FAA Medical

So my FAA medical is due for renewal and while in the process of getting it I figured… Man what a great video idea! Plus I actually learned a few things during the process. For example the FAA is going all electronic with their medical paperwork now. I’ll show you how to do all of that in this video.

What’s your experience with getting your FAA medical? I’d love to hear! Leave me a comment below…

  • Murphy110


    I have atrial fibrillation and take medication twice a day for it.  I have no limitation of activities.  Can you tell me if it is worth having a medical or should I stick to the Sport Pilot certification route?


  • Rick Bronstein

    I went through my first medical about 6 weeks ago.  No problem with the exam although I needed to provide documents that I had recovered from surgery 18 months prior.  (I guess walking into the office wasn’t enough to show that intestinal surgery hadn’t killed me).

    I’m on zero medication so I knew there would be no issue with that.

    However, I am somewhat colorblind.  Failed the eye test for colors, failed all the followup with my eye doctor and failed the FAA exam for colors.

    So, I’ll only be able to fly during the day.  Not the worst outcome.


  • Nick Schillen, CFI

    One of my first students had a prothetic eye, and I was not aware of it. He didn’t tell me until he was ready to do his first solo. Needless to say it took him a while to get his Statement of Demonstrated Ability (SODA) processed, and his first solo had to wait. He eventually got his private pilot certificate and then his instrument rating without any problems. Lesson learned: If there any doubts concerning medical issues, get that physical exam as early as possible. 

    Nick Schillen

  • Secondchancejj


    I am a double lung transplant! I had to give FAA lots of pages of medical records for review! Transplants are on immunosuppressive drugs among others. I had great team of doctors to support me in living my second chance of life. I may have been granted a special issuance, but I am following my passion and dream. I am only one of a dozen if even that which are flying under a Class 3 license. Life is amazing…don’t ever stop believing!


  • Rick Brevik

    I have had a problem that I thought would keep me from flying but it didn’t.  I had an Acoustic Neuroma.  That is a NON malignant brain tumor.  It is called acoustic because it grows around and is intertwined in the hearing nerve.  I had surgery and in the process the nerve had to be taken out.  Along with it out came the nerve for my equilibrium.  There is another nerve on the other side of your head for equilibrium and it takes over the job of making you able to stand and get around.  Some people take a while to recover from this but I was able to walk in two days and was released in three.  As long as you can hear the doctor talk from six feet away you can pass your medical.  Using a headset is great.  I have no problem hearing at all. 
      I just wanted to tell you about my experience in case there is someone out there that has a similar problem.  I can still Fly! 

  • I have Asthma, and I’m about to go get a new medical (my second) too.  

    My asthma is mild and very well managed.  I carry an inhaler in case of emergency, and take Advair in the morning to manage it overall.  I took part in a bike ride from SF to LA a few years ago (almost 500 miles over 7 days), so I don’t see my asthma as being something that holds me back or presents much in the way of risk.  I’ve never had an “attack” that required any kind of medical intervention.

    For the last 5 years the FAA has required me to take a full Pulmonary Function Test suite (this is a $3,000 to $4,000 batch of tests).  My medical insurance has always covered this, with various different copays (up to about $800 with deductables, etc) depending on my insurance at the time,  but I fear at some point they will consider it unjustified and lump me with the bill.  The FAA has always issued me medicals that are restricted to one year, and then I have to get the test done and send in the complete results in order to get cleared for my next year. (So – tests every year, but see AME on regular schedule). 
    It is quite a pain; my medical isn’t due until May, but I will start working on it now because getting appointments, and then the documentation and then waiting for the FAA review takes such a long time.  

    The test results are quite interesting…  they cover lung capacity, peak flow of air into and out of the lungs, and some other things both with and without a bronchiodilator.  My tests have been very stable, but there doesn’t seem to be any avenue to ask for the test to only be required every 2 years or something like that.  Very interested to hear other stories or if anyone has successfully requested anything like this.

  • Thomas Bo Jepesen

    The FAR states, that any AMI can do the exams. Being a Dane with a FAA PPL, can I do my flight medical in Denmark with an CAA approved flight surgeon? Love your videos. R/Thomas

  • Hey Jason, do I need to be a US resident in order to get the FAA medical and then the PPL? I’m going to spend months if not years over there as a EU citizen. I tried to look up the FAA website but all I can find is how you can get your foreign medical and PPL approved and no information whatsoever regarding learning aviation or doing the initial exams in the US as a foreigner. Thanks!

  • Sku-ren

    ELIPTICi. had epeletic about 12 years ago , because og  meringities disease.and they operated on my head.  well I did take some medicine along the years , and it got better,, i lost it , now i  dont have it!. but i cant convince the doctor he wants to keep me on medicine. but have have had all kinds of tests and scans and it all looks good, i am well that i know, i drive a car, and have also been flying with my instructor.
    but i cant get the health department to except  that i am well.  the wrong thing i did when i went to have my medical test, was that i said i had eleptic problems many years ago that i got  from an operation 12 years ago. they wont let me get my ppl licence , but they said i can fly micro airplanes. that was ok.  i m ok, but my doctor wont let me off the hook.


  • Bjinc

    I had prostate cancer for ten years and they took my ticket for about three months before I went to great expense and time before I got it back, now every time I need a letter from my doctor. How can people with bad hearts and other problems still fly?  It is not like prostate cancer will kill you you in one our while flying? I should not even put it down on the renewal.



  • Fltsimken1

    Here is one that most will not want to talk about and that one is Alcoholism. I am a recovering Alcoholic. I have 14 years of sobriety which I am very proud. I had many DUII’s in my life.  I also lost my driving privlages for 5 years.I always wanted to fly but spent my money on alcohol for a good part of my life. With that record and poor driving past, Getting a medical for a private pilot was a task but one well worth it. I went for the medical and passed. I was then obligated to get an addiction evaluation from a drug and alcohol treatment center. I passed that and sent a copy of that along with a letter to the FAA and waited to here back. They granted me my medical with no restrictions or problems. I am going for a renewal this May 14 2012. I am not sure if they will require me to be evaluated again but will do so if need be. So there is hope for those like myself. There is also a group called B.O.A.F.  It is a group of pilots that are involved with a 12 step program and support group that is fantastic.
    Happy flying.

  • Dave Goodale

    When I Got My 1St 3rd Class Medical In 2005 (At 43), I WasHonest And Told The Faa That I Had High Pressure In My Eyes(Possible Glaucoma, But With 20/20 Vision, This Has Been Going On Since I Was 17, And I Go Twice A Year). 13 Months Later I Got A Letter From Faa That I Had 30 Days ( Very Close To Check Ride)  To Get Several Test Done. Went To My Ophthalmologist For Tests, He Had To Pull Test Instuments Out Of Drawer, Blow Dust Off Of Them, Read Instuctins To Do Tests!! That Is How Far Faa Is Behind! Last Year Was 1st Time Past Without More Test. I Think You Should Be Honest, But??

  • Dchanson55

    I had colon cancer and surgery, they revoked my student med cert, took a year to gather all the medical documentation they asked for, and have to renew every year, tougher than the IRS they are, BUT, I still learned to fly…

  • John Hey MD

    Been a Sr. AME for about 35 years.  Well, the FAA really does want to keep people flying.  But they are being watched by our politicians like a hawk lest they cut any of us slack.  There really are few things that will cause you not to be able to get a medical certificate.  If there is a problem, the FAA will spell out exactly what is to be required to get it and you and your doctor must do everything on the list.  It may be a lot of hoops to jump through, but every point has a reason so they can assure that you will not be disabled in the air and not them be blamed for not doing due diligence.  Your AME should know the rules and be able to help guide you.  Meanwhile, we need to practice good health practices to not get into trouble.  So don’t use tobacco, illicit drugs, or much alcohol at all.  Exercise, keep weight down and get those baseline test to head off trouble.  If there is some disorder then take the treatment necessary.  In the end very few can’t fly. 

  • AShah

    took me about 2.3 years a cpl of stress tests  & blood works plus 5 years of medical history being a senior citizen finally FAA issued me a S.I Special Issuance I have about 41 hours of flying with an instructer  lesson learn’t get your medical out of the way first! will  save u a lot grief and money like Jason said in one of his video’s. I have repeat  the same stress test , blood works etc again in about  9 months by that time  hopefully I will have my private license . and also have my S.I. Reissued ! Moral of the story is Don’t give up ! 2. O.K does want  to keep you flying just be upfront with them

  • Dfg1958

    I am a 2 time transplant recipient, and my medical issues were minimal with the FAA.   I am ALWAYS prepared to take my exam.  I renew in May and tomorrow, I have to do a  colonsocopy, then I have an exam with my kidney transplant doc in 7 days and my liver transplant doc in 2 weeks.  They do a statement of my last 12 months of health and sent that to the FAA for clearance.  Before they ask, I have any changes in medications explained up front.  I started an annual injection for osteoporosis so that physicians’ statement will be included with my request.  All in all, when done, the FAA has no other reason to contact me except for my (hopeful) approval.   As explained, give them what they need and be honest and it helps a LOT.    http://www.TransplantedPilot.blogspot.com

  • Mark C.

     Murphy110 – Consult with a medical advisory service before applying for a medical. I use AOPA’s medical services program and have been very happy with their advice.

    I knew my eyes weren’t what they used to be, but I was shocked when the AME refused to issue my student pilot certificate and referred me to the FAA. The FAA told me to get bifocals. Bifocals! (They were right, I needed glasses). I also have a lazy eye and had to pass a SODA ride for that, which seemed ridiculous after 50 hours of flying including at least 15 solo hours, but was easy enough and after all it was just another excuse to go flying. After all that I finally got my Private and I’ve become kind of health conscious, I don’t want to lose my medical at this point.


  • Barry

    Before I started taking even my first flight Lession, I went to the AME because I knew there would be issues as I have had a heart murmur since I was a child. I have no symptoms but knew that this would be a small hurdle that needed to be felt with.

    The AME differed my application to the FAA and they required a few tests and a statement from my cardiologist. A lot of dollars and three months later, I received my medical, and began my flight training.

    I would recommend to anyone who has any kind of medical blip in there history, to take their medical exam before starting there training, and join AOPA’s medical assistance benefit as it was very helpfull to have someone explain the process to help lesson the stress.

  • Rmainc1

    If you have a possible issue, and many people, especially older people, do….

    Know this upfront —- that although the FAA will grant a SI (Special Issuance) in most cases, it does involve jumping through hoops on a yearly basis, that’s EVERY year… and can be VERY expensive getting the exams, tests, etc. they often require. 

    And the wait for them to review and issue your SI can (and usually does) take 2-3 months and I’ve heard of longer …. that is 2-3 months you’re effectively grounded each year waiting for them to review your documents.  

    Insurance often won’t pay for the tests & doctor visits required when they know it’s just to get/keep your FAA medical and “not medically required”. 

    My doctors pronounce me fit to fly every year… in fact they (and one of them is a pilot himself) feel the tests required are overboard, more than than what should be necessary… you do everything they ask, pass all the requirements, and then wait… and wait… and wait some more to receive it in the mail. 

    It can be frustrating as well as expensive.  Perhaps it’s obvious I’m frustrated right now … I sent in everything required 3 weeks before my medical expired, and it’s going on 3 months now, called them last week and was told my application is “in line to be reviewed”. 

    Of course, your mileage may vary… but I know several pilots with SI’s that would tell you the same thing I did.  

  • Kenn3621

    I am late addressing this but it gave me the opportunity to review comments posted by others.  I am in my sixties and I do have a SI medical which must be renewed every year. Some say they are grounded every year for three months waiting for it to come back.  I have never been grounded a day.  The SI requests you submit to them three months in advance of your expiration date the info required. I have always done this and always have my medical back prior the the current on expiring.  The expense some say that they incur is normally involved in testing for your condition on a regular and ongoing basis. You submit directly to the FAA on your non AME years and throught your AME on those years your physical is required. This would be every five years for those forty and under, every other year for those over forty. My experence with the FAA is they try to help you if you follow the rules.  Since the former head of the medical branch of FAA has recently retired we will have see if there are any changes under the new branch chief.

  • Glipsky

    Hi can you explaine the SI licence maybe i could go for that have had some health issues, I have had my private for  22 years and also an A & P and flight engineer on a & 727-200 for a few years, but havent flown since 2001   thanks Guy

  • Trbill64

    What about Rhuematoid Arthritis? I am not yet a pilot but am planning to be one. Are there any arthritis meds that could keep you from flying?

  • CaddoFlying

     There are a number of arthritis meds that can keep you from getting a medical certificate or require a special issuance.  I discovered this as a student pilot getting ready to solo, and it took 9 months to “get off” the various meds and the finally obtain the special issuance letter, good for six years.  BTW, my letter indicates that I cannot hold a regular medical certificate due to my rheumatoid arthritis.  I am not sure if this applies to everyone with RA or is based on severity.  Be prepared to get your rheumatologist involved early in this process!

    Meds that were a problem for me: Davacet (or any narcotic med for pain management), Lunesta (or other sleep med), and Lyrica for RA related nerve issues (this was to treat leg pain/burning/tingling for me).  For these meds, prescribed at the worst of my RA symptoms, I had to show that I could be off of them for 90 days with no side effects.  I had been taking these medications for some years, and was also by then taking Embril, with excellence results.  My rheumatologist monitored me as I went off all of those listed above, taking only a small does of methotrexate and also Enbril once a week.  I was issued the special issuance letter once FAA OK City was satisfied with the rheumatology reports.  Be sure that your doctor is prepared for this, too, as he/she will need to work closely with you and write perhaps several letters.  Some seem reluctant to do so, although mine was excellent on this.  I seemed to provide some data that he could take his patients off of some of the medications once good progress was being made with meds like Enbril.

    My special issuance med certificate has to be renewed each year, alternating my turning in a yearly letter indicating my RA condition (no changes in RA, no side effects, good blood work) myself with an actual AME visit.  Methotrexate must be monitored when taken as a part of the treatment, hence the blood work (I think).  So, this past year I received my medical certificate from my AME, although I still sent all of my RA reporting in ahead of time to FAA OK City, this coming time I will only send in the report information and will receive my medical in the mail from FAA direct.

    My suggestions for you, or others with RA:  Start ahead of time and work on the problem medications with your RA doctor.  You will need to get off any of the ones I mention specifically or similar meds, and stay off.  When you fill out the medical form, you will want to be able to show that you are NOT taking any of these.  Be sure you have a rheumatologist that is willing to work with you on being a pilot.  Mine was/is excellent on this, but I think some are NOT, I am not sure they want to do the extra work required with you.  Also, be sure that you understand the role of the AME.  They are paid by you, but they are required to report any adverse issues to the FAA.  Suffice it to say that you should take care of these meds and issues with YOUR DOCTOR ahead of time, before going to the AME for the medical, and do this long enough ahead of time to be sure of any side effects issues.

    I have been a pilot (PPL) now for about five years.  I have not taken any of the medications or similar ones as mentioned above for my RA since I had to prove (90 days verified by my pharmacy!)  that I could be off them.  I will note that I no longer appear to have needed Lyrica, at all.  There was no effect of getting off it, and my doctor thinks that taking methotrexate and Enbril had/have helped my condition to the point that the Lyrica was not necessary.  As for the others, I do have more pain now and simply take AR Strength Tylenol and bear it.  Sleeping can sometimes be a pain, too.  Except for swimming, I can’t do as much exercise now, either.  BUT I can fly!!!  I hope this helps… 

    One other thing, join AOPA (or others orgs?) as they have an excellent set of folks that will work with you on your medical certification issues.  There is even a for fee service you can get through them, if needed.  Good luck with all!

  • Kilroy

    I am in the middle of the Special Issuance hell right now. I went to get my medical before I even started taking lessons. I wanted it done because I intend on getting my license in 4-5 weeks not 4-5 months and don’t want to start and have to wait who knows how long for my paper work to come through.

    When I was a small baby I had to have emergency brain surgery for a blood clot. Because of this, the FAA made me get a neurological work up and am MRI of my head. That was done, I had that sent into the FAA. A month later I get a letter saying they needed all the paper work on a mole I had removed last year that turned out to be benign. I took care of it the very next day and returned it. Now its 6 weeks later and I’m still waiting to hear from them.

    Is there anyway to check on the status of one’s application and am I going to have to incur the expense of an MRI and neuro. work up every year?!

  • Millersd40

    Let AOPA medical help you. I am also in the middle of an SI for diabetes. They found mine on somones desk since Feb 10! Do not give up.

  • Carter

    Great video, bummer they didn’t let you film the physical, I find that ridiculous, but anyway…

    I’m in the middle of a SI medical for a DUI on my record from 4 years ago. Just passed the physical 2 weeks ago and have not heard anything yet from the FAA. Anyone know what to expect for this? Or how long it may take? Anything I can do to move things along more quickly?

  • Jim

    Got my 3rd class in 2002.  I was honest on the application and reported an incident of optic neuritis in 1982 and lost some vision in one eye (20/30) They deferred it to Oklahoma. Got letter wanting a full neurological and vision workup including MRI to prove no MS. $ 6,220 later, I sent it all in and got my medial issues 8 1/2 months later.  Every renewal, I report it as “previously” reported, every medical, questions about it and the last time, using a new AME, he called Oklahoma over the same issue.  

  • Cessna newbie

    I am a new pilot who went for the medical two years ago at 54 years old. I was late for the appointment and rushed in for the exam. I have high blood pressure and have medication for it and it is normally under control. When I rushed in for the appointment after 35 minutes in heavy traffic my BP was over the acceptable limit. I did not realize a high BP reading would prevent approval of the Medical Certificate. It took six months of doctor visits to measure BP, correspondence with the FAA, and anxiously waiting for the aproval to come through. The bad thing is that the initial appointment was in January and I did not get the Medical Certificate until six months later. The date on the medical is the initial appointment date so it was only good for eighteen months. Live and learn right? If I knew beforehand about the BP issue I would have rescheduled or left a lot earlier for the appointment so I wasn’t stressed when I arrived at the doctor’s office.

  • future aviator

    Enjoy reading the blog interesting posts I am a future aviator currently with no answers to my problem I’m trying to uptain my class 2 license, here my problem I was diagnosed with renal kidney failure and receive home homodialysis for the pass two years while awaited my transplant . I’m working with a supporting team of medical professionals who are willing to help. How can my team (medical professionals) and the faa work toward the necessary step to receiving the certification. HELP

  • robin

    They are absolute rocket scientists, I felt like I was talking to a tow truck dispatcher. When I asked him why the password set up ( whats your birthstone?, Your Birthdate?, your zodiac sign?…. why was it set up to easily hack w/ just a name and birthday…?” The “agent” said ” well nobody’s tried to hack in so far!”
    …..B.S.! Like you and the boss that hired you would really know! Further, you not only need a computer in your house to be a pilot these days-but good luck w/ a macintosh computer- agent: “It usually works though.. if you have firefox downloaded.” F—-ing great- what if tracon USUALLY worked better sometimes kinda sorta- medicals should be processed promptly and acurately ALL THE TIME w/ no technological B.S. as basis for denial of a certificate.

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