By Kathryn Opalewski
Pilot Bill Howell of San Diego is a 58-year-old retiree, a husband, a father, and a survivor of cancer. He was diagnosed with two cases of malignant melanoma on one arm in 1989, then again in 1996 on the other arm, and prostate cancer in 2005. What would you say if we told you that Howell received his special issuance third class medical in 14 working days?
You might say that is difficult to do or isn't possible. But it is.
Two months before Howell's medical was supposed to expire, he logged onto AOPA Online and began using an educational tool known as TurboMedical. In less than an hour on his computer, Howell was prepared to walk into his aviation medical examiner's (AME's) office with the actual FAA medical application all completed.
"It is an excellent way to gather information and prepare yourself," said Howell, who put flying on hold in 1973 as life got in the way. But he returned in 2005 to continue studying for his instrument rating.
Many pilots don't realize that they may have a problem getting their medicals until they are faced with a questioning at the AME's office. Some medications are not acceptable to the FAA, and some reported conditions can require supporting documentation.
AOPA has developed this interactive medical application in an effort to help our members identify potential problems before the visit to the AME. TurboMedical asks the same questions as the FAA Form 8500-8, the application for an airman medical certificate (and student pilot certificate) that you fill out to obtain and renew your medical certificate. By using this interactive form you can find out if a current medical condition or prescription medication may be a problem with the FAA. It's better to know beforehand, so you can take appropriate actions before your doctor visit.
"It also gives you the chance to really sit down with your AME and discuss what you need to disclose to avoid getting deferred or disqualified," said Howell. "It really helped me keep track of my doctor's information and gave me the exact terminology to use on my report."
Read more about the TurboMedical program and how to get started. If you have questions, please call the AOPA medical staff, 800/USA-AOPA (872-2672).
October 10, 2007