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[IP] Diabetic Pilot Overjoyed To Fly Again
This is old - but thought you might enjoy it.
Pilot "Overjoyed" to Fly Again
Diabetic Pilot "Overjoyed" to Fly Again
New Rule Returns Medical Certificate
By Mike Wayda
He has the distinction of being described as "The happiest man in Oklahoma"
in a local newspaper story reporting on his return to flying after a 13-year
hiatus enforced by the onset of diabetes mellitus.
Michael Bilcik, from Yukon, Okla., says he is indeed happy to be once again
medically qualified to solo because of a new policy implemented in December
1996 that permits diabetics to apply for third-class medical certification.
He is the first Oklahoma pilot to be certified and one of sixteen nationwide
who have reclaimed their pilot-in-command status.
Late last year, after learning the "great news" that Federal Aviation
Administration approval of the new diabetic pilot rule was imminent, Bilcik
dusted off his flying skills with a flight instructor. Needing only ten
hours' flight instruction to check out in a Cessna 172, he now has a
cross-country flight to Austin, Tex., in his logbook. "The flying part was
simple," he said. "It was the new airspace requirements that gave me the most
trouble," he added, referring to the airspace reclassifications enacted in
Bilcik says he has no trouble monitoring his blood glucose levels (he uses a
Profile One-Touch meter) and that he has not encountered any difficulty
complying with the new rules. Because he uses an external insulin pump and
takes from eight to ten blood glucose sticks daily, his glucose level
normally is at 80 mg/dl. The rules require that his glucose level be at least
100 mg/dl to be able to fly, so he says that he must adjust his insulin use
accordingly. That, he says, has been the only "problem" encountered, thus
far, of complying with the rules.
"The pump is not for everyone," he warns, "because it requires strict
monitoring." Thus, the eight to ten blood glucose samples per day. He uses
Humalog (insulin lispro rDNA, manufactured by Ely Lilly), a rapid-acting
human insulin produced using recominant DNA technology.
Bilcik jogs regularly and enjoys an occasional round of golf. "Bottoming out"
or being ketotic on his insulin pump has not been a problem, he says, because
of his physical conditioning, regular monitoring, and motivation to achieve
complete control of his blood glucose level.
He plans to upgrade his pilot skills by taking flight lessons in a Cessna 210
(with retractable landing gear and variable-pitch prop). After becoming
proficient in this and gaining the necessary flight time to upgrade further,
well, "the sky's the limit," he says.
According to Dr. Steve Carpenter, supervisory medical officer with the
Aeromedical Certification Division, CAMI has received 87 applications for
diabetic certification, 16 of which have been approved to receive 12-month
certificates; 57 cases are pending (additional information requested from
applicants); and 14 were denied for various reasons. All three regular review
staff physicians are involved in the certification process. (For more
information, see the new diabetic pilot certification rules, in this issue.)
Several media outlets have asked for interviews with the newly-certified
private pilot. Why the interest in diabetics who would like to fly? "It's got
to be the greatest gift to someone who has lost the right to pilot an
airplane," Bilcik stated. "There are many, many diabetics, former pilots, who
would do almost anything to be able to get back into their airplanes and take
off," adding with a smile, "I really love to fly who wouldn't be overjoyed to
get their wings back?"
And, who wouldn't be interested in learning about such success stories?
Insulin Pumpers website http://www.insulin-pumpers.org/
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