Real Answers from Real Pilots

Medical question

Dear pilots,
I have a quick medical question regarding becoming a pilot. I have had a very mild case of tourettes my whole life and it has never impacted me and what I want to accomplish. I am just like every other person out there achieving what they want such as great grades, etc. I have a driving license and do just great! I have great communication skills. The tourettes doesn’t affect me one bit and you wouldn’t even know I had it if you were around me. It has never been an issue at all growing up as a kid. I also have very mild case of aspergers and OCD which both don’;t affect me one bit in any way shape or form. I have begun flight training in the past several months and I am attending Embrey Riddle’s flight exploration camp next week for Week Alpha! I received a class one medical and everything is great! I am just wondering if this will affect me getting a class one medical for my private and commercial licenses? I am currently undergoing a little bit of very gradual flight training and none of these factors are affecting my flying and I feel completely comfortable. Will the FAA rule me out? Do you know any pilots out there with tourette’s or asperger’s? I am just another person out there that you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. I’m just wondering if i can still become a pilot! A pilot has been my dream job ever since I have been a younger kid!
Thanks for your time,
Dylan Whaley

Dylan,

As always when it comes to medical conditions etc I’m no expert but in most cases the deciding factor is can you get a First Class Medical? (I am a little confused as you say you received a Class 1 (First?) but are asking if you can get a Class1?). I did some Googling and neither Tourette’s, Asperger’s nor OCD are automatic disqualifiers. They will need your medical records and make a decision based solely on your specific symptoms and past history. The best advice I can give you is to contact a local AME (Aviation Medical Examiner). They’re the professionals and can give you the best advice.

While I couldn’t tell you if I’ve flown with anybody with Tourette’s (not something I think they’d advertise), I do know at least one with mild Asperger’s and a few with OCD. One is a friend and other than him lining up my pens when they’re scattered he’s awesome :slight_smile:

Adam

Dear Adam,
Thanks so much for your reply! When I say I received a first class medical, it was for Embrey Riddle Camp. You had to obtain at least a class three medical. I asked them if I could do everything to obtain a first class medical and I did the color blind test and everything for that. They mentioned to me that the first class medical checkup I did to receive the first class that day, is exactly what the major airline pilots go through to pass the test! I had so much relief there and was wondering if that means the Tourettes will have no factor?
Thanks,
Dylan

Dylan,

I am still confused here. Do you hold a valid, FAA First Class medical certificate?

Remember also that you need to be able to get through an airline interview. If you are symptom free and can obtain an FAA First Class medical, then you should be fine.

Chris

Chris,
I don’t believe it is a valid 1’st class medical because it is just for a camp, but I went through and passed all requirements to obtain the first class for the camp. The medical examiner mentioned I did everything for a first class that every major airline pilot goes through every year. It’s not official in that manner. I think I should be fine! I was wondering what an airline interview is like? Do you think being in such a desperate need will help boost your chances of getting a job?Also, I was wondering if I should fly cargo or passenger?
Thanks,
Dylan

Dylan,

I actually mentioned you post to a pilot friend of mine and told me they did in fact know a pilot with Tourette’s. While there are no guarantees and again it’s decided on a case by case basis, apparently it is in fact possible.

I wouldn’t say the airlines are “desperate”, let’s go with “in need” and while that increases everyone’s opportunities there are of course disqualifiers. The First Class is essential and as Chris said, ALL pilots must perform well in a interview.

Cargo or passengers is entirely up to you. It’s personal preference but the vast majority of all pilots start at the Regionals and that means passengers.

Adam

Dylan,

Since your medical exam was not an official one, I would go to a FAA Medical Examiner and obtain an actual FAA First Class Medical certificate. A pretend examination for camp is no substitute for the real thing.

Chris

Thanks Chris!
Should I get a real 1’st class medical now even though I’m not going to continue training for a while? I have multiple hours towards my private but having academics at the same time makes it very difficult to be consistent. I found it would be easier to get my 4 year degree and then complete ATP’s flight training! This fall, I will be completing my senior year of high school and getting my high school diploma. The plan, after that, is to go to a local community college for 2 years then transfer to a university to attain a BS in Meteorology. Once that is completed, I plan on attending ATP! Do you think I should do flight training at the same time as my 4 year degree?
Dylan

Dylan,

I would get the first class medical before doing any further flight training and before making any life plans that are based off of being a pilot.

I would not plan on attending flight school and college at the same time as it is just too much to handle. I think you can look to your own experiences with trying to balance academics and flying to see that.

Chris

Chris,
Thanks for your response! Should I get my first class medical before I attain my bachelors degree ? I am a senior right now. I’m planning on doing flight school after I get my bachelors degree. Should I get my first class medical right before flight training but after my four year degree or should I get it a few years in advance before I get my bachelors degree and fight thro right before flight training but after my four year degree or should I get it a few years in advance before I get my bachelors degree and fight training?
Dylan

Dylan,

Just my 2 cents but I’d get my First Class sooner than later. While you won’t need it and it will cost you some money this way you’ll know for certain. No point in investing all you energy working towards a goal only to find out you have an issue. And if in fact you do have an issue it will perhaps give you some time to possibly find a remedy.

Adam

Adam,
Does it cost extra money to keep a 1’st class medical valid: like renewing it every so often until you use it? Like if I got one in the next couple months or so, would I have to renew it once every year until I use it in 5 years?
Dylan

Dylan,

For the medical to be vaild you would have to renew it every year. But since you will not be flying you will not need to keep it valid.

Chris

Dylan,

A First Class is valid for 1 year and then becomes a Second Class. As Chris said if you’re not using it there’s no point in renewing it until you need it. My point was simply to make sure you can obtain one.

Adam

Chris,
Are the starting salaries for regional airlines on the increase? How hard is it to get a job with the regional airlines?

Dylan