# Can I pilot a plane while having a chronic mental health condition?

I want to claim to have flown, it is a dream of mine.

My medical condition disqualifies me from being a pilot. I have one of the following ADHD/OCD/depression/mania/bipolar. Is there a way I can fly as a copilot without a pilot's license?

I want something preferably cheap and not a simulator.

• Have you considered ultralights? – GdD Jun 24 '16 at 12:25
• @GdD do you have experience with such. Although they don't require a license I almost feel there is bigger risk on ultralights because there is nobody there to try and take over. We they even let me fly one to begin with? I am living in NC and have found the following piedmontaerosports.com – William Jun 24 '16 at 12:30
• I am not an ultralight pilot, but if I was in a position where I couldn't get a medical I would consider them. They are the cheapest powered option available by far. They are inherently less safe I think, but no flying is risk free. The EAA has a page you may want to read: eaa.org/en/eaa/aviation-communities-and-interests/… – GdD Jun 24 '16 at 12:37
• Are you asking specifically about flying with a licensed pilot, or about flying an airplane solo? – GdD Jun 24 '16 at 13:23
• @TylerDurden Second to last question here: usua.org/faq.htm#Q9 You don't actually need a license for part 103 ultralights. – Jay Carr Jun 24 '16 at 23:50

Actual costs for this range from \$75 to over \$300 depending on the type of aircraft you are going to fly. Hourly rates for a Cessna 152 average around \$90 an hour, to a 172 up to \$150 an hour, and more sleek aircraft like a Cirrus SR-22 at \$300 per hour or more. Instructor rates go from \$35 per hour to \$65 per hour (typically) depending on the type of instruction. Another option is to find a pilot who wants to build hours and go flying. They may let you fly the airplane around a little bit, but you'll most likely be flying right seat and probably won't let you do the more complicated phases of flight like take-off/landing and operations in controlled airspace. If you find a pilot willing to do this then you can share costs (split down the middle). By the way don't get discouraged about your medical condition if you really want to fly. There are also a few options there too. First, you could go through the rather lengthy process with the FAA to have your case reviewed and if possible issued a special issuance medical certificate. Some of what you list are automatically disqualifying depending on the medications you may take, but the AOPA has a good read on mental health and getting medicals issued. Second, you could get a sport pilot license, which also does not require a medical (just a drivers license). There may be hiccups with your conditions here too, so its best to talk to an AME or flight instructor before getting too deep. Let me answer your specific question: Is there a way I can fly with a copilot without a pilot's license? I take this to mean that the "copilot" is a non-pilot rated passenger. Unless you are a certificated pilot, then no. A "co-pilot" must be just that, a pilot. Otherwise they are just a passenger sitting in the front seat. Since that person is a passenger, you must be a fully licensed pilot to fly with them (students cannot take passengers). If the copilot is a pilot rated individual, then yes, you can go flying with them (provided it is not a Part 135 flight). That person must be rated for the aircraft that you are flying and must meet currency requirements to carry passengers (you). You as a passenger are allowed to manipulate the controls under the supervision of the pilot provided the pilot is pilot in command and unless the pilot is a CFI, they are not providing instruction. • I do find this interesting. Why is it okay for me to drive a car but not fly by default? My only assumption is it has to do with 9/11 although I am just guessing. – William Jun 24 '16 at 12:52 • No, not really. The effects of your medications become larger issues in the air. In a car, you can pull over, in an airplane, you can't. Also altitude can exacerbate side-effects due to reduced oxygen in the blood. Mix that in with the high likelyhood of death if incapacitated, you need to go through more rigorous hurdles to fly over driving. Crashes like Germanwings 9525 also highlighted the dangers of individuals with severe depression in the cockpit... – Ron Beyer Jun 24 '16 at 13:10 • That is fair although on the highway/interstate you can't really pull over either. The oxygen and incapacitated points are good points though. – William Jun 24 '16 at 13:17 • You can stop a moving vehicle if need be, even in a lane of travel (be it more dangerous) or continue a couple minutes to the next exit. An airplane is different, even with an airport directly below you it may take you 30+ minutes to get the aircraft down on the ground, in a critical phase of flight where you need the most skills/abilities. – Ron Beyer Jun 24 '16 at 13:23 • you did indeed, and I upvoted you for this! – Federico Jun 24 '16 at 15:02 Take lessons with a CFI (Certified Flight Instructor). • Do you have costs or is that against the rules. – William Jun 24 '16 at 10:16 • @William Costs vary so wildly based on location, type of aircraft, exact program details, etc... It would be out of scope to really cover it here. Shopping around locally will give you a better idea. – Thebluefish Jun 24 '16 at 14:25 • If you are going to look into taking lessons then look into joining a flying club. You may reduce your costs considerably. My club costs \$25/mo. I have access to several planes. I fly the Piper Arrow for \$136/hr with fuel. I get a credit card with the plane so I can fill it up wherever I go. The 172 (great training plane) costs \$80/hr. Most of the instructors approved by the club charge \$40/hour. Even Instrument instructors. You wont find those prices at the general Flying School. A school near me charges$160/hour for a 172 whether you have the instructor, or not. – ScottinTexas Jun 24 '16 at 19:59