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Trying to settle a debate (color blindness)

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Well-known member
Mar 3, 2006
Can one that is color blind fly for the military (any branch)? I was always under the impression that one could not even with a SODA or letter of evidence.
Not in the Navy and not with my airline. Colors are used for different parameters on the glass cockpit displays. You also need to be able to tell navigation lights apart at night when flying formation. They give me a color blindness test in both each year. It has numbers with different colors hidden inside a field of color. You have to get at least 11 out of 13 correct.
From what I remember in college many years ago, I thought color blindness problems were due to a congenital genetic defect unless normal vision was acted upon by an outside influence, i.e. viagra causing the patient to see blue hues or color?
Any other thoughts or info?
Not in the A.F.
From my AF experience...not quite true. I always thought that you couldn't have any color blindness, but when I was the DO I was educated by the flight surgeons. I know of two pilots in my squadron who have some level of color blindness. Whenever they move to a new airframe, they have to take a test in the sim to ensure that they can tell the difference between the colors on the appropriate displays. The test was administered by a squadron EP or IP and then the waiver authority was the squadron Commander. It is actually pretty low level stuff.

So back to epic...depending on the severity of the color issues, it may be waiverable by the commanding officer.
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Can't speak of current requirements. But, 20 or so years ago the Navy used the Farnsworth Lantern for pilot color vision testing. A Farnsworth Lantern color test can usually be passed by someone with a mild color vision deficiency who has problems with the Ishihara color plate test. Incidently, 99% of doctors administer the color plate test incorrectly by using fluorescent lighting to illuminate the plates. It makes a world of difference when you take the test in accordance with the lighting requirements spelled out on the instruction page of the color plate book. Basicly, the instructions are to administer the test in natural sunlight or under an incandescent light with a blue filter.
It is the level of color blindness/deficiency. Transpac has it spot on!
Navy will take you if you pass the Lantern test. With the AF, you MUST pass the Ishihara or no dice!
The Red/Green color blindness could cause some problems, especially during airdrop or on a RADAR scope. Don't loose hope though. I know of a few guys flying on waivers despite disqualifying medical tests.

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