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ATP and Type 1 Diabetes

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Well-known member
May 22, 2003
My nephew is very interested in becoming a pilot. I will not destroy his dream by telling him to look at this board. He has had Type 1 (juvenile) diabetes since he was 7 (he is now 15). He has been told that he can not get a commercial license. Is this true?


Fly Safe.

If your nephew can be a commercial pilot or not hinges on if he takes insulin. I am afraid if he takes insulin all he can get is a 3rd class. To get your commercial pilots license you must be able to obtain a 2nd class medical. Even getting a 3rd class medical while being insulin dependent is a ton of work but can be done. Below I have cut and pasted some quotes from the FAA's web site. In addition the links to the documents are also provided.

Best wishes to your nephew!


"The FAA has established a policy that permits the special issuance medical certification of insulin-treated applicants for third-class medical certification. Consideration will be given only to those individuals who have been clinically stable on their current treatment regimen for a period of 6 months or more. Consideration is not being given for first- or second-class certification. Individuals certificated under this policy will be required to provide substantial "​

"Applicants with a diagnosis of diabetes mellitus controlled by diet alone are considered eligible for all classes of medical certificates under the medical standards, provided they have no evidence of associated disqualifying cardiovascular, neurological, renal, or ophthalmological disease. Specialized examinations need not be performed unless indicated by history or clinical findings. The Examiner must document these determinations on FAA Form 8500-8."


I know a former Captain who became a type 1 diabetic in his early 40's. It was a huge surprise... the endocrinologist who treated him said you can get type 1 diabetes up until you are age 45.

He tried eating nothing but broccoli and steak for two months to see if he could control his blood sugar levels by diet alone. Unfortunately, he could not control his blood sugar level by diet alone and had to take insulin. It was tough to take his last flight, meant to be at age 60, at 42.

Unfortunately, if you are an insulin dependent diabetic, the best you can do is a third class medical. My friend received one through the very diligent efforts of ALPA Medical.

He is now putting his years of knowledge and skill to work as an instructor for a major airline.

I understand other countries have different rules towards type 1 diabetes. I believe you can fly transport category aircraft in Canada if you are a type 1 diabetic.

Good luck.
check out the new sport pilot rules - medical portion only requires a driver's license to be legal. it's not commercial flying, but he can still fly under those rules. limited to (approximately - don't have the exact numbers) 120kts, 1300lbs max weight, day/vfr i think, also only 2 seats in the plane.
NJAowner said:
My nephew is very interested in becoming a pilot. I will not destroy his dream by telling him to look at this board.

LOL. This message board would have scared the hell out of me if I read it before I started flying. Good idea to steer him away from it. BTW, I wish him luck in aviation endeavor.

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