Aviation Flight Science

Medical Requirements

All pilots flying at WMU are required to have at least a 2nd Class medical certificate. Before new student indoc please make sure to make an appointment with your local AME (Aviation Medical Examiner) in order to schedule your Aviation Medical Examination. This process can sometimes take several weeks (or longer).  Please plan ahead. 

FAA Medical Certificate Process and Guidance

This information will outline the process of acquiring a FAA medical certificate, as well as many considerations for you to think about along the way.  Please read through this information entirely and seek the appropriate guidance if there is something you need clarification about.  Start on this process immediately, so you can have your medical certificate prior to the new flight student indoctrination Session.

What is an FAA medical certificate?
An FAA medical certificate is a medical certification required for almost all pilots to be able to fly an aircraft.  FAA medicals are issued in 3 classes (1st class, 2nd class, and 3rd class), and are valid for different types of piloting activities.  You will need to fill out an application for the medical, and then have a physical examination by an FAA approved Aviation Medical Examiner (AME).

Which Class of medical do I need?
WMU strongly recommends that you acquire a 1st class medical certificate.  This is the certificate that most professional pilots are required to have.  If you happen to have a medical condition that is disqualifying from obtaining a 1st class medical, you want to know about it now rather than after you have spent a lot of time, effort, and finances on flight training.  The minimum acceptable medical is a 2nd class for flight training at WMU due to FAA regulation of our FAR 141 approved flight school status.  A 3rd class medical certificate is not acceptable for flight training at WMU.

Who can give FAA medical examinations?
Only doctors specifically approved by the FAA can give FAA medical examinations and issue medical certificates.  Your family doctor most likely does not qualify, so you will need to schedule an appointment with a FAA approved physician.

How do I find an approved physician?
There are numerous FAA approved physicians around the country, and the FAA has setup a search engine for you to find the ones in your area.  Visit www.faa.gov/pilots/amelocator for the search engine, or www.faa.gov/pilots/amedirectory for a directory of examiners.  Not all medical examiners can give 1st class medical examinations, so be sure to check that they can give the exam you desire.  If you are having difficulty getting an appointment, remember to check the surrounding area as well, not just the examiners in your city, some examiners have better availability than others.  Don’t delay in making an appointment, as you may have to wait a week or more to get one.  Make sure to ask them if there is anything you should do prior to the appointment.
Tips and Considerations about the Medical process
The application for a FAA medical certificate is FAA form 8500-8 “Application For Airman Medical Certificate or Airman Medical and Student Pilot Certificate”.  Many FAA Medical Examiners have transitioned to an FAA online based based application system called MedXPress  You can visit this website at https://medxpress.faa.gov/  Please contact the AME you plan to schedule an appointment with Prior to filling out this application.  The application asks numerous questions about medications and medical conditions that are potentially disqualifying.  For example, some medications are FAA approved as safe for flying, and some are not.  If you take regular medication, it may be as simple as switching you from a non-approved medication to an approved one for treatment of the same condition.  This switch is often much easier if it is done before you apply rather than after you submit the application.  Once you submit the application, it must go to the FAA to determine course of action, and it is out of the control of the local medical examiner.  You must never falsify information on a FAA medical application, but if you take medication or have previous medical conditions, you should consult a medical examiner to discuss the best course of action for your application prior to submitting it.  The College of Aviation can refer you to a physician for counseling if you desire, please contact us.
The following is a list of common diagnosis/disorders which could present difficulties in aeromedical certification.  This list was provided by Dr. Gregory Pinnell, M.D. (one of our local aviation medical examiners) who has offered his assistance should you need guidance though the medical process. 

      1. Any history of cardiac problem or surgery
      2. Any history of seizure after infancy or head injury/loss of consciousness.
      3. Any history of any psychological /psychiatric disorder regardless of whether medications are used or not.
      4. Any endocrine disorder (diabetes, hypothyroidism, etc.)
      5. Any history of substance abuse/alcohol abuse
      6. Any orthopedic disorder requiring use of prosthesis or use of pain medication.
      7. Any history of color vision deficiency. 

Dr. Pinnell is a Senior AME, and is willing to help guide you through the medical application process.  He also conducts aviation medical exams locally here in Battle Creek.  His contact information is as follows:  

                            Gregory A. Pinnell, M.D.
                            11279 Sarle Rd.,
                            Saginaw MI 48623
                            Ph: (989)245-4494 
                            Fax: (989)695-2375
                            Email: Gpinnell@charter.net

If you are not a Private or Commercial pilot already, then you are considered to be a ‘Student Pilot’.  You must have a ‘Student Pilot Certificate’ as well as a medical certificate.  For convenience, the FAA allows your ‘Student Pilot Certificate’ to be combined with your medical certificate and will likely be issued together.  Make sure when you are applying for your medical, that you request a ‘Student Pilot Certificate’ to be issued also, it is the first question on the application.  You must have a Student Pilot Certificate prior to starting flight training at WMU.  Your medical certificate should say at the top: Medical Certificate (1st or 2nd) Class and Student Pilot Certificate.  If your medical gets issued without the Student Pilot Certificate, consult with WMU to remedy the issue.

The FAA medical certificate application process is now done online at the FAA MedXPress website.  Go to https://medxpress.faa.gov/.  You will need to request an account using the link on that page.  Make sure to write down your login and password information and keep it in a safe place.  You will need to use this system again in the future when you need a new medical, so make sure you will be able to find login information at a later date.  Make sure to follow the directions carefully as you fill out the application online. 

Use your full legal name when applying, not abbreviated versions or nicknames. 
Example:  Full Legal Name:  James William Smith

Please be sure to use your entire, complete full legal name when filling out any FAA applications, or official documentation.  Many computer systems will compare names as they are submitted, and if they do not match, your name may not be recognized. 
Do not fill out and submit the online application until you have reviewed the 8500-8 form and consulted a FAA medical examiner if necessary about current or previous medical conditions or medications.  Once you submit the application online, it goes directly to the FAA.

If you have any questions please consult us at:  avs-newflight@wmich.edu

College of Aviation
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5314 USA
269-964-6375 | 269-964-6473 Fax