One way to keep the number of active pilots from slipping is to ensure those who already have certificates keep flying as long as possible. As part of its campaign to battle the shrinkage of pilot ranks, AOPA is petitioning the FAA to relax medical standards for the recreational certificate by allowing pilots medical certification by way of a "health statement" from a family doctor instead of the third-class medical now required. AOPA says the medical requirement is the reason the recreational certificate has never been popular and the petition is its idea to fix that. When it first started pressing for the recreational certificate in 1978, AOPA recommended that the formal medical requirements of higher levels of certificates be relaxed for recreational flyers. But the FAA insisted on a third-class medical and, because there's not a huge amount of difference in the cost and level of training between the two types of certificates, most people have opted for a private certificate because of the added flexibility it offers. AOPA apparently believes there are pilots who have lost their medicals but are still healthy enough to fly under recreational restrictions (day VFR only, one passenger, 180-hp maximum) who would jump at the chance to get in the left seat again.