I decided towards the end of 2020 that I wanted to get out of law enforcement and become an airline pilot. My initial goal was to finish my bachelor’s degree (October, 2021) and begin ATP flight school immediately after. In order to meet this goal, I had my appointment with the AME in July but was deferred due to a medication I was taking for anxiety. Long story short, I knew this would be an issue and was taken off of the medication by my PCP prior to this. I received a letter from the FAA in late August advising what would be required. I completed everything requested by the FAA and more by request of my AME which was sent back to OKC in September. Here it is November and I have yet to hear anything from the FAA, although my AME has full faith that I will be good to go.
My department is aware of my goals and fully supportive, allowing me to stay and give up any extra responsibilities outside of patrol. With that being said, I want to begin taking knowledge tests while I wait for the FAA. My concern is that these tests are only valid for twenty-four months. I would hate for the FAA to take so long that I would not be able to finish the fast track program prior to these examinations expiring. I would like to secure financing at this time in order to begin moving forward with the exams. Is too soon to apply for the loan and begin taking exams as I am still waiting for the FAA? (all paperwork was submitted to the FAA 60+ days ago).
I understand your concerns but I would go ahead and start. While the FAA is notoriously slow on these things it would be highly unusual for it to go beyond 6mos (factor in your AMEs assurance of a positive outcome). Even it takes another 6mos for an answer the program is only 7mos long which still puts you well within the 24mos (and that’s if you finished all the exams today). I honestly don’t think it’s an issue.
Thank you for your service.
My medical deferral took six months to be reviewed. I would actually wait to do anything until you have your medical in-hand. I know it’s not what you want to do, but without knowing for certain that you can hold a First Class Medical anything you do until then could be a waste of time and money. Just my opinion.
Adam and Tory, thank you both for your replies. I do have full confidence in ultimately being approved by the FAA. As seniority is a major factor in this line of work, I do believe I will go ahead and secure funding in order to begin taking the tests. This is a calculated risk I’m willing to take. Let’s hope it will not take another 6 months.
Once again, thank you both.
I would go ahead and work on the writtens as well. Just be cognizant of the expiration dates as you move through the FAA’s glacial process.
Thank you for your response. I will be getting the finances squared away later this week so I can get started on the exams.
Written exams cost between $140-$165 per exam. I think just the PAR would be a fairly low financial risk to take. That way if it works out, you’re ready to start atp with that first one checked off but if there is excessive delays and you time out on the exam, not too bad of a financial penalty to retake. I wouldn’t progress too much farther though until you get the medical worked out… just a thought.
I just received my first class medical in the mail today. Time to get the ball rolling!
Absolutely fantastic news, congratulations! Thank you for the update and please continue to keep us in the loop.
Congrats Kevin! One big step down to becoming a pilot in training. Please continue to keep us updated on your progress.
Huge relief to get that medical after being sent through the deferral process. Isn’t it? Happy for you, Kevin!
Well, first post here under similar circumstances. I’ve secured financing and actually have my introductory flight tomorrow, but at my medical exam today, the AME deferred because of a medication (also for anxiety) that I stopped taking mid-last year. While I somewhat anticipated this, disappointment doesn’t even begin to describe how I’m feeling.
With that said, these questions are mostly for Kevin as he recently just got through it, but maybe anybody else can chime in as well. Any help is appreciated!
I’ve already got a letter from my doctor stating that I no longer need the meds and I’m in great health now. What else should I plan to submit to the FAA? I’m guessing full medical records of course, but should I start to gather anything else specifically?
While I anticipate everything going through just fine, albeit taking what will seem like FOREVER, where does this leave me in regards to getting signed up for a class? Should I simply just wait for the the medical to be in-hand? Or is there anything ATP can do in the meantime to maybe help with the written portion that I was looking to complete before I started my class?
Does anyone know how the financing works? I’ve accepted the loan terms, but how long is the loan approval good for? If I don’t start a class right away, or in a couple months as originally intended, does the loan simply just sit stagnant until I finally (hopefully) do start? That may be a better lender question, but figured I’d ask.
Is it possible to sign up for a class several months in the future giving the FAA time to work their magic, while also giving me the ability to get the big box of goodies from ATP to start all my written portion of the class? Or is it simply too risky given that the FAA holds all the cards here, no matter how confident I may be in the medical pass being given?
Thanks for listening to my thoughts and concerns here. Just trying to wrap my head around all this. And most definitely trying to stay positive. If anybody has some answers to these questions as well as any tips or tricks to get through this, I’m all ears.
The FAA will tell you exactly what they want you to submit and will spell out the process for you. At this point it is really a waiting game to see what they ask for.
I have asked our ATP Admin liaison to jump onto this thread and share her insights from the admin side of things. My suspicion is that you will not be able to place a deposit without having a valid medical.
I personally would not invest any time or energy into studying aviation until the FAA clears you. It is hard to know exactly what they will decide, how long it will take them to do so, or if you are going to be willing to do what they ask of you.
I know this is not the answer you are looking for, but we strive for honesty on this forum.
Thank you for the response. I certainly appreciate the honesty. That’s exactly what I need to make sure I’m doing all the right stuff. I suspect that you’re right about no deposit without the medical as well.
I went ahead with the discovery flight and facility tour here in Colorado Springs today. Of course it was great and gave me some more motivation, but obviously I’ll be holding off on everything for now. Thanks again!
No problem, hopefully you are cleared soon and on y9our way to training.
Unfortunately, you will need the First Class Medical in hand prior to reserving a class date with us. This is mainly due to the fact that the deposit that you place for a class date is non-refundable and date-specific. The loan approval with Sallie Mae is valid for one year, so it will remain valid until you reserve a class date with us.
Please keep us updated in the meantime.
No problem! I’m already working on everything and don’t anticipate any issues outside of the long FAA timeline for deferrals. All well within the year timeframe for the loan though.
I’ll be in contact to reserve a class date the moment I have the medical in hand. Thank you!
I secured financing on December 13. I was excited until I discovered the terms of the loan; I was given an 11.5% interest rate from Sallie Mae. This would have put the total cost of the loan well over $200k, close to $250k. Now I understand the first thought may be that this is due to my credit, but my wife and I both have credit scores near 800.
As much as I want to become an airline pilot, this is not a good business decision for me and my family. I have almost 9 years towards my retirement and have made a name for myself within my department. At 30 years old, this seems like a bad time to switch careers and take on that much debt. If I was closer to 20, the decision would probably have gone the other way.
It has been some time since I have posted due to being upset about the decision. As time has passed, I feel much better about the decision. I will still seek a PPL in the near future.
A timeline for anyone interested in my process:
July 2021- AME examination (deferred)
August 2021- Received deferral paperwork from the FAA. I submitted requested paperwork from my Dr. I also submitted a psychiatric evaluation at this time, as advised by the AME.
November 2021- I received more deferral paperwork from the FAA, requesting a psychiatric evaluation, laying out everything needed from the psychiatrist to me their requirements. A week later, after scheduling a second appointment with the psychiatrist, I received my medical in the mail.
December 2021- Secured funding through Sallie Mae.
Sorry the terms didn’t work out for you. I do have to ask if you explored any other lenders or options (like a home equity line, co-signer, etc)? I ask because at 30 you’re young enough to have a really good return on your investment if you can make the numbers work.