How daunting will this be?
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Answered By AOPA

I'm currently in flight training and having a blast. I put off my medical initially because I knew I needed to make sure my blood sugars were perfect for diabetes management. As more time passes I'm more and more thankful I waited to do my medical as more things pop up that I hadn't heard / considered: 

  • I have diabetes, well-controlled with Metformin (no insulin). My A1c will be at goal when I see an AME. I shouldn't have an issue with this item. 
  • I have sleep apnea for which I've been on a CPAP for nearly 10 years. My compliance report is perfect. This also should not be an issue. 
  • I wear glasses, but am followed by optometry and just got a new Rx to make sure I have up-to-date glasses during my exam. I don't foresee this being an issue. 
  • I'm color blind. The head of my flight school is pretty confident I'll be able to do the light test at our airport and be cleared for that based on his other students. 
  • I was once prescribed an SSRI for anxiety back when I was in my fellowship after med school. I used it for about a week years ago before I realized that wasn't for me. I don't have any other psychiatric history, but the presence of that SSRI on my history makes me nervous. 

I think I'll be able to clear each individual item (though horror stories about the SSRI issue are keeping me awake at night), but the list as a whole seems like an issue. It almost feels ridiculous listing all of these issues out. 

Will this tank my likelihood of getting my license? 

4 Replies
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AOPA Staff Answer

Thank you, Martin, it is great to hear that you hung in there through the process and were issued a medical certificate.  

Robert, the process of obtaining the medical certificate can be tricky. The key is to provide exactly what the FAA is requesting and doing so in a timely manner. Not doing so will only prolong the process. Know that the FAA will require medical evidence to show if the anxiety has since resolved and when any medications were discontinued. The process can indeed be long, and it can be expensive, more often than not the FAA will indeed issue a medical certificate once they have medical documentation showing that a pilot meets medical standards. The Medical Certification Specialists at AOPA can guide you through the process and advise what information the FAA will likely require from you. 

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1453 Posts

@Robert Walley
Talk to the AOPA Medical Help Desk or an expert in complicated certifications like Dr. Bruce Chien (who drops in here occasionally or can be found at www.aeromedicaldoc.com).

That said, do not even think about not putting your complete and accurate history in the application.  That's a great way to get not only denied, but also effectively blacklisted by the FAA.

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I just got my 3C medical special issuance Saturday and have very nearly the same list of issues you do. The only daunting part is that it may take a little longer than you’d like. I had my flight physical in February; the AME properly deferred my application to FAA. FAA got back to me with a list of documents I needed to submit in early April and I put together an inch-thick response with the help of my AME which went back to them on May 3rd. Got their approval (and permission for my AME to approve future special issuances) Saturday, Sept 24, so you can see the processing time was 4.75 months and overall from physical, about seven months. The only big difference in our cases is the SSRI, but I trust the documentation, long ago nature, and relatively short period of usage will all work in your favor. AOPA’s medical staff was very helpful to me through this process and I’d encourage you to involve them. And don’t give up. There really is reason driving these decisions and you wouldn’t be doing this if you weren’t sure you’re safe to fly. It just takes more time than either one of us would like. Good luck!
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1453 Posts

@Martin Hill
 The only big difference in our cases is the SSRI,…

Yes, that is a big difference.  But my best wishes remain with you despite that extra hurdle.