Fast forward to lesson 7 and my instructor told me to get ready for soloing.  This meant three things:

  • Get my medical exam
  • Apply for Student Pilot license
  • Complete pre-solo written exam

Getting Medical

FAA requires each pilot to go thru a medical examination.  For private pilot license, this means 3rd class (no, it doesn’t mean third class citizen).

My suggestion is if you answer yes to one of followings questions, you should take care of your medical first before sinking too much money into flight lessons (no, lessons are not cheap unless you inherited a plane).

  1. Are you over 40?
  2. Have you ever been diagnosed w/ anything in your life?
  3. Have you ever used any prescription drug (i.e. not off-the-shelf)?
  4. Have you seen any doctor for non-routine reason in the past 3 years?

If you answer yes to one of these, you need to be careful.

  • Do not go to an AME yet.
  • Read the FAA class medical requirement and make sure you will pass all requirements.
  • See Pilots of America (PoA) forum useful insights
  • If you have any issues, contact Dr. Chien Bruce at
  • Once you are sure you will pass on everything and/or have the required paperwork, then find a good AME.
  • Contact AME if you have any questions or questionable items.
  • Take a print-out of your medical form to the AME and have them look at it before opening your online FAA form.

If you go to an AME and they look at your form on FAA website (, a 14-day timer starts immediately. If the doctor does not give you the medical certificate within 14 days (continue reading why this would happen), then your case gets deferred to FAA and then it requires back and forth to get your medical.  Why would a defer happen?  If the doctor needs a new test, form, whatever and you can not get it in time.  For example, in my case, I had seen a sleep doctor 2 years ago for consultation.  I had to schedule a home sleep study to prove I don’t have any sleep issues (consultation was for high blood pressure and if sleep was an issue so we talked about sleep apnea).  Unfortunately the earliest sleep study could be scheduled a month later.  If AME asked for this, then  I would not have made it in time.

Good news is most of the medical conditions is ok for 3rd class.  PoA is a good resource and also Dr. Bruce if you have a complex case.