I am a 24 year old who has always aspired to become a pilot. I've decided to eventually get a private pilot's license so I can fly just for fun. However, a few months ago I was diagnosed with brain tumor which I had removed. There were no complications, I have never had any seizures, I'm not epileptic, etc. As far as I am concerned (and my doctors as well), I am now in perfect health.

With this in mind, is it still possible for me to obtain a PPL?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ With some aircraft types,I'd say that brain surgery is a pre-requisite! Seriously, good luck. You need a medical anyway and the examining doctor will make that decision or take it higher for you. My advice is to get the medical done first; you need it to solo anyway. I'm sure it will be fine. $\endgroup$
    – Simon
    Oct 2, 2014 at 7:47
  • $\begingroup$ Update : I have my Class 1 with an OML restriction. But this restriction may be removed 3 years after the surgery if no complications occur. And I had my CPL(A) by the way :) $\endgroup$ Dec 14, 2019 at 18:20

3 Answers 3


According to AOPA's medical guru on their discussion board (members only, or I would link to an example) it is possible to get a medical certificate following a tumor removal but only after a 5-year wait and a battery of tests.

But having said that, medical issues are very individual and the FAA's AME guidance suggests that one year is enough in some cases. In the end the only way to get a definite answer is to find a good AME who can review your case in detail and advise you. Note that standard advice is to schedule a consultation first, rather than go straight for the actual flight medical.

Disclaimer: I'm not a doctor or AME and I have no idea how brains work :-)

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for this! Looking at that FAA page you linked, it would seem that I could be considered "favorably" and have to wait only one year. $\endgroup$ Oct 2, 2014 at 15:16
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ @Deusdies I hope so, but please make sure that you get a consultation first. If you get an actual medical test then it can only end in a pass or fail, and a fail will complicate all your future tests. It's much better to get everything lined up properly with your AME and then do it. $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Oct 4, 2014 at 13:23

If you are in the United States and you have never been denied an FAA medical certificate or had your medical revoked and you have a driver's license, then you can fly as a sport pilot in light sport aircraft. There are some limitations compared to a PPL, the major ones being that you are limited to one passenger and daytime VFR operations.

If you decide to later move up to a PPL, then you will have to get a medical. There is some risk, though. If you attempt to get a medical and are denied, you will also lose your sport pilot priviliges.

  • 8
    $\begingroup$ Keep in mind the drivers license lets you self-certify yourself as medically able to fly (it is not a blanket pass to fly). If you are aware of an issue that would preclude your ability to obtain an FAA medical or otherwise be unsafe to fly, you cannot self-certify regardless if you haven't applied and failed a medical exam. You are held to the same standards you just have the ability to be the certifier rather than an AME. Advising someone to be a sport pilot to avoid taking and failing a 3rd class exam is bad advice. $\endgroup$
    – casey
    Oct 2, 2014 at 12:09
  • $\begingroup$ My reading of Part 61 is that the light-sport medical requirements are a little more strict than this. Specifically, if you have ever applied for a medical certificate, then you need to be issued a medical certificate before you meet the medical requirements for light-sport aircraft. This means that if you're flying LSAs using a driver's license to meet the medical requirement, and you apply for a medical certificate, the act of applying causes you to be ineligible until your application is accepted. $\endgroup$ Oct 8, 2018 at 0:04

I have a PPL license and I was on the way to obtain a CPL license when I had a seizure.
After many tests it came out that I had a cavernous angioma in my brain on the left temporal lobe anterior. It had bleed outside causing the seizure. After removal of the cavernoma with brain incision, I had no other seizures and no complications and I went to see the AME. I had lots of EEGs, MRIs and the AMEs decision is giving back my Class I certificate for at least 1 year after the surgery. Neurology is decreasing the medication now and after medication is finished I will have few other checks. If everything goes OK, I will have my Class I medical license back with an OML restriction (most probably).

This may give you lots of information about your situation : https://www.icao.int/publications/Documents/8984_cons_en.pdf

I hope this helps and don't give up. :)

Note : I have my Class 1 with OML and CPL(A) now.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .