Autism and aviation

Coop-814

New Member
I ran into a second or third cousin a few days back who I hadn't seen in years, and we caught up for a few minutes. I mentioned that I was working on my ratings with the goal of CFII and beyond, and he told me that he is saving up to learn to fly. He's even built himself a simulator. I think he just wants to fly as a hobby, not commercially.
However, I think he is on the spectrum for autism. My mother who is not a psychiatrist but did spend a career teaching special education at the primary level, suspects that he may have Asperger syndrome.
He is a very bright young man of about 22 summers, and he recently graduated from the our state's university with a degree in engineering or something technology-related. He is now a partner in his own IT business. I also know that he has rebuilt old left-for-dead muscle cars, motorbikes, and snowmobiles and got them running great- the point being that he is no dummy.
However, it is quite apparent when you talk to him that he has some sort of social disability. And this would be very apparent to a doctor should he try and get a medical. Despite whatever it is that he has wrong with him, he seems like a happy, even-keeled young man, though I don't know him well enough to see what he's like when he's having, as we all do, a bad day.
I think he's looking to me for a bit of guidance toward his goal of learning to fly, and I'm wondering what his options may be. I'm thinking perhaps a sport pilot's license where one only needs a driver's license? I'm not trying to help him bend rules and put others at danger. I personally wouldn't feel unsafe sharing the skies with him- I don't think he's incapable of learning to fly. But as I said, he definitely has some mild form of autism.

Is he out of luck? Do you know of any cases where someone like what I've described here has been able to learn to fly?
 

youngflyer

Well-Known Member
I ran into a second or third cousin a few days back who I hadn't seen in years, and we caught up for a few minutes. I mentioned that I was working on my ratings with the goal of CFII and beyond, and he told me that he is saving up to learn to fly. He's even built himself a simulator. I think he just wants to fly as a hobby, not commercially.
However, I think he is on the spectrum for autism. My mother who is not a psychiatrist but did spend a career teaching special education at the primary level, suspects that he may have Asperger syndrome.
He is a very bright young man of about 22 summers, and he recently graduated from the our state's university with a degree in engineering or something technology-related. He is now a partner in his own IT business. I also know that he has rebuilt old left-for-dead muscle cars, motorbikes, and snowmobiles and got them running great- the point being that he is no dummy.
However, it is quite apparent when you talk to him that he has some sort of social disability. And this would be very apparent to a doctor should he try and get a medical. Despite whatever it is that he has wrong with him, he seems like a happy, even-keeled young man, though I don't know him well enough to see what he's like when he's having, as we all do, a bad day.
I think he's looking to me for a bit of guidance toward his goal of learning to fly, and I'm wondering what his options may be. I'm thinking perhaps a sport pilot's license where one only needs a driver's license? I'm not trying to help him bend rules and put others at danger. I personally wouldn't feel unsafe sharing the skies with him- I don't think he's incapable of learning to fly. But as I said, he definitely has some mild form of autism.

Is he out of luck? Do you know of any cases where someone like what I've described here has been able to learn to fly?
I am not a doctor but I would say this would be the best option.
 

My Flight Surgeon

Sr. Aviation Medical Examiner
If he has this "problem", his best bet is sport pilot. If he tries to get a regular medical, he will probably need a psychological evaluation. If you are denied a medical, you cannot get a sport pilot license. If you were never denied, you can self-certify.
 
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