Prediction 2011 – Medical

2011 will be an amazing year for General Aviation. The following is one of a series of absurd (unless they come to fruition) predictions. The quotes are manufactured (by me) and the only thing standing in the way of making these a reality is the cajones to make it so.

Bye Bye 3rd class medical

David Wartosky, owner of Potomac Airfield in Maryland, will be shocked. He’s the author of the petition that would do away with the 3rd class medical for anyone operating an aircraft 6,000 pounds or lighter. The reason David will be shocked? FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt will successfully push the FAA and Congress to get rid of the 3rd class medical for anyone operating an aircraft (regardless of weight) as a private pilot, non-commercial, not-for-hire.

“Class A motor-homes weigh 15,000-30,000 pounds and are 24-40 feet in length,” said Babbitt during a made-up telephone interview just before the end of 2010. “A Pilatus PC-12 has a ramp weight of 10,495 pounds and is 47′ 3″ long. Now I’m well aware that a Pilatus covers the ground at a much higher speed than a Class A motor-home, but it does not come within 10 feet of a school bus loaded with 60 screaming 3rd graders. Why the inconsistency between private operators of a Class A motor-home and a Pilatus, or Beech Baron, or Cessna 182? It’s discrimination against pilots.”

Babbitt went on to cite many examples of the wonderful freedom we have to operate all kinds of machinery of all sizes, weights and performance without a need for a medical examination. Cars, motorcycles, boats, RVs, ATVs, kayaks, surfboards and pumpkin launchers.

More predictions to come.

Agree? Disagree? Have your own absurd prediction? Post your comments below.


  1. dennis says

    The CL III Med should be replaced with a self administered pilot “recommitment” to healthy safe flying the same way some aviation companys require their employees to “recommit” to ethics every year. The FAA knows very well the recommit principle that is applied yearly to ethics by a popular aviation company, so using this as a measure of trust and respect the FAA may well find that it has merit and should be considered. At the end of the day…. after all the responsibility the pilot is assuming anyway maybe it’s time to assume that the pilot is responsible enough to self report.

  2. says

    OK, enough! To all the previous respondents who are “pro no medical”.
    Kindly refer to my earlier commet(#20). He was never a licensed pilot and I dought if he ever had the desire to be one. However, let’s just suppose he had been flying for 75+ years, BUT his FAA medical examiner
    at the time of his last 3rd class medical suggested that his passing the next one might be “in question”. He goes and buy’s a new LSA for $135K CASH,yes,he had the financial meams to do so and then some! His New Jersey drivers license states he is “medically” fit to fly, even though he is 93 years of age. Would you REALLY want to be in the same AIRSPACE as he? The only other safety measure would be his “failing” a BFR, and my being a CFI, naturally would come to me for a sign-off. Not a nice place for me or any rational thinking CFI to be in. Now,to all the “armchair” experts, try “countering” this with any form of logical non prejudice self serving bias!

  3. Tom Hartley says

    Good job Ben Sclair. This is a freedom issue at its most basic level and reeks of government over regulation. The FAA was simply arbitrary in their decision, for example, to exclude the Cessna 150 from LSA, and that decision should be overturned on reasonableness considerations alone. It is just bad logic that the FAA has in essense concluded that a LSA RV-12 pilot with no medical can continue to fly ad infinitum and is more “safe” than a Cessna 150 pilot that does have a medical. Clearly discrimination. Will the government next come after old people’s guns because they might not be able to handle them safely anymore? The government tends to act that way when the uninformed public points fingers at them saying “Why didn’t you have a regulation or law to prevent that (insert any bad thing here) from happening. It is the same bad logic that causes us to have to have ELT’s whereas ELT’s have been for the most part total failures on several grounds but the FAA supposedly “had to do it” to cover themselves from being blamed for “not doing something”. Arbitrary decisions, stealing freedoms, over regulations, knee jerk reactions, and what next?

  4. says

    So #6 are you saying that none of those things would happen if that person did not have a medical, or was flying LSA? How absurd. How about this, “Unstable person steals his uncles’ Cessna and plows into his girlfriends house, too bad he did not have a current license”.

    Pretty rediculous. The fact that LSA exists, precludes all your arguements. And If you have a plane, and want to do bad things, there is nothing stopping you from flying it.

  5. Gary Fisher says

    One point that I have not seen with this discussion is that, as with Sport Pilot, there is a medical. It is called being able to pass a driver’s license physical. Admitedly, the bar is not set very high with that but there is a bar. For example, after a seisure, there is a proscribed waiting period. The same for a heart attack etc. The Third class medical, that is presently absurd and actually encourages pilots to not take certain medications that would be of benefit to both the pilot and the public needs to be trashed. It is simply another case of a Government agency that has outgrown it’s usefullness and is actually becoming a detriment.

  6. paul matthew jr says

    you can’t compare a car truck or rv to an airplane. if you forget to put gas in your ground vehicle you just pull over to the side of the road and call for gas.In an air plane you die. as we get older our memory is’nt what it was when we were younger We take 10 or 12 pills a day. We have cataracs on our eyes and other medical and other ageing problems. There are thousnds of driver’s who should not be on the road you’ve all seen them And as drivers and pilots we will not regulate our selfs.The 3rd class medical keeps a lot of sick old people out of the air and rightfully so. We need a 3rd class med. after a certain age to keep them off the highway too. We have an 86 yr old pilot with oxegen tubes in his nose on our airpark, who went LSA and has crashed 3 planes in 4 years. another 77 yr. old forgot to put his gear down and died of a heart attack on the runway nuf said. Hatchet.

  7. Bob Lipper says

    Doing away with the 3rd Class makes sense. The truck driver is an example. In our area we have heavy farm machinery being driven on the roads (2 lane). I have had a Pvt. Lisc. since 1947 and would like to keep flying local. We have a pvt strip with a couple of A/C.
    As long as I can get in the J3C I’d like to continue, I Know it will fit the LSA requirements.I do not have any plans for a long x-country if I did my son could go with me, He is Pvt. Comm., Instrument so I could cover the bases. Hope it happens.

    • says

      I agree Bob except for the local restriction. If I can drive myself and passengers across Texas (Texas is huge), then I should be able to fly us there too. Keep the two year BFR’s and an eye test though.

      As for the commercial cert, I didn’t have to get a medical for a commercial drivers license. Just the check ride equivalent on the ground with a dps officer. An examiner should be able to determine if I’m fit to fly commercial and able to operate the equipment and navigate safely to my destination.

      Check ride and eye test should be enough.

  8. says

    I agree 100% that if you can drive a vehicle on a two lane hiway sometimes passing as close astwo or three feet head on to another vehicle,you can sure as hell fly noncomercial. Iam so glad you brought that up to the FAA,S attention. Thanks: Harris J.Theriot Jr.

  9. Ron K says

    To Vlctor, what is the date spread of all those accidents from neglect of drugs or disregarding medical conditions?

    Most NTSB accident I’ve read have very few drug or medical related problems for a related year. I’ve heard of High school kids dropping from a Heart attack out of the blue with no warning.

    You mention at the end: If you want to fly get a third class medical or go LSA.

    Example: A Luscombe 8A is LSA.

    A Cessna 140 (basically a Luscombes twin cousin, but has a slightly higher Gross Wt) isn’t LSA.

    A Cessna 150, (which is probably slower than a Luscombe 8A that has a 100 HP Cont. in it), isn’t a LSA because it has a slightly higher Gross wt than a Luscombe 8A. Also a Cessna 150/152 is easier to handle than a Luscombe 8A or a Cessna 140 on the ground. Most Luscombe and Cessna 140 accidents are on the ground.

    If anything add the Cessana 150 to the LSA fleet!

    Unfortunatly people will do the wrong thing no matter what so called government safe gaurds are in place!

  10. says

    Back in 1973, Magnum Force,the second in the series of “Dirty Harry” films, starring the “ageless” Clint Eastwood, “Callahan” made a comment during one of the last scenes,”Man gots to know his limitations”. AND PILOT’S TOO!(I put this up on my bulletin board)
    As an AARP member and in my “68th” year, I personally have NO PROBLEM
    with retesting at a “certain age”,say 75+, not only for flying but for motor vehicles as well. Does anyone REALLY think they have the same reaction time and cognative skills that did even at 50? The reality(dirty word)is this; as we age, which is a natural process which we realy don’t have much control over, we resign ourselves that there are certain things,ie driving OR flying, that it’s not only in our best interest, but ALSO in the interest of others to know when to quit? Isn’t this really the “unselfish” thing to do? Of couse, more of us will remain in denial than not. Ive seen my stepfather, now deceased, thought he was still competent to drive at 93. He and my mother were out for the evening and got into a small “fender bender” about 30 miles from home. He couldn’t even remember where he was! So what’s the moral of the story? Perhaps the hardest thing in life is to accept reality for what IS rather than what SHOULD be. One final thing all of us need to remember;flying and driving is a PRIVILEGE, not a RIGHT. BE GRATEFULL FOR WHAT YOU HAVE WHILE YOU HAVE IT!!!!

  11. says

    No comment is necessary.. I am 81 with over 8000. hours ,single engine / instrument and now the OKC boys want me to take a physical every year.(3dclass)..keeps the doctors(?) on the payroll, ’cause they couldent find a job outside the FAA on a bet.

  12. David Law says

    I’m confused. Specifically what did Babbit say and what did he NOT say? Satire is good, but only when it is obvious. “Made-up” telephone interview? What is that? Help me out, please.

    • says

      It is ALL made up. I never conversed with Administrator Babbitt. A “made-up” telephone interview is just that… made-up. That said, my opinion on the topic is mine. Ridding ourselves of the 3rd class medical for those who fly for recreation, regardless of aircraft size/weight, is something I wish the Administrator would take up and champion. I guess I should chalk this up to joke telling… if you have to explain it, it ain’t funny. Sorry for the confusion.

  13. Ran Slaten says

    Is it true….we finally have a Common Sense Administrator in the U.S. Government? Been asking this med question for years. Thanks!

  14. crae hancock says

    I’m 62 and passed my medical but FAA sent me a letter saying that I have to send them a current M.R.I because I had a brain injury in 2001. Until I do that ($2,000.00) I can’t fly. Crazy because I already had passed the medical. I also have a CDL drivers lisc. So I’m pissed!

    • says

      Crae. I am curious, is there a medical requirement (beyond a vision test) for your CDL? If so, what does it entail? Are you currently “driving for a living”? Thanks. Ben

  15. Jerry Waddell says

    I agree with the elimination of the 3rd class medical. The medical requirement contributes very little, if any to safety. It is the main reason for GA pilots to quit flying and it also inhibits new pilot starts. I believe it also would be a great boost to the general economy of GA and the value of new and existing aircraft. Let’s promote it and make it a reality.

  16. Roger Reeve says

    I have been special issuance for 12 years. That means I can only fly
    9 months a year at best. The last time it took 5 months for apprval.
    That doesn’t include all the lost paperwork I have to resubmit.

  17. Fred Schumacher says

    In addition to being the right thing to do, removing the medical requirement will have a positive effect throughout GA. Keeping more pilots flying will benefit every aspect of the business. Likewise, a stake would be driven through the heart of the motorhome business were medicals required of our altitude-challenged friends, lumbering down the freeway, towing their F-150, while peering through the spokes of the steering wheel.

    We all know some very competent pilots who have been grounded for reasons not connected to safe flight, including those who are now afraid to even take a medical for fear of failure.

  18. Hugh O says

    I think there was a time when the 3rd class medical was something you would expect to go through; I also remember when you couldn’t fly for the army if you wore glasses; just as absurb. Getting rid of the medical isn’t getting rid of the flight training and testing requirements. I’m a Private pilot, 3rd class, with a medical waiver for an artificial leg and I just turned 58. So I’m in that catagory of Pilots that will from year to year wonder if they will be able to pass the next medical. I own a plane that I fly for pleasure and I spend a lot of money for training, parts, gas, oil, maintenance and pilot stuff. Having a 3rd class medical requirement effectively gets rid of the most experienced pilots which are the people that have the most money to spend. For those that don’t know; it’s the small guy/gal that spends their money on a small plane instead of a boat or mortorcycle that keeps General Aviation and small airports open (actually all airports). Not the airlines and not coorperate aviation (although they do their part)but the small airplane owner/user/renter that pays the full tarrif/tax on everything they buy to fly. That money goes directly and indirectly into the local and national economy. Most of the people I fly with are older then me; they all have something that threatens their flying future; not one of them would fly alone if they thought they were not medically capable. I feel safe flying with any one of them.

  19. VIctor says

    Doing away with the medical certificate doesn’t do away with the dangers that it currently filters out.

    I don’t want to read NTSB reports like this:

    A diabetic was comatose at impact because he forgot to bring some hard candy along with him on the flight and his insulin levels droppped

    A well documented depression patient on several medications decided to fly his Cessna into his ex-girlfriends house

    Pilot with documented heart disease, past infarction or that has had heart valve replacement patient has heart attack during take-off climb and plows into neighborhood killing several on the ground

    Man’s pacemaker fails during a quick flight to see grandma – family of four dead.

    Opiate user doubles his dose because he’s “extra stressed” right before takeoff, 30 minutes later he’s so “out of it” he ignores ATC and flies into a TFR and ends up getting shot down.

    All of these incidents have at least one qualifier that would prevent the person from getting a medical at ANY class. However, without having that third class medical requirement, every one of them would “slip through” – all resulting in at least one death.

    There are no police in the sky to stop a DUI, or a swerving diabetic, or to perform a PIT maneuver on a mentally unstable pilots airplane…

    If you want to fly and can’t get a third class medical, go LSA. It’s limiting, but at least you still get to fly!

  20. says

    As Operator’s of a flight school/ rental fleet, we’ve seen many, qualified great pilots loss the right to fly yet watched them drive a car out of the parking lot onto a busy road and they navigate that vehicle for years without issue.

    Some spend thousands of dollars every year jumping through ridiculous hoops just to satisfy an overly stringent requirement.

    Frankly, it is absurd. These pilots deserve to fly as long as they can competitively pass the BFR and stay current.

  21. Gary Gabbard says

    I agree with Babbit 100%. Very large vehicles on the nations highways are by far more of a threat to public safety than a pilot flying a private Acft. And there are no requirements for physicals for private operation of these large vehicles on the public highways. Reduce government restriction on our private lives. Not to mention huge financial cost to private citizens to the operation of their private vehicles.

  22. Daryl Daniels says

    Why are you making fun of this topic? I am a diabetic, drive a class 8 tractor trailer that’s eighty feet long, 102 inches wide, weighing 80,000 pounds, from one coast to the other, accident free for over 40 years, have a private pilots license, and am not allowed to fly solo because of certain medications.

    • says

      Daryl. I’m not making fun of this topic in the least. Your experience is like that of thousands around the country, and proves the point perfectly. The medications you take disqualifies you from flying (solo), yet does not prevent you from driving (for hire or otherwise). That makes no sense.

  23. says

    I think it is a great idea and long over due. Anybody that is normally mobile with a normal heart beat could get (not pass) a III class medical anyway. Incapacitation is the least cause of aviation accidents.

  24. says

    (Houston) No,not the kind of “bush flying” associated with back county unimproved airstrips or none at all in Beaver’s and Super Cubs, but former First Lady Barbara Bush is now taking flying lessons at an unnamed Houston flight school. Since the recent ruling removing the 3rd class medical requirement and now including ALL aircraft with gross weights under 12,500lbs previously reserved for LSA pilots,is training in a PC-12 no less! Vern Jones,94,a former WWII B-25 co-pilot said,” Me and a few other fellows from my ole squadron are buying a restored B-25G for $250,000,
    but what the heck,you only live once! Why maybe we’ll even invite
    Mrs. Bush to take a “spin” with us; now let me see, opposite rudder, neutralize flaps,no,thats not right,or was it elevator,or maybe we should just settle on making a pass under the Golden Gate Bridge”!
    SunRise Assisted Living in nearby Oakland, where Mr. Jones resides, couldn’t be reached for comment. However, management has provided additional MD’s “on call” in the event Jones and his crew decide to make a unplanned low pass over the complex.

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