Appears that I'm grounded for 2 years, now what?

Discussion in 'Medical Topics' started by Jeff Szlauko, Jul 20, 2021.

  1. Jeff Szlauko

    Jeff Szlauko Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Long story short, I experienced a TIA back in March, and according to the FAA rules, I will need to take a 2 year break from flying. This is the input I got from AOPA.
    I also had a heart stent put in back in January, which, also according to AOPA, disqualifies me for basic med, unless I apply for an FAA medical certificate and issued a Special Issuance. But either way, it appears I'm in for a two year break.

    I got so close to completing my private pilot training, as I was to the point of just needing to complete my long cross country solo flight, and about a half hour of instrument training. Then I took a break which became a much longer break due to COVID, and the desire to save up some money. Then the above mentioned medical stuff happened.

    Just wondering now what to do with the two year break.

    Any ideas? Has anybody else experienced this?

    Sort of depressing. Was thinking if nothing else, be good to go up with an instructor at least once in a while in order to stay somewhat "ready". Perhaps hit the books for two years and ace the written!

    Any ways, feel free to bounce ideas off me. Thanks!
     
  2. Salty

    Salty Final Approach

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    Keep flying with an instructor on occasion, and find a pilot friend who will let you fly at least right seat if nothing else for gas money. You can also do radio work and navigation for a buddy pilot. That let's you focus on those chores and get good at them without the distraction of flying the plane at the same time.
     
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  3. kath

    kath Administrator Management Council Member

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    One option is to "stay in" by flying with an instructor, or with buddies. Another option is to "accept the break" and think of the eventual return to flight as a kind of reward for getting your health in order. I'm not sure which to suggest; it really depends on you, I don't think there's a right answer here. Either way, I know it's HARD. There are lots of people in similar situations. Be patient and keep your eyes on the prize!

    -- recovering cancer patient, grounded since last October.
     
  4. write-stuff

    write-stuff En-Route

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    Tough break there, Jeff. Tell you what. Go sign up at Gold Seal and I'll comp your full access account. At least you can keep your head in the game.

    Let me know when you get signed up.

    www.GroundSchool.com
     
  5. PaulS

    PaulS Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Sorry to hear this Jeff, but I guess that's life, we all live with understanding that something like you experienced could end our flying. Best bet is talk to your instructor and fly with him/her as much as you want. You can still work on stuff but can't solo. Two years isn't as long as it seems, and you will need to get things together for your SI in the mean time. Talking to a knowledgeable AME before you get any more tests done can help for collecting the things the FAA will want to see. Take care of your health.
     
  6. murphey

    murphey Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    My standard response....take up sailing.
     
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  7. eman1200

    eman1200 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    golf. and sorry to hear about your situation. also, what is a TIA?
     
  8. PaulS

    PaulS Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Mini stroke.
     
  9. Salty

    Salty Final Approach

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    Find a glider club
     
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  10. eman1200

    eman1200 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Ugh.
     
  11. Daleandee

    Daleandee Cleared for Takeoff

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  12. mcmanigle

    mcmanigle Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Assuming you get your health otherwise in order / stable / figured out, isn’t LSA still an option short of the two-year window for getting back in the certified game?

    I echo the “either take a break or keep flying with an instructor / friend once in a while” answer, with one additional option: if you have the time, money, and motivation and want to go all in, you could always keep going with instrument training and/or multi engine training and just take all the tests all at once when your medical clock is done. Could also become a ground instructor and the various subsets thereof. Anyway, those options probably don’t appeal unless you’re super serious about it and have plenty of free time and money, but just wanted to throw it out.

    TIA = transient ischemic attack. Same as a stroke, but symptoms resolve within 24 hours without permanent damage. (But has the same causes as a stroke, so it’s looking into and sorting those risks out that makes TIAs exciting to the powers that be. Well, that and the unpredicted incapacitation.)
     
  13. bflynn

    bflynn Final Approach

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    I'm sorry for the issue. The TIA might be a warning shot of a bigger problem. Health first, right?

    Do you understand all the testing required and passing standards when you do get back? To be sure, you know to get the testing first and then submit it with your medical, right? It is possible to come back if you are health.

    Save the money you would used flying and put it away. Save up for a nice vacation. Save it for a lot of flying when you do get back.
     
  14. MikeNY

    MikeNY Pre-Flight

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    Perhaps too early to take the private pilot knowledge exam at this stage
    .... but might consider a (wholly optional) ground instructor certificate.

    Unlikely a GI certificate could be used (to provide ground instruction), but ...
    -Medical not required, certificate never expires, can help "broaden knowledge and skill set", and study will be useful prep for corresponding airmen knowledge exam in the future.
    You'll be setting up in the system (IACRA, FTN, etc.) and exam costs are reasonable.

    Anytime during the medical wait, if interested to study aviation knowledge with a purpose, with a measurable goal ... an optional FAA certificate for consideration.
     
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  15. Eldorado

    Eldorado Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Keep your head in the game as you stated and others have stated. Some lifestyle changes might be in order as well. I try to do my best every year to find something that is more healthy I can do and give up something that is not as healthy. After 58 years of flying being my primary hobby, its also one of my incentives to stay healthy. I’ve also have a couple periods where I had to give up flying due to school, health of my wife, and shattered vertebra(accident), but the hope of flying again was a positive incentive. We all will hopefully know when we make that last flight, then we will try and move on with good memories.
     
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  16. Jeff Szlauko

    Jeff Szlauko Pre-takeoff checklist

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    TIA stands for "Transient Ischemic Attack". As others have said, a mini stroke.
    Basically it's due to a temporary blockage somewhere in the brain that causes the symptoms of a stroke, but goes away on its own as the blockage either dissolves, or moves along.

    Fortunately for me there was no damage done. What I experienced was a loss of language ability as I found it difficult to comprehend what I was reading, and even though I could speak with no issues, I found myself stuck searching for the correct words to say. that all lasted about an hour. Also had a weird vision thing going on in one eye that lasted about 10 minutes.

    Hopefully it won't happen again, but all I can do now is keep up with the medications, and take care of my health.
     
  17. Jeff Szlauko

    Jeff Szlauko Pre-takeoff checklist

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    WOW! Thank you so much for that offer! I use to be enrolled as a full member years ago, and really loved the course. Should I PM you when I go to enroll again?
     
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  18. Topper

    Topper Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Jeff,

    I don't know if my answer will be that helpful since I was at a different place in my flying career, but let me share. I found myself in a similar position in January of 2016. Unfortunately for me, I am an all in kind of guy and I had a full on stroke. Three weeks in a rehab hospital learning how to walk again. I was very fortunate that I didn't have any cognitive or speech issues.

    As others have suggested, this could be a warning sign. I suspect that if you ask most stroke survivors and/or their caregivers if the stroke was one of the top 5 worst things that happened to them, that the majority would say it was. How many would you have to gather to find one that would say it was one of the best things that happened to them? The answer is one if I am in the group. While it was a scary and less than pleasant, not to mention a little inconvenient, I am glad it happened. Had it not happened when it did, it might have happened when I was older and less able to recover (I was only 47). If it hadn't happened, I might not have turned my health around and a heart attack might have taken me out. I almost certainly would be a type 2 diabetic by now if it hadn't happened.

    Please take this seriously and consider it an amazing gift of a wake up call that you may need to make some adjustments.

    For me it turned out to be a big plus in my flying career. I was a private multi engine instrument rated pilot at the time. I still needed to fly occasionally for business and figured that I would just grab a cfi anytime I needed to fly. Unfortunately this was during the time that the requirements for the ATP had changed and everyone was working towards finishing before the new requirements went into effect and it was hard to find a cfi.

    I found a flying service that managed planes, crewed them and did a little training and built a relationship with them. I also brought them some business. Before long I was occasionally flying with them in customer planes. I think I ended up over the years flying about 100 hours left seat in 421's with professional pilots dealing with ATC/weather/emergencies all at no cost to me. Without these hours I would never have been able to get insurance in a 421 without a lot of mentor time. Also the real world flying with professional pilots provided me a priceless experience. I am now a commercial pilot and going to do my single add on this summer.

    I am not sure how you might find a deal that lets you get some left seat time, but I am sure if you look, you might find someone that would like the company. Even if you sit right seat and can't log, it will keep you in the game, give you radio experience if they let you take the radio, plus give you some real world cross country experience that you wouldn't get on your own.

    I highly recommend that you consult with Dr. Bruce before you work on your medical. He was amazing helping me get my medical back. I expected to always be on a SI, but I got a full medical that my AME renews every year for me without involving the FAA. Best of luck and let me know if I can help you in anyway.

    Jim
     
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  19. Rushie

    Rushie Pattern Altitude

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    I had a similar story but a different medical issue. I had done my long cross country and was about to schedule my checkride when I had a radiculopathy that laid me out, and long story short, it led to the uncovering of some autoimmune issues and I had to self ground. I was facing another complicated certification round that I wasn’t sure would be successful so I made the decision to focus on my health. I know how you feel to be almost there and then it gets yanked out from under you. But my case differs from yours in that my husband is a pilot and we owned planes so I got to fly anyway so I guess that’s a happy ending. It’s not the same as piloting alone but you take what life hands you. I wish you the best and hope things work out well for you too.
     
  20. Jeff Szlauko

    Jeff Szlauko Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Reading your post was inspirational...thank you!
    Good to hear that you were able to get back back into flying.
    Interesting too your take on the stroke, and how in the long run, it may have been the best thing to happen, since, like you said, something like that occurring much later in life could have been more severe. I actually looked at it that way too, and for me, the fact it was a mild stroke, and a very temporary "event" could be viewed as a warning to me that I need to take good care of my health.
    One thing this "event" has done for me is put things into a different perspective, and in a good way. I find myself not fretting about a lot of the things I did before, since when compared to a stroke, nothing compares stress-wise. Really makes one look at life in a grander scale.
    Easy to get depressed about it though, but then I think "why choose that path?"
    Keeping focused on goals, and looking forward to doing the things I enjoy is so much more constructive!
    That's the great thing with flying, in that it keeps one so busy and focused, that there's no time to think of the depressing stuff!
    Any ways, thank you again for your input. I'll check out Dr. Bruce.
     
  21. Lindberg

    Lindberg En-Route

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  22. write-stuff

    write-stuff En-Route

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    No problem. Your last name was unique enough to find. I have upgraded you so you're ready to go. It looks like you haven't logged in for a couple of years. You'll see a huge amount of updated and new lessons. Glad to have you back.
     
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  23. Jeff Szlauko

    Jeff Szlauko Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Thank you so much! Mighty nice of you!
    I always enjoyed your course in the past, so it's great to be back onboard. Will certainly keep me busy for a while, and on top of things. Might as well be positive about my situation, and use the time constructively. This will certainly help!
     
  24. Jeff Szlauko

    Jeff Szlauko Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Yes, I thought about the LSA certificate. The thing is, the requirements of it say "You can't have a medical condition that makes you an unsafe pilot."
    So even though a medical certificate is not required, having a medical condition can still be a show stopper. But then again, who am I to say that a previous TIA event makes me unsafe to fly? Perhaps a good Dr. Bruce question.
     
  25. Half Fast

    Half Fast Final Approach

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    Does your doctor consider you safe to drive a car?
     
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  26. Jeff Szlauko

    Jeff Szlauko Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Good point! I have no restrictions driving. Also ride a motorcycle daily to work and back.
    I suppose another plus is that I am under a doctor's care, under proper medications, and all scans and blood tests are normal.
     
  27. Half Fast

    Half Fast Final Approach

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    I could make an argument that, since a driver's license is all the medical you need to fly an LSA and your doctor has not restricted your driving or motorcycling, you have every reason to believe that you are also healthy enough to fly under SP rules. If you're unsure you could have a discussion with your doctor about it.
     
  28. Zeldman

    Zeldman Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Health first. Do what it takes to get your health back. In the meanwhile lots of good suggestions here on how to keep flying like continue training, flying with friends and instructors.

    Did I mention health first? (I took my own advice after the heart attack)
     
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  29. Half Fast

    Half Fast Final Approach

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    Yeah, but consider this: what we call "health" is merely the slowest rate at which we can die. Or, stated another way, health is just a long, lingering death.

    :devil:
     
  30. Lindberg

    Lindberg En-Route

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    Under the Light Sport regs, you are literally the one to say whether or not it does. Note also that it is written in present tense.
     
  31. TCABM

    TCABM Pattern Altitude

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    Gliders are an option.
     
  32. retpd2001

    retpd2001 Line Up and Wait

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    Maybe a blessing in disguise, TIA's can be a pre-cursor to a major stroke, at least according to the nurses I used to fly with. Now you can do what you need to do to keep healthy.
     
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  33. PeterNSteinmetz

    PeterNSteinmetz Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    I strongly endorse the glider idea, so long as you and your doctor think you are safe to fly them. The sport of soaring is quite challenging and different than powered flight. Very elegant. I always like to link this video to illustrate that -
     
  34. DaleB

    DaleB Final Approach

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    It's a judgment call that you'd want to make taking into account the advice of your doctors. And that same rule applies to people with medical certificates as well... you have to make that call before every flight.
     
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  35. DFH65

    DFH65 Pattern Altitude

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    I agree health first make the changes that are necessary. Having said that...

    Personally I would go LSA. Buy yourself a Champ or similar and finish your training. I am on Basic Med now and if I ever have an issue with one of the big three and am still healthy enough to fly I will go LSA. I could happily fly a Champ or a Cub for the rest of my days but some of the more modern LSAs if you have the money are really capable aircraft. I don't plan to deal with the FAA again with medical stuff they are too slow and it cost too much money when there is an issue. If I really think whatever issue I have is dangerous to others I will hang it up.
     
  36. Rgbeard

    Rgbeard Pattern Altitude

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    I GUARANTEE if you fly some gliders for a while, you’ll be a really good “stick”.

    two years will go by and you’ll likely transition to power easier.
     
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  37. PeterNSteinmetz

    PeterNSteinmetz Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    Last edited: Jul 25, 2021 at 10:58 AM