Medical certification for the new student pilot

August 2, 2013

Gary Crump

Gary Crump

  • Director, AOPA Medical Certification Services 
  • 25 years assisting AOPA members 
  • Former operating room technician and Emergency Medical Technician 
  • Pilot since 1973

First of all, welcome to the world of general aviation. Learning to fly is a tremendous life accomplishment that can open many doors to learning and adventure. And learn you will—there is a lot of knowledge to be gained as you work toward your private pilot certificate. 

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One of the first things you will need to focus on is obtaining a medical certificate. Your flight instructor can probably direct you to a local physician who is designated by the FAA to perform physical examinations and issue airman medical certificates.  However, you can refer to the directory of aviation medical examiners to locate one near you.  Federal Aviation Regulations Part 67 describes the minimum medical standards required for pilots to qualify for one of three classes of medical certificates issued, based upon the pilot privileges being exercised. As a student pilot, you will need a third class medical, required for student, recreational, and private pilot privileges. The medical certificate is required before you make that first supervised solo when you are flying the airplane with no one else on board.   

The medical examination itself includes completion of an application for medical certification, called MedXpress, and can be accessed online. Once you have completed and submitted your application to the FAA, you can schedule the physical exam with an AME. The exam itself will include a vision check, hearing test, and a physical exam by the doctor that will include blood pressure and pulse checks. If you are found qualified for a certificate, the AME will issue it to you at the time of the exam, and you will have completed the first step toward achieving your goal of becoming an aviator!  

To learn more about the AOPA Pilot Protection Services program or to enroll, visit

Gary Crump