Physical requirements

Hello, I am still brand new and haven’t even started class, but I was wondering what the physical requirements were. I am currently a chef and have always wanted to be a pilot, but I wear glasses (my eye sight is not bad by any means) and am a bigger gentleman. That being said what are the requirements to be a pilot and be taken seriously.

Aloha Matthew and welcome!

First off I’ve been a pilot for 30+ yrs and still no one takes me seriously so you can forget that one!

To be an airline pilot you must be able to obtain an FAA First Class Medical which really isn’t that tough. Vision requirements are 20/20 distant and 20/40 near both with or without correction so as long as your glasses can get you there you’re money. As for being “bigger”, trust me I’ve seen some REALLY HEALTHY pilots (I actually have a friend who got a waiver from his company to violate the uniform requirement because the company manufacturer didn’t make a jacket in his size). The FAA doesn’t actually have any height/weight requirements (FYI, they do in Japan) BUT they obviously don’t want you keeling over the yolk at 40,000’ either. Being overweight can (as I’m sure you’re aware) often create other health issues. There are blood pressure requirements and if your BMI is over 30 your AME (Aviation Medical Examiner) may send you for a sleep analysis to make sure you don’t have sleep apnea. If you’re fine in both those areas I’m sure you’ll be good but to be certain I recommend (and ATP requires) you to go get your First Class Medical so there’s no question. Cool?



Wow thank you very much for such a quick reply, and thank you that is great to hear.

No worries Matthew.

I can’t always deliver such fast turn around BUT as an airline pilot I spend about 90% of my time hanging out doing nothing (actually I’m cooking Stromboli. I owned a pizzeria in my past life) sooooo…:grin:


Lmao fantastic how did it turn out? And we should compait noted I just finished making a light white wine pesto sauce to go with a tortalini sorry my spelling is bad…

Pretty good! How was your pesto pasta?


Turned out good, and dang that looks like tonights winner though. Lol

Soo I was looking and through the program it offers six different certificates, then I was looking at some jobs, and they were saying to be competitive I should have a four year college degree?.. If I just get the certificate s will it be enough to get a higher level job, or?..

Thank you, thank you very much (that was my Elvis).

College Degree or not? Another very good question.

The answer really comes down to your goals as a pilot? When it comes to the airlines there are basically 2 levels, the Regionals and the Majors. The Regionals don’t require a degree. I spent 9 yrs at ExpressJet flying for Continental and it was a great experience. We flew all over the US, Mexico and Canada. In recent years Regional salaries have gone up considerably and you can have a very nice career eventually earning in the low 6 figures which isn’t bad. BUT, if you dream of flying HEAVY METAL to Europe and Asia you’re most likely going to need that degree. There are a few Majors (Hawaiian, Atlas) and Nationals (Allegiant, JetBlue) that don’t require one, but you’d be severely restricting your options and you might be less competitive as an applicant.

Now, if you don’t have one but want to start flying what do you do? Many pilots I know get their training done, get hired at Regional so they’re gaining experience, time and seniority and earn their degrees online at the same time. This can be very effective time wise and if you decide you’re happy at the Regional you simply don’t have to. The down side is working on that degree while you’re flying, making money and living your life requires some serious discipline.

Ultimately it’s up to you.



What did you end up doing if you don’t mind my asking?..

Aviation was actually a second (or third) career for me. I finished my education back in the 80’s. When it was REALLY hard! No computers, no internet, we had to walk 27 mi in the snow in our socks…


Up hill both ways with your little brother on your back?..

Yup! That’s exactly right! :wink:

I know I just keep on adding to this. I hope you don’t mind. Just a tad easier then making a entire new one. Any who, I am seeing as I read the other tags you have put up there is a lot of slang I am going to have to pick up, and I thought there was a lot in the culinary world. Lol


I would like to jump in here and offer a bit of information about the vision requirements. Adam was spot on in that most airlines simply require 20/20 vision. I have worn glasses for almost my entire career and never had any issues with the FAA. At one point I had Lasik to correct my vision and the FAA did have some questions about that, but it wasn’t a big deal at all. I now have an eye issue known as Blepharitis, I had my doctor write a letter describing the condition and the treatment for it and submitted it when I had my annual medical exam, the FAA never questioned it.

I would also second Adam in that if you get serious about being a pilot your first stop should be to get a FAA First Class medical certificate. This is true for any pilot as there are some obscure issues that can ground people. You can find an AME here: Exams typically run between $90 and $150 depending on the area you are in and if your age requires you to get an EKG or not (the AME will perform the EKG when you visit).

I hope this helps.



So quick question on this old topic, but how long are physicals good for?


Airline pilots require First Class medicals. If you are under 40 they are good for a year. Over forty they are good for six months.


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What about a person with “lazy eye”? One eye is correctable to 20/20 but the other is not.


I wish I could give you advice on this, but I really am not qualified to. I suggest that you speak with an FAA designated examiner to get an official opinion on this. They are the experts and will be happy to help.