Attention Deficit

Almost 40 years ago I was a professional pilot with Instrument, Commercial Single Engine, ATP Multi Engine, CFI, CFII, CFIME ratings. I left flying for a more lucrative career in technology and never thought I would fly again. I was diagnosed with ADD about 25 years ago because I was striving to be a technology executive for a regional airline based in IAD. While the medication really helped in very long and boring non-technology based meetings, had I known that I would want to get back into flying some day and that the medication could keep me from doing so, I would never have pursued that approach.  Given the fact that I have already demonstrated the ability to complete the required flight and ground training as well as pass initial and recurring check rides, is it realistic to think that I could pass the battery of tests required.  I recently retired and have been off of the meds for 90 days at this point and have no intention of ever taking them again. I am 67 years old and recognize that I probably only have a 5-10 years of flying left in me and am hopeful I can pursue it again.

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You need to consult an expert in this area, like Dr. Bruce Chien (  The AOPA Medical Help desk may also be able to assist.  And there are no guarantees of anything despite your accomplishments before you were diagnosed.


Charles, a “history” of ADHD and/or use of medications is a red flag for medical certification.  The FAA will ask initially for treatment records and office notes from the past treatment and medication use, and often also ask for a personal statement from the application. In most cases though, before all is said and done, you will be asked to undergo a neurocognitive assessment with a clinical psychologist after being off the meds for at least 90 days.  If that testing is negative, there is a decent chance the FAA can grant you a medical under special issuance.