I've personally run across several pilots who quietly continued to fly for quite a while sans-medical. We all remember the much-beloved Flying staffer who did the same thing. None of these people ever, to my knowledge, had any problem flying safely and none died in a crash, medically-induced or otherwise, so my view is that for 3rd class, self-certifying is probably a viable way to go.
The question is, would the FAA ever accept the media & NTSB heat from accidents where "the pilot had not been medically certified"? It would be like all those cases where they note accusingly that "the pilot did not file a flight plan", trying to imply it somehow would have mattered.
"In a way, Sport Pilots have it made."
I guess you could say I have it made, as Robert just did. After all I can still fly, which 10 years ago I certainly couldn't have done under the same circumstances. On the other hand, because of some FAA rules that make little sense to me, I am relegated to sport flying whether I like it or not. This has pushed me into building a Cub and learning to be a pretty good taildragger pilot, but do you have any idea how long it takes to fly from Los Angeles to Oshkosh at 80 knots?
I have a letter from my doctor saying I am fine, and the FAA guys at Oshkosh said my application for a special issuance would probably get approved, but, of course, if it does not it is the end of my flying, permanently.
I only wish I could suffer the inconvenience of going to the AME every other year and paying my $100.
The 3rd class physical should simply go away. It's unnecessary and it is costly. The only one who benefits is the doctor and only because he gets paid. The 3rd class should be replaced by a self policing system. I don't know of anyone who would ever fly if they had a health condition that would compromise safety and those who would fly without regard to safety are simply operating outside the realm of reasonable and responsible thinking. The FAA should mandate the same health rules for private pilots as they now have in place for sport pilots flying LSA's? Don't hold your breath.
I asked the airport manager here locally when he last got a physical and his answer shocked me. He hasn't had one in over 10 years! He said he is healthy and does not have any real reason not to comply, except his position that the FAA is Big Brother and he's anti-anything government. Ok, so he's not the most rational person I could have polled. Now I'm wondering just how many pilots are flying without medicals. I asked how he could get insurance and he said he was self insured. I asked what he'd do if he ever got caught in a ramp check and he said he'd simply continue to fly without regard for the 3rd class requirement. He's a safe pilot who keeps his airplane in annual and has never so much as scratched an airplane. So, what argument could I pose that would make sense other than what he's doing is outside the law that I, too, think is unnecessary? I don't think he's right for his non-compliance to the regs, but I understand him. I understand and empathize with the maverick attitude. He's a barnstormer at heart.
I sit here today awaiting the re-issuance of my Special Issuance medical, my former medical expired. I did everything the FAA said - on or about xx/xx/2010 submit a letter from your doctor - which I did a week or so before it was "due", talked to the head Doc at one of the main flying events as was told that my condition was so minor he wasn't worried about it but the regs were the regs and a special issuance was required, and have had every and all check-ups as required. Well the FAA backlog has extended from 60 days to 90 days, and my application for re-issuance has been in the final stage for well over a month now and who knows when (or if) it will be re-issued.
The most absurd thing is my conditioon could be treated with pills that are now over-the-counter medication.
I talk to so many others that say "I have that, but I've never reported it" and they have no problem getting their medical. Makes you wonder if it's better to have an omission on your medical application, or risk the fine/jail/excommunication if you're caught.
I held a Class 1 med. until 75 yrs old, and when I last renewed it I passed successfully, including a regular ECG. but, entirely due to age I was required to undergo a stress ECG at which there was much sucking of teeth and suggestions that I wasn't going to drive home, was I ?
10 days later I was the proud possessor of two arterial stents, following Angioplasty.
Only because I went to renew my pilot's licence would I have ever known about this, unlike the drivers hurtling towards me at a closing speed of 140 mph, unaware even of their blood pressure !
Regarding the person with who had stents placed after an FAA mandated ECG presents an interesting problem. In the absence of symptoms and without the mandated ECG, the stents would not have been placed. We don't know what the outcome would have been with no stents. Just because stents were placed does not mean they were necessary to change function or survival. There may be studies looking at outcome in asymptomatic patients who had stents placed, but I'm not aware of them. Bottom line is, it cannot be known from the data presented that having had the physical made any difference for the pilot or for safety in general.