Fighting For Pilots' Mental Health

The CNN crew has been here and gone. The story has aired an people know my name. I have been getting a variety of comments mostly positive with a few negative. I had one person post a comment on my blog telling me to stay out of the cockpit. However, this person posted it anonymously. I feel if I was able to show my face on national TV that anyone who wants to make negative comments should at least have the courtesy to reveal their identity.

There have been several comments posted on the CNN website below the artical. I have responded to some of them. For the person who called me a liberal I say it really does not matter, but for the record I am conservative. I have actually given presentations at TEA Party Rallies and was encouraged by some TEA Party Organizers to run for Congress.
There is a person on CNN’s website with the user name saniflush. Yes that is actually me posting comments on I take no offense at you doubting the validity of my identity on However, that picture of my is one of my wife’s favorites. It is the first picture she saw of me before we met and she claims it helped her fall in love with me. Come on, for my please tell me you like the picture.
I was contacted today by a representative of the show Inside Edition. Jeanmarie and I will be interviewed for Inside Edition tomorrow and it should be airing as early as Monday. I do not know where all this is heading. Things are moving fast with the attention from CNN. I just hope that what ever happens that I can reach out to people who feel they are alone and let them know there is hope in the world. Do not give up on the joys life can bring.
Keep an eye on the sky,
Collin Hughes
Prozac Pilot

9 Responses

  1. OK, Collin it is me saniflush. Now that I am on your blog and can therefore expand your picture I like it. But before on the CNN site it was so small only a mother, your wife, or a philatelist could love it.

    I am glad on this blog you referred to yourself as a conservative rather than the "arch conservative" you used on CNN. I detest all such labels as inhibiting dialogue, but even more "arch" most anything.


  2. Don't let the negative comments stand in your way. You did an extremely brave thing, and in the end I am certain you will be victorious.

  3. Your story highlights the fact that there is still a HUGE stigma attached to mental health or mental illness, whichever way you look at it. There are scores of people in this world who function perfectly well while taking antidepressants. Yet, it is not information they readily share with employers, etc. Diabetes is not viewed as a person's flaw, yet depression is viewed by others very differently. Even health insurance dictates less coverage for mental health issues. Time to turn things around. Thanks for helping.

  4. Mr. Hughes,

    First and foremost, let me say thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! I was SO encouraged when I heard of the new FAA regulations. Last summer, I was planning on attending the Delta Connection Academy in Florida. I was in a "rut" with my current career (Information Technology), and when I saw an ad on a website about becoming a commercial pilot, I immediately jumped at the chance. Little did i know what lied ahead.

    I excitedly told my psychologist at my regular session. And though she was glad I'd found something that I knew I'd love doing, she cautioned me that my being on anti-depressant medication could pose as a problem. That evening, I emailed the account rep at DCA and he directed me to the FAA site that had the (then-current) regulations. The language I viewed on their site felt, in my opinion, to be savage, mostly because I realized that it was effectively the end of my aspiration of flying. I was crushed, angry, and confused. I wrote to the FAA, who then told me that it's Congress that passed the law. I wrote my Congressmen, but I didn't receive any personal reply. So I gave up my dream of flying.

    When my mom told me about her hearing "something on the news about the FAA changing their regulations on depression," I sprung back to life. I don't know what my course of action will be; I'll probably wait it out and see how this plays out. But I WILL be writing the FAA and (once again) my Congressmen urging them to expand their 'approved medications' to include other anti-depressants, such as Effexor XR and Seroquel XR, both of which I currently take.

    I truly believe this is the start of something great for those of us who have a deep love of flying but are kept at bay due to an uninformed government on exactly what 'mental illness' is all about. And I want to be right there in the thick of it, speaking to whoever I need to speak to, to let the government and the FAA know that there are more of us out there who love aviation, and that we're normal, stable individuals who deserve the chance to make our dreams a reality.

    So kudos to you, Mr. Hughes. You've started a great thing. I'll stand by your side and support you with great fervor and enthusiasm.

  5. As one who is tapering off of psych meds due to horrific side effects, I have very mixed emotions about this issue.

    While there is no doubt that many people with a psych med history have experienced discrimination, I see this issue as more than just about discrimination.

    There drugs have nasty side effects that could greatly impact flying. They certainly affected my driving although until I started tapering, I didn't realize that was happening.

    What I would have a problem with is if pilots are allowed to fly on other meds that also have nasty side effects as some statins do for example. That would be definite discrimination if that were the case.

    As far as making pilots wait a year, I am not sure how useful that will be since many of these drugs side effects take longer than a year to show up. Personally, I think making pilots wait 6 months is a lot more reasonable with very close monitoring.

    I just hope that whoever is doing the monitoring truly does understand how these drugs work. If you get someone who thinks that psych meds have no side effects like many of us non pilots have gotten, that isn't good.

    But if you get someone who will ground a pilot for having a dry mouth, that extreme is bad also.

    I wish you all the luck in the world in being able to resume flying.


  6. Mr. Fletcher,

    Thank you for visiting my blog and for your comments. I wanted to leave your post on here so that my blog will be fair of all views that are within reason.

    You asked if medications work. I can tell you what they have done for me. The dark feelings of depression are kept at bay. I can focus better on details. I have more energy and a greater love for life.

    I watched your video. I do not know who made this nor do I know the creators' intentions. I can see that it is very one sided. I know what being on medications have done for me.

    Additionally, the FAA did not make this decision lightly. A pilot must be stable on his or her meds for at least one year before being considered eligible to fly.

    Thank you again for visiting my blog.

    Keep an eye on the sky.

    Collin Hughes
    The Prozac Pilot

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