Advice for a dispatcher with the dream of flying


New Member
Hello all,

Ever since I was a kid, I dreamt of flying, but my parents always encouraged me to forget that dream and make them happy and become a doctor. Of course, as a rebellious teenager, I decided not to follow their dream. Instead, I decided to explore aviation after a terrible freshmen year of college. I transferred to an aviation university and tried to get my first-class medical. I was able to obtain a first-class medical, but I had to do further testing for sleep apnea and use a CPAP machine at the age of 19/20. During that time, I had to work an overnight part-time job to pay for classes, and I had college classes to go to right after work, so I was averaging only 3-5 hours of sleep which is not what the FAA wanted. I remember getting a letter from the FAA stating that I needed six consecutive hours of sleep with the CPAP and that my medical was no longer valid. As I am writing this trying to remember what the letter stated, I am not quite sure if it was suspended, denied, or revoked. This is how I found flight dispatch, the next closest thing to a pilot. I got my dispatch certificate and bachelor's in Aerospace-Flight Dispatch in May of 2021 and have been working at a regional airline since July 2021. As I travel and jumpseat with pilots, my desire to become a pilot has now skyrocketed once again to the level that I had as a kid. I like dispatching, but my passion is to fly. I know my first step is to obtain a first-class medical, but I know for a fact I will have to test again for sleep apnea, and I will most likely have to use a CPAP machine since I increased in weight and BMI since 2017. And here is where my conundrums begin. Do I attempt to get my first-class medical right now or should I wait a few years and try to get my weight in check? I know most people will say wait a few years and get my weight in check first, but is waiting to get my medical going to ruin my chances? I know becoming a pilot is expensive and time-consuming. I am willing to put in the time, but I have no idea where to start on the finances. What are some ways to pay for the flight training needed? Are there cheaper ways to get the licenses and ratings? Is it worth the hassle to become a pilot nowadays or should I stay in flight dispatch and get into one of the majors and get decent pay?

Thank you for taking the time to read and respond. All advice is very much appreciated
Scholarships are out there for flight training. You'll have to search out and find them and see if you qualify. Joining the military and then using the GI Bill is another way to offset the costs of flight training. Some say you can buy an airplane and then use it for all your training and time building and then sell it, can ultimately be cheaper than renting.

Other than that flight training is expensive. No 2 ways about it. And even when you are done training if you don't get your CFI, then time building is expensive. Jobs for 250 hour brand new commercial rated pilots are few and far between.

If it was me, I would get the medical first before you spend a bunch of money on training and find out you cant qualify.
Hi Aviationlover98,

I agree with Wardogg, makes sense to get a medical first before you pursue training. As far as OSA goes, I would start using your CPAP machine and establish a pattern of consistent nightly use. Really the only reason to repeat a sleep study would be if you wish to remove the OSA diagnosis and avoid the CPAP thing all together. You will need to have your treating doctor fill out the following form:

Be aware that positive responses to questions 8 (restless leg), 9 (associated medical conditions), or 12 (sleep meds) may lead to more information requests from the FAA.

When you have a pattern of compliant use of your CPAP take the CPAP data, form filled out by your doctor, and a copy of your sleep study to the AME when you apply for a medical. This will give you the best chance at a special issuance medical certificate (meaning the FAA makes you report your CPAP compliance yearly).

Good luck!

Aaron Florkowski, MD
FAA designated AME