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SteamJet
10-04-2007, 09:00 AM
I recently retired from the AF after 20+ years and have a class date for one of my top choices of companies. I want to briefly share my experience with transitioning from the AF aerospace medicine world to the civillian aerospace medicine world and my saga of getting a 1st class medical so your own transition will be less stressful than mine was. First some of my observations/opinions:

While the FAA and AF medical worlds are very similar, they are also different in some ways. Some things the AF will ground you for in a heartbeat are fully waiverable by the FAA and vice versa. Overall, I think the FAA is more lenient IF you do your homework, go to the right doctor and have your stuff all in one bag. You would be shocked at some of the stuff you can get waivered for. Check out the FAA AME guide to see for yourself.

Take your time when filling out the medical application. Read it carefully and do not lie. If you get caught (ever), you could be in BIG trouble. If you don't believe me, do a little research yourself. IMHO, it's better to face the music up front (even if it means your medical may be delayed or even denied) than carry the burden/stress of living a lie and hoping your never get caught. I'm sure there are airline vets reading this right now who would give you advice contrary to this, but buyer beware. They aren't going to come save you when/if you get busted, get fired, face fines, loose your ticket, get slapped with a felony or any of the other things the feds could do to you.

Start early, especially if you have any known or suspected conditions that may require a waiver or special evaluations. It took me a total of 6 months to go through the wickets - partly because I had an unexpected detour along the way. I wish I would have started a year out instead. It would have greatly lowered my stress level. Also, while you are on AD, uncle Sam will send you just about anywhere to see the right specialists, take the appropriate tests, get treatment, etc. on their dime. Just work with your local flight doc. Mine was great and I probably saved $10K by being up front with them. The only thing it cost me was a very brief DNIF.

If you think you might have a complicated case (as mine was), I HIGHLY recommend working with a professional civillian who specializes in dealing with the FAA to work your case. I went through Virtual Flight Surgeons (VFS) [aviationmedicine.com] and was EXTREMELY pleased with their service. I'm convinced if I wouldn't have used their service, my job opportunities would have slipped through my fingers because I got a late start and I was very short on time. They are pros and they know exactly what to do to make things happen and have the ability to push the right buttons to make them happen quick. They know the people in the FAA and they know how the system works. That's a skill set your local AME likely doesn't have.

VFS does not act as your AME so you have a relationship with them that allows you to completely spill your guts to them on a confidential basis. Since they won't be the ones issuing the medical, the are not obliged to in essence relay everything you say to them to the FAA as your AME does. That doesn't mean they're going to be deceptive with the FAA on your behalf, though. The reason they are so good with the FAA is because the FAA trusts them and their reputation is solid. However, by being completely forthcoming with VFS, they will be able provide you the best path to certification and be able to present your case in the best light.

Let me close by saying I'm not in away affiliated with VFS and they didn't ask me to write this. I'm just a happy camper after working with them and I wanted to share my story with other people in my situation. Their fee for full service was $1100 (get your mind out of the gutter), but it was well worth it in my opinion. They charge $40 for an initial consult and you are not obliged to pay any more unless you want to move forward. I think they also have a $400 plan where they build the waiver package, but you have to work with the FAA yourself. There may be other outfits that provide a similar service and feel free to work with whomever you want. In the end, my only advice is if you have a complicated case as mine was, get started early, don't lie to the FAA and get a professional beside your AME to work with the FAA.


rickair7777
10-04-2007, 11:21 AM
I'll vouch for VFS also.

You obviously need to make a personal copy of your military medical records when you resign/retire. Keep it in a safe somewhere.

Also, if you have a rather thick military medical record, you might be better off in your future airline and FAA dealings if your official record got lost when you left. 'Nuf said.