Class 2 Medical: Another Milestone

Class 2 Medical Certificate

Class 2 Medical Certificate

Getting a Class 2 Medical Certificate is one of those many requirements that there’s no escape from – if you want a PPL or even to fly solo, you’re going to need one.   Your local GP can’t just issue it either, for this you will need an appointment with an approved Air Medical Examiner (AME), oh and some cash – nothing in flying is free 🙂

You can however fly with an instructor right up until the word ‘solo’ enters the vocabulary in your flight training without one.   This isn’t recommended practice for the obvious reason that by the time you need it, you’ll have spent a couple of  thousand pounds on flight training and it might have all been for nothing if you then find some medical problem that prevents you from being a pilot.

It might well be recommended to get it early, for very sound reasons, but as you can tell from this blog – I didn’t rush down to my local Air Medical Examiner the day after starting flight training.

Some people hate spiders, others hate flying…….and from reading around online I’m apparently not alone in having a dislike for doctors examination rooms.   So I did put this off and off and off some more.  Yes it could have meant throwing away lots of cash, but I had no reason to believe I couldn’t pass it and could at least enjoy flying in the mean time – knowing you could never get a license I’m sure would just put the breaks on bothering taking lessons for the fun of lessons.

Booking the Appointment

The aeroclub had given a couple of names of AME’s in the area that they recommended, the CAA maintains a full listing here.   As one of the clubs recommended AME’s I gave Dr. Wallace (AME: 10103) in Royston a call.

Sounded friendly enough with a touch of wise from experience, he runs the practice from his house and has all the right stamps.  He asked how urgent I needed the certificate and when I told him where I was in the training he did a good job of fitting me in before he left for his three week vacation.

Really straight forward though, a quick call, a few questions on whether there’s anything he really should know up front (e.g. are you typically ill, do you have any known serious medical issues etc.), a time/place and of course the cost:  At the time of writing £170 (inc. VAT)

The Appointment

It’s a little bit random to pull into someones driveway for a medical exam, but other than that it was a well run operation.   Upon arrival I was shown to the waiting room, a copy of Flyer Magazine and other aviation material available to pass the time (better than the typical glossy rubbish in a GP practice!).

Ten minutes later and we were on.

A bit of banter and then into the form filling, it started with a bit of an explanation on the certificate itself and that the number the computer generated for my medical would stick with me for life.

There’s a form to fill out of approx. 3 pages with a fairly vast array of medical illnesses to assert you don’t to your knowledge have (they all seemed to be fairly serious stuff, so if you’ve not been to your GP complaining of anything then they probably don’t apply).

This was followed by a measurement of my height and weight.

Next was a question on my eyesight, I’m short sighted and if you need glasses remember that the AME needs to see your opticians prescription to verify the correction required is within limits (+5.00/-8.00), full CAA details of the eyesight requirements can be found here.   Rather than going straight in to the eyesight test, we started with a short sight test (reading from a book with smallish print from approx. 30-60cm away).   This was followed by a colour blindness test (a book with several pages of large numbers ‘camouflaged’ in a sea of different colours).   All good and so it was on to the distance test, this was your typical back-lit chart of letters in descending size from top to bottom, which as expected with glasses I passed.

During this whole process Dr. Wallace was talking to me from various positions of the room and from this I assume he concluded he was happy with my hearing – but there was no explicit test on my hearing.   The CAA seems to document this as normal practice and is left to the AME’s judgement for class 2.

I can’t remember having a lung function test (peak flow), but again from what I’ve read this is typical unless you have respiratory problems such as Asthma.

A separate bathroom connecting to the office conveniently allowed for the urine sample, this is testing for diabetes, protein or blood in the urine.

With all of that out of the way, I was asked to remove my socks (shoes came off when being measured for height) and top and lie-flat on a typical GP office ‘bed’.  A fairly quick check from my throat & shoulders to my stomach and then I was wired up to the the ECG machine.

If you’ve never had one before, an ECG measures the electrical impulses passing through your heart.   You have ~6 electrodes fitted to various positions from your chest to your feet/ankles (thus the removal of socks) and then basically it’s a matter of “press go……and see what the computer says next.”

Dr. Wallace was really good at explaining the output of the ECG machine, firstly that it was normal (my eyes were drawn to the fact my ‘resting’ heart rate was 85bpm, which is high for me – but slightly elevated heart rate is expected at times like this).  Then he went into the detail of what all the “P’s”, “QRS’s” and “T’s” were all about and why it was alright on the night.   He even printed me a copy for myself, you don’t need it, but for £170 you might as well get something for the books!

With that out of the way it was pretty much a done deal, all that was left to do was attempt to use the CAA software to issue the certificate (which apparently is very slow and clunky – I told him Citrix is just like that I’m afraid, or at least whenever I’ve used anything running on it, it has been).

A few checks, double checks and triple checks of the details on the screen before finally submitting everything to the CAA and hey presto, a Class 2 Medical Certificate.

Next Milestone

………Now all that’s left to do is pass the Air Law exam and convince an instructor I’m capable of flying solo.

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