Safety: Gaming the Aviation Medicine System

Gaming The System can be defined as using rules and procedures designed to protect a system, to instead manipulate it for a desired outcome.  Lying, withholding information, claiming ignorance, macho, anti-authority, and entitlement all play a role in this.

In this month’s safety section, we'll take a look at Gaming the Aviation Medicine System and suggest a few easy solutions that will keep you alive to sneeze another day.

October 2023 Safety Topic of the Month: Gaming the Aviation Medicine System

Welcome to the Safety Section of the Flying Clubs Newsletter, Club Connector!

Each month we provide resources for flying club safety officers so that they can keep their clubs informed and safe.   We also include links to slides that we use for our own club meetings, so that you always have a topic for your club’s next safety meeting.  Along with the slides, we often provide links to relevant articles, videos, and other media that you may also find useful.

Alright then, let’s get on with this month’s safety topic!

Topic of the Month Slides: Gaming the Aviation Medicine System


Studies of GA accidents found that a significant number (some 42%) of post-mortem examinations following pilot fatalities detected the presence of pre-existing medical conditions, prescription drugs and/or over-the-counter medications.  A number of cases revealed recreational drug usage.  Of great concern is the fact that some pilots do not disclose a complete medical history and medication inventory, making it impossible for medical examiners to determine fitness to fly. 

Learning Points:

  • During the medical certification process, disclose and discuss all medical history, conditions, symptoms, prescription, and OTC drug use.
  • Be aware of the effect of individual drugs and the consequences of combining drugs.
  • Always perform a fitness-to-fly self-assessment—PAvE and IMSAFE—before every flight, not just once a day.
  • BasicMed: We’ll unravel some of common misunderstands about BasicMed:
    • Pilots operating under BasicMed must realize that losing a medical certificate upon which BasicMed is based will also void BasicMed authorization.
    • Expiration of a valid base medical certificate does not affect BasicMed Authorization.
    • A BasicMed Comprehensive Medical Examination is required every 4-years (to the day) and a recurring on-line course every 2-years (to the month).
  • If you have any questions about aerospace medicine and your particular situation, get expert advice from AOPA’s Medical Group before you talk with the FAA or your AME.
  • FAA’s Office of Aerospace Medicine provides medical certification guidance and medical information to pilots.


FAA Pilot Information on Aeromedical Certification:


FAA Pilot Information on BasicMed:




AOPA Medical Resources:


FAA Pilot Minute series:


FAA Safety Briefing, Jan/Beb 2022 Edition: Aerospace Medicine and You:


Other Safety Resources:

Here is a quick reminder of just some of the resources available to all pilots:


The FAASTeam website is the portal to a vast array of courses, videos, links, and much more.  Remember that WINGS not only encompasses “knowledge” activities, but also flight activities.  Use the various search options to narrow done, to, say flight activities for a basic phase of WINGS and you’ll be able to find a syllabus and often a worksheet for each flight activity.

Don’t forget to regularly visit these FAA gems:

Pilot Minute

57 Seconds To Safer Flying

FAA Safety Briefing Magazine

From the Flight Deck


AOPA Air Safety Institute:

AOPA’s own Air Safety Institute, which by the way, is funded by the AOPA Foundation just like the Flying Clubs Initiative, is packed with amazing content, including exceptional videos, podcasts, accident analysis, online courses, recorded webinars and more.  Completing these activities may also earn WINGS credits.  Of particular interest to flying club safety officers is the recently updated Safety to Go section.  There, you can download a selection of topics, each coming with PowerPoint slides and speaker’s notes!

WINGS for Clubs:

If you are interested in using the FAASTeam WINGS program with your flying club, feel free to contact Steve, who is a Lead Representative and WINGSPro, and used the program in his club.  More on WINGS for Clubs can be found here in Flying Clubs Radio Episode 8 and the May 2020 Question of the Month.


Stephen Bateman
Contributor, You Can Fly Program
Steve retired from AOPA in April 2024, but continues to contribute to You Can Fly programs. Contact Steve at [email protected]

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