Real Answers from Real Pilots

First Class Medical Certification/Color Blindness

Hello All,

I am looking to switch careers and become a pilot. I have done a lot of research and have decided to go with ATP but the first major hurdle seems to be passing the first class medical certificate. I have mild color blindness but have read that one shouldn’t let that stop them from being a pilot anymore. Further, I’ve been told to look at the different color blind tests that the FAA allows and find the one I can pass. Question I have though is it best to go to my regular optometrist and have them administer the test first and if I pass have them write a letter on their letterhead stating what test I took and what I scored? I was told if I did this I could take that to the AME and that it could be used to supersede any tests I take with them that I might fail (mainly the ishihara). Does anyone know if that is the best route?

If this is possible it seems to be the best way to avoid any delays but if anyone has any knowledge of others that have been able to get certified in a similar situation I would really appreciate any guidance. Thank you!


I’ve never heard of anyone with color blindness go through the process that you described. I only know of pilots that failed the test that they were given, their medical was deferred to the General Flight Surgeon and the applicant followed the instructions from the FAA, typically resulting in a flight with the FSDO.

I have also heard of applicants failing one test and given an alternative and passing that way.

You should be speaking directly with an AME and asking them how best to proceed. I would take all the other advice that you’ve received with a grain of salt. Talk directly with an AME for a straight answer.


An AME or AOPA would be best people/places to ask.

You will likely find more people in a similar situation on the Aviation Career Mentorship FB page. I’ve seen similar posts there, but like Tory said… take it with a grain of salt.

Chris F


Tory is dead on here. While forums are great to get other people’s experience in certain areas when it comes to medicals very few people have the exact same circumstance or level of a potential issue.

You have to speak with an AME.



As somebody that has had vision troubles, I can tell you that it is far more involved than simply having your eye doctor write a letter, there are very specific forms that need to be filled out. I would recommend working directly with an AME.

Color blindness is a real concern for pilots. There are several pieces of information that are communicated via colors. It really is a safety of flight issue, not just a matter of passing the test.


I’m sorry we can’t offer you more specific guidance on medical related questions simply because every case is different and we aren’t AMEs. I’m sure you’re already aware of your closest one, if not here’s the link to find one:

Also, in doing some research I found this guidance from the FAA that may be helpful for you:

Thank you all for your quick responses. I did speak with someone from AOPA that told be about the letter but wasn’t sure how much I could take their word on it. I have looked up several different AMEs here in Phoenix so I will give one of them a call and discuss further.

I want to thank all of you for what you do with this blog. As I have looked at switching careers and becoming a pilot, reading the many different posts on here as been a huge help and can’t thank you all enough!

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