Medical Certificates


For younger potential flight students there is almost never any concern about passing the necessary medical exam to qualify for a Private Pilot Certificate. But for those of us who are older there is almost always some level of concern. Nevertheless there is rarely a problem that can't be overcome.


The purpose of requiring FAA Medical Certificates is not to limit flying to the "most healthy" of us. The only reason to require FAA Medical Certificates is to insure the safety of air travel. Keep this in the front of your mind.


There are three types of FAA Medical Certificates. They are designated as First Class, Second Class and Third Class. The First Class Medical Certificate is sort of different. It's necessary for Airline Transport Pilots and is not generally pertinent to a discussion of learning how to fly and enjoying the privilege of being a Private Pilot.


For pleasure flying and for flying in your non-flying related business, you need a Third Class Medical Certificate. You need a Second Class Medical Certificate to get paid for flying (i.e. for a Commercial Pilot Certificate).


There are really only two real differences between the Second Class Medical Certificate and the Third Class Medical Certificate.


The Second Class Medical Certificate expires every year and thus needs to be renewed yearly. The Third Class Medical Certificate is kind of funny. If you're under 40 years old it expires every three years and if you're over 40 it expires every two years,


The vision limitations are a bit different. Basically, in the case of the Second Class Medical Certificate you need correctable distant vision of 20/20. In the case of a Third Class Medical Certificate you need correctable distant vision of 20/40.


That's it. Not much of a difference, really just how often you have to renew your Medical Certificate with another exam.


The process of getting a FAA Medical Certificate is a legal process that is subject to appeal and goes something like this. You go to an FAA Aviation Medical Examiner. This is a doctor in private practice designated by the FAA to conduct FAA medical exams and issue FAA Medical Certificates. He or she gives you a medical exam and reviews your medical history. The exam includes:


• A full medical history questionnaire,

• General exam,

• Blood Pressure test,

• Urine test for sugar,

• Near and far vision test,

• Color chart test, and

• A protein to check for diabetes and possible kidney disease,


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