Real Answers from Real Pilots

Start flight training or apply for 1st class physical?

Hello Everyone,

I am seeking some advice on whether I should start flight training or apply for my 1st class medical exam. I’m lined up to start my training for my PPL yet I’m worried about making it through and not having a medical certificate to fly.

I’m an Army veteran diagnosed with PTSD and I’m rated at 70%. The VA has prescribed me different SSRIs but I’m working with my doctor to discontinue them because I completed my treatment and I have improved ever so greatly. I’m a bit nervous if I should wait for training or start the process with an AME given I’ve been reading some of the other posts. I do realize there’s some hope in vets with PTSD wanting to fly in the civilian world.

Any information would be beneficial. Thanks!

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James,

This is a conversation best had with your AME. I can tell you if you’re currently using (or were recently) taking meds your First Class Medical will most likely be an issue. That said if you’re Dr and AME agree that a First Class is in your future, you could possibly get a Third Class (much easier to obtain and all that’s required by most flight schools) and start your training.

Obviously you don’t want to invest too much if you’re never going to get your First Class, but again if they believe and agree you will eventually, then why not?

Adam

James,

I actually don’t think you should start flight training until you know that you can hold a first class. If your medical is deferred it can be a lengthy process to get it approved and would require you to put your flight training on hold anyway.

Since you mentioned that you are nervous about starting vs waiting, I assume that’s because you already know that your application might get deferred. In my opinion, it is better to deal with your medical now than later.

Tory

Being a Veteran in your boat with the SSRI’s I can tell you this much. Work with Doc and get them stopped as well as work to get the label removed. Those events will always haunt us, but that label can keep you from your dreams. Trust me. At 46 and Retired Military I am no longer concerned about flying for the airlines so I’m not really working to get there. But being here and helping out where I can and offer assistance is what I do. I’m not a lawyer and not a Doctor, however. Seek those Professionals for Advise. I have called a couple of AME’s in the past about this kind of thing. Contact the ones you are going to to find out exactly what their going to do about it before going any further.

Also kind of depends one what and where you want to go with your flying. Certificates only require a Third Class up to MEI. However to work at the airline level or Commercial level they may too require a 1st Class. But to get your Certs you will only need a Third.

ATP likes you to have your 1st Class due to the ultimate goal of ATP grads is upper level Professional Flying which in turn all require a 1st Class.

NOW with all that said, if your goal is to fly, then go fly. By all means go fulfill your dreams and fly, just have realistic expectations on the possible outcome of the medicals. 3rd Class is in reach as well as a Sport Certificate but it’ll be a “fight” or rather it’ll require some effort and work to get the 1st Class after having PTSD and taking SSRI’s.

GOOD LUCK BROTHER, I wish you well and safe flights.

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I always tell people with Medical Cert concerns to join AOPA premium membership. For $100 you get protections and a free consultation with Aviation Lawyer regarding concerns about medical.

Chris

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James,

I would absolutely make sure that you can obtain a first class medical before beginning flight training. If your goal is to be a professional pilot, you will need to have a first class medical for almost every single job out there. I agree with the advice on joining AOPA.

Chris

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Thank you everyone for the advice. My ultimate goal is to fly professionally for the airlines. I have an appoint with my doctor to stop the SSRIs and I’ll be contacting an AME today to schedule an appointment. I also signed up for AOPA but only have the military/vet membership. I’ll likely upgrade to the premier one and utilize all of my resources.

I’m determined to achieve my goal!

I’ll keep you all posted on my efforts!

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Wonderful man, good luck to you.