Third Class Medical Reform: Two Options

FAA Third Class Medical Reform Review
Prepared for the Cascade Flyers at Paine Field
by John T Young 2017

There are now two options available for those pilots flying under the required Third Class Medical; Option 1 is the traditional Third Class Medical that most of us hold today; Option 2 is the new BasicMed Third Class Medical. Either one will be a valid medical qualification for you to fly our club’s type airplanes.

If you are flying under a Second or First Class Medical none of the new medical reforms apply to you and nothing has changed for Second and First Class Medical pilots. Second and First Class pilots can always receive BasicMed qualification should their flying status change by taking the BasicMed exams and consulting and gaining approval of their doctors. Example: should Steve – the commercial airline pilot currently flying under First Class- retire, he no longer needs a First Class Medical to fly our planes. He could now fly under BasicMed or traditional Third Class.

-6000 lbs maximum gross takeoff weight
-Not more than 250 knots indicated airspeed
-Whatever your pilot certificate allows, e.g.:
Single, multi engine, helicopter, piston, turboprop, turbine, land or sea.

-VFR or IFR ok
-Day or Night
-Not for hire or compensation (Flight instruction ok)
-up to 5 passengers in certificated 6 seater
-18,000 ft MSL or below
-International flights are not yet approved by neighboring countries with BasicMed; only flights in the USA. International flights can occur if you hold the standard Third Class Medical however (without Special Issuance international restrictions).

-Hold a valid and current driver’s license
-Hold or have held a medical certificate or Special Issuance Authorization within 10 years prior to July 15, 2016 (i.e. any time after July 15, 2006).

-If your last medical was issued more than ten years ago, or you have never held a medical certificate, you must be issued a onetime medical certificate or special issuance authorization by an FAA AME.

-complete an FAA medical history checklist and obtain a medical examination from a licensed physician at least every 48 months (this is the big advantage of Basic Med !). Questions asked will be the same questions as on the current MedXpress re:

-Medications, illnesses, surgeries, hospitalizations, substances, etc.
-Arrests, DUIs
-Visits to Health Professionals in prior three years

If the pilot has a condition that may impact the ability to fly, the pilot must be under the care of a physician.

The pilot takes the completed checklist to any physician licensed to practice medicine. This does NOT include physician assistants, or nurses.

The physician can be your personal physician, your current AME, or any other physician willing to conduct the exam (and sign off on the risk). Not all physicians will be willing to conduct the exam, but most AME’s will be willing because they understand what is required for pilots to fly.

The physician must accomplish the same basic physical exam an AME would do for a Third Class Medical, including:
Ears, eyes, heart, lungs, vision, blood pressure, urine, etc.
Doctor must address medical conditions as appropriate, determine if additional tests are required, and discuss medications reported by the pilot.

Specifically, the checklist will have two parts—questions to be answered by the pilot in advance of the exam, and a list of items for the doctor to include in the examination. The questions will be similar to those asked on the standard third class medical application and include identifying information like name and address, date of birth, a short medical history and listing of current medications, and information about whether you’ve ever had an FAA medical certificate denied, suspended, or revoked. Just as you do now, you’ll have to affirm that your answers are true and complete and that you understand you can’t fly if you know or have reason to know of any medical deficiency or medically disqualifying condition.

The second part contains a list of items for your physician to cover during the examination. The items are similar to those covered in an FAA medical certification exam and include:
Head, face, neck, scalp, nose, sinuses, mouth, throat, ears and eardrums,
eyes, lungs and chest, heart,
vascular system, abdomen and viscera, anus,
skin, G-U system, upper and lower extremities,
spine, other musculo-skeletal, body marks, scars, tattoos, lymphatics,
neurologic, psychiatric, general systemic,
hearing, vision, blood pressure and pulse.

Your physician will exercise his or her discretion to address any other medical conditions identified in the exam and determine if additional tests are needed. Your physician will need to affirm that he or she has performed an examination and discussed all the items on the FAA checklist, including medications, with you. Your physician will also have to affirm that he is unaware of any medical conditions that, as presently treated, could interfere with your ability to safely operate an aircraft

Meds that are currently not allowed by the FAA will still be disqualifying (see FAA list available online at Some meds are allowed individually, but may be disqualifying if used in combination with other meds. The doctor must review the FAA Medications list to determine what meds are appropriate.

The doctor must sign the following statement on the checklist:
“I certify that I discussed all items on this checklist with the individual during my examination, discussed any medications the individual is taking that could interfere with their ability to safely operate an aircraft, and performed an examination that included all the items on this checklist. I certify that I am not aware of any medical condition that, as presently treated, could interfere with the individual’s ability to safely operate an aircraft.”

You will then need to retain the completed checklist in your logbook. You would only provide it to the FAA if requested, such as during a routine ramp check, an investigation, or enforcement action.

-pilot must take an online Medical Education Course now and every 24 months, offered for free by the AOPA ASI. Once completed, pilot will receive an online course completion certificate which must be kept with the pilot’s logbook.

The course is free and will be available soon through the AOPA Air Safety Institute. You’ll need to provide the FAA with some of the same certifications you do today, such as an authorization for the National Driver Register to provide your driving record to the FAA, and a statement that you understand that you cannot act as a pilot in command, or any other capacity as a required flight crew member, if you know or have reason to know of any medical condition that would make you unable to operate the aircraft in a safe manner.

If you have had a special issuance medical within the 10-year lookback period and your medical status is unchanged, you should be able to fly under BasicMed provided you meet all the other qualifications, including being under the treatment of a physician for your medical condition. If you develop a new condition that requires a special issuance medical certificate you will have to apply for a one-time special issuance for that condition.

Under the existing third class medical regulations, pilots flying on a special issuance medical are expected to repeat the process year after year. They often have to send reams of documentation to the FAA for evaluation, unnecessarily repeat expensive medical tests for health conditions that are unchanged, and spend weeks or months grounded while they wait for the FAA to review their file. BasicMed puts decisions about medical care back into the hands of pilots and their personal physicians, people who know them well and have an ongoing interest in their health and wellbeing

The conditions are described in the legislation and are limited to an established medical history of the following:
A).Cardiovascular: myocardial infarction (heart attack); coronary heart disease that has required treatment; cardiac valve replacement; and heart replacement.
B). Neurological: epilepsy; a transient loss of control of nervous system functions without satisfactory medical explanation of the cause; and disturbances of consciousness without satisfactory medical explanation of the cause.
C). Mental Health: personality disorder that is severe enough to have repeatedly manifested itself by overt acts; psychosis defined as a case in which an individual has manifested or may reasonably be expected to manifest delusions, hallucinations, grossly bizarre or disorganized behavior, or other commonly accepted symptoms of psychosis; bipolar disorder; and substance dependence within the previous two years as defined in FAR 67.307(a)(4).

Pilots who have a clinically diagnosed mental health or neurological condition will be required to certify every two years that they are under the care of a state-licensed medical specialist for that condition. Details of how that certification process will work have not yet been determined.
Pilots with a cardiovascular condition will still need to get a one-time special issuance, but successful completion of a clinical evaluation will satisfy the process for getting an Authorization for Special Issuance of a medical certificate with no mandatory waiting period.

CAN I FLY UNDER THESE RULES AS A CFI? Yes, the FAA final rule for BasicMed does apply to the person acting as PIC, including flight instructors. As an example, the FAA has noted that flight instructors meeting the requirements of the new rule may act as PIC while giving flight training without holding a medical certificate, regardless of whether the person receiving flight training holds a medical certificate.

AOPA has resources for physicians available online and we are developing additional materials to help doctors understand the regulations and their responsibilities. But the pilot also needs to be ready for the conversation and a good way to do that is to explore AOPA’s online suite of Fit to Fly resources or contact the AOPA Pilot Information Center at 800/USA-AOPA (872-2672) Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Eastern time or email

AOPA went straight to the source and surveyed insurance carriers. The AOPA learned that, nearly across the board, medical reform should have no negative impact on insurance coverage. What most carriers told the AOPA is that if a pilot is in compliance with FAA regulations, then in many cases that pilot may be in compliance with their company insurance requirements as well. Nevertheless, as each insurance policy may be different, the best course of action is to read your policy and consult with your insurance company.

Yes. The reforms will not affect the rules for flight reviews.

No. The BasicMed regulations require an exam by a state licensed physician performed in accordance with the new rules, and the completion of the medical examination checklist

Probably not. The law states that you must have held a special issuance for one of the specific conditions named in the language, so if your most recent medical was not denied and you have held a special issuance for that condition previously at any point since July 15, 2006, you should be eligible under the new regulations. It would be a good idea for you to call the AOPA Pilot Information Center at 800/USA-AOPA (872-2672) Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Eastern time or email For a more in-depth review, consider enrolling in AOPA’s Pilot Protection Services program.

The full FAA ruling, 77 pages, can be seen at:
Another informative source is the AOPA at

Addendum: the document in hand was created with the best intentions of its author to get the facts straight, avoid alternate truths, and be as accurate as possible. It is an abbreviated compilation from the two sources mentioned above; the FAA and AOPA documents. Apologies in advance if any inaccuracies have occurred.

A personal note: not all doctors will be willing or able to conduct and sign off on the BasicMed exam. For example, my own personal physician of 30 years is unable to sign off since he is affiliated with Virginia Mason. V.M. has a policy not to conduct exams of this nature. V.M. will also not conduct physical exams for the trucking industry either. My AME for the past six years, however, is very willing to conduct the BasicMed exam.

JTY March 2017

Charity Fundraising Flights: A Brief How-To

Oct 4, 2014, 5:01 PM by Tory Tolton


This year I decided to put my passion for flying to better use by donating a few charity fundraising flights to causes important to me and my friends.
The flights are supporting Little Bit in Redmond, United Way of Snohomish County, and also Choir of the Sound with the help of club member Jeremy Shaver. There are the obvious benefits for the charities and in addition I get a chance to introduce new people to general aviation. As an additional bonus, my cost for the flight is considered tax deductible, reducing the out-of-pocket cost of flying a few times a year. The flights have generally been going for double the cost to operate them, so it’s a decent way to raise more money for the charity than they otherwise might get in a basic donation.
If you’re interested in doing a charity fundraising flight, here’s how to go about it:
  • Build 500 hours total time as a private pilot, or earn a commercial certificate
  • Familiarize yourself with 14 CFR 91.146, which outlines the regulations for charity flights
  • Obtain the approval of the Board, per the club regulations
  • Ask a Board member to work with our insurance broker to have the policy noted/amended to cover your flight. It did not cost anything to note our policy for the flights I have donated.
  • Make the donation to your charity, usually through a fundraising auction. An example of the marketing material I used for one of the auctions is available here (club member login required).
  • Prepare the necessary documents for the charity to notify the FAA Fight Standards District Office (FSDO). The charity needs to sign and send in the documents, as they are the sponsoring organization for the flight. Examples are available here (club member login required).
  • The AOPA has a very thorough guide to charitable flights that I found helpful in the planning process.
Here are a few of the operating limitations to be aware of in the regulations:
  • Must depart from and return to the same airport. No stops at other airports are allowed.
  • Must remain within 25 statute miles of the departure airport, which must be open for public use.
  • Day VFR conditions only.
  • Flights over water must be equipped with the necessary Coast Guard approved flotation equipment. The club does not have this equipment, so plan to conduct the flight over land only.
  • No flights are allowed above national parks.
  • See the regulations for more details and other limitations
Mount Pilchuk Looking West
I conducted the first flight back in August and had a great time. We departed from Arlington and flew over the Cascade foothills – the Mt Pilchuck lookout, the Oso landslide, up by Lake Cavanaugh north of Arlington and back for a one hour flight. Here are a few photos and a link to our GPS track.
Stillaguamish Valley Looking East

Astoria Fishing Trip in the Cessna 182

Sep 13, 2014, 3:21 PM by Tory Tolton


Our cross-country workhorse N2608R took myself and a friend to Astoria for a long-anticipated “buoy 10” salmon fishing trip on the Columbia River back in August. It was an easy one-hour and fifteen-minute flight down, and the weather was phenomenal – much to my chagrin as I was hoping for some actual IFRs to put our new heading indicator through its paces.


The ramp has many open transient parking spots with chains for tie-downs. Parking fees are $5 per overnight, and the cab ride to town runs about $15.

The return flight after a full day of fishing was just as incredible, with a VFR departure over the city and the bridge, picking up our IFR clearance on climbout. We managed to hit the only IMC in all of Western Washington for all of about 30 seconds, my first actual logged in a long time. Arrival back at Paine was just after sunset.By the end of the trip my friend couldn’t imagine driving again in the future. It sounds like we might have just started a new annual tradition.

Check out our approach to KAST runway:

GPS tracks of the flight are available here: outbound leg and return leg

Wings Over Republic Fly-In

Sep 14, 2014, 11:47 AM by James Polivka


In what is becoming a tradition of mine, the second to last weekend in August was spent with the 182 at the Ferry County Airport (R49) for the Wings Over Republic Fly-in.  A friend and I departed Saturday and headed east over the cascades via Steven’s pass and Highway 2, making sure to avoid firefighting TFRs that were prevalent during mid-august.

Upon arrival (after embarrassing myself with a nice bounce, but still making the first turn-off) we were marshalled to a prime parking spot on the west side of the grounds overlooking Lake Curlew and the mountains beyond. The view even made the outhouse look good.


There are so many things that make this one of the most enjoyable fly-ins I’ve been to, and make me want to keep coming back year after year.  First off, the entire town gets behind the fly-in.  The airport is in a very rural part of the state, yet hundreds of people drive in to see the planes and enjoy the great food. That brings us to the second reason: the food! The Saturday dinner alone was worth the trip.  A big stake dinner where they hand you a cut of meat and you cook it yourself over a wood fire, with whatever seasonings you want, with baked beans, baked potato, dinner roll and watermelon to go with it. Besides the food and planes, they have shuttles into town to visit the shops and museums, and they offer pontoon boat rides on the lake. After a relaxing day, my favorite part was sitting out under the stars.  Being so far from any cities, the view of the constellations and the milky way were amazing. Here’s a view of our neighbor’s plane under the stars:


On the way home, A couple friends and their Bonanza decided to tag along. After a brief fuel stop in Omak, we proceeded south to find a path back through the mountains between the building thunderstorms and TFRs to a beautifully clear Western Washington.


Overall, we had a great weekend with 2608R at the Wings Over Republic Fly-in with beautiful scenery, good food and some great friends. This is high on the list of things to do again next year.