Fighting For Pilots' Mental Health

Since my interview with CNN I have had people tell me I should write a book. I have been going though my mind over and over as to what I would actually write about. I have been told I have had an interesting life and it would be something that many people would find appealing. I have never considered myself an interesting person. I have done some things in my life that not many people have done. For example, I rode bulls for eighteen years. Additionally, I am now an airline pilot. My guess is that there are not many people who have done both of these things.

I have actually started this book. I have one whole chapter almost done. I came up with what I think is a catchy title, “The Prozac Pilot, My Flight From the Darkness Within.”

When I made my video a few years ago I had no idea that it would get the attention that it has. I did hope to possibly help others when I started this blog. But I did not fathom that I would get world wide readership with people from all over writing to me asking for assistance. 

Even after all of this attention it is still not easy to talk about mental health issues in public. There is still a stigma that surrounds people who suffer from depression. Yes the FAA has approved four different antidepressants for use by pilots. However, this is still not a topic that many people are comfortable talking about. My guess is that there are still pilots who are on medications that have not come forward and are keeping their ailment a secret. 

Part of the reason that many people who are medications may not come forward is the one year waiting period to reapply for their medical. Being grounded for a minimum of one year for a professional pilot can be financially devastating. Also, when a pilot reapplies for his or her medical after the waiting period he or she is not assured that his or her medical will be reinstated.

For nonprofessional pilots the options may be opening up soon. There is currently legislation in congress that would allow smaller aircraft, including twin engine pistons to be flown without a medical certificate. There is one thing to keep in mind regarding this possible new ruling. I am guessing that this will be similar to the medical qualifications for Light Sport Pilots. Light Sport Pilots are not required to hold a current medical. However,  Light Sport Pilots must ground themselves if they know of any medical reason that would make them unsafe. Additionally, a person who has been denied a medical does not qualify for a Light Sport certificate. 

I am looking forward to see what happens with this legislation that is in congress now. Currently, there are some limitations that I feel need to be removed from the bill. Pilots without medicals will be limited to VFR flights only. I feel that if a person is instrument qualified there should be no reason that they should not be allowed to fly under instrument flight rules. I think this is an area that we should contact our elected officials and make it known that these types of limitations should be lifted.

It seems as if I have drifted from my original topic of this post about me writing a book. I guess I am going with what my sweet wife told me to do when I told her I had writer’s block today. She told me to start free writing and things will come to me. Therefore, I am on here just typing away as things come to my mind.

Much has happened since I made that silly video back in 2008. I have been without a medical and now have it back. I have done some flight instruction and sold airplanes. I am now flying for an airline. I even had a period of selling insurance when I thought I would never have an FAA medical again.

Since the original CNN interview I have received emails from around the world. Some of these emails are from people expressing thanks for me speaking out. Other emails are from people asking questions regarding the current regulations. I have been able to offer words of encouragement to some people wanting to get into aviation. I enjoy being able to help in any way I can. Hopefully, if I can get rid of this writer’s block so I can write a book that will help others. 

Well, enough free writing for now.

Keep an eye on the sky!

Collin W. Hughes

The Prozac Pilot

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