Flight Physicals- FAA Senior Aviation Medical Examiner

Airplane Cockpit and PilotsAbout 20 years ago I was invited by the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) to travel to Oklahoma City and take the one week course to become a certified Aviation Medical Examiner. During the course I was asked to perform tasks members of a flight crew are routinely asked to perform so that I could understand what they went through. I was placed in a decompression chamber and the pressure was dropped to simulate high altitude loss of pressure conditions. I learned to recognize the first signs of low pressure and reach for the oxygen mask and place it over my face. I sat in a commercial airliner fuselage with 100 other participants and we had to exit the plane rapidly as the plane filled up with smoke from a fire limiting your visibility to less than an inch in front of your face. I experienced the Vertigon machine which simulated a slow death spin dive – the type of accident that claimed the life of the late John F. Kennedy, Jr.

There was considerable class room instruction and then a test of your competency. Since then I have been performing Class I, Class II and Class III aviation medical exams on civilian pilots, commercial pilots and students hoping to become pilots. Every other year I am required to participate in a refresher training exercise and this year I will be traveling to Tampa, Florida in January for a weekend cardiology seminar. As new data and medical safety information becomes available, the FAA incorporates it into their agenda to improve safety and modernize for the future.

Aviation Medical Candidates (pilots) can now enter their health information in advance of a visit over a computerized network that I retrieve and review with the pilot candidates before their exam. The results of the exam are now transmitted electronically by computer to the FAA in Oklahoma City rather than by mail. If there are questions or concerns about a pilot’s health and safety I can confer with the Regional Flight Surgeon in Atlanta or call the experienced staff in Oklahoma City.

The goal of the FAA is to encourage civilian flight and to find a safe and healthy way to keep existing pilots flying. While the FAA rules and regulations are strict and developed for the pilot and public’s safety, they do not regulate the fees that Aviation Medical Examiners are permitted to charge for the exam. Different offices still charge different amounts for the same examination.

If you are interested in a FAA Flight Physical give my practice a call. We love seeing pilots and pilots in training.