Anxious Father


New Member
This past May my 17-year-old son fainted in a high school class where they were showing driver's ed film of actual accident victims (lots of blood and gore). This only the second time he has fainted, and they were both when he was viewing pictures of gore/body organs(1st time was when he was about 3 years old and his mother was reading a picture health book to him.

He spent 2 nights in local hospital...trauma docs say he's OK, cardiac doctors say he's OK, but showed (+) result on neuro doc's tilt table test. Neuro doc said he didn't know how to interpret test result (he even wandered if son needed a pacemaker, but didn't know and wanted to defer to a cardiac specialist colleque of his. I kinda lost faith in this process (why order a test if you don't know how to interpret the result?), so I took my son to another independent cardiac specialist. This doctor confirmed the diagnosis of vasovagal syncope triggered by sight of blood and gore, and told us that son can't drive for 6 mos from time to faint in school.

Son holds an FAA medical certificate to pursue a private pilot's license (Class1?) and needs to bring this to the attention of the FAA. PROBLEM IS...independent doctor's report contains misleading information that would truly prejudice son's case in the eyes of the FAA and that he's totally unwilling to change. We are not arguing about the diagnosis or driving restrictions, but for example to state "that my son was told he might need a pacemaker" is clearly misleading because it was a quess at a possible remedy by a doctor who admitted he was unqualified to conclude (independent doctor said son doesn't need pacing, just avoid trigger and keep hydrated).

I am trying to contact yet another cardiac specialist who has been known to be friendly and cooperative with pilots and FAA to see if he would review case and write a more accurate report. Can you recommend anything else? Is it true that the FAA wont accept anything other than a doctor's reassurance that this fainting will never happen in the cockpit?


Well-Known Member
Ahhh yes the good old Fed's Against Aviation (FAA). Your son now holds a third class medical/student pilot license. I would suggest you direct this article to our doctor Forred on the ask a flight surgeon forum...he is great!

My Flight Surgeon

Sr. Aviation Medical Examiner
Just report the vasovagal syncope on the next medical. Write down that he fainted when he saw the gore and blood in a driver's ed film. Also if you want to take a report to the AME,take the one that states he had vasovagal syncope.

Almost everyone has had an episode like this. I even saw this happen to a guy who had been in the German SS in world war 2 during a similar movie.

The FAA understands this is normal.