Real Answers from Real Pilots

All I want for Xmas is for the FAA to approve my medical status



My comments weren’t about “public image” they were about liability. Right or wrong there’s a HUGE difference between a pilot being overweight or color deficient and German Wings 9525.



The SIs for color deficiency are not for people that are color blind, they are for those who can not pass a regular test, but can make out aviation colors via another means of testing. To my knowledge, the FAA will never issue a medical for a truly color blind person.


(Justin Riley) #23

Love this thread, as I too am in ‘FAA waiting hell’ for a SI of my First Class medical. I was supposed to start with credit for private this past Monday at TIW, but had to reschedule as my application is still stuck in Washington, DC, waiting for review. Submitted in early September, and optimistically scheduled my start date as 12/3 was the next available at the time. Thankfully, ATP is holding my deposit for up to 6 months, and I won’t have to pay another $1k to schedule a new start date once the medical is approved.

I followed the FAA guidelines to the letter, saw every specialist and took every test they required, and after several appointments (and about $4000) received a positive review from all of them, including my senior HIMS AME. Everything “looks good,” but I know the FAA does what they want. So, we’ll see…hopefully soon! Until then I’ll keep knocking out written tests. Already passed IRA and FII. CAX is next.


(Charles McCarthy) #24

I’m in the same boat as you, Anne. I applied for a 1st class in early September and didn’t get a response for 6-7 weeks.

September 7-10 - AME mails out deferral
October 22-25 - Receive reply from the FAA requesting information from treating psychiatrist.
November 7th - Mail information
November 22-24 - Receive reply the information was inadequate
December 4th - Psychiatrist mails the FAA my medical history and records

Now I’m just waiting for the FAA to hopefully request I undergo a neuro-psych evaluation instead of outright denying me. That’s not even a guarantee for issuance either as the FAA flight surgeon could still deny me based on the evaluation’s results.

I’m pretty much resigned to the fact I’ll never fly, but I’ll keep playing the FAA’s snail-mail game until I receive the denial. Not really looking forward to spending the rest of my life in IT/Software, but it pays the bills.

(Enrique Villalobos) #25

I am excited to announce that today I received word from the FAA that my class I medical with special issuance was approved. They even emailed me a copy to have on hand while I wait for the official certificate to arrive in the mail.

Here is what I learned from this experience and I hope this helps:

  1. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate - Contact the FAA regularly and communicate that you are awaiting approval so you can start a flight program and ask what you could do to expedite the process. The operators are extremely helpful in answering questions and telling you what documentation you can begin to submit even if you haven’t received an official letter. Also don’t be afraid to ask if the condition you have is disqualifying or requires special issuance. The operators were very forward with that.

  2. Documentation - make sure you turn in the proper documentation that the FAA asks for as this could cause delays. You don’t have to mail the documentation. The FAA gave me a fax number to submit my documentation. I also called regularly to make sure the documentation was added to my file

  3. Patience - this is the hardest. Especially for people who are type I personalities like myself. However, If you keep up your communication with the FAA you will find it easier to be patient.



That is great news, congratulations!!! When do you intend on starting your flight training?


(Justin Riley) #27

Congrats, Enrique!

Would you mind sharing how long it took from your application and documents officially being received and scanned in until you got your approval?

Appreciate the tips as well. I’ve been checking the status every week to 10 days. I’m in the Seattle area, and we have a Regional Flight Surgeon office here. I’ve been working with them as they’re easier to get through to than Oklahoma City, and they typically have more time to really try to get a solid status update.

Good luck with your training!

(Enrique Villalobos) #28

I have my orientation flight tomorrow 12-12-18 in Austin, TX. I’m shooting for a January or February start. I will learn more after my flight I’m sure.

(Enrique Villalobos) #29

Justin, I’d be happy to provide my timeline. I’ll put that together when I return home from my orientation flight.

(Anne Elliott) #30

Thank you Tory! It’s reassuring to know it is slow for everyone. I’ll try to be patient! Appreciate it.

(Tory) #31


No problem. Just for perspective, when I went through this process, I waited 9 months to receive my medical, which includes scheduling delays with doctor’s offices, but still 9 months of waiting tables and no flying. At the time, it felt like an eternity. Now, it’s like it never happened.


(Charles McCarthy) #32

Grats, Enrique! Best of luck.

(Chas Morris) #33

I have had a similar experience. I was on a medication at the end of graduate school 10 years ago. Between working and going to grad school, I found my anxiety to be high. It turns out, I just needed to back off coffee and use exercise to help with that.
The challenge was when I attempted to wean off that medication there was a threshold towards the end that caused months of vertigo like symptoms.
So I stayed on the lowest dose possible to not have the vertigo symptoms (it lasts for months).
Long story short, I went for my medical in July still on that low dose, but it was deffered and I’ve sense had to go through the SSRI protocol. Which makes sense. I officially weaned off the medication in August and have seen a HIMS AME and FAA psychologist. They’ve recommended to the FAA that my anxiety was situational. I’m still waiting on the FAA at this point.
Humbling, but I get it. I’m not sure what it means long term in terms of airline career.
It has not stopped me from pursuing a private pilot’s certificate (though I can’t solo yet) , thriving without the medication or enjoying my career I have today.

My heart goes out to you, we’re all wading through our dreams vs. reality. Dreams are powerful, they push us not to give up. But I’m finding in this journey to hold very loose to them and just enjoy the flying I get to do now.

Hang in there.

(James Rothenburg ) #34

I posed some of these questions earlier in the year when I was looking at getting my Class 1 medical cert. My situation is related to the Veterans side of the house for those that are looking at using their VA benefits.

I am currently VA disabled at above 50%, with one issue as PTSD COMBAT RELATED. I empathize combat related because at the end of the day, it was PTSD for combat. In my case, sustained combat in the earlier years (03-04) of OEF.

Needless to say, I knew this would be an issue applying for a Class 1 medical certificate. I did my research, read these forums and others, and found an AME who was a former combat fighter pilot in Vietnam…those guys are still around!

I flew out of state specifically to see him, armed with an hour appointment (not the usual 15 min) and all my VA paperwork and letter from my current primary physician. The VA surprisingly keeps great records that you have to wait a few months for to receive via CD. Even with the PTSD issue, my records reflected no history of symptoms from generalized day to day PTSD, only along the combat lines. With those records dating back 10 years, the AME issued me a Class 1.

Well…a few weeks later the FAA sent me a letter saying they needed move info to approve the Class 1. So I sent the same information (med records) I showed the AME and also wrote a letter to the reviewing FAA doctor explaining my situation, current occupation, and the specifics outlining combat related issues. This letter was the icing on the cake.

I waited, and waited, and waited for about 3 months and finally received word that my medical as good to good with no issues. Although the letter was a little scathing about promptly reporting any changes…all in all, just be prepared and give them all the information you have,



Thank you for posting your experiences with the FAA. I am sure others will learn from it.