Already a member? Please login below for an enhanced experience. Not a member? Join today

Membership: Are you a pro pilot?Membership: Are you a pro pilot?

AOPA can help mitigate the risks associated with a flying career

You’ve worked hard and invested a great deal of time and money to become a professional pilot.

Now that you’ve achieved your goal, what are you doing to protect your investment and career? AOPA created an exclusive membership to help professional pilots. For $178, you’ll get our AOPA Premier membership with exclusive pro-level benefits:

  • AOPA Pilot Protection Services Plus coverage to protect your pilot and medical certificates.
  • 12 issues of AOPA Pilot magazine Turbine Edition (both digital and print).
  • Dedicated helpline for professional pilots.
  • Preferred access to AOPA’s Aviation Job Board: View new job posts before they go public.
  • Members-only access to affordable term life and AD&D insurance.
  • Professional networking and mentoring opportunities with our Pro Pilot Speakers Bureau.
  • Exclusive 20-percent discount on Pilot Gear purchases and free ground shipping on orders totaling $75 and above.
  • Free AOPA Pro Pilot Weekender bag, valued at $39.95.

Get peace of mind and the protection you deserve by becoming an AOPA Pro Pilot member.


Before you solo

Obtaining your first medical certificate

By Ferdi Mack

Q: My instructor says that I should get a medical certificate even though I’m not yet ready to solo. How do I do that, and what is involved?

A: Your instructor’s suggestion is a good once, since an FAA medical certificate is required for you to fly solo in pursuit of your private or recreational pilot certificate. It may take some time to get your application together and schedule your exam, so getting the ball rolling sooner is better.

Your first stop should be, where you can find information on medical conditions and medications that may affect your medical certification. Your next stop should be the FAA’s website (, where you can locate an aviation medical examiner (AME). An AME is a doctor who is authorized by the FAA to perform aviation medical exams and issue medical certificates. You also can start the medical application process through the FAA’s MedXPress system.

You will need to indicate your desired class of medical certificate, which for noncommercial pilots is typically a third class certificate. You will also have to list your medical history information, including conditions and medications that you are taking as well as visits to health care providers within the past three years.

AOPA has a webinar designed to explain the process for first-time medical applicants ( You also can obtain guidance from AOPA’s medical certification staff before your exam by calling 800-872-2672 Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern time, or email [email protected].

Ferdi Mack is senior manager of the AOPA Pilot Information Center.


Get an early diagnosis

Carotid artery disease risk and prevention

By Gary Crump

The carotid arteries are major vessels that deliver blood to the brain, so they are important conduits to keep open to maintain the free flow of oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to our cranium-encapsulated supercomputers.

From the aeromedical certification perspective, the FAA looks favorably on effective treatment for carotid artery disease if the diagnosis is made early. In fact, a high percentage of blockage in the coronary arteries is allowed for medical certification if the person is asymptomatic and is being appropriately treated and followed. 

Unlike coronary artery disease where a higher percentage of blockage elevates the risk for incapacitation, carotid artery circulation involves the common carotid artery that divides into the external and internal carotids. This redundancy allows for less risk of an incapacitating event, so the FAA is somewhat more lenient when it evaluates carotid artery disease that involves more than 50 to 60 percent blockage.  

Gary Crump is senior director of the AOPA Pilot Information Center medical certification section.

Related Articles