I took my son to his first air show when he was just 4 years old, about 12 years ago. He absolutely loved it. He sat up attentively, pointing at the sky and looking back at me to make sure I didn’t miss any of the colorful planes looping through their smoke trails. I had secured the perfect spot for our blanket on the lawn, right at the front of the Oshkosh flight line. From that glorious day, Joey was bitten and smitten by the aviation bug. I was sure he would become a private pilot someday, just like me.
Just a month after his 16th birthday, we made a doctor’s appointment with an aviation medical examiner, or AME for short. Our goal was to get Joe his third-class medical certificate so he could begin flying lessons. He had done well obtaining his driver’s license, passing on his first attempt, and doing it driving a six-speed manual transmission, no less! He is a competent and proficient driver. Before his medical exam, we completed all the required forms together on the MedXPress website. The exam with the AME went smoothly, or at least that is what we thought. The physician had access to Joe’s complete medical record, including medication history and diagnosis, including depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. She performed the routine exam and never mentioned that he might have a problem getting his medical certificate. She just said, “You will hear from the FAA in about three weeks or so,” and that was it. Joe and I were so excited about getting him started with flight training. We had an instructor all lined up. It was March, the Wisconsin winter snow had melted, and spring was in the air.