Real Answers from Real Pilots

Needing Wisdom

Hello Everyone!
I am the parent of a 17 year old who has had a passion for flight since he was little. He has been on Celexa for 14 months now and last Friday went to see a doctor who was recommended by the FAA to get his 1st Class Medical Exam. After finding out he takes Celexa, the doctor said he would have to contact the HIMS AME for a psychiatric eval.
I am struggling to find one in Michigan but my question is, does he have any chance at all of getting into a flight program?


It is not a question of getting into a flight program, it is a question of getting FAA approval. The FAA takes a very dim view of anti depressants and your son will need to go through the HIMS process. As none of us are medical doctors, we cannot provide any guidance on this. Your best bet is to find a HIMS doctor.

I searched the FAA database and found several in Michigan.


None of us are doctors and your AME would really know best. The real question is not if your son can get into a flight program but will he ever have a career in aviation which can’t happen without a First Class.

While there are many threads on the subject again your best resource is your AME.


Thank you both so much! I will start that process today. I know he has to have his First Class in order to move forward anywhere, I just didn’t know where to start! Thanks for guiding me to step 1!

I will also tell you that we filled out the documents through MedXpress to get a confirmation number which we needed before seeing the doctor we went to last Friday.

Yep, filling out the info on medxpress gives the AME the info he needs for the medical issuance so make sure you bring that info to your appointment. It also will cost about $100. I hope it goes well and your son finds the path to a first class medical!


Thank you Hannah! We already went to the appointment with the confirmation number and it cost $127. We were told we needed to connect with an FAA psychiatrist at this point. That’s our next step.

Good, well let us know if there is anything else we can do to assist!


Hello Chris!
When you have a moment, can you give me the website for this information? I’ve looked under FAA and don’t find a document that looks like this.


After you select AME in the designee box, select location and then you can select HIMS.


Just a heads up that the HIMS process can cost a significant amount of money. I would be sure that this is something that your son really wants to do.


Thank you so much for saying this Chris. Our son has been talking about flight since he was four. When he was 14, he started building a runway in our back field because he was going to save money and buy an Ultralight. We put the breaks on that idea. He has been to OshKosh twice for flight camps in the summer and continues to hang out with our local pilots.

Thank you Adam! I set up an appointment for Sawyer to see an FAA doctor! I wonder why the doctor we saw last week said we needed to see an FAA psychiatrist. He saw a doctor last week and needed a MedXpress confirmation number.

Your sons needs to see a FAA psychiatrist because he is on an antidepressant, which has mind altering properties to it and further means that he has been diagnosed as being depressed. This will be an uphill battle for you and your son and the wheels of the FAA turn very slowly.

The MedXpress number is something that your son will have to obtain every time he goes in for an actual medical exam, but not for his HIMS evaluation.


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As someone who has gone through this process for similar reasons. I will tell you what I did. Hopefully this helps.

I applied for a 1st class medical certificate the same way most do, through a local Aviation Medical Examiner. At the conclusion of my exam, the AME deferred my application to the Surgeon General at the FAA. The FAA reviewed my application and notes from me AME and then mailed me a packet of instructions. The instructions included things like submitting a letter from a Board Certified Psychiatrist, a Neurophysiologist, my primary care physician and my Therapist.

After completing all doctors visits, I took those letters to a HIMS AME and the HIMS AME reviewed everything and conducted another 1st class medical exam. He then typed up his own report and submitted my entire package back to the FAA and my certificate arrived in the mail a few months after.

I recommend Sawyer take a similar approach before seeing any specialty doctors. It is better to have the instructions from the FAA to give to the doctors. This is a very expensive and time consuming process. Best not put the cart in front of the horse. Have Sawyer take a 1st Class Medical exam with a normal AME and then let the process play out.

The timing of this also needs to line up with his training. If he doesn’t know where and when he wants to start training I would start figuring that out. He should also take an intro flight while he’s at it if he hasn’t already. Oshkosh is one thing, flying is another.


Thank you so much Tory!!! You have offered me a glimmer of hope. We had an appointment last week with an AME doctor and not an AME HIMS doctor. We have an appointment to see the HIMS doctor in two weeks. The AME doctor he saw didn’t say anything about a packet in the mail only that he needed to see a psychiatric AME doctor.

It sounds like you are headed in the right direction then.

I should add, I discontinued my SSRIs before the FAA allowed me to hold my medical certificate. Some claim that there is an FAA approved SSRI. I’m sure the HIMS AME will give you guys all the information you need.


Thank you so much for taking time for me today Tory. I’m so grateful to everyone who has spent time with me.

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I have a buddy at the airlines who took anti depressants in HS.

I always tell people with medical issues to join AOPA and talk to their Medical Attorney. The premium membership includes a free consultation.

Not every HIMS AME is equal. Some are much “harder” than others.

I’m sure with some time, money and dedication your son can get through the process just fine.

Chris F

Thank you Chris. This is my son’s “Olympic Dream.”