With less than one month to go before BasicMed goes into effect May 1, medical reform is top of mind for many pilots, and that was evident at the Sun ‘n Fun International Fly-In and Expo April 4 through 9 in Lakeland, Florida.
Both AOPA and the FAA hosted informational talks and seminars about BasicMed, and AOPA had specialists stationed at its campus throughout the week to talk to members one on one about their individual cases.
AOPA President Mark Baker hosted two Pilot Town Halls to update members on a variety of the association’s initiatives, including FAA reauthorization and excessive FBO fees, but members’ questions always came back to BasicMed.
AOPA Senior Vice President of Communications Jonathan Freed shared his personal interest in BasicMed. A Type 1 diabetic, Freed said he felt stressed every year he submitted his application for a special issuance medical, even though he and his doctor knew his condition was well managed and had repeatedly demonstrated his good health to the FAA. A couple of years ago, Freed decided to stop renewing his special issuance medical and fly a Van’s Aircraft RV-12 light sport aircraft. After the May 1 implementation date, Freed plans to fly under BasicMed once he meets with his state-licensed physician for an exam, does the pilot checklist, and completes the required online aeromedical course that will be offered for free by AOPA. Flying under BasicMed will allow Freed to fly at night again, something he said he has missed while flying under sport pilot rules.
During the FAA’s seminars about the new alternative to medical certification, the agency encouraged pilots to use BasicMed and praised AOPA’s online aeromedical course, which is close to completion and will serve as the required education course pilots will need to take every two years.
Pilots asked whether state-licensed physicians would really sign the medical checklist required by BasicMed. The FAA spokesman said that while not all state-licensed physicians might be willing to participate, there would be plenty that would sign the form. Freed said that most doctors should be willing to sign off on the physical and checklist if the pilot is in good health because the form is no different from what physicians are already doing for school, scuba, and other types of physicals.
King Schools’ John King, whose recently publicized battle with the FAA to get his medical back ended in success, told reporters at Sun 'n Fun that “all pilots are afraid to lose their medical,” something he said he knows all too well. King said he is thrilled to have his medical back and to be flying with Martha again in the company’s jet. (Because the jet requires two crewmembers, Martha had to hire and train other pilots to fill in while he sat in the back and “watched Martha fly with other men.”) King said BasicMed was the biggest question pilots were talking about at the show.