Unique Medical Situation

Hi guys. I’m new here and wanting to pursue becoming a pilot with the goal of flying commercially. However, I have a bit of a unique medical situation that I’d love some tips on.

I worked in law enforcement previously and was seriously injured in the line of duty, causing me to lose my left leg. That said, I have a prosthesis and am very functional. However, I currently have zero flight experience. I know in order to fly commercially you must have a first class medical, and schools like ATP won’t even let you in the door without it. However, in order to get a first class medical in my situation, I will need a SODA.

I am curious of the best way to go about getting this SODA. Without currently having my PPL or any flight experience, I at least have to be able to fly enough to demonstrate to an AME that I can fly in order to get the SODA. I am from the Memphis, TN area if that helps with any connections, and would love some tips or pointers on the best way to gain enough flight experience to perform a medical check ride.


As none of us are Drs this is really a question for an AME.

I suspect this is one of those situations where you’ll half to start training at you’ll local flight school and apply for the SODA before you solo (and need a medical) but again your best bet is speaking with an AME.


There are pilots that are amputees or have a birth defect limiting the use of a limb. Some are commercial and at airlines.

I would talk with AOPA medical or try to find a pilot mentor who has been through the process as a guide besides talking to an AME.

There is one very well known female private pilot and a regional pilot that come to my mind here. I’ll see if I can get anymore info and pass it along or give you contact info.

Best of luck,
Chris F

Thank you for that Chris, I appreciate you trying to find more info on it.

That’s the main reason I reached out here, as my AME said he could easily do the medical portion but would have to defer the first class until I could do a medical check ride and demonstrate ability. That’s where my dilemma is, so I guess my biggest roadblock right now is finding a school that will allow me to begin training prior to receiving a first class.


I bet your local FBO or “mom and pop” school would. They are typically more for general aviation enthusiasts that get one rating and could work with your situation with a lot less fuss.

I’d imagine career pilot training programs will be a lot trickier since you would need the first class to pursue the rest of training and right now that’s not guaranteed. Your training would have to be put on hold and potentially reimburse parts of the training, it would just be much more complicated if even possible.


I am with Hannah on this. I think the vast majority of local flight schools would be willing to train you to whatever level you need to take the SODA checkride. Just be upfront with them on what you are doing, I think most would be very understanding and willing to work with you.

Something to think about, I have no idea what kind of flexibility or mobility you have with your prosthetic. In an airplane, we have to push the pedals forward to activate the rudder, but you must also be able to flex your foot forward to activate the brakes. If you can do both of those, hopefully the SODA will be no issue for you.


Thanks Chris. I actually got to speak with another amputee pilot this morning who flies commercial and is able to use the brakes with no issues, so that was very helpful.

I’ve been researching the options you guys have put forth to me and I really appreciate it!

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