What Type of Medical Certificate Do I Need for Flight Training?

Posted by Wayman Eduardo | 10/14/15 8:30 AM


In order to begin flight training in the United States, you first need to obtain a student pilot certificate and a medical certificate. The reason for obtaining a student pilot certificate should be obvious; you need one before you can fly solo, although you can take flying lessons without one. On the other hand, getting a medical certificate isn't as obvious, and it can sometimes take people by surprise if they think they only need a pilot's license. A medical certificate will alert you to any medical condition that could prevent you from becoming a pilot; so obtaining one is a must before you begin your flight training.

Obtaining a First Class Medical Certificate

A first class medical certificate is required if you are planning to become an airline transport pilot. A second-class certificate is for commercial pilots that will not conducting part 121 airline operations such as charters, flight instructing, or corporate flying. The third class certificate will do if you are only interested in becoming a private pilot for now. To obtain a medical certificate, you must pass a physical exam given by an aviation medical examiner ( AME ) that has been authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration, or FAA. There are approximately 6,000 FAA-approved aviation medical examiners in the United States, and the FAA publishes a directory that lists them by name and address. You can get a copy of this directory from any FAA Flight Standards District Office or air traffic control facility. You can also click here to find an aviation medical examiner near you. 

Obtaining a Student Pilot Certificate

You need a student pilot certificate before you can fly solo, although most people take at least some flying lessons first. You are eligible for a student pilot certificate if you are at least 16 years old, you can read, speak and understand English and you have at least a third class medical certificate. An aviation medical examiner can issue you a student pilot certificate along with a medical certificate if you meet these requirements. Otherwise, you can get a student pilot certificate from an FAA inspector or an FAA-designated pilot examiner. 

A student pilot certificate expires 24 months from the month it is issued, while a first class medical certificate expires 12 months from the month your examination took place. The 1st class degrades into a 2nd class and after 1 more year it is equivalent to a 3rd class certificate up to 5 years from the initial examination. These certificates cannot be renewed, but obtaining new certification is a simple matter. You must carry your student pilot certificate and your medical certificate at all times when you are flying.

Aside from completing your actual flight training, obtaining your first class medical certificate and your student pilot certificate is an important steps to becoming a pilot. As you can see, obtaining both is not terribly difficult. As long as, you meet the physical requirements you should be able to fulfill your dream of becoming a pilot sooner rather than later.

Steps to Obtain Your Student Pilot Certificated

1. Go to https://medxpress.faa.gov/medxpress/
2. Create an Account 
3. Log in and password will be sent to you
4. Complete the forms - Be sure to check the Boxes 1st Class Medical and Student Certificate. - Make sure you name is IDENTICAL to your passport. Two last names, hyphens, etc. 
5. Print out the 8500-8 form and visit an FAA certified Doctor - To search for one certified doctor in your area visit https://www.faa.gov/pilots/amelocator/