BasicMed: I'm Leaning Toward Self Help

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For the past week, we’ve been running a survey on what readers think about the just-announced BasicMed program from the FAA. I’m gonna guess here, but maybe I shouldn’t have dived into the data so soon because doing so caused me to have several revelations. One is what a largish crapshoot this whole thing is, the second is that many pilots are, how to put it, not impressed and the last is how much this entire thing will turn on how doctors many of us don’t even know will react. I’m just hoping whether intended or not, the FAA hasn’t stuck a poison bill in this thing.

First the survey. I’ll get into a more detailed analysis of it next week, but for now, I was most interested in learning how confident readers are that their doctors will sign the FAA’s checklist—the one that we haven’t even seen yet. As of Sunday, 1946 people had responded to the survey which is, as these things go, a lot of interest.

This was the survey question on finding a doctor: “In your opinion, how difficult will it be to find a non-AME doctor to complete and sign the required BasicMed checklist?” Twenty eight percent said they thought it would be easy, 36 percent said it will be a little difficult, 14 percent said it would be impossible and another 14 percent had no opinion. You can interpret this as you will.

The sunny day view would be that 63 percent of the respondents think it will be easy or just a little difficult to find a doc. The cynic’s view would be that half think it will be difficult to impossible to get a doc to sign. Reading the comments kind of tilted me toward the cynic’s view. Rather than being happy about this, many pilots are really quite angry about it, not seeing much benefit and predicting difficulty in getting other than AME doctors to go along. Personally, I’m neutral on this because no one has seen the checklist. That led to revelation one: If that checklist is too detailed or demanding or gives the doctor the impression he’s taking on more responsibility than he (or she) otherwise might, there will be pushback, in my view. How much of that we see could make or break the whole idea.

Pilots live in a world of liability and lawsuits and, judging by the comments, they believe doctors do, too. “Why would a doctor or medical group expose themselves to this kind of litigation? If one does, I expect it will not be for long,” wrote one commenter. But to be fair, many respondents don’t see a problem at all. “I think my personal physician will be glad to do it,” wrote commenter Joe G. Many respondents said they want to see the actual checklist before opining on this topic.

I asked AOPA and EAA about this, and both said they’re providing information and guidance for docs and members to deal with the BasicMed checklist. EAA has a board of AMEs working up a new medical policy. Several people in the survey said docs should be given a hold-harmless or waiver agreement to encourage them to approve the checklist. “A hold harmless document may or may not have any great standing, if you talk with attorneys about those. So those people who leap to that as a solution may be premature,” says EAA's Dick Knapinksi.

Perhaps. But that led to revelation two. Why would I depend on the alphabets to see this through? Guidance is appreciated, but ultimately, I’m more inclined toward self help. While a waiver may or may not hold up in court, that’s less the point than giving a reluctant doctor a way to sign the checklist. It’s possible that it won’t be the problem we think it could be and a waiver won’t be necessary. On the other hand, it could just as easily go the other way. For what it’s worth, we sign these waivers all the time in skydiving and they almost universally withstand challenges.

Regardless of how the checklist is viewed by the non-AME medical community, one thing is certain from the survey thus far: Readers view it is one massive and irritating charade. “The BasicMed is such a compromise I do not think it will help me as much as it could have had AOPA and EAA done more to stay closer to the original plan. My doctor filling out a form is very governmental and unnecessary. I believe I will still mostly do what I have been doing under my AME-assisted special issuance; just will not have to send it in to the FAA,” wrote one commenter.

On the face of it, not having to deal with the FAA is a plus and an improvement. It’s just not the one we were all hoping for.

Tuesday addition: Several readers chided me for saying the checklist isn't available. It is available in AC 68-1. However, this is clearly labeled a draft and may or may not resemble the final version. Here's a clickable link.


Comments (57)

I had my third-class medical a month ago with an AME I'd never gone to before. It took 20 minutes. And yes he was a pilot. Super basic physical. I highly doubt your 'family doctor' is going to breeze through a physical when some enormous form has to be filled out. Plus, that doctor knows you and if there's any whiff of liability I expect a lot more baby-boomers will be moving to Light Sport...

Posted by: Peter Kuhns | January 22, 2017 10:03 AM    Report this comment

I had my third-class medical a month ago with an AME I'd never gone to before. It took 20 minutes. And yes he was a pilot. Super basic physical. I highly doubt your 'family doctor' is going to breeze through a physical when some enormous form has to be filled out. Plus, that doctor knows you and if there's any whiff of liability I expect a lot more baby-boomers will be moving to Light Sport...

Posted by: Peter Kuhns | January 22, 2017 10:04 AM    Report this comment

This whole debacle shows just why Congress needs to get the FAA out of private aviation completely. No matter what is mandated of them, they'll drag their feet and do the bare minimum (or less!) than what Congress directs. See the Part 23 rewrite, third class medical, pilots bill of rights.

The FAA and its level of strict oversight has its place in commercial aviation. A paying passenger deserves multiple layers of protection to be assured that they are getting what they pay for.

It's time to realize that for private aviation, everybody knows that airlines are safe, and small private planes are (relatively) dangerous. Let the FAA have its way with the former, and the insurance companies with the latter. It's the only way to have even a remote HOPE of stemming the bleeding that will be the death of recreational flying within the next 25 years.

Posted by: Joshua Levinson | January 22, 2017 10:35 AM    Report this comment

One thing that BasicMed hasn't changed (so far as I know) is the list of unapproved medications. If one has to take one of the medications on the FAA's list, they still won't be allowed to be PIC. So there doesn't appear to be any relief from that direction.

Not being able to fly internationally (aka - Canada or the Bahamas) is one prohibition under BasicMed that makes it unappealing to me.

I don't think BasicMed is as useless as the Recreational Pilot certificate, but it's not as helpful as most people hoped. Still, few good ideas survive the legislative process intact. This is a positive change after decades of no change.

Posted by: Kirk Wennerstrom | January 22, 2017 11:48 AM    Report this comment

Good follow-up Paul. Now let's put a price on a private doctor's examination. My last Second-Class cost me $150. I'm guessing the same starting cost for a non-AME BasiMed examination plus malpractice liability. Say $300.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | January 22, 2017 1:29 PM    Report this comment

I'm still trying to figure out why the physical exam involves the anus. I haven't had that inspection since the military induction center in the 70's. are they hoping to find where they left their common sense?

Posted by: jay Manor | January 22, 2017 4:40 PM    Report this comment

Well ... after seriously investigating LSA's for several years, I had already decided that I'm not giving up my certificated low end airplanes to buy an expensive LSA with limited usability for the few years I want to continue flying. I can throw bucks away in far funner ways.

When the aviation and budget gods finally aligned last summer, I was greatly buoyed. Now that the vagaries of BasicMed have come into focus, I am greatly bummed out. Maybe more so than before? I have an appointment with a new Doc in a couple of weeks; I'm NOT expecting him to be cooperative. In fact, I'm planning for it mentally. If that's the way it shakes out, I'm likely done. I'm expecting the private physician checklist to be every bit as onerous as the AME checklist only now in the hands of someone who doesn't know much about it all. But I'll try.

And then comes the ultimate insult. An AME can sign off an over 40 pilot for a two year period but that certification visit doesn't count toward the four year period between actually seeing a physician under BasicMed. Someone inside the FAA must be really proud of themselves and smiling wryly at us all over that one. I brought this to the attention of a senior EAA person a couple of days ago; he was taken aback. I was thinking that I'd at least get a two year reprieve while things firm up but ... it's probably not going to work out for me.

The only hope that those of us who fly simple GA airplanes -- and want to continue doing so -- is an increase in the MGTOW of LSA's. I don't hold any hope of that happening any time soon.

Frankly, I'm tired of self-flagellation at the hands of an intransigent FAA stuck in yesteryear thinking. I'm betting that I'm not the only pilot feeling angry and disenfranchised over the way BasicMed has been put together. Jay ... you're right; can you spell BOHICA?

Posted by: Larry Stencel | January 22, 2017 5:26 PM    Report this comment

Larry -

If you prepare hard enough mentally, I have no doubt that you'll be able to convince the new Doc that he should not cooperate with the new form, and that he would be unwise to fill it out & sign it. Since BasicMed doesn't go into effect until May and the new form probably won't be available for review for your appointment, you'll be on your own to describe just how awful it will be.

I'm just playing it cool with my doctor. I see him regularly for hypertension, & he helped me thru my last Medical. He's filled out these kind of govt. medical forms before and is not worried about the new form (yet).

And if your new Doc won't sign the form, look up your old AME. Nothing says he can't fill it out.

Good luck.

Posted by: Rollin Olson | January 22, 2017 6:02 PM    Report this comment

Going for my third class medical this week and will probably continue to do so in the future. I just don't see the benefits of Basic Med, however, I do see a lot of restrictions and complications. Like someone said, it's not even close to what it was supposed to be.

Posted by: Thomas Cooke | January 22, 2017 6:09 PM    Report this comment

More bureaucratic Bravo Sierra. Since I have a Commercial Drivers License (CDL) each year, I get a DOT medical so that I can drive a Fire Truck. However, if I had a state issued "Q" license, I could drive those same trucks without a medical. Go figure. Fortunately, my department pays for an annual firefighter physical which includes an EKG because of my age. Fire departments are required to give members annual physicals which if I remember correctly is an OSHA requirement.
The DOT will not accept my FAA 2nd Class Medical. I also have to get an annual 2nd class medical for the FAA who will not accept my DOT physical. Does any of this make the general public any safer? Does it prevent me from having the big one in a Cessna or a Kenworth? Does it prevent me from keeling over during a fire? Of course not. Just more government grabbing at our freedom under the guise of safety.
BasicMed is part of the Bravo Sierra and could be a poison pill designed to circumvent the congressional mandate. Time will tell.

Posted by: Leo LeBoeuf | January 22, 2017 6:48 PM    Report this comment

Rollin ... being a retired military guy, I firmly believe in the phrase Illegitimi non carborundum and rarely take any prisoners. That said and as I find myself getting older, it's getting tougher and tougher to make sense out of the nonsensical coming out of DC and to put up with their balogna.

I have a bit of overlap, thankfully. My 3rd class is good until June. The upcoming doc visit is just the start of preliminary work. Basically, I have the same problem / worry that you do. Gotta get it in check.

I plan on getting a bottle of Dior 'Hypnotic Poison,' reading up on hypnotism from Harry Houdini's books and any other tricks I can conjure. IF necessary, I will go back to the AME but HIS assistant hosed me up last time and I got a follow on letter from you know who said I had to stand on my head and eat bugs next time. Unless I'm FIRMLY convinced I can pass, I ain't going to him ever again. In a perfect situation, I want five more years or so ... then I'll join the US Beer Drinking team.

I'll plan for the worst and hope for the best. BTW: You did mean 'wise' and not 'unwise?'

Along the lines of your CDL FAA exam story, Leo, the IA I work with has a CDL and has a reason to take an FAA approved drug test too. The company he hired didn't do their job correctly and the FAA came down on him. He explained that he had a CDL and took a test there but it didn't count. Who the heck is running this Country? We need to get The Donald on all of this insanity.

Just thinking about an AME or the medical gives me hypertension.

Posted by: Larry Stencel | January 22, 2017 7:13 PM    Report this comment

Larry ... I was just subtly hinting that your new Doc may pick up on your attitude towards BasicMed and follow suit. Best to play it cool, like I've done with my doctor. My doc has apparently dealt with CDL exams before, and knows the drill.

Being a retired military contractor, I believe in doing what it takes to get the job done, whatever the environment. Complaining about the environment is usually an extra added activity, unless you can get it changed.

Posted by: Rollin Olson | January 22, 2017 8:28 PM    Report this comment

I've shown my dad (an MD) and my family care doc the draft version of the checklist, and they thought it was a no-brainer to get through, and they have far bigger liability and insurance (their's and ours) problems to keep them up at night. If it helps you, great. If it might help you, just get through it however you have to. It's not a security clearance application. BasicMed is fundamentally stupid, but so is the third class medical, so is a lot of stuff in Title 14 CFR. It is an improvement, take what you can get.

Posted by: Brian Cooper | January 22, 2017 8:56 PM    Report this comment

For heaven's sake, calm down. The more you make a big deal of it with your doctor, the bigger a deal it will be. Just show him the form, tell him the FAA requires that your doctor discuss with you any medical conditions you have, and ask him if he can review and sign the form for you.

And stop talking. Just stop. Don't look worried. Don't let the word "liability" poison the air in the room. For God's sake don't bring a waiver. Just stop talking.

He'll sign the form.

And if he doesn't, say that's fine, you'll go to the guy who has always done your aviation medicals. But, you'll be the rare case.

But if you don't stop talking, he's going to pick up on your idea that there's a catch here, and then you'll be toast.

Posted by: Thomas Boyle | January 23, 2017 7:04 AM    Report this comment

I work with a lot of doctors and the last thing they need is to take on another form of liability. This liability is not only for their patient care but for whoever that patient may harm through his actions as a pilot. I suspect the malpractice insurers may be the governing factor here.

Is there a doctor in the house? We need an opinion here.

Posted by: Richard Montague | January 23, 2017 7:19 AM    Report this comment

I specifically brought this subject up with my primary care physician during a visit the other day. He was only vaguely aware of the BasicMed thing, but his off the cuff reaction was that liability would not be a big deal to him. He likened it to the DOT physicals other commentators have mentioned.

Your milage may vary. Personally, I'm sticking with the 3rd class and letting it go at that.

Posted by: John Wilson | January 23, 2017 8:20 AM    Report this comment

One thing I found confusing and baffling in the new rule was one of the FAA's own FAQs about acting as safety pilot with BasicMed privileges. It basically said BasicMed only applies when you are acting as PIC, but if you're not PIC and acting as a safety pilot, you're a required crew member and so you need at least a 3rd class. But I can log PIC time while acting as a safety pilot, so does that count as acting as PIC? It seems pretty ridiculous to me that it's okay to use BasicMed if you're the sole person responsible for the flight, but not OK if you're acting as a safety pilot (which I take to mean, a required crew member for the pilot who is using a view-limiting device) simply to make sure the PIC doesn't run into any other aircraft.

The part about not being able to use a recent, valid, active 3rd-class medical to count for the 2 year medical exam is also ridiculous. Especially given that the above seems to indicate that a 3rd-class is more medically valid than BasicMed.

When I took the survey prior to learning more about BasicMed, I said I'd probably just stick with BasicMed when my 3rd class expires (and since I just renewed it, and I'm under 40, I have 5 years before I need to concern myself with it). But now, it seems I'll be continuing with a 3rd class.

Posted by: Gary Baluha | January 23, 2017 10:38 AM    Report this comment

Insisting that safety pilot needs to have a medical because s/he is a required flight crew member is nuts - even by the below-the-surface bar that exists for nutty proclamations by the FAA. Reductio-ad-absuedum, but isn't that BasicMed pilot wearing those Foggles a required flight crew member?
So why the differing medical certifications for the two crew members?
And how can any of this bureaucratic nonsense be reconciled with the earlier interpretation that allows a flight instructor to act as a required flight crew member - with no medical certification at all???

Not to be cynical, but this whole BasicMed thing looks like the Agency extending both of its middle fingers to the Congress - and to airmen, of course.

Posted by: Tom Yarsley | January 23, 2017 11:28 AM    Report this comment

For reference, here's the actual FAQ wording:

Q: Can I use BasicMed to act as a safety pilot, rather than holdin
g a medical?
A: Only if you're acting as PIC while performing the duties of safety pilot. BasicMed applies
only to people acting as PIC; it cannot be exercised by safety pilots who are not acting as PIC but
are required crewmembers.

So if anything, their Q/A just confuses the matter even more. I really have no idea what they're trying to say here.

Posted by: Gary Baluha | January 23, 2017 12:12 PM    Report this comment

" He'll sign the form."

Or not. In my case, likely not. I've had a primary care physician for over 30 years. He is not an AME but I've had a comprehensive 4 hour physical with him every 2 years. My last was November 2015.

October 2016 I needed cataract surgery with a different physician. The eye doc and the anesthesiologist wanted a general health sign-off by my primary care doc. My doc apologized and said his liability insurance did not allow it if he had not seen me in six months, regardless knowing I'm in good health. The solution was to take his name off the paperwork, so I listed no primary care physician.

Liability and signatures being valid for 2 to 4 years don't seem to go together in California.

Posted by: Edd Weninger | January 23, 2017 12:25 PM    Report this comment

Beyond the physician liability problem, what about insurance claim issues? If you have a claim the insurance company I assume is going to want to see that four year health form along with logbooks. And what if that form indicates that you have a condition or take a medication that is currently on the FAA no-go list for an FAA medical? You are BasicMed legal but the insurance company may not care.

Posted by: RICK HOLLAND | January 23, 2017 12:33 PM    Report this comment

Richard had asked for a comment by a physician. With the caveats that I am not an AME and do not practice primary care, I will try to offer some insight. In actuality, none of the AMEs I know are primary care physicians. They are all surgeons of one specialty or another but more importantly, they are all pilots. I think this last is important as they understand the issues with the FAA. They have all been to Oke City and know exactly what the FAA does and does not want. Also, their offices are well versed in dealing with FAA paperwork which is a real plus.

The issues with BasicMed will fall into three areas: paperwork, payment and liability.

If the form can be filled out at home and the physician merely needs to review and sign it, that would be best. If it requires the physician to fill out the form during the visit or if supplemental information is required or, worst of all, a letter is needed, then it will be a non-starter. One of the issues pilots run into is when treating physicians do not provide the information the FAA asks for. They either provide summaries, incomplete documentation or too much documentation. AMEs know exactly what is needed and will provide just that.

I do not know how much physicians will charge for this. Probably about the same as for a DOT physical assuming the paperwork is no more complex. If you can get this done at the same time as a routine physical, insurance would pay. Otherwise, it will be out of pocket. The AME will likely cost less.

The liability issue is a little more complex. Insurers may look at this the same as any other physical, be it summer camp, DOT, employment, etc. Or, they may exclude aviation medicals. I think this unlikely due to the fact that pilots are such a small percentage of the population and the risk of a pilot having a heart attack and plowing into a house is remote. You would then have to prove injury, negligence and proximate cause. It would be a fairly high bar. On a risk adjusted basis, BasicMed does not increase the risk to the insurer. On the other hand, malpractice coverage only covers against ... malpractice. If lawyers come up with a novel theory of liability outside of the malpractice arena, physicians will not be covered. You would have to ask the trial lawyers about this possibility but again, I think it is remote.

Therefore, I don't see significant obstacles to primary care physicians performing BasicMed exams as long as you try to make it easy for them. On the other hand, my AME is inexpensive and easy to work with and I will likely continue to obtain third class medicals.

Much as we would like, the medical will not go away soon. Most states have minimal medical requirements for driver's licenses. However, when someone has an accident due to a medical problem and harms someone, there are not publicly televised hearings from the statehouse. Contrast with the FAA. If an accident occurred and it turned out it was medically related and the FAA had recently removed the medical requirement, there would be congressional hearings with the FAA personnel in the hot seat. There is no upside for them to remove the medical requirement and significant downside, so I doubt it will go away unless legislation making it so is passed.

Posted by: BYRON WORK | January 23, 2017 12:41 PM    Report this comment

"There is no upside for them to remove the medical and significant downside, so I doubt that it will go away unless legislation making it so is passed."

A lot of pilots were under the impression that the Congress did excatly that.

Smoke. Mirrors. SOS.

Posted by: Tom Yarsley | January 23, 2017 2:05 PM    Report this comment

Until the medical checklist is published any comment, positive or negative, is moot.

Posted by: W Ciommo | January 23, 2017 2:19 PM    Report this comment

I'm a primary care boarded physician and I am not an AME. I have done routine CDL ;physicals for years and have pilots in my practice, including a diabetic with a class 1 medical flying with a major airline. I've written letters to Kansas City in support of my patients. I hold an instrument rating and an AMT certificate. Given what I've seen over the years, I can't imagine that the FAA would produce a form that would sufficiently transfer so much liability to me that I would not be able to sign on behalf of a pilot reasonably wishing to exercise the privileges allowed under the Basic Med. Feel free to contact me if you wish.

Posted by: Marc Curvin, MD | January 23, 2017 2:46 PM    Report this comment

Regarding the above comment, contact information: drcurvin at

Posted by: Marc Curvin, MD | January 23, 2017 2:51 PM    Report this comment

Unless I'm mistaken, the draft Medical Questionnaire is contained in Appendix A of the Advisory Circular, AC 68-1. I downloaded it, printed it out, and took it to my primary care physician. To my surprise, he said he'd be happy to sign it...

Posted by: Alistair Corden | January 23, 2017 4:18 PM    Report this comment

@RICK HOLLAND - "[what if you] take a medication that is currently on the FAA no-go list for an FAA medical? You are BasicMed legal but the insurance company may not care."

Actually, you are NOT BasicMed legal. BasicMed makes no changes to the list of unapproved medications. If you are taking a medication that the FAA does not allow then you cannot act as PIC, no matter what license (drivers, BasicMed, Third Class, etc.) you hold.

Posted by: Kirk Wennerstrom | January 23, 2017 5:45 PM    Report this comment

Appendix A of the Advisory Circular, AC 68-1

Go to:

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | January 23, 2017 9:28 PM    Report this comment

"Now that the vagaries of BasicMed have come into focus, I am greatly bummed out. Maybe more so than before? I have an appointment with a new Doc in a couple of weeks; I'm NOT expecting him to be cooperative. In fact, I'm planning for it mentally. If that's the way it shakes out, I'm likely done."

Larry, don't give up. Ga needs you and you need Ga. It'll work out.

Posted by: Thomas Cooke | January 24, 2017 8:10 AM    Report this comment

When one's health declines, rent a flight instructor to keep you and others safe.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | January 24, 2017 11:37 AM    Report this comment

"Before flying under BasicMed, pilots must get a physical exam by a state-licensed physician, complete an associated checklist, and then take an online aeromedical course. It is important that pilots take those steps in that order because the exam information will need to be transmitted upon successful completion of the aeromedical course."

Lifted right from the Jan 18, 2017 AOPA 'News and Media' website.

I don't know if that mean just the date of the exam and name of doctor ... or everything ???

RAF: Molon Labe !

Posted by: Larry Stencel | January 24, 2017 1:27 PM    Report this comment

King Leonidas was a badass!

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | January 24, 2017 1:48 PM    Report this comment

... and I was a SAC trained 'killer' under Gen Curtis E Lemay :-)

Posted by: Larry Stencel | January 24, 2017 2:27 PM    Report this comment

AC 68-1, Chapter 6, para 6.3 states (in part):

4. Information provided by the pilot about the physician and the comprehensive medical examination, including;

1. The pilot's name, address, telephone number and airman certificate number;

2. The name, address, telephone number and state medical license number of the physician performing the comprehensive medical examination;

3. The date of the comprehensive medical examination; and

4. A certification by the individual that the checklist described in 68.7 was followed and signed by the physician in the comprehensive medical examination.

I'm liking this whole mess less and less. It certainly isn't anything like the original concept, and is currently being totally misrepresented by the alphabets as the best thing to happen to GA ever...

I do not foresee hordes of 'Rusty Pilots' flocking back to the fold anytime soon.

Posted by: Alistair Corden | January 24, 2017 2:32 PM    Report this comment

I don't think I've seen mentioned what I perceive to be one advantage of BasicMed vs. 3rd Class. If you "fail" a BasicMed physical the FAA does not need to know and you wont' be on record has having had your medical "denied." Therefore by using BasicMed to continue flying with your private certificate, you aren't risking a medical denial in the future and you will always retain the option to fall back to driver's license / sport pilot flying if it becomes necessary.

Posted by: Frank Arrison | January 24, 2017 5:17 PM    Report this comment

"I'm liking this whole mess less and less. It certainly isn't anything like the original concept, and is currently being totally misrepresented by the alphabets as the best thing to happen to GA ever...".

I agree.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | January 24, 2017 7:12 PM    Report this comment

Alistair -
Maybe it's just my long career dealing with government bureaucracies, but I'm not seeing anything in that list that would be particularly difficult for someone who can do preflight weather briefing and route planning for an airplane flight. You no doubt can find your airman certificate number and the physician's office address and phone number. And when you go for the exam, be sure and write down the date for future reference. Maybe a (dodgy?) physician might refuse to disclose his medical license number; I don't know.

I know that filling out a form with names & addresses & such can seem intimidating to some people. Just think back when you had to do it for the 3rd Class Medical and I'm sure you'll be OK.

Posted by: Rollin Olson | January 25, 2017 12:12 AM    Report this comment

"I'm liking this whole mess less and less. It certainly isn't anything like the original concept, and is currently being totally misrepresented by the alphabets as the best thing to happen to GA ever...".

"I agree."

Ditto. The alphabets are of course just trying to make a silk purse out of a sows ear to keep those member dollars rolling in.....this was a mess and a HUGE mistake they know it. This was watered down and completely changed. For all who have short memories: this was supposed to be an extension of the LSA rules, NOT a complete rewrite or separate entity, hence the total and complete failure here....and it will be used against us in the future, believe it.

I'm tied of trying to become a pilot in the US, it's simply not worth the hassle and great expense to simply FLY. LSA was never for me(I'm not rich enough...) and ultralights scare the beep out of me, so this may as well just end any hope, in my lifetime at least, of flying. Thanks for nothing alphabets!

Posted by: Michael Livote | January 25, 2017 2:12 AM    Report this comment

Yesterday, I downloaded the AC and read it. It takes a lot to piss me off; even more to offend me. The FAA's demonstrated ability to puzzle, disappoint, and frustrate everyone with whom they deal is the stuff of legend. But this pile of **** is a new low.

The alphabets have cheered while the FAA as Lucy has yanked away the football, leaving the alphabets' own Charlie Brown members lying on their asses, staring up at the sky, and asking themselves "How could I have been so gullible?"

This may not affect me personally, but I'm taking the betrayal personally.

Posted by: Tom Yarsley | January 25, 2017 5:40 AM    Report this comment

The language in the BasicMed Advisory Circular is copied directly from the "Pilot Bill of Rights-2"passed by congress. It is not likely to change in the final version. The problem lies with the congress that passed an overly prescriptive law. The only benefit seems to be that it is good for four years rather than two. AOPA and EAA need to renew their legislative advocacy for a simpler version as was originally envisioned.

Posted by: Paul Railsback | January 25, 2017 7:08 AM    Report this comment

YARS, I read the "Alternative Pilot Physical Examination and Education Requirements" and ended feeling much like you. Not happy.

"Much of the general aviation community is ecstatic about BasicMed," AOPA President Mark Baker said of the new alternative to medical certification. "May 1 can't get here soon enough!"

How can AOPA be so wrong?

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | January 25, 2017 10:54 AM    Report this comment

"How can AOPA be so wrong?"

Probably because a lot of the pilot community doesn't realize the full details of BasicMed and they just hear "you won't need a 3rd-class medical any more for private flying". Which is technically true, but certainly not the full story.

"The language in the BasicMed Advisory Circular is copied directly from the "Pilot Bill of Rights-2"passed by congress. It is not likely to change in the final version. The problem lies with the congress that passed an overly prescriptive law. "

I'd say it's both an overly-prescriptive law passed by Congress (who really shouldn't be writing regulatory agency law anyway), and an apathetic FAA that took the simplest way out by directly transcribing the bill's wording into the existing FARs. Sort of like a big you-know-what to Congress and the GA community for forcing them to do something they never wanted to do.

Posted by: Gary Baluha | January 25, 2017 11:04 AM    Report this comment

Because AOPA is right there with the FAA on wanting to kill recreational aviation. They'd both be thrilled with a world of ab-initio-to-ATP and nothing up there that's not a twin-jet.

Unless Congress actually gets serious about reforming the FAA and removing recreational aviation from its control, nothing will change.

Posted by: Joshua Levinson | January 25, 2017 11:25 AM    Report this comment

The extension to 4 years is a small improvement. The fact that the FAA cannot ground someone forever due to a medical condition is also an improvement. That said, the "hassle factor" is the same, maybe even more, given the new biannual online test. This is what one gets when they get half of what they ask for - a mutated, contorted, overly-complicated, Frankenstein version of what they wanted.

The people who invent this garbage are not aviators. They are bumbling bureaucrats who don't know the first thing about small-airplane flying and are generally scared of it. This kind of oversight is borne out of the same ignorance and fear of aviation that has been there since 1903 (and probably always will be).

I am hoping for relief from these mental boobs from the other direction - maybe we can get the LSA gross weight bumped up to 1500 lbs. Or, maybe my great great great grandchildren will get that. One can dream..

Posted by: Ken Keen | January 25, 2017 11:28 AM    Report this comment

And honestly, I feel like focussing on whether the situation is marginally improved or more or less paperwork and hassle is missing the point. Unless there's clear evidence of the overall system becoming *much* friendlier to new aviators, they will accomplish nothing but (very mildly) slowing GA's decline.

I can't even count the number of conversations with my fellow millennial (ugh) coworkers and friends who express a ton of excitement about the *idea* of learning to fly, but then when they learn about all the overhead and hassle to actually get started (a background check? really?) they basically just say "Eh, never mind."

It's not that the hassle is actually that onerous, it's that it's a SIGN OF A BROKEN SYSTEM. People see these things as symptoms, not as conditions in their own right. They look at the hurdles the FAA throws in front of them for no reason whatsoever, and decide (smartly) to move on to something more welcoming and less broken.

Seeing this, I can't say I blame them.

Posted by: Joshua Levinson | January 25, 2017 11:40 AM    Report this comment

Joshua - yours is an interesting comment. Young people used to accept the "hassles" involved in high-reaching demands like learning how to fly. I wonder what has happened that young people can't be bothered anymore? Here's a hint: it's not because they are, as you say, "smarter".

Posted by: Ken Keen | January 25, 2017 1:05 PM    Report this comment


If I had to guess, I'd say a cornucopia of other choices for how to spend their money and time. Everything else that seems like a "technological" hobby seems to get simpler and easier over time. It's the opposite with aviation, it seems. Hell, just compare an approach plate for an old VOR approach to a modern one. The RNAV plate into my local airport has nine lines of small print text. It just sends a message that "This is a system for two pilot cockpits."

Most people aren't so masochistic as to seek out an activity that seems to systematically push the message that they're not wanted. Why not race cars instead?

Posted by: Joshua Levinson | January 25, 2017 1:16 PM    Report this comment

Joshua -

It sounds like you're trying to scare your millennial acquaintances away from GA. I can't fathom why. Maybe your "ugh" might be a clue. Or the "message[s]" you're getting from approach plates.

If you think old-time GA is too difficult for them, point them toward Light Sport instead. No Medical, no background check, less cost, oriented toward toward fun flying. If they get hooked on flying, they might be willing to brave the bureaucratic horrors ( /snark) that the rest of us went through. And if they are thinking about a career in commercial aviation, they'd better get used to rules & regulations right up front.

As for technology getting "simpler and easier over time", I see smart phones, streaming apps, video games, etc. getting more and more elaborate as time goes on. Millennials and younger kids aren't afraid of complexity when it's in the service of something they enjoy and are entertained by. When the time comes for a young pilot to get his/her IFR rating, they won't be scared by RNAV approach procedures.

I understand that it's fun to regale one's friends with harrowing tales of daring-do on risky flights, and how complex and difficult it is to fly an airplane; some pilots like to think that it makes us sound like heroic figures. And some people just like to dump on the government. But it's not the best strategy for drawing most prospective pilots into aviation. Tell 'em it's like skateboarding - start easy, work your way up to greater skill.

Posted by: Rollin Olson | January 25, 2017 3:03 PM    Report this comment

Joshua - for someone who has no experience as a pilot, flying has nothing to do with approach plates with a lot of fine print. That's not what a student pilot is going to focus on. For them, flying is about learning a completely new high-level set of skills (both physical and mental), and more than anything ought to be about breaking away from terra firma and what doing that means to a person on the inside. For many people, it's one of life's greatest accomplishments. But, it's not free, quick, or easy. Too many young people these days are stuck staring at their phones, unwilling to take on tough challenges like learning to fly that demand dedication, discipline, and focus. Sadly, it's a nation-wide problem.

Posted by: Ken Keen | January 25, 2017 4:01 PM    Report this comment

It was apparent from the beginning that the Third Class Medical Reform campaign was a less-than-optimal use of resources (read waste of time & effort).

It was apparently intended by AOPA (& EAA? I dunno) as an outreach to what they saw as their core constituency - aging pilots, who would be concerned about passing the 3rd Class Medical.

From a business standpoint, this looks like concentrating on a tail-end market - customers who have only a few years remaining before leaving the market. Except for a few niche markets like adult diapers, companies generally get more bang for their marketing buck by building loyalty among young consumers, who could be buying their products for 30 or 40 years.

Translated into GA terms, this means that AOPA and EAA should concentrate on looking to the future to actively court and retain young prospective pilots.

And, worse, it now appears that trying to please the old guys hasn't had its intended effect. There's just as much bellyaching about BasicMed here as there used to be about Special Issuances.

So as a PR outreach campaign it did no good, and distracted AOPA from building for the future. But at least they tried.

Posted by: Rollin Olson | January 25, 2017 6:43 PM    Report this comment

Rolin: Pandering to young potential pilots is akin to investing millions to develop a more efficient method of manufacturing carbon paper. The future of light GA is autonomous aircraft that will be employed by non-pilot aviators on an on-demand basis. The readership here doesn't want to hear that; the alphabets don't want to hear that. But it will happen. And the non-pilots won't need medicals. (Of course, that won't stop the FAA from trying.)

Posted by: Tom Yarsley | January 25, 2017 8:10 PM    Report this comment

Tom -

Hey, I always look for the worst case scenario, too, but then I try to look for alternatives. Autonomous flying taxis may well be here in a few years, but conventional light GA airplanes aren't going away anytime soon, no faster than non-autonomous jet skis, motorboats, snowmobiles or ATVs will. "Serious" personal flying (business, family vacations) may well wither away or become automated, but there will - or could - be a market for recreational flying vehicles for some time to come. Icon Aircraft and the new Piper Cub clones look like they're betting on a near-term future where pilots fly low and slow wherever they want to.

And if a young person learns to fly now, and gets in the habit of tootling around in the sky, it'll still be fine if 30 years from now the plane is doing all the work while they cruise over the countryside.

But seriously, if the GA community can't get rid of magnetos or leaded avgas, they''e not going to suddenly abandon all the legacy airframes as soon as Airbus starts an autonomous air taxi service. That is, unless we actively discourage prospective pilots from joining us having fun in the air.

Posted by: Rollin Olson | January 25, 2017 9:33 PM    Report this comment

The last physical I had was a Class 2. It costs about $150 and is good for one year.
It is NOT covered by my health insurance.

A physical with my primary care physician is covered 100%.
If he signs the BasicMed form, I'm good for 48 months.

Why are people saying BasicMed will cost them more money.
Even if you have no health insurance, it's cheaper than getting a Class 2 . . . and probably chaeper than a Class 3 if you're over 40 years old.

Posted by: mark anderson | March 17, 2017 1:00 PM    Report this comment

Today, to my surprise, my PC doc gave exam and signed checklist no problem at all. He thought the anus check odd and the form dumb. Another 30 min. or so for the online course and I was done. Way, way easier that comments here lead me to think.

Posted by: kurt kettelhut | April 28, 2017 11:33 AM    Report this comment

The Veterans Affairs VA need to be able to give BasicMed physicals. I went to an AME to do BasicMed physical and went through the complete process of the physical at the end he said I need a letter from my doctor saying I'm fit to fly. This is why I went to the AME in the first place because I don't have a regular doctor just the VA AOPA or some Aviation organization needs to educate the VA on the BasicMed program

Posted by: Lawrence Babb | May 13, 2017 12:03 PM    Report this comment

I did get an appointment with the VA to do the BasicMed. When I went to the Santa Rosa VA the doctor talked to his or her supervisor and they told him they do not do physicals. I had driven one hour and thirty minutes to get there to find out he would not do it. Will I kind go mad and told him he could have called me. Well after that he started giving me a physical, He told me I have sleep Apnea I told him I don't have sleep Apnea and he had me hold my hands out and he said your right hand is trembling ( it was not ) he said you need to go for a neurological exam. He was looking for anything to not put his name on that doctor sign off sheet. I do have some back problems I told him about that. I am getting a little fed up with this BasicMed. I would like to get back into flight instructing but it looks like a no go. The FAA is killing GA . I see pilot dumping there aircraft and getting out. I thank I will do the same.

Posted by: Lawrence Babb | May 27, 2017 4:43 PM    Report this comment

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