Reply To: Has an ADHD diagnosis ever prevented you from obtaining a goal?

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Like you I wanted to get into flying (again). There are some options depending on your full story.

I am not a medical professional and I am not giving advise (hence the odd use of ‘one’ vs ‘you’ below). That said here’s my experience.

As I have learned, unless one takes and fails an aviation medical exam, which is required for a Private Pilot license, the FAA doesn’t know about ones ADHD. However, one doesn’t need a medical if one flys under a Sport Pilot license. The interested party just needs to pass the appropriate flight and ground exams and “Not know or have reason to know of any medical condition that would make that person unable to operate a light-sport aircraft in a safe manner.” Well I have had ADHD forever and it’s not going away in my lifetime. I was diagnosed in 2004. Funny thing though is I got my pilots license in 1976! And there are plenty of ADHDers who are pilots; commercial or military. So as I read it, ADHD is not in itself exclusionary … I have no knowledge or reason to know… but read on.

FYI: There are many aircraft one can still fly under a Sport license including many single engines and gyro copters (and one needs a drivers license). BTW, one doesn’t need a Sport license or a drivers license to pilot a glider or balloon. With the Sport license one is limited to flying during the day, having no more than one passenger, weight of aircraft < ____ , type of airspace …

If one is like me, a highly functional ADHDer, and wants to risk never flying, then one can take the medical. One would disclose the ADHD diagnosis as I did. The diagnosing doctor would have to release records to the AME. One will get a letter from the FAA saying they are barred from flying anything forever (because the FAA is saying the want-to-be pilot has been informed that the ADHD diagnosis is exclusionary), unless one passes a aeronautical neuropsychologists two – three day $3000+ evaluation. The neuropsychologist told me “you do not have ADHD”. {An aside; the FAA is in the public safety business. Despite my evaluation results I have ADHD; there is no doubt about it.} Now that I have ‘passed’ I can not be on any medication- ever. That is the choice I have made until my flying days are over. Since I got my Private Pilot license 30 years ago I can still fly using that license but if I didn’t have a prior license, I would just fly under the Sport Pilot license, no medical required.

That being said there are some ADHD friends that shouldn’t even have a drivers license. I think a serious self-check needs to be done if you want to fly. Having ADHD is challenging in 2 dimensions. Adding a third might be disastrous for others, let alone you.

As for your memory loss… if you can pass the written and flight exams then you will have proved to your yourself and flight instructors that you can memorize a lot of fun material!