Medical Exam: done!

So if you google “flight physical” or something similar, you may come across this page with the terrifyingly long list of things on the FAA’s medical form.

ImageGood grief! I scheduled my appointment for 8:45am and forgot to ask how long it was going to take. I found the above-mentioned site and almost panicked. Would I even be done in time for my 1pm class?

But the worrying was unnecessary, whew.

I was told to show up at 8:15 because I’d never had a flight physical before (FAA paperwork review and such, ya know?). Cool. Walked into the lobby at 8:15 sharp and was done and starting my car at 9:25am. Nice!

So, for the curious, if you have no medical conditions & aren’t taking any medications, it’s a typical doctor visit: Go in, be weighed, height measured. Measure blood pressure & pulse rate, pee in a cup.

Vision tests: ugg. I wear glasses & contacts so for me, the first part was sans spectacles. I almost burst out laughing when they put up the slide of letters.

You know the charts I’m talking about.

I believe I’m -5.00 on the diopter scale (yuck), and everything was so blurry/out-of-focus that the chart was just bright white. Man I feel blind sometimes. As we went though the test settings, I was able to discern the very large R and S at the top of 2 charts (line1). Try again with glasses – much better. Didn’t want to take the time to squint & slowly read the very bottom line (7), but (5) and (6) were fine. Some depth perception stuff and then, everyone’s favorite: color tests.


They were all numbers except for that last one which I’m sure they threw in for their own amusement. It looked like a fancy swirly monogram design. Har har.

Got a quick talk from the doc about over-the-counter medications to avoid and then onto the physical exam.

Listen to heartbeats, listen to the lungs as one takes deep breaths, examine eyeballs w/ light. Cool.

Ear popping. Ugg. So everyone knows about holding your nose to pop your ears on planes. When I do this on commercial flights, I end up with having to deal with everyone sounding muffled for ~12 hours. So I just do a swallowing/yawning motion to equalize pressures. Doc wants to examine my eardrums while I pop my ears. Darn. Fine. But the nerd in me was pleased to learn that your eardrums actually move enough to see when you popped them. Worth it.

Quick abdominal exam (feeling for anything unusual) and that was it.

As with every step I’ve taken to getting my private pilot licence, I did make a mistake.

So, you go to your doctor exam after filling out an online FAA medical questionnaire. One of those questions asks if you use contacts to correct for near sight vision. I clicked yes because without glasses, near, far, on the moon – everything is blurry. Apparently, clicking yes to that box disqualifies you from being a pilot. Oh. You are only supposed to click yes if you are someone that wears a contact lens in only 1 eye to help you see both near and far in your day. I didn’t even know that was possible! Thank goodness the doc can do a medical override if you’ve goofed on the electronic form.

$125 later, I’m now the latest owner of a 3rd class medical and student pilot certificate (both are printed in the doctor’s office so you take it home that day – keep it taped inside your logbook to avoid forgetting/losing it).


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