My BasicMed Journey

By Cory Puuri, EAA Membership Development Manager

I was over 40 when I obtained my first third-class medical in February 2016. BasicMed happened at just the right time for me. The only restriction on my license is for vision — I wear prescription eyeglasses when I fly. Working in member benefits at EAA, I was familiar with the requirements of BasicMed, so I decided to enroll and make a log of my experience obtaining authorization to fly under BasicMed.

BasicMed is an alternate, optional way to satisfy the medical requirements for most operations requiring a third-class medical. As of February, more than 25,000 pilots were flying under the new BasicMed rule.

To start the process, I went to EAA’s online BasicMed resource center, which outlines the three core requirements for BasicMed.

To qualify for BasicMed, a person must (1) be in compliance with the general BasicMed requirements (possess a U.S. driver’s license, have held a medical after July 15, 2006). They must also (2) get a physical exam with a state-licensed physician, using the Comprehensive Medical Examination Checklist (CMEC). The last requirement (3) is that the pilot must complete a BasicMed medical education course. The FAA has approved courses through both Mayo Aerospace and AOPA.

I was already in the process of establishing a relationship with a new physician due to a change in insurance provider networks. I called one of the physician offices on my list of providers and explained that I was a private pilot with my first annual physical coming up, and that I wanted to establish a relationship with the doctor and have him or her complete a form confirming I was fit to fly. At first the nurse I spoke to tried directing me to an occupational medicine clinic.

However, I explained that the form is intended to be completed by my primary care physician and that all items on the checklist are already part of the routine checks a doctor makes during an annual physical. The nurse agreed to schedule the appointment and asked that I fax the form to her. Normally, you should simply be able to bring the form with you to your doctor, but since I was the first BasicMed exam this doctor had completed, he asked for a copy of the form to determine if he felt comfortable completing it.

I do not have an FAA special issuance, so the process was simple, and I was done in 40 minutes. It really was just an annual physical. They checked off the items on the form, signed, and dated it.

My last step was to complete a BasicMed medical education course. A coworker of mine had completed the AOPA course and said it was straightforward and easy to complete. I decided to try the Mayo course to make sure there were people on staff at EAA to answer questions about both courses.

The BasicMed courses are connected to FAA from a documentation standpoint, so the first thing I saw when I logged into Mayo’s course was a national driver register authorization form giving the FAA permission to check that I have a valid driver’s license. I also reviewed and electronically signed a statement affirming that I’ve complied with the medical requirements of BasicMed.

Next, I was prompted to fill out a form with some personal information, as well as the information my physician collected on page nine of the CMEC.

Mayo has six educational videos amounting to 70 minutes of content that can be watched in any order.  After completing the video series, there is a 20-question exam that must be passed with a score of at least 70 percent. The exam is not timed.

After I finished the exam, I saved PDFs of my completion certificate and scanned my completed CMEC form. I uploaded both to my Google Drive (which I can access via the app on my phone) to access in the event the FAA ever requests them. I also made entries in my logbook for the dates of my physical and course completion.

Pilots using BasicMed must retake their preferred online course every two years and obtain another BasicMed physical every four years, assuming no significant medical event occurs between the required dates, so I also put reminders in my calendar for the next few years.

Though signing up for BasicMed took a bit of work, I feel like this process helped me to be more knowledgeable about medical conditions affecting my fitness to fly than if I had renewed my third-class medical, and I should be a safer pilot as a result.

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