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looking for advice, sport pilot or private

Posted By:
Scott Teneyck
#1 Posted: 7/7/2010 16:15:05

let me apologize right from the start, this is a little long, but i've been viewing aviation websites and this one has a good mix of opinions on these boards, so thank you for reading this and any ideas/experiences you have!

Last year,{about this time} I was bitten by the plane bug after a biplane ride at the rhinebeck aerodrome. after checking into the local fbo/airport {10 minutes from my home} I took a few lessons in a 172. Ireally enjoyed it, but weather worked against me quite a bit{if your wondering if the weather is going to be bad, call me and find out my lesson schedule!} after some long delays I shifted away to other diversions and dropped the notion of flying, but everytime a plane would pass overhead, I would stand and gaze at it while the neighbors wondered what the *** I was looking at!

Now, I'm determined to achieve my goal, but need some expereinced advice...medical exam! let me state the facts, I'm 42 years old, am in great physical shape{3 days of weights, 2days cardio,1day jogging} I'm 6'0'', 195 lbs, averaging between 15-18 percent body fat, wear corrective glasses for distance {20/20 with them}  hearing no problems...BUT, 14 years ago during a routine physical my doctor noticed my blood pressure was higher than he liked esp for my age and the diet and exercise regimen , {my numbers were below the max accepted by the faa}, being that he treated my father also he said that my father was hypertensive as well and we should treat it to keep it low and me healthy...I still take the same dose to this day 5mg zebeta{found it is listed as an "approved" med by the faa} and my numbers average 115/70.. this past fall during blood work he found that my triglycerides while the number had'nt changed the reccomended number to be treated had dropped and he again suggested a medication in that there really is nothing to "tweak" in my diet or lifestyle.So trillipix is now on my daily regimen also..

Now my question is how hard will it be to obtain 3rd class medical, idon't think i can't get one but I don't wish to jump through hoops like a circus animal either! Can anyone share their experiences with similar conditions? would it be hard just the first time or would each renewal mean the same headaches. I can go two ways with my planning..first if I were to obtain  the med card i would train for my private at the fbo near my house, rent for a year,

and probably purchase a cessna 150, my second option woujld be to train for my light sport at an airport/fbo approximately 1 hr away, for part of my lessons then take a educational vacation to an instructor that offers condensed training and tailwheel for the conclusion, then purchase a vintage lsa ercoupe/aeronca...

I don't desire anything fast or ifr, just to experience some cross countries here in the northeast and enjoy the sights and experience, the only thing light sport wouldn't offer me that i think i would feel left out on would be an occasional night flight to see the local city lights....So, there you have it, sorry if it was boring and long winded! thanks in advance for any comments or ideas or your own experiences, Scott

Andy Gamache
Homebuilder or Craftsman
#2 Posted: 7/8/2010 07:16:08

Hi Scott!


Sounds like aviation has bit you hard. I'm sure Rhinebeck didn't help matters at all. I remember seeing their airshow back in the 70's. It was awesome!!


Anyway, for you medical question, go to www.pilotsofamerica.com (commonly called the Blue Board) and post your question there in the medical topics section. A fellow by the name of Dr. Bruce Chein will be along shortly and answer your question. He's the guy that the FAA comes to when they need an opinion.


All that being said, there are other areas of aviation that you may want to explore if all you want is the thrill of flying. Part 103 ultralights might be a good fit, as well as gliders. Neither require a medical for the most part, and ultralights don't even require a license (but get the training!!). With gliders, it's possible to have a powered glider that's very similar to other powered planes and still enjoy the benefits of no medical required to fly it.


Good luck however you proceed!!

Dave Prizio
Young Eagles Pilot or VolunteerHomebuilder or Craftsman
#3 Posted: 7/8/2010 12:46:47

If you are serious about being a pilot (it sounds like you are) then you should be a member of the EAA and the AOPA.  The AOPA has a good online forum about medical matters that can be of great help. Dr. Bruce can be found there too, unless someone has really made him mad lately, which does happen from time to time.

I suggest you access the turbo medical form on the AOPA web site and fill it out completely. I will take you through all the questions found on the FAA medical.  You may have another issue of concern to the FAA that you have not mentioned, because you thought it was no big deal.  It is best to find out now before getting your medical rejected. With the turbo medical in hand you can seek out an AME and ask for a consultation prior to the actual FAA medical exam, and go over your turbo medical form with him/her. AOPA will also do this for you if you sign up for their medical program at a cost of $99/year. This may seem like overkill, but it might be worth it for your first time through if you have any reservations about the results.

If you decide not to pursue an FAA medical, Sport Pilot is a pretty good option. This is not available to you if you apply for a medical and it is denied. Both the EAA and AOPA have lots of information on this. The EAA info is especially comprehensive. Part 103 ultralights and gliders are also viable no-medical options.

Good luck with your pursuit.

Jerry Rosie
Young Eagles Pilot or Volunteer
#4 Posted: 7/8/2010 14:33:42

More to the point of your specific question and based on my personal experience of about 10 years ago.  When I went for my first medical, is was with a Doc that i had worked with personally for years.  Everything was fine until he came to my blood pressure which was (as I remember it) 140/90 or in that range.  I was also taking medication for hypertension at the time.  He said he'd have to send my medical to Oklahoma City for their blessing. 

A couple of weeks later, I received a letter from the FAA asking that I provide some info from my family doctor.  Info required was a summary of my treatment for hypertension and a letter from my Doc stating his findings and specifically stating that my condition was stable.  After submitting this info, it took them about six months (at that time) before I received my approved medical back from OK City. 

For my next medical, I went to a different Doc (my original AME had retired) and filled out the paperwork, indicating that I had hypertension under control and that it had been reported on my previous medical.  The new Doc did his thing, looked at my old medical certificate, and approved my new medical on the spot.  No more hoops to jump through. 

 I've since let my medical lapse and am now flying an Aeronca 65LA under the Light Sport rules.

If you are in reasonable health and the experts int he field opine that you are in good enough shape to pass a medical, I'd recommend going for the PPL ('cause it's available closer to home), fly your brains out until your health begins to deteriorate, and then don't go near an AME, sell your C150 or trade it for an Aeronca.



Cheers, Jerry NC22375 out of 07N
Scott Teneyck
#5 Posted: 7/8/2010 15:56:04

thanks for the responses guys, yup I'm a member of the aopa and have been checking out their medical section{was gun shy about spending for their medicalservice so thanks for the advice on it being well worth it} i posted here to see the real world stories, like jerry, thanks for sharing, anytime a goverment run program is involved , the results can be like playing a slot machine! thanks again, Scott

Bob Jans
Homebuilder or Craftsman
#6 Posted: 7/9/2010 03:45:42

Hi Scott,  read your story about hi blood pressure and your dilemma regarding private or sport.  I am a private pilot since I was a teenager; now I'm 65.  At age 52 suddenly my blood pressure went up.  Not being a smoker or drinker or overweight, the doctor always passed me regarding what pressure he measured.  I noticed that I could influence the reading by concentrating to relax during 15' and then guaranteed a low reading would come out: 120 instead of 160 or even 170.  And there is the white coat syndrome: when I take readings at home they are always much lower than the one-time reading at a doctors office.  I bring in my home-made readings to my medical exam.

BUT: I have no more hi blood pressure; it's gone!  How?  Since 2-3 years I eat daily a bit of fresh garlic with my dinner and I measure constantly 105 to 115 over 65 - 70.  It may help that I always had a low heart rate of 43 to 55 at rest.  What else do I do?  Move my friend, move.  I bike, do some fitness, jog a little and exercise.  Nothing special but just keep at it.  At the doctor's office I still measure 170 or even 180 (with my own device that I bring).  back at home it's down to 105 or so.  The doctor knows that, so he doesn't even care about his own reading.  Beside that I had 2 days ago a complete one-day medical and not even a trace of any artery problem or whatever.  Do I eat special?  Yes. lots of chocolate, pastries and wine/beer.  In other words I don't watch my food, but no junk food.  I eat everything "rich": no lo-fat and all this crap, but as much as possible fresh and no artificial stuff (honey instead of sweet-a-low, ...).  Just move man, move.  You don't have to put yourself into a sweat: just walk, jog a little, bike a little ... be aware of it.  That's all.  Should work for most people.  And for flying: be just as happy with a Sport licence as a Private one; Sport is going to be the future due to cost and other restrictions.  My 2 cents.  Robert Jans (Netherlands; with a class II JAR medical and a US licence and medical).  Have fun!

Robert Frost
Homebuilder or Craftsman
#7 Posted: 7/9/2010 11:10:03

Hi Scott,

You may just want to revisit your desired mission.  If you have no aspirations of flying more than one other person and do not intend to fly at night or into Canada, then you really don't need more than a Sport Pilot certificate.

My homebuilt is LSA, and most of the time I only fly under Sport Pilot rules, but I might need to land after dark sometime or fly into Canada one day.

You have to decide what your ultimate mission is and go from there.  Blood pressure isn't normally a failure point, but like the other folks said, you might want to contact a professional before you get a medical if that's what you decide to do.