Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Medical: Check!

Cross another item off the long to-do list of the steps required to obtain my Private Pilot Certificate. Today I went to an Aviation Medical Examiner (AME) which is a doctor authorized by the FAA to conduct examinations for medical certificates. It's pretty much a standard physical along with a few other procedures: checking for color blindness, getting to pee in a cup, and every guy's favorite part - the hernia check.

To go a little more in-depth, I want to discuss the three different classes of medical certificates. Each higher category involves a slightly more thorough examination and includes or supercedes all requirements in lower classes. However, these higher classes are generally only necessary for exercising the privileges of more advanced pilot certificates than the basic Private Pilot that I am training for. Also to note, since I know a lot of people wonder about this, is that for any class of medical you may wear glasses or other corrective lenses for all vision testing.
  • Third Class - necessary for Private and Recreational pilots, along with Student pilots flying solo, valid for 3 years (2 years if you're over 40 when it's issued)
  • Second Class - requires better vision than a Third Class and is necessary for Commercial pilots, valid for 12 months
  • First Class - the most restrictive class and the exam includes an EKG, necessary for Airline Transport Pilots (the airline folks), valid for 6 months
I passed as expected and walked out of there with a Third Class Medical Certificate and my Student Pilot Certificate. For whatever reason, the FAA has it set up so your student certificate and medical come together on a single piece of paper. What that means is I can now legally fly solo once my instructor says I'm ready - yikes!

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