Physical Fitness and Flight.

So in my experience, the more in shape I am, the better I feel when I fly. Even air sickness sometimes seems to be less when I’m in better shape. Being in the Marine Corps, they obviously Force us to be in shape. But I wonder, do Airlines and civilians have standards that they inforce? how often do you see grossly obese pilots or crew? And do you think that physical fitness plays a big enough role in aviation that there should be standards?


You’re not going to see an overly-obese crew. They want you to look and feel your best. Therefore, you will need to have a current FAA first-class medical certificate, which is obtained through good health. It definitely plays a big role because passengers don’t admire out of shape, fat guys flying the plane.


No standard as far as I’m aware, beside what is needed to obtain and maintain a class 1 or 2 medical.

Air sickness or motion sickness can be worked through, and once you reset your inner ear it usually ceases to become an issue.

Commercial flying is not labor intensive, but mentally intensive. Hence the reason for seeing members of the flight deck sometimes packing on a few extra pounds


Yeah but you can be huge and still pass the medical. I work with a Part 121 pilot that’s nearly 300 lbs. Career guy. As long as you can pass the medical AND pass your 6-moth flight review, you’re good.

So is there anything you actually need to train yourself for in medical? Or is it just a basic flight physical?

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I realize that. My first officer on my NK flight was obese, but only to a certain extent. Don’t expect a 600 pound man to be flying though.

I don’t really think an airline can force its pilots to exercise on a regular basis. It would be a good idea because exercise is always good. If a person chooses not to exercise, especially when their job requires them to sit for hours on end(not heathy). It would only lead to Heath problems for that person. It would only help people if if they did exercise on a daily basis.

Basic flight physical, no training needed. Basic vision, hearing, physiological standards, ect.

That being said, diabetes can be a DQ for a class 1. So in that way, being heavier could be a DQ. But it would be the diabetes, not the weight itself.

I don’t expect a 600 pound person to be doing anything


Pilots, in general, aren’t broadly admired anymore. Especially compared to the 60’s and 70’s. Being a commercial pilot, in the US in the present day, is closer to being a bus driver. That’s mostly due to how safe it is.

Hmmm… I don’t see kids asking to take pictures of the steering wheel when they get off at their stop 🤔


I didn’t say they aren’t admired, just not as broadly in the general public as they once were

You have to pass a first class ohysical to be allowed to fly as an airline transport pilot. While tmit does nothave any exercise requirements or BMI specification you do neee to be fit to fly and being in shape will help out significantly.

Just went through a Cogniscreen for my first class medical for the FAA (passed). There actually is a higher level cognitive function to receive the 1st class but most dont have to do that test if they werent diagnosed with anything as a kid. As I was told by the evaluator mainline ATPs represent the above average cognitive people and are such any cognitive screning is compared to them and not to the general population.

Fascinating! I only have a 3rd class med so I haven’t had to go through the extra rigamarole yet. If I could do it again, I would have gone ahead with the 1st class initially and ride the privladges out, but hindsight is 20/20, yadda yadda.

Follow up, what is the congiscreen? I haven’t heard of that before

I was diagnosed as ADHD as a kid (by pediatrician not psychologist) so to do s risk assessment I had to do a CogniScreen to evaluate cognitive function. They compared it to the mainline pilots who all have higher cognitive ability due to being in a high cognituve function enviornment. It tests memory, multi tasking, attention, and reasoning.

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I guess I will have to go through the same thing. I use to take medicine for it as a kid, but I don’t need it anymore. Hope everything goes well when I take the test…

It is quite the process but worth it. My generation (1990s-2005) gets a little more off the hook as diagnosis was done by pediatricians from data points by teachers and not by psychologists with tests. If you pass the tests with no or negligible symptoms the FAA basically disregards the diagnosis if you were diagnosed during that error due to misdiagnosis. If you were confirmed to have it from testing then it would be hard to get rid of that and a special issuance is guaranteed. I was the aforementioned with misdiagnosis. The psychologist AME told me that this labels the previous diagnosis as misdiagnosis.

If you are going for a first class medical your results will be compared to other first class medical airmen. My AME psychologist told me that these guys are the higher cognitive functioning guys so you will be compared to above average scores. So passing all the tests just looks a lot better for you. I will say the whole testing is expensive. The whole process to get my 1st class is costing my $6000 so you have to be sure you are financial stable if you know it will be an issue.


Well I have had problems in those areas before in school because I’d get done sooner than everyone else. It would get boring the last 20-30 minutes of class. Anyways it may or may not be a misdiagnosis since I was born in 1998.

Isn’t a first class medical exam necessary for an ATP licence?