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January 5, 2011
By Dan Namowitz
It finally happened. That winter cold that you thought you had ducked again has hit you, and it feels like it is going to hang on for a while. Nor could it have come at a worse moment. Your schedule is packed—and keeping tomorrow’s appointment requires flying.
Now you have some key decisions to make. First, make a good call on your fitness to act as pilot by applying the “I’m safe” mnemonic that you learned about in ground school. It reminds you that you should not fly when adversely affected by “illness, medication, stress, alcohol, fatigue, or emotions.”
In the event that you opt to fly after taking an over-the-counter or prescription medication, another question arises: Have you ensured that the med is permitted by the FAA? For instance, Benadryl is not allowed; Sudafed is allowed, as long as there are no adverse side effects.
Consult the list of FAA-allowed medications in AOPA’s Medical Certification Center. Although AOPA maintains the medications list as accurately as possible, there may be drugs that do not appear in the database. If you have questions about a particular medication that does not appear, contact the medical certification specialists in the AOPA Pilot Information Center at 800/872-2672.
Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.
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