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Old 09-26-2018, 03:34 PM   #1  
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Default Handwriting Problem - Tremor In Left Hand

Hi All,

I've just started training for my private license. I have about 10 hours, including takeoffs, stalls, steep turns, etc. I have not yet done a landing, although we are working up to that.

I've had an issue over the last 10 years or so, where I have a slight tremor in my left hand, but it only shows up when I try to write anything left handed with a pen. It doesn't show up at any other time. In fact, while training, I am using my left hand controlling the yolk and other controls. There has been no issue, other than when doing handwriting.

I've always been left handed for eating and writing, while playing tennis and golfing with my right hand.

Anyway, this has never been an issue, because I pretty much have gone completely electronic and paperless in life. I type almost everything, and only have had to write once a month to write out a check.

But here is the problem...flight training, and working with flight schools, in terms of filling out Hobbs time, tach time, etc., in their books, has brought this problem back to the forefront for me. I don't understand why flight schools can't go completely electronic, and use keyboards, instead of archaically having to write out Hobbs times and tach times in their archaic handwritten notebooks.

In any event, despite my conducting takeoffs, flight maneuvers, stalls, steep turns, and working up to landing soon, my flight instructor believes that this small tremor in my left hand, which ONLY shows up when I'm doing handwriting, could be a problem, in terms of a designated examiner, and potentially could cause me to fail the private pilot checkride.

Do I need a new instructor, or is he correct, and should I hang it up now and not spend money and waste time pursuing the private license, with a problem that only shows up when I am trying to write with my left hand.

Or perhaps I should learn to write with my right hand, which has no minor tremor whatsoever?

I really look forward to your comments on this, and thank you for your attention to this matter!
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Old 09-26-2018, 06:13 PM   #2  
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I assume you have a medical. What did the Dr. say about it? Did you even ask him about it? Is it "essential tremors" or "familial tremors", or, is it the start of parkinson's? If it is just familial tremors, even if it is bad, if it doesn't affect your flying then you should be fine. Although, what happens when you need to copy down instructions from ATC?
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Old 09-26-2018, 06:38 PM   #3  
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Given that handwriting is a forgotten art and a lot of individuals have nearly indecipherable handwriting (and the inability to spell) these days, are you sure anyone would notice if you didn't bring it up?

It's really an issue for an AME, rather than a designated examiner.

With Parkinson's, a tremor is often only perceptible under certain conditions; one may be fully dexterous, yet have a repetitive tremor while making a motion to screw in a lightbulb, for example.

I wouldn't let your instructor or anyone else make a medical diagnosis. Leave that to a doctor. Keep in mind that the majority of flight instructors have no experience; they've never worked in aviation or done anything but instruct, and are brand new pilots themselves. With that in mind, they may be the last ones you want to turn to for information about the industry, or what is or is not acceptable.
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Old 09-27-2018, 02:20 AM   #4  
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There are people wandering around aviation that don't even have a left hand. - Just sayin'.
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Old 09-27-2018, 02:31 AM   #5  
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Your instructor is both right and wrong.
Yes It could be a problem but not with an examiner. Most applicants are so nervous they can’t remenber their name let alone write it.
Point is there may or may not be an underlying medical problem that could potentially be disqualifying for a (first class) medical.
You doing this for giggles or as the start of a career?
Friendly word of caution here: the FAA doesn’t take very kindly to “omissions” on a medical application. Unintentional or not.
I’m getting the feeling you didn’t discuss this with your medical examiner.
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Old 09-27-2018, 06:38 AM   #6  
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Sounds more like essential tremor than parkinson's, especially if you're young and it hasn't really changed in ten years. But better see a doc to be sure. Once you get the cause identified, then go see the AME.

The AME, not the CFI or DPE, will determine whether it's disqualifying. It sounds like it would not be a problem.

The DPE/CFI can't disqualify you because you have a tremor, they don't get to pass judgement on that. They have to evaluate you on your performance only, worst case they might ask you to see an AME, but if you've already done that, then no issue.

Note... if you have a previous history of medical care/diagnosis for this and did not report it to the FAA when you applied for medicals, contact a lawyer before you do anything else.
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Old 09-27-2018, 08:34 AM   #7  
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Thanks all for your replies!

I passed a first class medical in June before starting training. This issue did not come up because I have never been diagnosed with any neurological condition, and it ONLY shows up when I attempt to write with my left hand, never at anytime else, whether that be driving or in the cockpit. But it shows up when, at the end of the flight, we have to fill out a book with date, time, Hobbs time, tach time, instructor/student name, etc. I have had the instructor fill this out for me each time we are done flying because I wasn’t able to do it, and that was when he indicated this could be a problem with me getting my license.

I do handwriting at no other time than this. I’m normally on a keyboard all the time, as I’ve gone electronic and paperless in my life. Flying has brought this issue once again to the forefront, as it only happens when writing.

There is no shaking in my right hand, so I’m trying to teach myself how to write with my right hand. Perhaps I should have addressed this issue before, but there has simply never been any reason to because I have been 100 percent keyboard communicating.

It’s just really hard to believe that an issue that ONLY shows up when writing could derail me from flying.

Am I doing this for career? Not sure. I’d like to get the private license, see how that goes, and go from there.

With this additional information, I’d like to hear more of your thoughts.

Thanks!
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Old 09-27-2018, 08:50 AM   #8  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jupiter87140 View Post
Thanks all for your replies!

I passed a first class medical in June before starting training. This issue did not come up because I have never been diagnosed with any neurological condition, and it ONLY shows up when I attempt to write with my left hand, never at anytime else, whether that be driving or in the cockpit. But it shows up when, at the end of the flight, we have to fill out a book with date, time, Hobbs time, tach time, instructor/student name, etc. I have had the instructor fill this out for me each time we are done flying because I wasn’t able to do it, and that was when he indicated this could be a problem with me getting my license.

I do handwriting at no other time than this. I’m normally on a keyboard all the time, as I’ve gone electronic and paperless in my life. Flying has brought this issue once again to the forefront, as it only happens when writing.

There is no shaking in my right hand, so I’m trying to teach myself how to write with my right hand. Perhaps I should have addressed this issue before, but there has simply never been any reason to because I have been 100 percent keyboard communicating.

It’s just really hard to believe that an issue that ONLY shows up when writing could derail me from flying.

Am I doing this for career? Not sure. I’d like to get the private license, see how that goes, and go from there.

With this additional information, I’d like to hear more of your thoughts.

Thanks!
If it's just an isolated tremor, it won't derail you. You can even fly with parkinsons but I really don't think that's it.

The FAA medical form doesn't just ask "have you ever been diagnosed" it asks "have you ever had, or do you have". So technically you should report it, although they would have no way of knowing. But you should go see a regular doc first so you can tell the AME what the problem is.

But now that your CFI knows and is concerned, I think you need to get it checked out and report it to the AME... that will solve the issue with your CFI. Again I don't think this a big deal at all, but not reporting it could be a big deal.
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Old 09-27-2018, 09:18 AM   #9  
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Understood and thanks. But in order to answer yes to “neurological disorders” (just looked at the FAA questionnaire), wouldn’t you have to be diagnosed with a disorder officially by your doctor? I have never been diagnosed with a neurological disorder by any doctor at anytime, in fact I have never brought this up with any of my doctors. So, it seems to me that when I answered “no” on the FAA medical questionnaire regarding neurological disorders that I was being as accurate as possible.
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Old 09-27-2018, 09:42 AM   #10  
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You’re intentionally skating around it.
You’re not understanding the legal implications of the medical application.
Knowing that you do and avoiding an official diagnosis doesn’t make it go away.
And stop blaming the pen and paper.
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