Overweight - Should I even waste my time?

Discussion in 'Medical Topics' started by Kanjc, Mar 11, 2021.

  1. Kanjc

    Kanjc Filing Flight Plan

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    So i am nearly done with my part 61 ground school and I am getting ready to make an appointment with an AME. Problem is I am 5'7" and over 350lbs, even when I am in great shape i still weigh around 200lbs. I am 49, I do not have diabetes, blood pressure issues, sleep apnea and pulse is usually around 65. The question is - am i going to fail my medical because i'm fat? Will i even fit in the training aircraft when i do my discovery flight have wasted my time and money studying for my written?
     
  2. RyanB

    RyanB Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    Get the weight under control first. Medical certificate aside, you’re going to have a difficult time fitting in just about every trainer that I can think of.

    I won’t say you wasted your time and money doing the ground school now, but it’s a big reason as to why I wouldn’t suggest doing anything without having a medical certificate in hand.

    Good luck!
     
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  3. FancyG

    FancyG Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Do the discovery flight.

    I'm 6'2 275#, and that keeps me out of 2 seat trainers for W&B. Me, the wife, and a small instructor is all a full-fuel 172 will haul.

    Get yourself to 1000-1200 calories a day and suffer before medical, read the horror story threads about botched 1st medicals.
     
  4. RussR

    RussR Pattern Altitude

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    I am not a doctor or an AME, but I do not think that the weight itself is a reason for a medical certificate to be denied. It's typically the things that usually go along with that (like diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.) For instance, a few years ago the FAA was requiring a sleep apnea study of anybody who exceeded certain proportions. I'm not sure of the status of that now but it would be worth looking into.

    So I'd second @RyanB 's suggestion of getting the weight under control first, for the medical exam, for the practical issue of fitting in the airplane (and finding an instructor who will fit with you), and for the reason of just overall better health. Flying is great, use this as your motivation if you need to!
     
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  5. schmookeeg

    schmookeeg Administrator Management Council Member

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    You will have your neck measured for OSA. Due to the checklist they use, you will be deferred for an OSA sleep study, which you will not pass, and you will end up with an SI for a CPAP machine renewed yearly.

    Then you will get a Basic Med medical and skip all of the rest of it.

    That said... I was as heavy as you, although 6'2. My health warranty ran out at age 41, sugars and BP sneaking up and I could see the writing on the wall, so to speak. It's worth getting under control. Due to my anti-authority personality, I needed it to NOT be at the mercy of an AME's pen for me to actually deal with it head-on. Basic Med was the win for me there. You may take a different path.

    $0.02. One of my old medicals just said "350+" in the weight box.

    Just saw the second part of your Q. You will fit fine in a C172. You will be snug in a Piper cherokee/warrior/archer. If your instructor and your own shoulders are at the same position in the plane, one of you will need to move the seat fore/aft.

    If you are training in a C172, be careful not to "hang weight" on anything. The door and the seat back are both vulnerable. There is a "dude of gravity" entry procedure which your instructor may not know. It goes thus:

    1. Open door and attach it to the "catch"

    2. Step right foot forward of the landing gear step. Place left foot on step if possible. Place your right foot all the way in to the right rudder pedal. You may need to put a hand on the seat BOTTOM or glareshield for balance until you get the moves down pat.

    3. Launch yourself with left foot, with intent to secure one buttock into the seat.

    4. Using your prehensile buttcheek, ratchet your head and torso into the cabin. Grab ABOVE the door frame, not the door itself. It is best that you do this with the right seat unoccupied. If your CFI got in before you, well, you two are gonna be real familiar with your head in his crotch.

    5. Haul your left foot and leg in behind you while bracing your body using either the "A" pillar, or your seat BOTTOM. Never use the seat back for this.

    6. Seatbelt. You can't get it on after closing the door.

    7. Close the door. Party on. :D

    If you get time in a Beech trainer (Musketeer/Sundowner) you will love the room. Same with a C182 Cessna if you have the means.

    You should just rule out most things under 160hp now. You won't make useful load with an instructor on board, and if you do, performance will be marginal.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2021
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  6. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    As far as the medical goes, as long as your BP is in range and you're not spilling glucose due to the onset of diabetes you're likely issuable. The AME is obliged to ask a lot of questions about sleep apnea because it's one of the current causes celebres at the FAA. If you've got the signs of sleep apnea (snoring, wakefulness issues), you need to get that taken care of BEFORE you start the training.
     
  7. AndyMac

    AndyMac Pre-takeoff checklist

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    @Kanjc I need another post before I can include a link, but a friend of mine struggled with weight in the same order of magnitude as you've described above, and documented what he did to deal with it. It works really well, and for some people it isn't all that hard. Next post...
     
  8. AndyMac

    AndyMac Pre-takeoff checklist

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    check out http://jimmyakin.com/fast - Jimmy stopped updating this document in 2016, but has lost more than 100 lbs. I personally lost more than 50 lbs, and kept it off for a year using IF. If it is interesting to you, watch the video(s) at the bottom by Dr. Jason Fung. Personally, I found them inspiring. Best of luck to you sir!
     
  9. Clip4

    Clip4 Final Approach

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    To be honest, you will damage the seats and or the seat rails. The seats in GA aircraft are no designed for people of your weight. Get on a diet and lose 100#.
     
  10. Salty

    Salty Final Approach

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    Ignore this.

    I’m smaller frame and shorter, so it wasn’t a big issue for me, but I lost 60 pounds in a year by simply not eating carbs. That’s it.
     
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  11. Clip4

    Clip4 Final Approach

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    Ignore it if you wish, but a flight school with any knowledge of airplane maintenance won’t accept him.
     
  12. Salty

    Salty Final Approach

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    Telling someone to lose weight is good advice, but it is useless if you're a jerk about it and doubtful that they haven't already heard that advice from more reputable sources they trust.

    Yet another reason added to the many that I would never do business with your establishment.

    OP, most schools are happy to accommodate a willing student and are not jerks. If you run across one that is a jerk, run away. There are others out there. You might not be able to fly every plane, but you can fly some as mentioned above.
     
  13. Zeldman

    Zeldman Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I quit carbs and anything sugary and knocked off 40 pounds. I also replaced the evening meal with nothing but fruits, mostly bananas and blueberries mixed together in one cup of yogurt.
     
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  14. Initial Fix

    Initial Fix Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Agree with the others. You will need to talk to your FAA doc for guidance. Just talk don’t start the medical paperwork until you talk to them.

    I’m so glad when I was 280 at 6’2” this wasn’t an issue like it is today. at my current 192 it makes things much easier. Those post college days were good to me I kept my old medical as a reminder of my old weight. :)
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2021
  15. Clip4

    Clip4 Final Approach

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    Student accidents can and do occur from seat failures. Putting grossly over weight students in the training aircraft can damage seat frames, moving parts and the seat rails resulting in an accident. This is especially true in older Cessna 172s.

    On Piper Warriors you can expect seat back damage on the RT side and door damage due to very large students using both for supports to get in and out of the plane.

    I am sure the seats in a 152 would be damaged too, fortunately really big people don’t train in them.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2021
  16. catmandu

    catmandu Cleared for Takeoff PoA Supporter

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    Your inner vegan is showing.
     
  17. Timbeck2

    Timbeck2 Final Approach

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    :rofl:
     
  18. schmookeeg

    schmookeeg Administrator Management Council Member

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    Ridiculous. Cessna seat rails are made from discarded twix wrappers and will fail every few hundred hours even if the students are made of gossamer.

    The seatback can be gusseted once when it fails the first time, which again, can happen with munchkins just mishandling the seats, its not specific to heavy people.

    I cant think of a flight school in a financial position to turn away business that appears for something so trivial as fat people hate. Fat money spends the same as skinny money, and both are needed to pay that 100LL bill that is two months overdue. :D
     
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  19. bflynn

    bflynn Final Approach

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    Weight, by itself, is not the problem. If there are no other issues beyond weight, you will pass your physical. But, because of the weight, you will also get tagged for a required sleep study to check for sleep apnea. You’ll have 90 days to complete it or the delay will turn into a denial.

    If you don’t pass the sleep study, you’ll get to join the hose-head club and be required to wear a CPAP at night. Compliance will be monitored.
     
  20. Kanjc

    Kanjc Filing Flight Plan

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    Thank you for all the input, I would like to clarify something for the folks that say "just lose weight" - I am a former weightlifter and competitive martial artist and was actively doing so until I blew my knees out doing the Spartan OCR. I eat less than 20 carbs a day, less than 500 calories a day and have for over a year. I do not eat anything with sugar in it or even added salt. The closest i get to sugar is what is naturally in Jameson and even that is rare. With my job I walk about 5 miles a day and I do a cardio workout before work each morning ( Elliptical, Rowing and Bag work) with weights in the evening. It is not about cutting back food. I understand though now that unless I find a way to get rid of the weight trying to get my PPL is pointless. Again I truly appreciate all the feedback and insight.
     
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  21. Tarheelpilot

    Tarheelpilot Final Approach

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    Working toward your license is not pointless. Get the consult with an AME. There are a few people here that know what they are talking about but they have not met you and know nothing about your specific situation. Everyone else, myself included, has no idea whether or not you are eligible for a medical.

    don’t listen to SGOTI.
     
  22. AndyMac

    AndyMac Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I'm with @Tarheelpilot - it isn't pointless. An AME can tell you much more specifically, but either way it isn't pointless. There are MANY people who fly with friends or instructors that can't get a medical, and experience incredible enjoyment from doing so. It is also totally possible that you CAN get a medical - especially if you're in that kind of shape, the number of pounds you weigh isn't the issue.
     
  23. GaryM

    GaryM Line Up and Wait

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    I agree with the above, and it is also easy enough to find out if the schools will have a concern about letting you in their trainers. Just show up and ask about lessons, or a Discovery flight. You'll want to visit and interview the school anyway to see if it's a fit, before you commit to them.
     
  24. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    @Kanjc I don't think that's true at all. You may need to buy an airplane to train in (like a 182 or Sundowner) if you can't fit comfortably with an instructor in a 172.

    Definitely do a consult with an AME, DO NOT even apply for the medical until you do so as there has to be a result if you do apply, and if your ducks aren't in a row that may mean a denial which may close some doors that are currently still open to you.

    I don't know if the initial medical is different than a renewal and I've had a medical since before the FAA got a bug in their butt about sleep apnea, but one of the three options the AME can check is that they discussed SA with you and provided information to you - It does not necessarily require a sleep study in my experience.

    I would recommend, as I would with anyone, to find an AME who is a pilot.
     
  25. MalibuJim

    MalibuJim Pre-Flight

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    I am convinced (through personal experience) that the FAA sees NO benefit from EVER issuing a medical to ANY private person to enjoy his/her own flying, and will provide unreasonable roadblocks to stop ANYONE from flying. You can call me a cynic, but until you have gone through the process, you don't have any idea of what they are capable of.
     
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  26. Sinistar

    Sinistar En-Route

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    This doesn't seem to be universally enforced??? It would be nice if others here on the forum could cite some actual cases where this has actually happened. Not saying it doesn't happen. Just have never heard any actual examples from all the pilots I have ever met.

    I have a high'ish BMI, not @Kanjc's level but high. In my past (2) 3rd class medicals he has never once asked me about snoring or apnea. Nor has he measured my neck and/or BMI. My BP is usually around 128/79. I'm in and out of there in about 20 minutes. Frankly, I worry the most about the hearing test....from a aviation medical POV. But I do work out and have been dropping weight in the slow and steady mode.

    I thought I once saw the max weight for a Cessna seat was 308lbs but I can't find that number again so maybe its made up. If its true it gives the OP another data point.

    I would definitely follow the advice of previous posters suggesting a "Consult".

    With nothing else to answer Yes on the medical form regarding drugs, conditions, etc I am 97% sure he will pass the physical...given his described status is fully correct. I am not advising him to just go get it (do the consult if at all concerned). I could see the AME telling him to work on his weight.

    I would think a smaller 2 seater will be uncomfortable and he might even have trouble getting something like a 152 inside W&B unless the CFI is a little 90lb hottie.

    I would go visit a few flight schools. Don't bring up the weight right away. See what they suggest and how they react. Then openly discuss the weight and the training and how they would handle.

    You never know, being able to continue on and start flying may be an incredible weight loss motivator. Having to drop weight first might also positively motivate.....or lead to giving up.
     
  27. BrianNC

    BrianNC En-Route

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    Are you saying you're not losing weight doing all that?
     
  28. Daleandee

    Daleandee Cleared for Takeoff

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    Never give up! You don't lose when you fail, you lose when you quit.

    If you want to lose weight, never give up. If you want to fly, never give up!
     
  29. Initial Fix

    Initial Fix Pre-takeoff checklist

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    fixed that. Darn spell check
     
  30. R2019

    R2019 Pre-Flight

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    Ridiculous. When I was first flying, I knew a DPE who pushing 350, if not more. He couldn't fly in a 152, but he welcome in anything else.
     
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  31. schmookeeg

    schmookeeg Administrator Management Council Member

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    Are you over 40?
     
  32. FancyG

    FancyG Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Right? 500 calories per day? I was losing a pound a day at 1200 calories. Felt like starving garbage, but lost it quick.
     
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  33. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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  34. Kanjc

    Kanjc Filing Flight Plan

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    Nope no weight loss, in fact i gained weight for awhile.
     
  35. Kanjc

    Kanjc Filing Flight Plan

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    Yep, I'll be 50 this October
     
  36. Salty

    Salty Final Approach

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    I don't think a 275 pound person can live very long on less than 500 calories a day.
     
  37. Kanjc

    Kanjc Filing Flight Plan

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    17" neck?? That's too funny, I havent had one of those since jr high. :) Even when i was competing i still had an 18 1/2 neck
     
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  38. Kanjc

    Kanjc Filing Flight Plan

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    I had tests run yesterday morning, after fasting for 2 days I still had elevated glucose levels which is throwing red flags everywhere but at least explains a lot. Have Dr appointment on friday to try and get everything under control. With luck figure out whats going on so i can lose weight, get my medical and get my butt in the air! Tahnk you to everybody for your comments and suggestions.
     
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  39. schmookeeg

    schmookeeg Administrator Management Council Member

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    Welcome to the STOP BANG checklist: https://www.mdcalc.com/stop-bang-score-obstructive-sleep-apnea

    I believe scoring 3 or more earns you the sleep study. My information could be out of date, or colored by my own saltiness over the whole affair -- it's been several years since I went through this SI process for my class 2.

    You'll note "middle aged" + "fat" + "dude" = 3; add in a proportionate neck and you're at a 4. It's a wonder you're still alive according to this checklist.

    Symptoms not necessary! Enjoy your night on the least comfortable bed ever, plus the flimsiest pillow ever, guaranteed to induce OSA. And you paid (a lot) for it! :D

    None of this is for-profit, it's all for your heeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaallllllllllllllth! :rolleyes:

    (yeah, I guess I'm still salty)
     
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  40. DFH65

    DFH65 Pattern Altitude

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    Sorry bud but as a guy who has lost thousands of pounds in his life time I am not buying this. I know everyone is different but unless you are constantly gaining huge amounts of muscle mass this is not possible. It is harder to lose weight as you get older but 500 calories a day long term is unhealthy and your body would be eating itself. I probably eat a few more carbs than that in the form of fruits and vegtables. I don't eat processed sugar. Eat a lot of chicken and venison. Probably eating about 1500-2000 calories a day with a skipped meal now and then and I have lost about 25 pounds since Christmas. I used to be as heavy as you and had started creeping up again. I am taller than you are as well.

    When I started flying again after 20+ years off I made a goal that as soon as I hit my weight from my last 3rd class medical(still fat and about what I weigh now) but about 50 pounds less than I was, I would start taking working on getting signed off. This time my plan is to just maintain this current way of eating. I want to get off BP meds and if at all possible get away from the CPAP machine although that may not be possible.

    Trust me I know of what I speak I have been fighting it my whole life. My dad was massively obese and bed ridden for the last years of his life he died at 62. My brother and sister both had gastric bypass. I have chosen to fight it the hard way every day.

    The idea of 5'7" 350 pound (lets face it if you are like most of us that is really 360) healthy guy is a myth. If you don't have high blood pressure or OSA you are a genetic anomaly and for that I congratulate you. I lost the gene lottery. :(