4.5 yrs sober // Want 3rd Class med

Discussion in 'Medical Topics' started by Jay H, Mar 11, 2019.

  1. Jay H

    Jay H Filing Flight Plan

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    All,

    I was having a fairly rough go at life, and went to treatment after a near-fatal opiate overdose in October of 2014. I have been sober since 10/4/14, and I continue to be an active member of AA. I take my disease seriously, and I am committed to my life of recovery that allows me to be the person that I am today. Since getting sober, I graduated college, moved states, and got a good job that requires lots of background checks, licenses, etc. However, I want to fulfill my lifelong goal of flying.

    I filled out the 8500-8, and I plan on going to an AME to do the exam, which I know will be deferred. In anticipation, I've written my personal statement that outlined my previous use as well as my recovery. I have a letter from my AA sponsor, the forensic psychiatrist from my rehab, and my counselor from rehab that I still keep in contact with. I can easily get more letters from people in AA or a psychologist, but was wondering what I should do? My idea is to give them as much information as possible that supports my recovery and to go from there.

    I have no agenda other than to get my third class, so all constructive feedback is appreciated.

    Any thoughts?

    Thank you!
     
  2. WannFly

    WannFly En-Route

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  3. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The original "I don't know it all" of aviation.
    Don't let this exam become a "live exam" by surrendering the confirmation number that printed at the bottom of the pages. Cut that off of the page and keep in your wallet for the time being.

    What you need or want to do at this stage is go to the AME as a consultation. An AME worth his shingle will be willing to do this without asking you to surrender the confirmation number

    While in consultation mode, you still retain lots of room to maneuver and get things done in an "unofficial" capacity. But if you surrender the confirmation number and the doctor or office staff enters it into the FAA system, then the exam goes live and you lose lots of flexibility and the chances of your encounter getting thorny and nasty go up exponentially.

    Not all AME's are the same, especially for situations such as yours. During the consultation you can determine if the AME you are speaking with is the one for you. How do you determine that, well, ask him
    1. Are you a Senior HIMS AME?
    2. How many airmen with an alcoholic background have you successfully shepherded to a medical issuance? How quickly
    3. Are you willing to always be my advocate to the FAA (including making lots of phone calls) when things get thorny and nasty?
    4. Are you a "let's get all the records first and make sure they will get accepted in the first throw" AME or one who just tosses me to the FAA wolves and wishes me luck?

    You mention you already have some documentation about your journey to sobriety. Awesome! But before going live with the AME (ahem, the right Senior HIMS AME), all him/her to review the all of the documentation. It could be that much or all of it is just fine. It also can be that while providing information in the proper direction, it isn't what the FAA is going to require. This could include the psychiatrist report. The FAA is (rightly) picky about the required documentation for airmen with an alcoholic background. You need to be prepared that some or most won't be accepted and that you will need to submit yourself to additional testing.

    One more time, I'm going to point out that you are about to journey into waters and airspace to which you have no knowledge of how to successfully navigate. You need to hire yourself someone who does how to help you make your dream of flight happen. That someone is likely to be a extremely experienced Senior HIMS AME. This individual not only will be the one who pokes you, prods you, and makes you say "Ahhh!", but will also be the one who sponsors you into the program and makes sure that everything the FAA wants is present, formatted properly, sent in, and reviewed in a timely manner. This is not your regular run of mill AME that the majority of the pilot population utilizes.

    Your plan of giving the doctor everything he might ask about during this initial exam is fine. But giving the information to the wrong AME could harm your case when providing it to the right one would advance your case.

    Unfortunately, there are not that many of them out there. This is a link to a list of them https://www.faa.gov/pilots/amelocator/ (look section of that page for HIMS). Hopefully one or more are close to you.


    There are two well respected Senior HIMS AME's that participate on this board. Dr. Bruce Chien, and Dr. Lou Fowler (respectively, their usernames are @bbchien and @lbfjrmd). One or both are likely to stop on this thread and comment.

    One last time... DO NOT GO TO THE AME AND MAKE THE EXAM A LIVE ONE. Go there as a consultation to start your education on the process and to determine if this fellow or lady is the one you should hitch your wagon to. If they are not, then thank them for their time, pay the office fee, and seek out the right one.

    In your duplicate post you said

    "I would prefer not to involve HIMS until they ask me to, as that will be quite expensive."

    Bad idea. You need/want HIMS going on in order to make this happen expeditiously. Yes, it will involve dollars, but how else are you going to get the FAA to agree that you meet the standards and should be issued a medical certificate?

    Do keep us in the loop as you progress. And you are always welcome to ask more questions.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2019
  4. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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  5. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The original "I don't know it all" of aviation.
    @Jay H ... Something to become prepared for is the money and time cost of this journey. As the group recently discussed in a similar thread, you need to be ready for the dollar budget of as much $10,000.

    It could be less if you are fortunate enough to be close to the Senior HIMS AME who is willing to take your case and sponsor you. But if the doctor turns out to be a distance away, then this cost estimate might include the travel expenses to go see him/her.

    Also, we would be remiss if we didn't share with you that this isn't a quick journey. Working with the right AME can keep the timeline shortened and moving along. But submissions such as yours go through channels that are not staffed with that many people and already have months of submissions ahead of yours. So be prepared for a timeline of six months to a year or more.


    Again, all of what I have shared is so that you will have a successful end by finding the right AME to manage your case and be more aware of what you are facing as you start this journey.
     
  6. bbchien

    bbchien Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Check Email, Jay....The commentary here has been good.

    I would not go, just yet. If you're 4.5 years sober, I'd get to a HIMS AME and get on a private 3rd party proof of sobriety (urines) program, so that at year 5 you are ready to go....

    I've sent you the HIMS AME list.....note the rules at 5 years are a smidge more relaxed, provided you have good verification of your sobriety, your rehab record, good letter from your AA/NA sponsor and any other person of responsibility (on letterhead) in a position to know and vouch for your non-addiction workplace behaviors...and six months of negative urines. This is called, "supporting the assertions!" :)

    Then, your time spent with a HIMS psychiatrist ($$s) will be time better spend than just now.

    Bruce
     
  7. Dana

    Dana Line Up and Wait

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    What everybody else said... I'll only add that you can get a Sport Pilot certificate without needing a medical exam, as long as you have a drivers license. But if you apply for and are denied a medical, you can't fly as a Sport Pilot. Even if you think you will want the increased privileges that come with a Private (which does require a medical), start on SP first to see if you like before spending the not inconsiderable cash it will cost you to get a medical given your history.
     
  8. PeterNSteinmetz

    PeterNSteinmetz Line Up and Wait

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  9. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    @Jay H .... following what Dr. Bruce has to say about being 4.5 years and at 5 documented years, the process gets smoother.....

    If what he shared becomes the path to success, there are some aviation training things you can start with now.

    One is start pushing the required aviation knowledge into your head. The FAA offers the initial knowledge books you need (and many others) for free download. Start by searching for the "FAA Pilots Handbook of Aviation Knowledge" and the "FAA Airplane Flying Handbook". Google will quickly point you to the pages where you can download them.

    You can also purchase them in print form from several sources if you want. But why not stick with free for right now?


    Once you are hooked up with a good HIMS AME to get the whiz quizzes happening, you could start making inquiries at the local flight schools about what is available. Do some discovery flights where you go up for a short flight with an instructor to see what the experience is like. This also gives you a chance to evaluate the school and that instructor to see if they are someone worthy of your time and money.

    Next, sign up for free at www.FAASafety.gov. Once you tell the site where you are (zip code), you will be informed of aviation seminars that are happening in your area. Just about everyone of them is no cost other than your attendance. And even if the topic might be a bit much for you, it still is an excellent opportunity for you to meat local aviations and make some friends and connections. Maybe even have one of them offer to take you along for a flight.

    Start looking at the student pilot and the "You Can Fly" information at www.aopa.org. They also have a good student pilot magazine you can get for free (but I don't recall how you sign up).


    Finally, let us know where you are.... there might be a PoA member who is nearby to you and willing to sit with you over snacks and beverages and answer more of your questions.
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2019
  10. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Thanks for sharing that.... I need to update that info to a stand alone item like the way Ed is doing for the PIC logging. That link touches on ADD/ADHD as much as it does the consultations. So I think I need to have something that does detail on consultations no matter what the medical need is.

    Or, I could just switch it to a rick roll :devil::devil::devil::devil::devil:
     
  11. Jay H

    Jay H Filing Flight Plan

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    Thank you all for the responses! I've engaged a HIMS doc here in NorCal and will follow the process through from here. Looking forward to getting in the skies one of these days!
     
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  12. ja_user

    ja_user Pattern Altitude

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    Flying aside, which I am sure you will do if you follow the process.

    Congrats to you for making it this far, you've done a great thing. Blue Skies.