Plan B

We often get questions regarding college, what to study, flying right out of HS etc which often leads to me bringing up the idea of having a Plan B. When I do I generally say something about aviation not working out due to a change of heart or “circumstance”. More times than not the response is “I know I’m meant to fly, I’d never change my mind, or I’m really fit”. It’s very difficult to imagine things taking a sharp left in our lives, particularly when we’re young.

This am I got a call from a dear friend and fellow pilot. He was not his jovial self. I said what’s up, his response was simply “I’m done”. He had been experiencing some pain and numbness over the past few months (never told a soul) that was increasing in severity. Long short he went to the Dr and was told it’s neurological and genetic, there’s no cure or FAA approved medication and after only 12yrs, at the ripe old age of 40 he needs to surrender his medical. He’ll never fly an airplane again. Btw he’s vegetarian and one of the “fittest” people I know.

The conversation was brief and I honestly had no words of comfort to offer. There are none and there’s no way to put a positive spin on this. The only consolation (if there is one) is he’s a bright guy with a solid education and I believe once the smoke clears he’ll have some options. It won’t be easy. He’s 40 and has never done anything but fly. If he had no degree and just a HS diploma it would only be worse.

Not trying to dissuade anyone just hoping to give you all something to think about. While I have no doubt knowing everything he knows now that he still would’ve pursued his dream. But again once he’s over the shock I’m equally certain he’ll be glad he has something to fall back on.




That is very unfortunate! I’m wondering, is there any type of protection financially from the airline when something like this happens? Or do we”the person losing the medical” just simply part ways.? Hoping the best for your friend!


Thanks for sharing this topic, that is so unfortunate for your friend…much more heartbreaking to hear at such a young age he’ll never be able to do his passion again. It’s important to always have that backup plan like you mentioned, I think that’s why it’s strongly encouraged to have some sort of degree being in the airline in the event something happens, you can follow through. Wishing the best for your friend, hope everything is going to be alright!



The airlines have disability plans. There’s also supplemental insurance offered by the airline and the union.

Financially he’ll be ok. Emotionally he’s not a happy guy.


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Thanks for sharing this story. Its pretty sad to hear that someone was ripped from a way of life that they knew for 12 years and ultimately a passion that he still has. This just reinforces the reality of what can happen to any of us as circumstances like this is no respecter of person. I do applaud you for simply listening and not trying to offer him this deep optimistic speech. That is extremely annoying and what makes it worse is when they act like they understand when they don’t.

As you said later on in the post financially hell be ok but there will be an amount of emotional trouble for the time being. When my dad retired from the Marines after 22 years, he definitely had his fare share of troubles. There were things that “civis” would do that would set him off. And if you were in ROTC, don’t let him catch any glimpse of you thinking that you were something special because you was wearing a uniform and patches that you ultimately didn’t earn yet because he would rip you a new one in a heartbeat. Now after 3 years of retirement he has settled down a bit. Your friend might get emotional the first times he sees a airplane fly over his head but with him having you as a friend that is just a phone call away, there’s no doubt that he’ll be ok :wink: