A while back, I came up with a little idea to launch a side project to combine two of the most critical subjects in my life; aviation and personal health. Well, I finally got around to it.
Times are tough. We just endured the most significant challenge in our industry's history, and now airports across the globe are seeing unprecedented demand as people return to the skies. It felt like airlines were handing out early retirements one moment, and the following entire communities were losing air service to meet staffing limitations.
Airlines will not forget to remind you about the pilot shortage. However, the barrier to entry in becoming a pilot is higher than ever before. The cost of training, let alone the time investment required to be hired by an airline, rivals that of a high-level M.B.A. program. Once hired, pilots must, in an industry filled with financial failure and consolidation, navigate endless unpredictability to yield an R.O.I. that justifies the investment.
Further complicating the situation paradox underlying the industry, particularly the pilot community. Pilots are held to strict health standards. However, FAA regulations allow minimal leeway for professional help. Just take a look at the FAA DNE (Do Not Issue) List provided to medical examiners responsible for certifying a pilot's airworthiness:
Psychiatric or Psychotropic medications (even when used for something other than a mental health condition) including but not limited to:
antidepressants (certain SSRIs may be allowed - see SSRI policy)
antianxiety drugs - e.g., alprazolam (Xanax)
attention deficit disorder (ADD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medications
This is just the list for therapeutic purposes - the complete list is much longer and can be found here. Unfortunately, we can understand the need for such standards given unfortunate events in the past. Aviation regulations are "written in blood," and there have been multiple instances of rogue pilots taking innocent lives due to circumstances within their own.
I'm not sure where this blog will go. I find the best things in life by starting with a general direction and figuring it out as I go (good thing I'm not a pilot). I have no idea how or when I'll post, but I value quality over quantity. If I find related content along the way, I will undoubtedly share it. This will not be a blog with hot takes and polarizing views. I am not here to tell you modern medicine is the answer; everyone has what works for them. You wouldn't be reading this right now if there were a one-size-fits-all universal approach. But I want to help.
At least for now, I don't want to identify myself specifically. This is more of an undercover personal mission, not covert. People reading this blog know who I am and what I am doing (sup?). I don't mind sharing that I work in the field of aviation in the New York City area. I grew up near the airport in Worcester, MA, and have always been passionate about aviation. I travel whenever possible, trying to find a healthy mix of cool places and planes I can experience.
I knew for a long time aviation would take me to unique places, both personally and professionally. What I did not realize until I took a psychology elective second semester of my junior year of college was the fascination I would develop with psych and the importance of mental health. While I hold no degrees in psychology, I continue to expand my knowledge, reading countless books and discussing with people close to me that do.
This is not to say I have it all figured out. Part of the purpose of this blog is to provide me with another outlet outside of work, as I enjoy writing and helping others. So hang with me as I improve my journalistic skills :)