Sunday, May 31, 2009

Update on My Status - Grounded

If anyone is still subscribed to this blog, you've obviously noticed that I haven't posted in a very long time. I'm here today to describe my situation in full.

I've been sidelined from flying because I occasionally suffer from depression. There have been a couple of instances in my life in which I have been pretty adversely affected by circumstances in my life, to the point where I have had to seek help. Unfortunately, I've gone through both of these situations during my flying career (I've been flying for about 6 years). Bad timing, huh?

The first time I went through a situation where I sought help from counselors, and I had to get on medication for a few months. I was on an anti-depressant which disqualified me from flying. I did however eventually get off the medication and recovered from my depression. Regardless, I had to report in when I went to get my next medical, and my application was deferred to Oklahoma City and I had to wait on there decision on whether they would give me a special issuance (SI).

Luckily, it did happen, and they did give me medical clearance on an SI. It was a huge relief. For the last 2 years, I've been flying on an SI 2nd Class medical. However, due to some other personal issues in my life, all starting around November of 08', I suffered from some depression again. I was able to fight it off all up until around January of 09'. Then I just had to get some help again. I spoke with a couple of therapists, and tried a couple more anti-depressants.

The bad thing is that this time, the anti-depressants didn't even really help me out, and it turns out, that after I stopped taking them, I ended up feeling a lot better. Crazy how it worked out, but this time the anti-depressants, actually made me feel a little worse. So I didn't even need them at all. I've been off of them completely for around 3 months now, and it is killing me being away from flying. The irony being that I'm grounded now for something that didn't even help me, and this whole dilemma may not even have to exist.

I feel good enough to return to flying right now, but I've got a little bit of an issue to deal with now. The FAA rule is that you have to be off of medication for 3 months, be evaluated by a physician, then the FAA medical staff decides whether you are a safe enough risk to be certified again.

Let me state for the record that I am a down to earth person, and I'm NOT CRAZY. I should be a perfectly acceptable risk for flight to the FAA. I just went through a couple of difficult life situations and sought help. I hope I'm not punished for it by never being able to fly again.

So now, I'm getting ready to contact the FAA to determine what it is I need to do to get my wings back. I know I'll have no trouble getting my physicians writing any form of letter for me stating that I am fine. I guess my only concern is that this is the 2nd time I've been grounded for depression. I hope they don't look at my history and determine that I CONSTANTLY suffer from depression because I don't. There have just been about 2 occasions in my life in which I have suffered. It's not chronic or ongoing, and except for these 2 times. When I'm free from depression (which is 99% of the time) I am a damn good and safe pilot. Both times I've suffered from symptoms of depression, I voluntarily grounded myself. That should speak for itself. I do not fly, unless I am perfectly physically and mentally capable. Period.

So anyway, that's where I'm at. I'm grounded and ready to get back in the skies. It kills me whenever a plane goes over my apartment, or any time I pass by the airports, it is torture. So for the time being, this blog went from being about flight training tips, to a blog about a guy trying to get is wings back. I hope you will all wish me luck and I will post back with any new developments. Until then, treasure every moment you take to the skies, because you never know when something could happen to take your wings away.


P.S. To the man in Indy who contacted me about flight lessons, I'd be happy to work with you in the future if I get my wings back.


Gary said...


Good to see you back online posting. It takes real stones to put it all out there for others to read, I respect you for that, it may help others facing the same situation.

I look forward to your informative posts and reading about you climbing back in the left seat.

I self grounded in April due to surgery and should be ready for my flight physical and climbing back in the Archer in July. I really does suck not being able to fly.

Hang in there!


Brandon said...

Thanks Gary


Jeffrey Synk said...


I hope your situation improves and that you are back in the air soon. You have to take care of yourself first.

Even though you are "temporarily" grounded, you have a ton of experiences that I'm sure you can share through your blog and have a positive impact on flying regardless.

I hope to see your inputs soon!

Best wishes,


Transplanted Pilot said...

Sorry about your situation. been there and done that but I was not on meds for over a year. I was diagnosed with severe depression for years and once off the meds I was right as rain, and the FAA saw that and issued me with no problem. I basically am one who needed therapy not meds and that I was so insistant on not taking meds while they increased them, after I had a break-down and the prescribed MORE, I stopped and sure enough all kicked in fine. I recommend therapy as much as needed and then as a last resort to medicate. My depression deepens with meds and demineshes with talk therapy (blowing off steam).

Brandon said...

Transplanted Pilot,

Thanks for the comments. It's encouraging to hear that the FAA issued you once you were off the meds. I think your situation is similar to mine. The last time I was on medication, I seriously think it made me worse rather than better. Therapy is what helped me more than any stupid medication. In fact, when I ceased the meds this last time, I felt much better in a couple days. It's not that I think I've got something wrong with me, but it was just some difficult things that I was going through that I had to work my way through. I hope the FAA sees it that way also. The only thing that worries me is that this has been my 2nd bout with all this.

I haven't really looked into getting back into flying lately, mainly due to financial reasons, but I'm getting ready to contact someone with AOPA about advice on how to go about it. Plus, my CFI expires in 04/10, so I need to get on it. It's inspiring to read your blog after what you've been through. Good luck with your flying and let me know if you have any questions about anything.


CFI Academy said...

Hey Brandon,
I have been visiting your blog every now and then, and am really looking forward to chatting with you sometime. It's too bad you are still grounded. Get a hold of me as soon as you can. I am a flight instructor here in CA and teach primary CFIs.

Centenial College said...

Brandon, my heart sympathies with you! Life will not wait for any one,it is going on.... and on.... and on.Please post something interesting we are all looking forward to read!
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Mark said...

It is sad to hear that you are not able to fly. It's been almost a year now since this post. I hope that you have since regained your wings.

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Helicopter Flights Sydney said...

Good luck with getting back in the air, sometimes it can be a long process but with enough persistence I'm sure you will get there.

what is needed to be a pilot said...

keep your chin up. Best wishes and god bless you