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A Checklist for Pilots Approaching the Flight Physical


Preparing for a Medical Certification Physical and Avoiding the Guesswork

by Robert J. Gordon, DO, Senior AME
Edited by Donald Ross, DO, Senior AMR

Reprinted with permission of FAA Aviation News

This checklist was prepared by two long time aviation medical examiners that know the value of good preparation by the applicant for medical certification. Although this checklist is not an FAA-generated or approved device, you might want to consider making a similar checklist available to your pilots.-Ed

Pilots, your aviation medical examiner (AME) wants you to pass your medical exam. We know how important that continuing to fly is to you because most of us are pilots too. If you have problems, your AME, the FAA, and your personal physician will work with you to resolve them. We want you to be happy pilots and to leave our office with your medical certificate in hand. With that in mind, here is a checklist to follow during your approach to landing in our office. If you follow it, taking off again will be a piece of cake.

  • Do not forget your eyeglasses
  • Make sure you have a current eye exam and glasses, especially if your near/far vision has changed.
  • Bring your Special Issuance letter from the FAA with you to the exam.
  • If you have a Special Issuance medical, mail in all necessary medical information requested by the FAA by the required date.
  • Bring all medical information outlined in your Special Issuance letter.
  • Do not forget to tell your AME if you have one of the 15 disqualifying conditions: diabetes mellitus requiring hypoglycemic medications; angina pectoris; coronary heart disease that has been treated or, if untreated, that is symptomatic or clinically significant; myocardial infarction; cardiac valve replacement; permanent cardiac pacemaker; heart replacement; psychosis; bipolar disorder; personality disorder that is severe enough to have repeatedly manifested itself by overt acts; substance dependence; substance abuse; epilepsy; disturbance of consciousness without a satisfactory explanation of the cause; and transient loss of nervous system function(s) without a satisfactory explanation of the cause.
  • Bring ALL required medical records from your personal physician regarding any chronic medical condition. (Examples: hypertension and asthma)
  • See your personal physician for evaluation and treatment prior to medical exam if you have borderline high blood pressure.
  • Avoid coffee, decongestants, cigarettes, or any other stimulants prior to your exam. These all may rise your blood pressure.
  • If you have a family history of diabetes mellitus (or other familial diseases), you need to have periodic checks with your personal physician prior to medical exam.
  • If you have a family history of diabetes mellitus, avoid large amounts of sugar prior to the exam. Urinalysis will show positive sugar if large amounts are consumed prior to exam.
  • Mark on question 17a. (under Medications) if you are taking a prohibited medication on a regular basis.
  • Do not forget your SODA (Statement of Demonstrated Ability; e.g., color vision defect).

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2002 Federal Air Surgeon's Medical Bulletin