmmm taildragger time. I have had the fun of training C-130 pilots in tailwheel aircraft that considered my experience as being very valuable as they didn’t realize flying a taildragger(alot with heel brakes by the way) to be a bit tricky at times. I too agree with those folks who feel the FAA is still too involved in the medical end of it. It is another way for them to take pilots out of the sky. They (politicians) could also have left the 10 year look back out of the Basic Med. Wasn’t the original idea to start to relieve the AME”S from so many medicals? I think the most important thing here is to be under a doctor’s care. If that happens to be a AME, your family doctor or a Speciality doctor, then who best to make the decision if your capable of flying. Even worst yet is once denied your 3rd class medical only to find out you don’t qualify for your LSA then. People would always ask me about how dangerous crop dusting actually is…..consider this. As a pilot I, 100 percent of the time have to ask myself am I physically capable of flying today? . When the Basic Med rolled out on May 1st and I had some questions on the rules, the Feds in our district were not even prepared for the amount of people that were applying for it and neither were the physicians. Lets move forward on LSA and make it better by some logical changes. As for me, the realm of things makes me move into the LSA area and still enjoy flying.

  15. Joe
    Joe says:

    I was certainly excited about BasicMed. The restrictions don’t really impact me and I’ve spent the last 25 years negotiating my way through the color blindness part of the exam to avoid a daytime only restriction. I know I should have done the work to get a SODA but never did.

    Over the last month I’ve discovered the real weakness in BasicMed. I’ve contacted three doctors and none are willing to sign the form. It looks like I will need to have an AME do the BasicMed physical. One more negotiation. But then at least the process will limited to every four years.

  16. Doug
    Doug says:

    If you have ever been “deferred” by your AME and gone into the FAA backlog you would appreciate how big a deal this is. 6 weeks to 3 month’s just for an FAA Dr. to look at your file, then they send a snail mail request for more info and then back in to the backlog you go. That means 3 – 6 months without a medical when you are are healthy and fit to fly. I’m a basic med fan even if it’s not perfect.

    • Steve
      Steve says:

      They requested the same surgery report that they received with the AME’s physical submittal.

  17. jim C
    jim C says:

    Just had my class III medical 5-3. My primary and my AME are both in the same practice. They said that no one in their practice will sign a basic med for due to fear of liability.

    Personally, I have never seen the Class III as any type of burden. What instills fear is the horrible FAA process IF you are denied a medical. It is completely ridiculous and out of control. I have a friend who has been going trough absolute hell for over three years trying to get his medical back. He has been full recovered for two and a half years and one of the most fit pilots I know. This is the problem that needs to be fixed.

  18. Kayak Jack
    Kayak Jack says:

    I am on a special issuance for sleep apnea, and now a small skin cancer on the surface. Even with 5 yesrs of conclusive data proving compliance with sleep apnea procedures, FAA wants more additional documentation every year. But, they don’t request it on the day of the physical. They wait two months to ask. In the meantime, I couldn’t fly.

    When I called FAA to follow up, a recording stated they couldn’t answer the phone because they were training new people. Clever – train the new people to ignore the phone.

    Anything that gets FAA removed from the procedure is a step forward. They play a delay game to present the appearance of being overworked, when in actuality, much uf the work is titally unecessary or could have been handled with a 5 minute phone conversation.

  19. Jim R
    Jim R says:

    Yes, some MD’s won’t do a BasicMed exam. Yes, some AME’s won’t do a BasicMed exam. But I know a 1st Class AME that does the BasicMed exam and has sent letters to ninety (90) MD’s in his local area encouraging them to do BasicMed exams and offering to provide guidance to them on the BasicMed exam.

    This AME is a relatively young doctor who became an AME a few years ago. He was surprised to learn that the FAA is requiring medical tests that are contrary to what he was taught in medical school. BasicMed allows this doctor to use current medical knowledge, rather than outdated FAA regulations, to asses a persons fitness to be a pilot.

    BasicMed is a good thing. Even Mayo Clinic fully supports BasicMed, with exams and the required FAA approved on-line course, too.

  20. Bob Fort
    Bob Fort says:

    Richard Collins makes a compelling argument. There has been too much hype and hoopla about BasicMed.

    I will continue to renew my 3rd Class medical with my AME.

  21. Michael Hogan
    Michael Hogan says:

    I don’t find the 3rd class medical requirement to be at all burdensome bureaucratically, and the bar is pretty low for passing. If I couldn’t pass I’m not sure I should be flying. I marvel at the pretense assumed by otherwise macho pilots who would have us draw an exact equivalency between the fitness requirements for driving a car and the requirements for piloting an airplane. The permissiveness culture and the knee-jerk dismissal of government regulation in this country have gotten out of hand. The attitude that “we self-certify every time we decide to fly” is a typical distortion of what this discussion is all about. Of course we make a decision about our fitness on the day every day we decide to fly, but that doesn’t mean we’re right, and if one has a condition that makes flying inherently and significantly more risky for themselves and for others, then there’s a good chance they’re wrong every time they decide to fly, no matter how good they feel at the moment they make the decision. Some people are just not medically fit to operate an airplane in public airspace – some day I’ll very possibly be medically unfit to operate an airplane in public airspace – and when that day comes I’ll hang up my headset and be thankful for the great memories and wonderful experiences I’ve had the privilege to enjoy as a pilot.

  22. David Hersman, CFI
    David Hersman, CFI says:

    SOME BIG DIFFERENCES: Suppose you are denied a Third Class Medical. That info in transmitted to the FAA almost immediately, starting what could be a long, bitter, and costly process. With BasicMed, nothing is reported to the FAA, and you could simply wait for the condition to improve, or work to improve it, and go to a different doctor. Almost every locality has many doctors, but many people have to go a long distance to visit an AME. You are left with no record of “denied, revoked, or suspended.”

    Borderline blood pressure is very likely to go up, when you
    know that the next few minutes could jerk you out of one of your favorite pursuits, or even terminate your career and livelihood.

    As friends report their experiences with BasicMed, we will soon know which doctors are willing participate in a reasonable manner. Pilots will tend to go to these.

    The Pilot Medical requirement for small planes must be residue from the time when pilots were regarded as “supermen.” It was set up to solve a problem that had never existed in the first place.

    I believe, if properly utilized, the BasicMed will indeed improve the bureaucratic complexity of maintaining your flight privileges.

    • Randy
      Randy says:

      Sounds like the same kind of analysis you would go through if the Bus Drivers union had to approve your drivers license.

    • Laurie
      Laurie says:

      Gracious, what a lot of leaps of logic! Without reading all the supporting data, but only reading the paper, it seems that the authors are drawing completely unwarranted conclusions. This looks like a case of trying to support the conclusion that they want!

  23. Kayak Jack
    Kayak Jack says:

    Another thought occurred to me. It’s ironic how one arm of the FAA is working to put new, reliable, electronocs into the older fleet if certified aircraft, while another arm buries itself in self-imposed administrivia, while working to keep pilots out of those airplanes.

    We need someone to go into the aeromedical part, and drain the swamp. But what it took was setting up a separate, parallel procedure to do the job that FAA is already being paid to do.

  24. Fred
    Fred says:

    I agree. This doesn’t change things very much. I had a heart attack 12 years ago. Even though I have been going to the same cardiologist all of that time, he will not sign off on the “fit to fly”. Not because he doesn’t think I am fit, but because he doesn’t want to risk the liability. Anyone can have a heart attack at any time ( as evidenced by mine. I had it one week to the day after a stress test where I was declared “in great shape”). He knows the unlikely is still possible, and is not going to risk it. Most probably will feel the same.

  25. Charlie
    Charlie says:

    I will never understand certain viewpoints.

    Just because it doesn’t help YOU it doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea.

    Basicmed really should never even have been made because basicmed SHOULD BE A THIRD CLASS MEDICAL!

    Also I love this attitude… I saw my AME so I’m a safe pilot and the guy on basicmed isn’t. This one has me laughing in the street. I have had both a AME , dot, and personal dr physicals and everyone exactly the same. Please tell me how I’m not safer getting a physical from NOT A AIRPLANE DR!!

    Many happy landings to all who get the chance to fly. Just remember are not a special people we are just people who get crinks in our necks from allways looking skyward. Getting grounded or spending money on worthless tests should never happen to healthy people or people managing small common problems.

  26. Jack
    Jack says:

    I agree Basic Med is very disappointing. It is going to take time to sort out some of the areas where there is no agreement on the requirements. For example: does a disqualifying condition only apply if it arises after your last Third Class Medical or if you had it at any time in your life? In addition right now Obamacare pays for annual physicals and I believe my Dr. was willing to do it because the big company she works for gets a lot of money for physicals, unclear what will happen if that benefit goes away. As a lawyer my biggest concern is my insurance coverage in case of a big claim. Under Third Class your responsibility is disclosure and then the decision on qualification is left up to the FAA. Under Basic Med many qualification decisions are left up to the pilot. I can envision times when the insurance carrier in a coverage investigation will claim the insured was flying illegally because they were not qualified and refuse coverage. In my case this is particularly worrisome if I am dead and the problem is left with my wife who is now being sued. My current carrier will not accept Basic Med and is requiring a Third Class Medical.

  27. v_pilot
    v_pilot says:

    Absolutely disagree Richard !! I read your columns with much interest , but on this one you are clueless. Literally thousands of pilots have benefited from BasicMed – so save your venom for something that really matters to pilots, OK ?!

    • Richard Collins
      Richard Collins says:

      Venom? All I did was ask a question to stimulate realistic discussion on the subject. It looks like that worked pretty well. Good comments and thanks to all who have sounded off.

  28. Randy
    Randy says:

    I just completed the course, yes a little basic, and my exam with my physician who had no issues signing it. The BIG reason I think this is a benefit that you didn’t mention is the ongoing expense and hassle of a special issuance. I had two stents Aug of 2015 with no heart attack. It took 6 months to get the tests submitted to the FAA, It took them 6 months to evaluate. Each month a letter asking for more information. Then when issued, I had a laundry list of expensive tests each year. Oh by the way, they backdated my medical to the date of the application. My Cardiologist said the tests weren’t medically required, and that I would most likely have to spend $5,000 to $7,000 every year. AND when you submit them, the FAA has the opportunity to deny your medical and ask you to provide more tests. And on and on. My Dr. and Cardiologists both know I fly and will make appropriate medical decisions for me. NO MORE FAA harassment and expense!

    • Kayak Jack
      Kayak Jack says:

      . . . . and that harrassment and expense is the useless game played by the FAA Aeromedical Branch. Cutting them out of the process is like finally raising the flaps – a mile after lift off.

  29. keith
    keith says:

    I’ll let the 1700 plus pilots who completed BasicMed in the first week speak for its self.
    BasicMed is not perfect but what other event since WWII has given 1700 pilots the incentive to get back in the air.

    • Richard Gerou
      Richard Gerou says:

      In the future 1,2, or 3 yrs. will these pilot, as they age, be faced with any form of coronary artery disease as does 46% of the population, and then be forced todeal with the simpile “one time” special issuance. I have now been waiting 105 days for the benevolent FAA to allow me to fly after 3 stents. New York state allowed me to drive school bus after less than 30 days.

      • Gavin
        Gavin says:


        Good luck! I’ve had a SI since 2011, send multiple test results every year at the FAAs request. Nothing has changed in 6 years and they denied my medical. No, BasicMec for me. I would like to know if the percent of denials has increased since BasicMed passed. If the FAA cant have you under their thumb then they will just deny you and that is that..

        • Richard Gerou
          Richard Gerou says:

          Hi Gavin, I am with you…it appears to me that the up frount words, just get a “one time third class, and special issuance” have been used to sell any idea, a fantasy of a benevolent and accommodating FAA. While behind the scene…they have “tweeked” the special issuance guidelines, just alittle, and its after all its really better for almost everyone.

  30. Ed Griffith
    Ed Griffith says:

    There are several impediments to General Aviation of the 1970s of which medical reform is only one issue.

    -medical issues: I think though Richard Collins is right in saying it is premature to start dancing in the streets naked, nonetheless this is at least a step in the right direction.

    -gas: Avgas is going and a clear replacement (batteries, diesel, auto, turbines) has not been identified. With avgas goes the issue of GA powerplants.

    -transitioning to the new ADS-B mode

    -cost of aircraft. I understand inflation, but 300k for a skyhawk is just not sustainable at what we had in the 1970s. In the 1970s a new plane cast 12-15k.

    Thank you so much Air Facts for keeping us up to date on a segment of aviation many of us love and for publishing the fine writings of Richard Collins.

  31. Brian Lott
    Brian Lott says:

    I had Myocardial Infarction 4 years ago and have 3 stents as a result. After the mandated 6 month healing and recovery period, I gathered the documentation items needed for my first Special Issuance and submitted the 4 inch thick package to the FAA for review. It took 4.5 months and an in inquiry from a United States Senator to get my Medical Certificate issued.

    Every year since, I was required to obtain new lab work, a new Bruce Protocol Stress test and my Cardiologist was required to provide a written report on my health. Both my Cardiologist and my family Doctor felt that these requirements were ridiculous. During my last Stress test, my Cardiologist stated “you can have a perfectly normal stress test today and have a heart attack tomorrow”.

    I’ll just mention the simple fact that Department of Transportation has absolutely no concerns about me operating a car, a truck, a SUV, a motorcycle, a motorhome, an ATV or any powered motor boat or yacht, a glider or hot air balloon. So this was clearly NEVER about “transportation safety”.

    My Cardiologist, along with his wife and kids have each flown with me in my airplane since my heart attack, so clearly he was not concerned about my health and his safety. My family Doctor had absolutely no reservations about completing the BasicMed physical and the CMEC form. I had the exam, the CMEC and the on-line course completed two days after the FAA released them and flew under BasicMed on 5/3/2017.

    My opinion is that my Family Doctor is more knowledgeable about my health than any Doctor in Oklahoma City or Washington D.C. ever will be. He should advise me and be part of the decision making process as to when I need to stop flying. That is the way it should be.

    I also believe that the FAA and the DOT have exceeded their authority by imposing medical testing requirements and health standards on citizens who fly airplanes for private use and personal pleasure purposes only. In doing so they have denied law abiding citizens of their god given, inherent, unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Those beliefs were expressed by George Mason, a highly regarded member of the Virginia delegation to the Constitutional Convention, in the “Virginia Declaration of Rights” and by Thomas Jefferson in the “Declaration of a Independence”.

    If a citizen pursuing their hobby of flying doesn’t fall within the definition of “the pursuit of happiness”, I don’t know what would.

    I disagree that the battle is over. BasicMed is merely the first step towards eliminating an unjust requirement imposed of those off us who fly for fun, not for compensation or hire. The battle is only over when we quit fighting. We owe it to ourselves, to all the guys who were forced to quit when they didn’t want to and to every future American with dreams of flying, to continue to speak out and challenge these “rules”.

    We need to be patient but persistent. I believe that ultimately we will win. Whether the win will come through legislative action or judicial action, I don’t know, but we will prevail!

    • Michael Hogan
      Michael Hogan says:

      Oh for heaven’s sake, stick a sock in it. Even the Founders recognized that liberty must be well-regulated in order that it not infringe on the rights of others. If someone is unfit to pilot an airplane in public airspace, i.e. over houses, businesses, public streets and squares, where a plane crashing with a full load of avgas could do a heck of a log more damage to other people’s right to their own pursuit of happiness than if you crashed your motorcycle into a tree, then it is entirely within Constitutional tradition for local, state and federal governments to impose reasonable regulations on the practice. To take another example, it might be part of your pursuit of happiness to make jewelry and dump the mercury involved into the local public water supply, but no sane person would argue that there’s no role for government (local, state and/or federal) to regulate that practice. Leave the Constitutional law to Constitutional law experts, and we’ll tell the Constitutional law experts to leave the piloting to pilots, ok? If you have a problem with whether or not the medical requirement is reasonable, leave it at that. The role of government in regulating the use of public airspace – airspace that belongs to EVERYONE, not just pilots – is one that no sane person would dispute.

      • Brian Lott
        Brian Lott says:

        Michael, it is so nice to see how tolerant you are of other’s views and opinions. I gather that you would have no problem if the Department of Transportation decided that you needed to go to a government designated physician and meet their specified health standards in order for you to continue to operate your motor vehicle, correct?

        Who are you or any government agency to determine if I or any of us are “fit” or “unfit” to pursue our hobbies? Apparently you believe that level of government involvement in our lives is warranted and desireable, correct? If so, who is going to determine whether or not you are “fit” to drive your motor vehicle in public? More importantly, are you going to cooperate when you are told that the government has determined that you are no longer allowed to drive?

        I guess that you don’t feel there is any danger to other people when someone with a health problem is operating a motor vehicle at 70 mph on our Interstate Highway system in close proximity to other citizens, do you? How many times have we seen motor vehicles that have plowed into groups of pedestrians or been crashed into people’s homes? You apparently feel that potential airplane accidents justify these more stringent requirements on pilots but at the same time, you don’t appear to be advocating for the medical testing and evaluation of drivers, do you? That seems to me to be a bit of a double standard. Please clarify your position for us.

        Your attempt to equate me flying my airplane on a nice day to dumping mercury in a public water supply is simply irrational and well off point. It demonstrates that you clearly lack the critical thinking skills that are necessary to question authority in a thoughtful manner.

        Imposing health standards on people who fly airplanes for recreational purposes but not on people who operate any other motorized conveyance for personal pleasure purposes is fundamentally discriminatory. When you consider that most of the FAA’s “disqualifying conditions” are more likely to occur in older people than in younger people, I believe that a case can be made for discrimination on a protected basis, namely age.

        These are simply my opinions and I am entitled to them, just like you are entitled to yours. I agree with you that the airspace belongs to the American people. Since we live in a country where the government is supposed to be “of the people, by the people and for the people” I am certainly within my rights to oppose the discriminatory practice of imposing medical standards and testing requirements on citizens who fly airplanes for private use and personal pleasure purposes.

        • Michael Hogan
          Michael Hogan says:

          You’re entitled to whatever opinion you like, just as I am, about just about anything, including things about which neither you nor I are really that qualified to opine. Thankfully, when it comes to questions of law, including Constitutional law, the Founders were wise enough to establish a judicial system at the top of which is a Supreme Court, the final arbiter of all of these competing “opinions” about what the Constitution actually says. I’m more interested, in this forum, in opinions about whether BasicMed or the 3rd Class Medical requirement are well conceived and implemented. There may be better places to peddle your opinions on the Constitution, as entitled to them as you may be.

        • Michael Hogan
          Michael Hogan says:

          Oh, and by the way, “the pursuit of happiness” doesn’t appear in the Constitution, it’s in the Declaration of Independence. That’s not something about which you can have an opinion, or at least not one any well-informed person is likely to respect.

          • Brian Lott
            Brian Lott says:

            Michael, I never stated that those words appear in the United States Constitution. I clearly wrote that they were in the Declaration of Independence. Please read my comments more carefully before mis-quoting me. Then your opinions may carry more weight with others.

  32. v_pilot
    v_pilot says:

    Reading the comments, I’m struck by what WIMPS there are out there ( and that includes you Richard !! ) . Any one with a half-way decent patient relationship with a family physician / internist etc etc ( especially if the physician has been examining you for a while ) — should have NO problem obtaining the necessary physician signature ( and yes, I speak from personal experience ! ) Lets’ not over-think this – and lets’ not be WIMPS ! ( you again Richard ! ) . Now go out there and fly !

    • Richard Gerou
      Richard Gerou says:

      My family physician has stopped doing DOT physical, as have a growing number of GP docs. I have not talked to him yet but I suspect he will balk at signing BasicMed. Doc are not even following there own patients in hospitals anymore.

  33. Tim
    Tim says:

    I very much disagree with Richard Collins. For the past decade or so of getting 3rd class medical certificates, my AME made me get a complete physical from my GP family doctor. Then I had to bring the results to the AME, and he just repeated everything my GP had done. What a waste of my time and money! I just completed BasicMed by doing my normal physical with my GP – no need to schedule a redundant appointment with an AME. Richard, if you think BasicMed is a cruel hoax, then just keep getting your 3rd class medical certificate the old fashioned way – thru your AME. For the rest of us, we’ll take the hassle free and much more streamlined BasicMed route.

    • Brian Lott
      Brian Lott says:

      Agreed. The Third Class Medical was always the least comprehensive and most expensive physical examination that I ever had. They checked your urine sample for sugar, weighed you, checked your blood pressure and gave you an eye exam. If you kept breathing long enough to write the check to the AME, you passed.

      My family Doctor, who I see four times a year, provides a far more thorough physical evaluation of my health, including extensive lab work. Until BasicMed came along, his opinion didn’t matter at all. The guy who checked your urine for sugar, his opinion was the only one that mattered.

      The fact is that my Dad held a valid Third Class Medical at the time that he had 95% blockage in his arteries. The AME’s examination did not provide any indication of any health issues. What good was that?

      I held a valid Third Class Medical at the time of my heart attack. Did me a lot of good, didn’t it?!

      The spirit behind the BasicMed program is good. It asks us to become more knowledgeable and involved in our health. Hard to see anything bad about that. It allows our Family Doctor to be involved in the process. That makes sense to me. Who knows your overall health better than your Family Doctor?! When I had my BasicMed exam, I told my Doctor that there may come a time that I may need to stop flying due to my health or cognitive decline. I told him that I need him to be honest with me and deliver that message when that time comes. I think we owe that to ourselves, our families and to each other.

  34. Frank Huber
    Frank Huber says:

    I could not disagree more with Richard. I had a stroke on February 21, 2016. It was caused by the medicine my doctor had me taking prophylactically to slow the aging process. It caused my hemoglobin to get higher than normal so I had polycythemia, thick blood which caused a small vessel in my brain to clot up. I got the TPA quickly and was back to normal in twenty four hours, with no lasting side effects. So I had a known cause and was completely back to normal within a few weeks after my hemoglobin levels were brought back to the normal range. In spite of all those facts, I was told by two different aeromedical practices that because the FAA neurological committee that reviews these cases had taken a conservative approach, I would have to wait for two years before I could hope to get a Special Issuance Third Class.
    As to doctors being reluctant to sign off, in may case I wrote my regular doctor a letter explaining that the program is based upon the fact that pilots have to decide every time they go flying if they are fit to fly. I also explained that the course pilots are required to take reviews this responsibility and what they should consider. My doctor had no problem signing off my physical.
    I received my Basic Med physical yesterday, May 5. I will now be able to start flying again as soon as I finish a Bi-annual Flight review, a minimum of ten months earlier than I would have able doing a Special Issuance Third Class. I will also not have to go through multiple expensive test to even apply. I have been flying forty-seven years and had a thirty-six year flying career. Being able to fly again is very big to me. I am sure there are a lot of pilots with similar circumstances.

    • Richard Gerou
      Richard Gerou says:

      Good luck Frank, I am on my 105th day of waiting for my “one time” special issuance from the benevolent FAA. While the appearance of reform exists, the bureaucracy is still the big winner.

  35. Steve
    Steve says:

    I have had Asthma since birth that has been well controlled with no events for 25 years.
    Flying for 20 years, I have been harassed every two with the FAA requiring pulmonary testing, with benchmarks that my Internist stated “would be difficult for many
    normal people to meet”.
    My AME of the last 12 years refused to perform the Basic Med stating; “The FAA told me
    not to do it”.
    Told by my primary that an appointment would be two weeks out, I went to a local Urgent
    Care where they quickly did a physical and completed the forms.
    In the future, I will plan the Basic Med around a regular check-up.

  36. Al
    Al says:

    Lots of good comments (and not so good ones). I think we need to keep fighting to keep the government out of our collective anuses. Literally. Have you read #9 on the FAA physician’s checklist BASICMED SECTION 3: MEDICAL EXAMINATION ? You’ll be bending over for this one:

    9. Anus:
    (not including digital examination):

    Always checklists.

    And I disagree with the argument that an airplane falling out of the sky is statistically more dangerous than the average driver having a medical condition that causes them to crash and injure or kill other people. It happens at least hundreds or thousands of times more often in a ground based vehicles vs airplanes. And not just because ground vehicles travel more than airplanes or that pilots have more stringent medical requirements. Ground vehicles also travel at high speeds frequently right next to other vehicles and people. Airplanes mostly fly over desolate areas.

    • Kayak Jack
      Kayak Jack says:

      Al, it’s an odd thing about we Americans – we seem to excuse, and take for granted deaths and injuries caused by cars. But anything else – trucks, airplanes, industrial causes, poor diet, etc. etc. we seem to accept more readily. It’s a cultural thing.

      • Al
        Al says:

        Yes. And in the effort to ensure that a computer controlled car won’t kill anyone (they will, just far less often), the computer controlled car will be delayed far longer than it should be killing literally tens of thousands of people.

        I am relatively new to aviation but one of my primary observations of general aviation is that, in an effort to ensure that new technology does not kill general aviation pilots, the FAA kills a lot of general aviation pilots by keeping that new technology unavailable to pilots.

        • Kayak Jack
          Kayak Jack says:

          Well, yes and no. Up until a year or two ago, the branch of FAA that approved new things, were as backwards and bureaucratic as is the aero medical branch yet today. Something happened – maybe some old guy in power died or retired? Maybe a frontal lobotomy resected? Anyway, they started approving experimental avionics for certified planes.

          With any luck, some brand new honcho will go into the aero medical branch and drain the swamp. Miracles do still happen from time to time.

  37. Steve
    Steve says:

    The comments here are very interesting, but the one major benefit of BasicMed is that if you have a medical issue/situation/condition that is managed and your physician agrees to sign-off the new documents, you do not have to be worried that you will be forced to stop flying via bad results/FAA interpretation like you could in a 3rd class medical or, as some have done, go to LSA only flying even when they know the condition is truly disqualifying just so they can fly. I believe this last point is the hypocritical issue before BasicMed. If you and I had the same condition, knowing that they most likely would deny your medical, I went to the AME and you went to LSA only, I do not fly again, but you do.
    My perspective is….I have stents, put up with the long special issuance process and got it, can have the AME issue my 3rd class under CACI (which I did at the 1 year renewal they gave me), and must submit stress and blood work plus cardiologist statements with the application at the time of physical, and I have to do it again next year unless I go to the new process.
    I am not sure what I will do next year when it is due. It scares me a bit to think I might get denied if stuff is a bit off. That denial would, under the current regulations ground me without fighting it. And, realistically it is not likely I will need to fly aircraft beyond the restrictions or get a commercial certificate. Another twist in the thought process for me is that I do not want to be restricted to LSAs at this point (BasicMed would help avoid this, I realize that).
    As a point to note, no restrictions in activity or diet were given after my stents were put in, and the stress test I just had came in great (even the AME who is a cardiologist said so).
    He did state, in April when I got my physical, that he would not, based on the information….not yet released in final form about this new method…..he would not sign BasicMed from a liability standpoint. His reason was that under the rules for medicals, he at least had the FAA in his corner legally, but under BasicMed he only has himself. Do not know if his thought process is right, but I see his point.
    I just have to think this over before next April.
    Final note: The AME’s assistant said that the “new guy in OKcity…as she put it”, had requested some type of hand tracings related to an EKG on another person. She that they have not done that type of thing for years and doing so would not really be realistic in this day and age. Made them wonder how old this FAA doctor in OKC was.

  38. Duane McCord
    Duane McCord says:

    I am 44 and have a special issuance 3rd class for a heart condition called afib that is totally treated with a prescription from my cardiologist but I have had to annually jump through hoops and spend tons of money and miss work to get tests then send everything in to Oklahoma and wait on the official ruling to see if I could fly for another year. Everytime I did this I had to convince the cardiologist or more often than not the assistant to write a formal letter to the FAA stating that in their professional opinion there was no reason that I wasn’t fit to fly a plane. With the new rules I still went to see my regular FAA AME however given I am being treated and under the care of a cardiologist and I have had the special issuance it does save me a ton of money and wasted time trying to proof to the FAA that I am healthy enough. I couldn’t wait for the rules and am very glad it came out. If I was younger and healthy as I was back then the rule would seem less attractive but for those of us who aren’t in pristine health it made all the difference in the world.

  39. Mark Sanz
    Mark Sanz says:

    As a 2 year private pilot and a 30 year practicing cardiologist, I have been on all sides of this. I too took the course and easily passed (no surprise). But I disagree with Mr. Collins that the test is of no value. The real value is raising awareness rather than replacing a doctor visit. That same time commitment to learning to fly should be applied to our personal care. And yes, flying is not the same as driving a car. Hitting an airliner after suffering a cardiac arrest or confusion from bad lung disease or situational overload has far more consequences. in my state, AME are few and far between (and decreasing in number) so this is much easier for pilots here. The requirements for the physician are not onerous but are new and take time so there will be a period of learning for your family doctor as well. I think this was well done for all of us.

    • Richard Gerou
      Richard Gerou says:

      Good luck Frank, I am on my 105th day of waiting for my “one time” special issuance from the benevolent FAA. While the appearance of reform exists, the bureaucracy is still the big winner.

    • Richard Gerou
      Richard Gerou says:

      So Dotor what will we non-phyisians do ifif our regular doctors as, “I won’tsign that.” My GP is no longer doing DOT physicals, or caring for, or over seeing his patients care in hospital.

  40. Roger Hoy
    Roger Hoy says:

    Mr. Collins, I enjoy your columns and the Air Facts site very much. However, your article regarding Basic Med is ill informed. The focus of Basic Med is not the quality of the medical exam, i.e. Basic Med vs 3rd Class Medical but rather the significant burden, (financially and time related) of Special Issuance. Like many other pilots, in order to comply with a Special Issuance, I was obligated to undergo costly studies in order to obtain my medical. When I would obtain the medical it was good for 12 months at which time I would have to undergo the same tests, always “proving” that I was being treated for a minor condition. The study each year ran upwards of $6,000 and required two days of my time. Once, it was sent back to me for another study – another $3k and two more days. All of this effort on behalf of the pilot community, with a lack of real metrics of how GA is any safer through compliance with those requirements.

    The FAA has done a lot for aviation in general in our country. However, Basic Med is a substantial improvement to the bureaucratic licensing process that has existed for decades, with no real measurable safety data to back it up. Offering, particularly from an experienced and pro GA voice such as yours, that Basic Med is a “Cruel Hoax” is not in keeping with your normally wise and prudent articles. I think you should reevaluate and follow up your article perhaps with deeper information and or interviews.

    Finally, it goes without saying that this would not exist without GA pilots having a voice in WDC through AOPA. They did a marvelous job sponsoring this legislation and seeing it through to fruition.

  41. David
    David says:

    I’m seeing my GP for a physical on a regular basis anyway. He’s willing to certify that he knows of nothing to prevent me from acting as PIC. Why would I then want to pay another doctor (the AME) to do the same thing?

    So I went with BasicMed this month; my GP actually discussed side effects from OTC allergy meds and sleep aids (drowsiness – common chemicals). I don’t take them but they are common in his practice. My AME has never discussed meds (not that I needed him to). I filled my GP in on “IM SAFE” and “self certification”.

  42. Frank
    Frank says:

    Back in 1966 after scraping up enough money for a year, I got my private license.
    Having been in the Army I was used to physicals and thought flying those little Cessna 150’s must really be tough.
    The last 15 or so years I thought were more stressful driving to the airport on the HWYS with all the nut jobs, then the wonderful flying ever was.
    I quit flying last year because this meddling government took all the fun out of it.

  43. Rick Barnes
    Rick Barnes says:

    HURRAY FOR BASICMED! Please keep in mind that I an in good health, exercise almost daily and am generally in good condition. Certainly no problems that would make me a risk flying.
    About 15 years ago I developed a heart murmur caused by a defective aortic valve. In 2005 the valve was replaced by a mechanical one. Problem solved, except for my medical, which had been denied once a few years prior. I recovered from the valve replacement surgery and hired one of the specialty companies to help me get my medical back. What a procedure! It took about nine months; thousands of dollars worth of tests, and a pretty scathing letter from my heart doctor (who just happened to be a pilot himself and was fully cognizant of the medical limitations for heart performance). I was turned down at least three times, but the specialty company kept at it and finally I got my special issuance. It was only good for three months because it had taken nine months from the date of the physical to get it. In the letter from the FAA I was told to submit a new set of test results within 30 days to allow the FAA time to “re-evaluate my then current health”. The list of tests required was every test that I had taken the previous year, all over again! It would have literally cost thousands of dollars. As a recreational, non-instrument rated private pilot it made no sense to undergo all the expense and time to get a second special issuance and then do it all again one a year later, etc. I never took another flight physical. I ended up buying a light sport aircraft so I could continue to support my flying addiction. It was new, cost three times more than the Piper Comanche that I already owned, and is not even close in safety and performance to the old girl. But I could fly legally again, at least.
    Now, under Basic Med, I took the on-line course, passed the test, and got the certificate. I filled out the medial application, took it to my heart doctor, whom I visit every six months anyhow. He gave me the physical, checked the boxes on the form and signed it and now I”m legal to fly again! The whole thing didn’t take four hours over two days and I’m good for four years unless I have something new that develops. Believe me its WAAAAAY better than the annual FAA medical exam. I can fly my old piper comanche or any other airplane that I’m likely to fly legally. What a blessing! You don’t really appreciate something till its taken away from you and now I”ve got it back!!

  44. Nate D'Anna
    Nate D'Anna says:

    Blah, blah, blah. Tired of reading about this subject. If you’re against basic med, then don’t get one and stick with the FAA 3rd class. Simply stated, it’s nice that we now have a choice. As far as our family physicians are concerned, AOPA reports that physicians who are concerned about liability and therefore won’t participate in the basic med program are in a very small minority thus far. I faxed my physician all the paperwork, including AQOPA’s narrative of “What the Physician Should Know’ one week ahead of my appointment and asked that he contact me before the exam date if he had any concerns. I never heard from him and on the date of the exam, all went smoothly. I even asked him if he had any liability concerns and he said that he did not and considered this process no different than clearing athletes to participate in sports.

    On top of that, in reading the checklist of the basic med requirements, the exam content is no different nor lacking in comparison to what is required on an FAA 3rd Class medical.

    As far as the author’s concerns about the types of airplanes basic med pilot’s are permitted to fly (including high performance models) which fall within the performance guidelines, he infers that light sport airplanes are acceptable under basic med while higher performance certified aircraft should be held with a higher medical requirement. Seriously? Does the author really think that a pilot flying a light sport will die any easier in a light sport crash due to an inflight medical problem than a pilot flying a fully certified aircraft? A deadly crash is a deadly crash, light sport or not, third class med or not.

    In addition, the FAA med guarantees nothing in maintaining safety including first class for airline pilots. Just about a year ago, the headlines reported that in 2 separate incidents with 2 separate major airlines, the captains died in their left seats. A personal friend of mine who retired as a senior captain with TWA continued his career in retirement by ferrying old airliners to 3rd world countries. He passed his first class FAA physical 2 months before he died due to heart blockage and failure and 2 weeks after his last flight. So if anyone believes that FAA physicals create a safer environment and it makes them feel all warm and fuzzy inside, in reality they are being unrealistic.

    Another point is cost. My FAA doc charged me $135.00 for a third class which had to be paid out of pocket. Since my basic med exam is considered no different than an annual wellness exam, my wellness Doc believes that my regular insurance carrier will cover the exam cost which will mean $0 out of pocket. If not, the cost out of pocket (co- pay) will be minimal at best.

    There are some of my fellow pilots that have elected to go with Basic Med, but still have their FAA Docs perform the exam. This is another option to consider if you have a family physician that won’t participate.

    In my particular case, after working with the FAA through my colon cancer diagnosis in 2014 and after a full recovery, there were many special issuance certificates issued during my journey and finally a 3rd class but valid for only one year. To have continued with third class, my doctors and I would have had to keep submitting reports including possible MRIs and Cat Scans (very costly) should the FAA require them. In other words, although I have been completely cancer free for the past 7 years, and even though I have been in possession of a third class medical, the FAA at it’s discretion can require all the requirements previously mentioned. No thanks, don’t need the BS, the cost, the time, the hassle and with basic med I can now avoid the possibility of the FAA suddenly and unexpectedly having a change of opinion.

    To conclude, FAA medical or basic med, light sport or certified high performance or not,
    there are no guarantees regarding safety in any of these scenarios. So if you feel better getting an FAA medical exam which includes the same exam parameters as a Basic Med, then please do so with my blessing if it gives you a sense of false security and makes you sleep better at night. In the meantime, don’t bum rap Basic Med and those of us who believe in it.

    • Richard Gerou
      Richard Gerou says:

      The FAA has given up nothing, and the probabilities is that in the future you will see things differently when you are dealing with a special of your own, 46% of us have cardiovascular issues. Well that will be bla-bla-bla booring.

  45. Jack
    Jack says:

    As I read these comments, the theme is that Basic Med has been a significant benefit for pilots with serious medical conditions. I think that is great and applaud and support their gratitude in being able to engage in their passion out from under the unreasonable thumb of the FAA. But Basic Med was never sold as a solution to the multiple special issuance problems for pilots with medical issues. It was sold as the end of the Third Class Medical, a Driver’s License Medical, the same rules as the LSAs. To that end AOPA has solicited funds for the campaign for years. Measured against that goal, Richard Collins is correct it is a big disappointment. I won’t go so far as others on other websites have said that they will never give another cent to AOPA. But when I saw Anus added to the exam checklist, I couldn’t help but think it was there to make sure it was in good shape when they blew Sunshine up it.

  46. Tom Zimmie
    Tom Zimmie says:

    I don’t think Basic Med is a cruel hoax, but I agree it is not a big deal. The form is basically very similar to the 3rd class medical form. It will save the average pilot some time and money. For example, I am on blood pressure medication, well controlled, no problem passing a 3rd class medical, but would have to have three readings taken by a physician at least 24 hr apart. A pain, not a deal breaker. Didn’t have to do it. No problem with my physician signing off. I’ve talked to several pilots, none have had any problem getting their physicians to sign off. My physician was surprised at the FAA action, because she noted that DOT has gotten much stricter with commercial drivers licenses, and this was a much simpler procedure.
    However, I agree 100% with Dick, it would have been much more transformative if the FAA upped the sport air max. weights to 2500 or 3000. That would be a big deal. Maybe AOPA will push for that one?
    By the way, on another topic. I just attended a great AOPA seminar in Albany, NY. Well attended, about 100. Looked around the room, nobody under age 25, and I think nobody under 30. Average age estimate, 60. Not good.

  47. Lars
    Lars says:

    Another vote for upping the LSA max weight to a higher number.

    If I can fly a Tecnam, a Jabiru or a Carbon Cub, I should be able to fly a Cessna 150, a Super Cub, Cherokee or Skyhawk!

    I’m going to stick with the LSA privileges. While I’m currently healthy, I have some prior medical issues (now resolved and not involving cardio or nervous system) that might cause a great deal of medical testing expense should I seek to renew my 3rd class medical. It’s not worth the risk! My own physician will not sign off on BasicMed and he is not aware of any physicians in the area who are willing to do so.

    I would be ecstatic if the LSA weight limits were raised to 2000 lbs and euphoric at 3000. Allow up to 3 passengers, limit the horsepower to 250 or less and I don’t care about the gear; keep it fixed or allow it to move. My Hail Mary would be a nice Cherokee Six under LSA rules… :-)

  48. John
    John says:

    52, Male, tried basic med, primary doc won’t sign form that says ‘safely operate an airplane’ says does not matter if pass physical or not. Says she does not know or has had any training to make a determination of what ‘safely operating an airplane’ means. Going back to AME to get my Class III now…. I don’t have time to try to educate docs on potential liability issues. I really am surprised that AMA has not spoken out on this issue.

  49. Nate D'Anna
    Nate D'Anna says:

    Why not just get your Basic Med from your AME instead of Class 3 for now?
    Then you will be enrolled in the Basic Med program which can give you time to find a better educated and reasonable primary Doc. (It will buy you 4 years) As an option, you can also stick with your AME forever for servicing you with Basic Med every 4 years.
    My personal opinion is that if my primary Doc is working to meet my needs, then he/she needs to meet ALL my needs which includes Basic Med. If he/she refuses, I’d replace him/her with another primary doc. That should rattle their cages and perhaps give them the incentive to educate themselves regarding Basic Med.
    I think AOPA should ask the members for a list of primary care docs that have refused to service Basic Med applicants and then educate them by sending them materials regarding everything a physician should know about Basic Med.

  50. Doug
    Doug says:

    My Dr lived through the ridiculous questions the FAA asked my on my last medical, I showed her the forms for basic med. She has no problem signing them, she knows I’m fit and it will be less work than answering those questions again.

    I agree, find a new Primary Care Physician.

  51. David Hersman, CFI
    David Hersman, CFI says:

    I agree with Nate and John. Most doctors are used to signing papers for commercial truckers, athletes, and employers requirements. A doctor is not certifying that you are competent to fly an airplane – just that you met certain criteria on a given day, and that he/she does not know of any physical problem that would preclude you from flying an aircraft. If a doctor doesn’t want to do it, get a doctor who has YOUR best interest at heart.

    I have had two students go through the BasicMed process, and although it is new to all of us, they had no problems with the doctors. I think the word will be getting around quickly concerning which doctors will or won’t gladly cooperate in this.

  52. DL
    DL says:

    I can see how for many this was of no help and frustrating.

    However, it did help me as i had two good 3rd class medicals after 2006. My doctor who has known me for a while had no trouble at all signing the forms as my latest physical exams were (thankfully) excellent. I brought him the AOPA flyer and it was helpful.

    For my goals and resources, BASICMED it allows one to fly a whole lot more than just sport pilot (for example T6 Stearman maybe even a smaller TBM??). It fits with my own personal goals and will help save costs as i can bring my paperwork every 4 years for one of my annual physicals.

    Best to all AIRMEN (and women) wishing to fly –

  53. David Norris
    David Norris says:

    I did BasicMed about 3 days after it went into effect. It was a normally scheduled follow-up visit with my regular doctor. She had a few questions about it but was comfortable signing the forms. Most importantly, she knows my health is good and that my couple of common medical conditions (hypertension, hyperlipidemia) are well managed with few side effects. As such, I saved the cost of another exam and – perhaps more critically for me – the time needed to get another 3rd Class medical. I plan to get her to update it every yearly visit. Full disclosure: I’m also a doctor (pediatrician) so she maybe had some trust that I knew what I was doing as well. She also has known me for a long time and knows I don’t have any interest in gaming the system.

  54. TN Al
    TN Al says:

    First fruits, trade journal article. This works.

    I called several, found a DC. Then, I brought the forms, 30 minutes, 10 explaining new law. Left with BMed paper. Later same day, 45 minutes to do AOPA training and quiz. Smooth and straight forward. MD or DO not required.

    ” The BasicMed exam . . . . physician licensed by a state medical board. That language seemed to apply only to medical and osteopathic doctors. However, on July 14, TeamCME received FAA confirmation that DCs are Specialty Physicians when considered as “Chiropractic Physicians” by their state chiropractic licensing board. To be able to participate as a BasicMed provider, the state chiropractic scope of practice must also include the ability to perform the components of the BasicMed exam. ” …

    ” There are at least 31 state boards that allow DCs to use the phrase “chiropractic physician.” They are listed below. Performing physical exam similar to the BasicMed is included in the chiropractic scope of practice in 47 states.” 3 August 2017

  55. ChuckSeitz
    ChuckSeitz says:

    Have just had the basic med exam done by my family doctor ekg good BP 125/60 doctor says I am in excellent health for 85 yrs. my 3rd class medical is good till May 2018 my doctor will not sign because of possible liability and thinks the Faa should place an age limit on pilots .

  56. Richard Gerou
    Richard Gerou says:

    I am beginning to wonder about the hole idea of “just getting a one time 3rd class and SI,” well I am on my 95th day of waiting for the FAA to get-r-done. After angio plasti, and eye surgery in 2017, I submitted all required documents to the FAA June 26 of this year. Everything had been reviewed by AOPA, and my AME, and both thought they were good to go. After 77 days AOPA was told that my documents were finally in the hands of a physician. I have a School Bus CDL and the state was happy once I passed tress and vision tests.

  57. Tom Lawford
    Tom Lawford says:

    ‘Lo all – I’m new to this site. I am a doc who just finished doing a basic med exam (passed) on a local DC pvt pilot yesterday. He found me on Nov 1 on the DOT website as one doing CDL exams. Asked me if I would be willing to perform a basic med exam. Me: “huh? whazzat? Let me examine the FAA website and call you back in 15 minutes.” I am not in private practice, work for the Smithsonian. Flew with my private pilots license age 19-28 and let it slip away, now 78. Too expensive a hobby, but loads of fun. Electrical engineer at NASA 5 years, then MD. Board Cert Occ Med Int MEd, and to do Saturation Diving med exams. Think I can grasp what is important for flying. I think that most community docs would be willing to take an honest shot at this exam and not say “I dont know flying. No thank you.” Almost all docs are familiar with all the causes of loss of consciousness, vision, hearing, spatial orientation. In my view, the FAA has done something very sensible here from a risk management point of view, fitting it into the real world. You are not going to kill 284 passengers if a black swan concatenation of medical problems converge. The risk is, I would say, somewhat less risk to yourself &/or others than allowing you to drive on the DC 495 beltway. Even though yes, it takes a lot more skills and also knowledge – not covered by a medical exam. My conclusion: Nice move, FAA. great to see government do something invoking a goodly amount of common sense. Tom Lawford MD

  58. Richard May
    Richard May says:

    I see the basicmed program as a big flop. My primary care physician won’t sign the form, since he’s unfamiliar with it. And may have liability concerns. And my AME won’t do basicmed physicals. There’s no doubt AME’s would just as soon see the whole program fail and aren’t going to do anything to help it survive. And with primary care physicians reluctant to sign the form out of unfamiliarity with the program and liability concerns, what they’ve handed us is a total dud. Useless noise. I’ve tried to send the AOPA link about basicmed to some local doctors, and most won’t even give out an email address to patients. What I thought would be a great idea and needed relief turns out to be a non-starter. The rule as it is should have been rejected and the lobbying should have continued until a workable plan could have been developed. It was poor judgement accepting this garbage of rules. I don’t know why I so naively thought my PCP would be willing to sign this form. Now I feel embarrassed from even asking him to do it.

  59. Richard May
    Richard May says:

    Well, updated, I found a doctor in a city about 2 1/2 hours drive away to sign the form. What a relief. I found him online after he had posted that he would be willing to do basicmed physicals. I suspect after 4 years when I need another exam, I may have to return to the same doc. I doubt much will change physician-wise in that amount of time with the local physicians where I live. So this will probably be a continuing problem for obtaining a basicmed physical for all of us. It sure looks good to have that certificate in hand though! I used the AOPA, and at the bottom of the certificate there is a smaller version to cut out and carry with you, in case you get ramp checked. Now that the Mayo clinic is also doing these, I’m sure their certificate will look somewhat different with their logo on it.

    • Michael
      Michael says:

      I would spend the next four years finding a local doctor who will sign the form. You may want to investigate doctors who do exams for Commercial Driver Licenses. They are used to this kind of paperwork and I think the FAA BasicMed form is a lot less intimidating than the state CDL forms I’ve seen.

      • Michael
        Michael says:

        BTW, if my current doctor refused to sign the form in the future, I would go back to my last AME. I can’t imagine he would refuse to sign the BasicMed form after successfully issuing my last FAA Medical.

      • Rollin Olson
        Rollin Olson says:

        My personal physician is familiar with my medical history as well as Commercial Drivers License exams. I explained BasicMed to him and he did the exam with no problem.

  60. Jim Byrd
    Jim Byrd says:

    As an owner of a flight school I have to say that I am concerned when someone comes to me and says I have my Basic Med good for four years. This person’s health is diminishing in multiple ways and we both know it. I have also known them for 18 good years. We have history.

    Should I let them rent a bird? Is it really worth the risk? Right now I am putting 75K into the bird they want to fly. But, this is not about (me) recovering my investment. This is about (us) avoiding wreckage and death. I have seen trauma and it is one place I prefer not to revisit or encourage in any way.

    The statement that I am good for the next four years is a fallacy and I will not let it be used against me.

    Personally, I might not be good by the end of this weekend. If I am really tired, I am not good right now. My judgement says this person will not disqualify themselves.

    To the point. It puts the onus on me to make the decision to disqualify them.

    The only other thing I can think of is a rule of “21 and 72” as a condition of rental. To explain, if you are less than 21 or over 72 years you must fly with a pilot-rated (not necessarily current) passenger in the front seat.

    Less than 21 because of the minimal experience. Over 72 because I know some will not disqualify themselves.

    How hard is it to get someone to go with you and practice crew resource management?

    I purposefully invite comment here. I want wisdom, not self-centered opinion.

    Am I way off base on this?

    • Rollin Olson
      Rollin Olson says:

      It sounds like Jim Byrd would have the same dilemma if his rental customer had a year-old 3rd Class Medical. Just that the day of reckoning would come sooner than later.

      Not being personally involved in the situation myself, I can imagine I’d be cold-hearted. But Jim is not doing either himself of the rental pilot any favors, renting a plane to someone whose fitness to fly he questions, Basic Med or no.

  61. Ted Striker
    Ted Striker says:

    If you own planes you rent to other pilots you’re free to create your own qualifications for those planes use. That’s one of the reasons I own my own planes and fly those as I see fit, with basic med. And your comments help me to justify the expense of owning my planes. Aircraft ownership and use is the only hassle-free way to enjoy flying. Other than the maintenance of the aircraft themselves. I enjoy doing that though.

  62. Richard Gerou
    Richard Gerou says:

    I not sure what I think of Jim Byrds post. I am about to turn 72, I drive a school bus 5 days a week and am working on my IFR rating.

    I have seen many people who should not driving or flying, at many ages due to inexperience, it is not same as loss of competence which can occur at any age, and for many other reasons.

    This may even be age discrimination, unless there is some other identifyable factor, in which case the refusal is not base on age.

    This is always a hard call for families (adult children) trying to deal with a parient who is loosing that driving competence.

  63. Michael
    Michael says:

    Yes, Jim Byrd, you are way off on this. BasicMed was a hard-fought victory for having the FAA intrude a little less into our private lives. As you said, every pilot is responsible for evaluating his readiness to fly before every flight. Whether it’s 1st Class or BasicMed, the pilot has met the FAA requirements as far as paperwork is concerned. My club, my FBO and CAP all consider BasicMed just as valid as any other medical – you should, too, without batting an eye.

  64. Jim Byrd
    Jim Byrd says:

    You all have good points. I would like to hear from a few more. It is about perspective.

    I’m listening.

    Jim B

  65. Doug Lesh
    Doug Lesh says:

    Reading all of the comments from last May through Jan, it is interesting some fail in understanding by pilots but also by Medical personnel.
    As far as education, I started off by writing a history of some of the medical initiatives, such as Light Sport drivers license flying and what basic Med represents along with the checklist and gave it to my Dr, a couple months before my exam. I was somewhat lucky in that my DR has been taking care of me for 10 years and has helped me with all of the numerous tests that it has taken for me to pass a 1st Class special issuance for several conditions, none of them life threatening at this point. Being very familiar with me and my knowledge of my health combined with her expertise, it was not an issue what so ever for her to sign me off. Because I go in every year for a physical, it won’t be a problem in 4 years.

    Some of the tests involved for special issuance are burdensome. One is doing a Humphreys vision test. Most eye doctors have moved on from the Humphrey machine as it is very old. Had to search 4 or 5 eye Doctors before finding one that still had one. The FAA won’t except newer machine results.
    The Asthma one, never was an issue for 40 years, but as soon as I got a special issuance for diabetes, now they acted like it was a huge deal even though I had not been hospitalized or had any significant issues for asthma since before 1960. As the other poster mentioned, pulmonary function tests every two years.
    Every year after my medical exam, I could always expect a letter from OKC wanting something more. Lot of stress waiting for whatever new test they wanted for what. I hope to never again need a FAA medical.

    To the poster early in the discussion, the drivers license requirement is not new in any way. A picture ID has been required for over 10 years, regardless of what license or medical you were flying with. The FAA could never figure out how to meet the requirement to put a picture on the pilots license, so the next best thing was a drivers license, passport and a couple other eligible IDs.

    I wish we had gotten drivers license only authority, but basic med is still better than a third class medical when it comes to special issuance.

    My beef with basic med, my airplane is certified for 6 or 7 seats. I have to get an STC to ‘modify” my airplane so that it only has 6 seats in it for me to fly under basic med. It came from the factory with 6 seats and has never had the 7 child seat installed.

    Been working on that for almost a year now.

    Unable to be a regular safety pilot, yea that is a fail on the FAAs part, but they just are the PIC and the person under the hood is sole manipulator of the controls. It makes for a convoluted situation in some circumstances. Who is landing current, who is instrument current when filing IFR etc.

    While I understand the nervousness about someone age 72, permanently banning them to having to fly with someone else is a little too much. But maybe requiring them to do their Flight Review with your instructors might give you a higher comfort level to renting them airplanes on their own. Heart attacks happen to people of all ages, not just older folks.

    • Michael
      Michael says:

      They request more tests or info and you watch while your Medical expires for no good reason. They should automatically temporarily extend your Medical when they ask for more tests or info.

  66. Rollin Olson
    Rollin Olson says:

    I have to think that Mr. Collins’ vast experience with aviation over the last 65 years was not serving him well when he formed his first impressions of BasicMed. If he already new everything in BasicMed course, good for him; but that doesn’t mean that it’s not valuable for us low-time ordinary pilots to review the material. Often a reminder helps. And if he’s fortunate enough not to need a Special Issuance or even to have an oldster’s usual medical history, then the doesn’t appreciate what a hassle they can be.

    Time change, and something that didn’t work 70 years ago isn’t necessarily a failure now.

    My personal physician is familiar with my state of health and with Commercial Drivers License exams. I approached him with background information and a positive attitude. He did the exam with no fuss.

  67. Rich
    Rich says:

    What a fear mongering load of crap.
    Are there any other topics you know nothing about that you’d like to critique?

    Talk to someone that has done it.

    I have gone the Basic Med route as have more than 33,000 other pilots and I have helped to guide others through it that had their head filled with this kind of nonsense.

  68. William Sutherland
    William Sutherland says:

    Rich, I wonder if you noticed the question mark in the title of column. This indicates the author is questioning the benefits of the BASIC MED and presenting his views of the shortcomings. Other comments have offered reasons for agreement or disagreement with his views, yet all you have submitted are acidic comments without any reasonable justification for them. As for your comment about Mr. Collins knowledge of aviation topics, I would suggest that he had more knowledge of aviation in general than 95% of pilots worldwide and that includes YOU and I. The comments submitted to AIR FACTS are normally constructive and courteous. I take issue with your rude and disagreeable attitude toward an otherwise friendly exchange of thoughts and ideas.

  69. Doug Lesh
    Doug Lesh says:

    Besides, no speaking ill of the dead. I have read many of Mr Collins articles over the years and most of them were spot on. May he RIP.
    Getting basic med medically speaking was quite easy and yes it definitely helps those with SI more. But at least it is another choice available. My problem was with my airplane, it was certified for 6 or 7 passengers. Had to get an STC to prohibit using the 7th seat to make it legal for me to fly under basic med. That took 9 months. Fortunately my local FAA was very accommodating and did all of the work. Most of the time was for the FAA on how to figure out how to do that, traditionally STCs are for making a modification of the airplane, it did not fit any of their own rules to do one.

  70. kenneth Baba
    kenneth Baba says:

    this medical garbage takes away the rights that you rating authorise you to perform. it is for thrill seekers to fly ==not pilots.the medical has nothing to do with what type of aircraft you fly or where you fly, your ratings do that ====we got hosed!!!!!!!!!! it is another push from the airlines to “get the little airplanes out of there if they were important? you don’t have to do this!!!!!!!!!! you can still keep your third class and all your privileges as you paid so much money to get.the f.a.a. is not doing there job they are letting idiots in congress decide our gate.this is dead is to dumb down pilot hours so it will save the losers new pilots money.earn your ratings or go play golf.

  71. DL
    DL says:

    My doc had no trouble signing. just add this on to the physical. the online exam seems reasonable. I don’t plan to carry 7 passengers ever. all in all seemed simpler, but i know that isn’t everyone’s perspective.

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