Fight against 3rd class medical gains momentum

David Wartofsky, the controversial owner/operator of Potomac Airfield, closest of the Maryland 3 airports to downtown Washington D.C., has filed a formal petition with the Secretary of Transportation (FAA 2009-0481), and the Transportation Committee, proposing to replace FAA’s 3rd class medical with a driver’s license for private-use aircraft under 6,000 lbs.

“The day you lose your FAA 3rd class medical, you drive home in your family SUV,” he says. “What conceivable legitimate public-safety risk did the loss of your FAA 3rd class medical really address?

“Every pilot’s eventual loss of their 3rd class medical remains the greatest threat to aircraft ownership,” he continued. “For anyone over 40 years old, buying any aircraft is like playing Russian roulette with all the barrels loaded; it is just a matter of time. Without clear benefits, this rule continues to impose huge public-sector costs to manage, as well as negative impacts on the economy, when positive impacts are sorely needed.”

In his petition, Wartofsky notes the medical requirements to fly a small private family airplane are remarkably similar to those required to drive a 65,000 lbs. commercial passenger or cargo carrying truck, also known as a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). He speculates that perhaps FAA may have simply slapped the commercial truck driver medical standards onto small family aircraft, but contends they are inappropriate for the aviation equivalent of the family car.

Wartofsky further contends that generally cooperative general aviation pilots have been singled out for micro-management of a negligible risk, without due cause, saying: “Pilots will always ask how to comply, but somebody needs to ask the more fundamental question, ‘’Why?”

As required by law, DOT had to publish Wartofsky’s petition, but then tried to bury it, delaying action by accepting comments until 2099, he says. Wartofsky notes DOT’s public comment period of nearly 100 years is “justice unfairly delayed” under the Administrative Procedures Act. “I guess they’re betting I won’t be around in 100 years to follow through,” he says.

Wartofsky encourages all pilots and aircraft owners to submit additional comments to the petition online and to approach their representatives in Congress and Senate to support the petition. The objective is to force a full re-evaluation of the need for a 3rd class medical for private aircraft under 6,000 lbs. through an open public Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). An NPRM could potentially bring the existing regulation under further oversight and accountability, which may not have existed when it was originally written, such as Regulatory Flexibility review and Economic impact.

Links to the comment submission site on Regulations.gov are available at Potomac-Airfield.com

Comments

  1. says

    I agree with the proposed petition…There is no reason that the “physical” should be pushed off on the GA pilots…I have been a pilot for 3 years and made my living with trucks for over 30 years…Each one of us is so totally different that the current standards for physicals in a total joke …You can not ask a 5 ft 5 in 150 lbs person to do what a 6 ft 5 in 300 lbs person does but the government regulations say that”during a physical” they should be the same…where is the sign up sheet I would like to be the first to sign and make a donation to this justified cause…Kevin Huff age 54

  2. ron w says

    Maybe if you had to have a current physical to belong to aopa or eaa they would more inclined to listen. Too many of us continue to support these organizations even after we cannot continue to fly. I lost my physical 10 years ago because I had colon cancer, have been cancer free for over 10 years but still have to have very expensive testing if I want to continue flying.
    When have you heard of any falling out of the sky from colon cancer. Good luck with this effort,

  3. Kelly says

    I agree with the majority here- in order to keep flying I had to
    build my own LSA and am now wading thru the paperwork. I let
    my medical expire because of white coat syndrom, and more likely
    for fear of the catch 22 mentioned above. The LSA’s are really
    fair weather only aircraft and I would still like to fly at night.
    With the change that has taken place in our Congress, the oppritune
    time to address this issue is now. We should not cower back but press
    ahead to maintain not only our rights as a free people but also to cut
    back the government machine which seems intent to take what we have
    left. I too would not fly unless fit to do so, and those who would pose
    a threat to public saftey will do it anyway, a 3rd class medical
    will not get in thier way. To get our AOPA and EAA involved may
    require denial of funds, money and the lack thereof gets action.
    But it will also take action by way of a call to our congressman.
    I would help support this cause with a little cash myself.

  4. Vince Risalvato says

    I am a 1000hr+ 59 year old pilot now restricted to LSA now that I have let my valid medical expire. I will add my vote to doing away with the third class medical for MOST private pilots. Driving in high speed bumper to bumper traffic is far more demanding than fling a non complex four place GA aircraft under. The reality is that a 6000 pound gross limit will never “fly” (too much fuel and kinetic energy) nor will flying IFR, at night or over 10,000 MSL. Too many medical conditions affect abilities under these circumstances. We would have a better chance at this if we tried for eliminating Class III requirements for: single engine, four place maximum, 4000 lb gross (a large car) and a VNE of under 200mph, with restrictions to VFR day flight. No towing or other commercial use, even if only incidental to the flight. In other words, allow true “sport pilots” to self certify. These parameters are just a starting point for debate. The FAA, government and AME’s must be allowed to continue to feel like they have control of GA in general. LSA’s are less safe and more difficult to fly than non complex GA aircraft due to light weight, handling and structural issues. The LSA rules were designed to prevent low end GA aircraft from competing with the new start-ups of the newly disguised “heavy ultralight” companies. That was why the European standard was copied. We were owned by the EURO heavy ultralight manufacturers, plain and simple. They saw an opening and took it! Now it is our turn. Time for the Administration and the FAA to get private flying and GA manufacturing of primary aircraft back into the air. Jobs are good medicine!

  5. Edge says

    this intrests me because im training to get my wings right now and just last month i talked to a pilot who lost his wings because he could no longer pass the med, to me this seems like classic american flawed laws, basicly a military jurisdiction spilling over into civilian lifestyle, in my opinion if you dont need a med to drive a car why do you need one to fly a plane, its the same level of concentration and same level of risk, im just a new pilot but its seems like common sence to me,, if i had to guess id say there is big money behind this funny law someplace lol

  6. Andy says

    Perhaps we should unite with David Wartofsky by proposing that we start canceling our memberships with AOPA with a letter as to why (lack of advocacy for reform on medical requirements). If they aren’t working for us, why support them?

  7. says

    All the arguments for getting rid of the third class medical requirement are viable, and I totally agree. Could it be that the AOPA and EAA are so deeply entrenched politically that they do not want to address the issue? I hope not.
    Craig Fuller asks, “How can we get more people into aviation, more people taking flying lessons, more pilots in the ranks?” Seems simple to me; make flying more affordable. Get rid of the third class medical for private only, as well as LSA. Pursuant to further training, then require a medical.
    A new pilot could well afford a good two-place Cessna or similar aircraft as opposed to the higher priced LSA. The two-place trainer type airplanes have a good safety record, that is why they are used for trainers.

    Private pilots do not need to be hassled by the FAA for medical issues that have been cleared by their doctor and the AME. The FAR’s are clear about self-examination for flight. Keep flying simple. Regulations designed to create roadblocks to healthy pilots will drive them out of aviation

  8. HAK says

    The FAA will not relinquish this, however they should and the primary reason is control. With this they get to control a pilots ability to fly on two fronts. The medical front and the certificate front. Kind of insane but that is how they roll and one fella by the name of Charles Webber attempted this in 1992 and had his ARSA handed to him. This will end up being the same game, different day, situation with the Feds. Can we change it? Possibly, but we will need a very strong advocate in Congress and our dear ‘Mothers of America’ are already afraid of any pilot being remotely free, so our chances of getting this through are very slim at best.

  9. M.Gorman says

    At least one commenter made the suggestion to take it way from the Feds and let the states handle it like boating. No, no, no , no. Yes, it may seem like a good idea to get Big Brother out of it but you will find that each state will have their own ideas about what is good. 50 sets of rules instead of one. They are bureaucrats, they can’t help themselves.

  10. Chuck Bloom says

    Early in these posts, someone named Karl commented that he wanted other pilots to be able to see other airplanes and sectionals. Gee Karl in my state I have to take an eye check to renew my driver’s license. I know all of this is preaching to the choir, but it would sure save everyone, including the government, a lot of money. However I have scant hope. Every country in the world has jumped on aviation as a center of massive bureaucracy.

  11. Michael Foster says

    I absolutely agree with this proposal, and second most of the comments above.

    I’m 61 and very healthy for my age (per my doctors). Yet the FAA makes me jump through hoops to maintain my SI 3rd Class Medical at great personal expense. I’ve been willing to jump through the hoops, and my doctors (one of whom is a pilot) have put it in writing to the FAA that I’m safe to fly… BUT the expense of the tests, etc. to maintain my SI is definately a financial hardship.

    I have another round of FAA mandated tests coming up in a couple of months to keep my SI. My doctors feel these tests are overboard and unnecessary, but I have no choice but to comply if I want to fly. And this round of tests will likely cost me close to $2000!!!!

  12. Frank Johnson says

    I’ve read every one of the comments submitted and I agree with the predominant share, the third class medical is not an effective safety tool.

    A much more effective methodology would be an FAA that covered the expense of a medical (and perhaps made therapy payments (note: I know, bit of a dream there..) or recommendations) but only under an advisory sense rather than a punitive one. The true realization of the matter of “to fly/not to fly” is that a pilot always needs to be a self-examiner…if he feels unfit…he needs to ground himself. It really doesn’t matter how good the 3rd class medical says he is…He’s the true judge…so FAA get the heck out of the way and let him/her judge.

    Also, since we are on the subject of rqmts/regs, time, effort, and money. There are many regs (not just this one…) that need to be re-examined on the basis of who should pick up the tab. Many of these new regs are either just now enforced or are are coming down the pike in the form of airport security, fencing, FBO legislation, air service charges, etc., etc.

    The bottom line here..

    If John Q public wants the aviation industry (and I’m not just talking pilots here…) to jump through hoops for “safety”…then John Q better be ready to fork out the dough for the over-regulation/strangulation that is being placed on the industry as a whole.

  13. Alfred C. Eynon says

    I see that I have little to add to the discussion. I am ex USAF tactical fighter pilot, life long ATP with over 4,000 PIC in high performance, light twin, and aerobatic (including one of the first zero altitude formation waivers) aircraft. I entertained my self for 30 years seeking low IMC challenges and airshow professional performance. They were not “stressors”, in fact, quite the opposite.

    In addition to good judgement, self control, critical practice, the most important rule is the requirement for self certification for every flight. This applies to the 22 year old fighter jock, the Part 135 pilot, the Part 121 pilot, or the 75 year old recreational/private transportation pilot – all of us.

    The observations that light aircraft are safer and easier to fly than LSA is obvious to pilots, if not to desk bound regulators. Regulations should reflect reality.

    As life long member of EAA and AOPA, I say, get involved! The obvious cost savings to the FAA, doctors, and citizens combine with the current political atmosphere to question excess and unnecessary regulation now.

  14. James Carlson says

    Like many commenting here, I’m over 40 and flying on an SI. I have mixed feelings about this proposal. While I’m certainly in favor of getting rid of what appears to be a tremendously ineffectual and wasteful regulation, I’m much less certain about what such a change would do to ICAO requirements. Would a change in the US requirements for a PPL cause other countries to block US pilots from entering?

    I’d like to see that addressed. Perhaps the change could be a domestic rule only — requiring a standard 3rd class medical only when flying internationally, much as a radio station and an operator’s license are needed only when going outside the US.

  15. Robert C. Wiseman says

    Considering the amount of time we spend in the air, it is inconceivable that the 3rd class medical has anything to do with safety in the air. The only value it has is another payment to the medical profession. Drop it,now.

  16. Warren Miller, MD. ATP says

    Iam probably an “expert” with a class II physical and no vested interest except concern for general aviation. Observations:
    1. The present exams are left over from the air corps days-
    essentially pre-employment physicals having nothing to do with
    safety.
    2. On a class III eaxam we physicans cannot predict sudden
    incapacition.
    3. Serious accidents rarely involve pilot health; rather
    JUDGEMENT, alcohol & drugs (legal and illegal), VMC pilots
    in IMC, etc. Class III exams don’t address the problem.
    4. Sadly, neither the FAA nor AOPA likely will take the
    political risk of even seeming to end a “safety” program
    even if costly and ineffective.

  17. Dennis Huwe says

    A 89 year comment period? get real! 3rd class and sport pilots fly in the same areas and conditions Why not eliminate the 3rd class medical. —-But then we ARE dealing with one of the more messed up government agencies.

  18. Reid Sayre says

    In the most recent “Nall Report” at http://www.aopa.org/asf/publications/09nall.pdf , there were 236 fatal accidents
    that took the lives of 433 people, in almost 20 million hours of non-commercial fixed-wing air time. Of that, there were only three fatal accidents, each taking the life of only the pilot, that involved pilot incapacitation, and one of those was likely due to fatigue.

    In the same year, there were five accidents, four fatalities, related to alcohol and drugs.

    It looks to me that being stupid is more dangerous than being sick.

    But, it is also possible that we have very few pilot incapacitation related accidents and fatalities because we have the medical requirement. Unfortunately, it will be impossible to determine if this is true unless and until we try doing away with class three medicals, or it turns out that we have a disproportionate accident fatality rate with light sport licenses as time goes on.

    It is true that it takes far too long to process medical issues in the FAA. Perhaps we need to hold the FAA to its own rules and guidelines. Typically, FAA requires a response to medical issues in thirty days. Suppose the rules are changed such that the FAA has to respond within thirty days or FAA implicitly agrees that there is no issue. Given that FAA is understaffed, then they will work on the important issues, and leave the less important issues (like class three medicals for private pilots) to wither on the vine.

    I have one other suggestion. Clearly night flight and flight in IMC is more stressful than day VMC flights (not to mention approach to minimum, at night, in the rain, with some turbulence, at an unfamiliar airport, at the end of a long day). Suppose that we change the rules such that a current medical is not required for a private or recreational pilot for daytime (sunrise to sunset) flights in VMC NOT on an IFR flight plan, in an airplane that weighs less than 6,000 pounds. If you want to fly at night or in the IFR system, get a class three medical.

    We could then just do away with light sport completely. Frankly, from a safety perspective, I would feel much safer in my 172 than I would in a light sport any day.

    Reid Sayre

    Raleigh, North Carolina

  19. Rod says

    I have spoken with AOPA and EAA about eliminating the third class medical for over a year and until I am blue in the face. They have never given me a good answer as to why it is not being pursued. Maybe it’s time for someone else to ask why? Maybe lots of people should ask why?

    Don’t forget to sign the petition and spread the word!

  20. Wally says

    Yet another vote here to abolish the 3rd class medical. It got to be so much of a hassle that I just let it expire. I would like to see them raise the weight limit to where I could get my Private rating in addition to the Sport Pilot one. I am basically a Lane Wallace kind of pilot…low and slow…wanting to have nothing to do with IMC. I can get all that I want on Flight Simulator! But I do like to fly occasionally at night and navigate across the country every now and then.

    It took a long time for the reality of Sport Pilot to finally came into being. Perhaps if AOPA and the EAA push it hard enough the 3rd class can be be modified greatly if not elimated. In the meantime, LSA are fun to fly albeit a bit touchy in turbulence and crosswinds.

  21. Roger Bailey Ph.D. says

    After personnally calling David Wartofsky to lend my personal and if he asks, financial assistance, I too agree with the elimination of the 3rd class medical with his weight limitations. I fly for the USAF AUX now and we are presently required to meet those ancient FAA med requirements. But our real emphasis is on training and currency. These are far more requisite when flying then that .1% error factor on the medical exam.
    As others have said, I self-certify every time I prepare to fly. If not up to par, just like the weather, I don’t fly. As others have noted, where is AOPA and EAA on this issue. For some reason, they have been noticably silent with thier support…. Lets make sure it is brought up at the AOPA convention in Long Beach this week!!! Another good reason for attending! Perhaps we can get a link for those of us who support this vital change for general aviation.

  22. Steve M says

    I whole heartedly concur with David Wartofsky and the abolition of the requirement for the third class medical. For flying light aircraft, eg. those under 6,000 lbs., it’s just not necessary, and has never been shown to benefit anyone. Quite to the contrary, it has alienated many pilots who would be flying.

  23. LEONARD says

    I WOULD HAVE TO AGREE. I KNOW THAT I WOULDNT THINK OF FLYING IF I DIDNT FEEL RIGHT. I AM MUCH HARDER ON MYSELF WHEN IT COMES TO FLYING. I HAVE TO MAKE THAT DECISION MYSELF EVEN THOUGH I HAVE A MEDICAL!

    THEREFORE, I BELIEVE THAT A DRIVERS LICENSE CERTAINLY WOULD BE GOOD ENOUGH.

    I DO DRIVE A CAR WHEN I FEEL TERRIBLE AND WOULDNT EVEN CONSIDER FLY MY AIRPLANE!!!!!!!!

  24. Charles Schmitt says

    I agree with David. There are pilpts that have medical conditions that are flyoing with one eye, one arm, quad parlegics. I on the other hand think that the 3rd class medical is a farce. We can drive our cars or
    other vehicles and the states say we can drive with our doctors permission if we are in fair to good health and in no danger of having an accident. Please eliminate the 3rd class medical. I am trying to get my 3rd class medical back because of atril fib. Thank you.

  25. Morrie Caudill says

    The LSA specifications were purposely designed to eliminate the 100 series Cessna’s. The gross weight of my C-150 is 280 pounds over the SLA gross. The 120 and 140 are less than 100 pounds. The designers of the SLA specs obviously thought no one would be able to build a closed cockpit, two passenger, plane to meet those specs. They were designed to gain control over the “heavy ultralights”. Well, look what happened. There are dozens of SLA’s that out perform the Cessna’s and do not require a 3rd class medical. Same engine, higher cruise speed due to the lighter weight. That should be an embarrassment to the FAA. I’m flying an over gross Light Sport. All the other spec’s apply. It’s not a crime to fly over gross is it? It’s going to take some pressure from the organizations to get them to respond.

  26. Tom PEI/MA says

    As long as we are doing an overhaul on the medical… let’s go all the way and let our own private physicians do the OK’s. Who would know better?

    I get my 2nd class medical from a guy a see for twenty minutes every two years. I see my Primary at least annually and the Prostate Guy every now and then.

    67 and healthy… working to stay that way.

  27. Tom Perry says

    November 6th, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    I absolutely agree! How many accidents do we hear about caused by a medically impaired pilot. Very few that I’m aware of. As the Baby Boom ages, a lot of perfectly safe pilots will be denied a medical for some rediculous reason. The required Bi-annual is a much better screener.

    The LSA proves they understand the principle; but whats the diffrence in a Cessna 152 and a LSA? I feel a lot safer in a time tested 152.

    Where is our AOPA?? They should support this 100%! Read the comments…your members want you to get behind this.

  28. Harry says

    I had a pacemaker installed and thus wouldn’t have passed the Class III medical so never took the FAA test. There is absolutely no difference between my flying my Glasair which I built and a LSA. I think the LSA is more difficult to fly. I agree, my CDL license was less of a hassle than a Class III. For years Glider and powered parachute pilots have self certified. Do we see any evidence that that is any more dangerous than someone driving a car?

  29. says

    I totally agree. 10 years after stents, nuclear stress and treadmill tests every year, and no problems now age 68 – I always get report that I am in excellent condition. I don’t mind the tests, gives me peace of mind that I am OK. But my family doctor and I recognized that “I” had a problem 10 years ago, not the FAA’s 3rd Class medical exam. My Cardiologist resents the fact that his opinion must be verified by FAA Doctors who he feels most likely have little actual experience in treating heart related conditions. My ASME complains about the extensive paperwork. I am sure Aviation Insurance companies would stipulate in their policies that the pilot in command would not be covered if an accident were related to a known medical condition. Personal liability is always a factor that a pilot must consider when making the decision on whether to fly or not in todays law suit crazed environment of striking it rich and/or bankrupting the pilot. Accident statistics do not support that this regulatory micro management approach is either cost effective or necessary given that the overall indivual pilots responsibility to fly safely is without question. Personally having worked with the government lawyers, this 2099 comment period is not surprising – they think we are stupid and for our own good, they must protect us from ourselves. And I also wonder why this is the first time I am hearing about this petition – AOPA?

  30. Dennis Bironas says

    Good idea. There will always be those who fly left seat with a 3rd class even though they shouldn’t. Also, remember that even with a 3rd class, there exist the requirement to self certify. The FAA and NTSB (government) are concerned for the land bound public’s safety.

    I’m all for self certifying. One other possibility is removing some of the medical disqualifying requirements. Speeding up the process would go a long way too.

  31. Jim Curns says

    As a local town official and a private pilot, I must say I agree completely with the majority here that a 3rd class medical idea is an aircraft 6000 lb. and under due for change. I mention my local political role because there is an element of public perception to risk that will need to be addressed in this process.

    For some unfathomable reason there are many in this world that feel not only allowed but even compelled to try to tell others what they cannot do. This of course gets media attention, which leads to local political reaction, which leads to governmental interference with what ever the subject is. The illogical fears are often expressed with greater enthusiasm than the supporters of common sense.

    Lets work at the common sense side of this issue.

    Dear AOPA: If you can only do one thing for aviation in the next 10 years this issue would get my vote.

  32. says

    The FAA is under staff. They are running 3 months behind on their of paper before they look at you medical.

    Just try and make a living with this failed system. I pay my taxes and expect better than this.

    It’s time to get our congressman on this and have the system work for us not the other way around.

    To the FAA’s credit they have got a lot of pilots back in the air after serious problems, but the system is

    not working and there does seem to be any plans for corrections.

  33. deacon of noise says

    Comment period to 2099??!! This shows the Federal government’s contempt for us. Think about it. Throughout the years, the Federal government has grown so big and powerful that now bureaucrats have the authority to blatantly disregard the people’s opinion and laugh in our faces. There is no accountability.

  34. dave says

    So AOPA, we are you? I donate thousands of dollars each year to “support GA” and I didn’t read one statement on here from you about your position and/or what you are doing about this. Are you supporting GA or aren’t you!?

  35. Joe Weinrich says

    I’m 67. I had by-pass and valve replacement surgery in 1999. Since then I go thru the 3rd class exam plus rigorous yearly treadmill tests and other physical hoops which I come nowhere near approximating when I fly my Cherokee 160. Every year I keep thinking I’m being tested to fly the space shuttle. Meanwhile, I read about younger, far less experienced pilots running out of gas and pulling stupid stunts which seem more worthy of the FAA’s attention than me.
    The FAA assumes I lack the maturity to monitor my own health and physical conditioning. I’m tired of the annual insult. I have been flying for 45 years now. I learned to get yearly, rigorous physicals when I was flying in the USAF. I’d like to be trusted that I have demonstrated the maturity to sit myself down and get medical attention if I have dehabilitating symptoms.

  36. says

    I am a fixed wing pilot and a balloon and glider pilot. I amm in treatment for leukemia. My third class will need to be reapplied for once I am through treatment. If I can get on it will be a special issue for a year. I do not require a medical for balloons and gliders. Being a balloon pilot is much more physically demanding than any other piloting. There is heavy lifting, early and late hours probably paying passengers and lots of heaving and towing on lines. Our current medical system is a waste of time.

  37. Art says

    RIGHT ON!!! I AM A TYPE RATED ATP AMEL; COMMERCIAL ASEL, AMEL, ASES, AMES, GLIDER; RECREATIONAL PILOT RH; AND HAVE HELD A CFII AND CFI FOR ALL EXCEPT RH; WITH OVER 22000 HOURS OF FLIGHT TIME. ON EACH FLIGHT I HAVE EVALUATED MY PHYSICAL AND MENTAL CONDITION, THE AIRCRAFT’S CONDITION AND ALL FACTORS RELATING TO THE PROPOSED FLIGHT. I HAVE HAD A SPECIAL ISSUANCE ANNUALLY SINCE 1990 BUT FOR THE PAST FEW YEARS THE REISSUNCE TAKES UP TO 9 MONTHS. mOST RECNTLY i WAS INFORMED THAT THERE WAS NO RECORD OF MY WAIVER OR OTHER DATA RELATING TO MY MEDICAL CONDITION. I ONLY FLY FOR PLEASURE IN MY bONANZA WHICH I HAVE OVER 3000 HOURS IN MAKE & MODEL. wHAT DIFFEREMCE IF I FLY AN LSA AIRCRAFT OR AN AIRCRAFT THAT I AM PRESENTLY QUALIFIED TO FLY??? OF WHAT VALUE IS A CLASS 3 CERTIFICATE?????

  38. Tim Smith says

    Go David, I agree with the unecessary need for the 3rd class medical to fly private aircraft under 6000lbs. I also agree that AOPA should get behind this with every effort possible, they keep talking about General Aviation declining…well duh! I’ve known people who have flown for years with no medical at all and I don’t know of one who ever had an accident because of any medical problems (stupidity maybe but not because of medical reasons) It’s kind of like the “don’t ask don’t tell rule” The only thing is ramp checks, insurance (who cares)
    I think this is a good idea and should be pushed through so no one flying non-commercially is kept from flying in the safety of the sky! It’s more dangerous to drive on the highways and city street than to fly. Go get them David, We need to find out who put the 2099 time period for comments and hang ‘em. I’d get back in the air tomorrow if it wasn’t for the fact of the medical issue. AOPA get on the ball!

  39. Peter Dan says

    I agree that this is a waste of money. The LSA driver’s license medical didn’t solve the problem. There is still the punitive measure that if you don’t pass the 3rd class medical then you can’t still fly LSA vs if you just let it expire. How many people just let their’s expire as a result? How much sense does that make? There are not enough LSA’s available to rent for lessons either so that is not an affordable option when aircraft that are very similar standard aircraft could fit the bill ie 150s and 152s etc.

  40. Frank the Hitchhiker says

    34 out of 35 replies so far are in support of dropping the 3rd class medical. That in itself should tell AOPA, EAA and the FAA that the issue should be a high priority. Both doctors that I regularly visit say there is absolutely no reason why I should not be flying but neither of them is an AME (or I would have my medical). I too have let my medical expire because I simply do not want to take the chance of flunking the FAA 3rd class medical or take on the expense of tests that may be required by the FAA. While my local FBO does rent LSA’s (and I’ve been checked out in four of them) they are still costly to rent and therefore I don’t fly nearly as much as I’d like. And yes, I also own a motorcycle and two Corvettes which I am still free to drive three feet away from an irresponsible/incompetent/untrained/medically compromised stranger at 65 mph. And then there is the absurdity of the Catch 22 for sport pilots who might consider going for their medical – which I’ll save for another rant. I strongly agree with Oddjob07’s closing comment (#15) and might add, “If you are not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.” A big thanks to David Wartofsky.

  41. DirkDiggler says

    David,

    The AOPA, EAA and other ‘associations’ that are funded by our dues and should be addressing our concerns should be helping you to assemble the legal muscle to address this issue once and for all in Federal Court.

    You need to determine which bureaucrats are stalling a fair, open hearing on this matter and file suit against them personally along with their agency to force them to defend their unstated contention that the Third Class Medical somehow protects the general public. Everyone knows they can’t statistically support their position and would be better served by enhancing the BFR to catch perceived degradation of skill through demonstrated performance.

    Don’t expect any help from the AME community who have financial interests to protect. AOPA and EAA leadership should be ashamed of themselves for not sweeping the greatest threat to GA off the books.

  42. says

    It took over 90 days for the FAA to look at my 3rd class rejection. Then I get a letter from the FAA giving me just 30 days to get all the test they want done and get the results back to them. What can I say? The AOPA is now selling help to get your medical. Do you think they would like to see 3rd class medicals go away?

  43. Clifford Hill says

    Had prostate cancer, all clear from all my doctors but the FAA knows better. What can we do help push this petition?

  44. Wiliam Rogers says

    I agree completely with David. I have thought for a long time that the FAA was out of touch with reality when it comes to 3rd class medicals. The number of pilots forced to stop flying or to switch to LSA flying, where there is a don’t ask don’t tell policy, has to be staggering. It’s ridiculous when you think about it. A person who has been denied a 3rd class medical can climb into their car, with a car load of passengers, and drive down a busy freeway with bumper to bumper traffic traveling 70 miles an hour and no one thinks anything about it. I believe the FAA could find better ways of spending their time and money besides burdening pilots with another layer of bureaucracy.

  45. Roger Reeve says

    I agree with the above comments. I have been special issuance for 12
    years because of a heart attack in 1998. Every year I do a stress test
    then wait at least 3 months( last time it was 5) for the FAA to get me
    an answer. They almost always lose paperwork which I have to resubmit.
    It’s hard to remain proficient when you spend so much time on the ground.

  46. joe hanz says

    It’s about time the FAA makes the change from a 3rd class physical to a drivers license. Light Sport pilots have proven that you do not need a 3rd claaa physical.

  47. James A. Mitchell says

    The doctors don’t want to loose this easy money. I paid $8.00 for my first physical at my family doctor,who knew my condition better than anyone. Now I pay $90.00 for a doctor to go through the motions of doing an exam that is a farce. I and only I know when I’m driving to the airport if I’m fit to fly.

  48. Bonanza Pilot says

    A few issues: i)currency in the left seat is probably a lot more important from a safety standpoint than a 3rd class medical, ii) don’t forget the double whammy effect of being able to afford an airplane (probably over 40 or close to it)and declining health as one ages, and iii) a light sport carves only a slightly smaller hole in the ground than a 5999 max gross weight airplane. The solution? Eliminate the 3rd class medical requirement. Yes, I am a responsible person who gets 5 to 8 hours of exercise a week and I eat smart. Why? Because I want to fly? Well yes but more importantly, I don’t want to die (unnecessarily).

  49. joe says

    Where is AOPA and EAA on this subject? They keep asking us for “Donations” to support GA… where is the support for this? Such a practical idea…

  50. Gunter HAGEN says

    I fully support the proposal to eliminate the 3rd class medical requirement. The Billions of dollars that could be saved prior to the commnet period ending would go a long way to fix our present deficit problems. The individual who proposed the 2099 hearing date should be fired and charged with gross negligence. Hopefully, the attorney general, FBI, justice department or even the Home land Security people will read this and act to take appropriate action (But I doubt it)

  51. Brent Ramsey says

    Go David!….it’s time to git rid of this stupid time & money wasting crap. It’s unfortunate that the insurance and medical lobbies will probably kill it.

  52. Rudy H. says

    To get the FAA’s ‘ear’ will require some compromise and diplomacy to get headed in the proper direction:

    The Class III Level Medical screening exam gets eliminated.

    Private pilots over AGE 40 get the Class II-A Level Med screening exam (which has the standards for the current Class II Level Med screening exam); duration would be for three full years.

    Commercial pilots (actually flying for hire) get the Class II Level med exam; duration would be for two full years. When THEY reach AGE 50, duration would go to one full year.

    ATP’s operationally flying for air carriers get their Class I Level med exam; duration would be for one full year. When THEY reach AGE 60, duration would go to six months.

    Maybe, just maybe, a plan similar to this one will bring them to the ‘table’…..wayyyy sooooner…… rhh

  53. Linda Bird says

    I am 64 and had a heart attack and bypass 12.5 years ago. Now I want to get my medical and am having to jump through all sorts of hoops. I am also a diabetic and am under tight control because I work at it. The FAA asked me what did I do when I had an episode of serious low blood sugar. HUH? I never did have such an episode. And now I am in better shape and at proper weight that I was 12 years ago. Yet, it is taking me months to gather all the silly info they want. I hate this!!

  54. says

    I held a commercial medical certificate for my Class A CDL, but could not risk taking the 3rd Class Aviation Medical again for fear that I would fail and be barred from ever flying (anything) again. I had to retire from commercial driving due to a specific medical condition–one not found at all (in my experience) in the FAA 3rd Class Medical testing–but still drive my personal automobile and motorcycle. Under federal law, I would have had to reveal this condition to the examiner and if it ain’t in the FAA playbook to begin with, you can bet I would have been rejected out-of-hand. I do not have the money to “fight city hall,” so I gave up my personal, private-rated flying of rented aircraft.

    Then I tried buying, but my experience with owning an LSA rated aircraft wasn’t good because the expense of ownership was onerous and couldn’t be justified with me only flying a couple of hours a month. The only other thing I could do was to rent an airplane, pay for an instructor to accompany me while I flew, and there again the price just got too steep to justify it. Plus, I couldn’t take a trip some place and decide to spend the night so I might take in everything I wanted to see, or risk getting shut down due to weather, etc.

    No FBO around here rents LSA rated airplanes, so I’m grounded for all intents and purposes. I hate it and I miss it so very much. I simply love to fly…

  55. Stan Dunn says

    I agree with all the above. I am 62 years old, have never had a cardiac incident,and I run daily, doing half marathons a couple of times per year. I also suffer from anxiety when having my BP checked (like Russ) and it is usually very elevated at the Dr’s office. To have to give up my Cherokee 140 only to spend $150,000 on an LSA that is much touchier to land in winds, is neither sensible nor safe.

  56. Doug Robison says

    I totally agree with these comments and this article. I flew 20 years in the USAF and 17 more for UAL with no problems. I had one (1) TIA 33 months ago at age 62 that forced me to a 5 day stay in a local hospital where I was turned into a human test case for people that have multiple TIAs leading to stroke and heart attack. I have had no other problems since then and am now trying to get a 3rd class med to fly something heavier than 1320 lbs! It is time to allow self certification of pilots that previously had to have a 3rd class to fly to be legal in the eyes of the FAA. Who better knows their limits medically, physically, and emotionally than the individual!!!!

  57. John Boldrick says

    I agree regarding the lack of need for the third class Medical Cert. I recently sold my plane due to a ‘potential’ health problem that I was told the FAA would use to make my life miserable. Even though I could probably get a ‘special issue’,the limitations would most likely keep me on the ground most of the year. I can legally drive a truck, drive a boat, hunt with a firearm, and fly a Light Sport with no limitations. That I am deemed capable of flying a plane that weighs 1320 lbs and not one that weighs 2000 lbs seems rather arbitrary to me

    The 100 year public comment period hints that the administration sees our point and does not want to face the ridiculousness of their current position.

  58. RS says

    I just took an FAA Safety Team seminar in Tulsa called Flying After 50.
    Did you know that less than .1% of all accidents are medicaly related?
    So this tell you there is no need for all this government sponsored taxing documentation.
    The industry is already getting choked enough with lawsuit-derived, ridculously high cost of components, $5/gal fuel, looming user fees, and the emminent extintion of 100LL (even though there is no scientific {or even non scientific for that matter} data that shows 100LL constitues a health hazard to earth dwellers.)
    Does the dwindling pilot polulation in our country come as a shock to anybody?
    The demise of the GA pilot population is inevitable. An the goverment is not doing anything to save it, nor the millions of jobs it generates.
    This is just one more straw on the back of an overloaded cammel with a huge case of ostheoporosis.
    I’m just trying to hold on to it for a little longer, even if it’s until my next medical.
    What a shame, the chances our kids, and their kids, will have the opportunity to enjoy the ultimate expression of freedom get slimmer by the minute.

  59. Phil Duncan says

    Of course I agree with this petition!
    However, there has only been 426 public submissions of support for this petition since 05/19/09. Why has it been over a year and this is the first I’m hearing about this. AOPA (our supposed advocate) was copied on the original petition. Why haven’t they gone to bat for us on this? David Wartofsky should be rewarded for applying common sense toward this issue. But as we all know – especially within federal agencies – common sense isn’t very…

  60. Larry Kindrick says

    I’m trying now to get my third class back. The FAA canceled it when they saw “something” on my ECG. I had to go through a whole cardiac inspection and by the time I got that done the 30 days expired and they pulled it. I don’t know how someone in Oklahoma City, 1000 miles away, can determine my health better than my AME standing right in front of me. I’m just trying to get it back so I can go sport. The whole system sucks.

  61. C.W. Chase says

    I am a 63 year-old CFI AI ASMEL with over 3300 hours, I worked in 135 operations for several years and I am a one-forth owner in a Beech Debonair which I haven’t flown for two years. Why? Because I had a coronary stent implanted in 2004 and I was daunted by the costs and hassles associated with maintaining a 3rd class medical. Like Lawrence Lawn, above, I ride motorcycles, ski, exercise, etc. with no difficulty whatsoever. There is the S-LSA option, but in an effort to maintain the weight and power limitations, builders and manufacturers are forced into tight technological corners and users face limited utility because the limitations simply don’t allow one to load two average weight people, baggage and fuel without exceeding the S-LSA limitations.
    General aviation would only benefit from allowing people like me who have aircraft locked away in hangars to get back into the cockpit and put those aircraft to use. There’s also no rational reason why a third class medical is required for flight instruction or to act as a safety pilot for someone practicing instrument flight.
    To my knowledge, statistics show no correlation between the third class medical requirment and flight safety. The benefits of removing the requirment for the third class medical clearly outweigh the costs and may actually increase flight safety by removing the incentive to push the limits of S-LSAs. Let’s do it…

  62. Jack Newberry says

    The only reason we have a 3rd. class medical is because some government BS to protect their job. I had an angeoplasty 6 years ago and still trying to get my medical back. In most cases pilots are more responsible because they know the dangers to themselves and others. Can you say that about truck drivers or other people on the road.
    Thank you David for the information. I am e-mailing my congressman today.

  63. Anthony M says

    David Wartofsky get a bank account for donations to this cause, I am sure other like myself are willing to support this arbitrary requirement.

  64. Ron says

    I used the links provided in this article, to comment on “regulations.gov”.

    I hope that helps, and I hope others who support this movement will keep it alive.

    That way, we can fly into the sunset, rather than succumbing like wimps, under the greedy new world order, globalist, communist control freaks, that populate our government.

    I’m, for the constitution, and for America’s sovereignty.

  65. Oddjob007 says

    While I see the logic in his argument, the most important issue this article revealed to me is the irresponsible actions of the DOT. By playing games (what else could you call a 89 year comment period?) they show contempt for us and ridicule the offices they hold.

    I would, and will, demand that this procedure be abolished, as I can see NO reason for any government agency to be able to impose such a ridiculous process, and virtually ignore a legally-entered request.

    It’s quite simple: Either government is responsive to the People, or we have tyranny. Period.

  66. Larry Stetz says

    It’s about time someone brings this issue forth. The biannual flight review does a better job of screening pilots, than the 3rd class medical exam. The AOPA is screaming that the number of pilots keeps decreasing, here is their chance to stop that decline. The AOPA needs to get their priority’s straight. I think this is far more important to the older pilots, than user fees. Wake up AOPA!

  67. crae says

    2 years ago I passed my medical but because I had a head injury six years ago the FAA decided they would not allow me to proceed unless I furnished them with a MRI brain scan. Damn, I already passed your medical fools. Made me made because a MRI cost about $2,000.00 so I haven’t been able to fly.

  68. Cal Crooks says

    Every light sport aircraft i have flown has been tougher than the 172. the grumman tiger, the 182rg,and the 152. I felt much safer,and more at ease in every one of them.Because of the third class medical i have to fly aircraft that are more dangerous to fly than any of the certificated aircraft i had previously flown.

  69. Ron says

    I support this proposal very much.

    I’m 63, and in the past it was always a waste of hard-earned cash money, to have AME’s slap me on the back, and say “you look fine to me, son!”.

    The AME’s I knew only accepted cash, no checks, no credit cards, (can you guess why?), and I personally witnessed the spending of the cash by their daughters and granddaughters without any accounting whatsoever! All of these AME’s were on huge hospital payrolls, too!

    The VA put me on blood pressure medication, what a hassle with the FAA!

    I only fly on weekends with my buddies who are flying lightsport, but I can’t afford to buy such an aircraft, my old certified Piper I bought years ago for under 20K, is the only plane I can afford. I’m really just doing the same thing as my lightsport buddies, they just have the Driver’s license as their medical requirement.

  70. Karl says

    I disagree.
    I don’t want pilots not on top of their game up there with me, risking my life. The 3rd class physical is very basic. Can you see well enought to see other aircraft and to read you Sectional and approach plates? Can you hear? It doesn’t even check to see if your mind is stil sharp, and unfortunately, we all lose that sharpness at some time. It takes longer to think and to respond, similar to being at high altitude without supplemental oxygen.
    The FAA policy is correct. For your life and mine, keep it.
    The whining is like any other senior citizen objecting to losing his or her driving license. Any questions? Go to Florida and watch the senior drivers.

  71. Jim Cooper says

    I wholeheartedly agree with you all. My only question is, will I live long enough to see any meaningful reform?
    I’ve been getting special issuances since having a stent inserted in 1990. Every year. It seems to get harder and harder each year to satisfy the folks in Medical Appeals that “nothing has materially changed”. Not to mention the expense.

    How can we get behind this through AOPA or whomever and give it some momentum?

  72. Curtis Barry says

    The only reason the FAA/DOT ever instituted the 3rd Class medical was to “Cover Their Ass”, which is why they put a date of 2099 for accepting comments on the petition, a “Smart Ass” response!
    What’s the difference between flying an LSA aircraft without a medical and any other light plane? NOTHING!
    Don’t hold your breath on this proposal ever being approved but hooray to David Wartofsky for pushing it!

  73. James DeGrosa says

    I agree with this proposal.
    The third class medical doesn’t add anything to the safety of the flying community. Personal physical condition should also be the responsibility of the PIC not the FAA.

  74. Russ Sides says

    I so agree with this proposal. As someone with white coat syndrome to the max I leave home for my flight physical with a blood pressute of 115/65 get to the Dr. office have some gum poping teenager take my reading and it is 145/90 and she/he asks are you taking your medication. Yes I am but this go no go test gives me great Anxiety. After the dr comes in calms me down rechecks and the BP is now 120/80 and again I pass but I so fear the test I decided to sell my Mooney and go Light Sport

  75. Lawrence Lawn says

    I am 65 and currently flying with a 6 yr special issue. I had bypass surgery. It took 6 mos before I could even reapply for my medical and then another 4 months before the FAA could find time to look at it. Now I must resubmit my sress test two mos before my medical expires, so in effect I got a 6 month medical.
    I ride motorcycles which I think is more difficult and dangerous. I drive every day in heavy traffic areas. I excercise 5 days a week, hike, hunt, ski as well as a miriad of other activities.
    I also recently underwent arthroscopic knee surgery.
    I enjoy life as most pilots do and do not place myself in situations I cannot handle, either mentally or physically. Many have been the times I have refused to take a flight as I did not feel 100%, even though I was within the FAA regs for safe flight. The same is true with hiking, skiing, cycling etc. No one is a better judge of my abilities at any time than myself.
    The sheer cost of my time, Medicare, my supplimental carrier, the FAA’s medical staff and who knows how many others could be put to more effective use.
    Operating my simple single engine aircraft seems to be beyond my means according to the FAA, while driving a 5 ton truck in heavy traffic with oddball drivers all around me poses less of a risk to the general public. I find this hard to believe.
    Continuation of the absurdity of a third class medical especially for simple single-engine non IMC flights in a waste of money and will only cause me to switch aircraft to a less safe SLSA.
    The last 6 years have shown there is no significant health related accident occurance when simple aircraft are flown without a class 3 medical.

  76. Jack Thompson says

    It is pretty well understood in the medical community that screening physicals do not have the ability to predict incapacitating or fatal medical events. The third class medical has the least hope of predicting stroken, massive coronary infarction or anything else catastrophic. On the other hand, a segment of medical business that is quick, easy, doesn’t require any follow-up and is paid for in cash is a highly prized one. Don’t expect the AME’s to argue against it.

  77. JS says

    No doubt they are counting on you losing your medical, then losing interest by 2099. Great idea. Good argument. You’re essentially proposing to make anything under 6000# available as a light sport to a qualified pilot. Lots of merit in that argument. The ever intrusive government isn’t going to allow it, so some of us will either go light sport, or simply continue to ignore the requirement once it’s gone.

  78. says

    I agree with David. The requirements for a medical to fly is a burden on the average sport pilot. I have always said that the State should take over sport flying as they have boating. I hope David sees this and contacts me with information so I can file a petition as he has done. Regards Ray Simpkins

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