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Overweight Pilots

Discussion in 'Ask A Flight Surgeon' started by ComplexHiAv8r, May 31, 2005.

  1. ComplexHiAv8r

    ComplexHiAv8r Well-Known Member

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    How does the industry treat overweight pilots? If they have a first class medical, is there anything that they can do to prevent employement?

    I will admit that I am overweight, have been since like 3rd grade. Only about 10 years ago it was determined to be a Thyroid problem. I am in good health otherwise, and take medicine for it. I was just told the other day how good my blood pressure was.

    At my last physical I asked my doctor about getting a First Class over my Third Class. He said that it wouldn't be a problem.

    Thanks in Advance
  2. AZBigDog

    AZBigDog Well-Known Member

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    I personally know airline pilots that are tipping the scales at 300+ and are currently flying for a major airline. As long as you have no disqualifying medical conditions, it shouldn't be very difficult.

    AZ [​IMG]
  3. flyguy

    flyguy Well-Known Member

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    I also had a weight problem due to hypothyroidism. I've since gone on the South beach diet, am well on my way to getting down to a health weight, and my thyroid levels are actually normal now without medication. Hypothyroidism is supposed to be a life long inconvienience, however my case was borderline and seems to have gone away on its own.

    Anyway, as long as you are in good general health, being overweight or even obese is not disqualifying for a first class medical. However it can lead to health problems later in life that my eventually be disqualifying, such as heart disease. Airlines know this and (American in particular, at least from what I've heard) can be a little weary of an overweight applicant, and if they are going to spend a lot of money on their training might be hesitant if they feel they might not get their money's worth before health problems start to set in.

    Now, legally, all they can require is a first class medical. Some airlines used to do a company physical before the interview, but unless I'm mistaken, now a days they cannot give such an exam until after they offer the job. But they can come up with any number of reasons not to hire someone, and being overweight might make it easier for them to find other reasons. Not to say one cannot get hired, just that you want to have the scales tipped in your favor (no pun intended) and take any edge you can get, and being overweight can be a hindrance.

    Now there are plenty of overwight pilots out there. I think someone above said some tip the scales at 300+, and I don't doubt that. But I'd venture to guess that during their interview days they were either in better shape, or they really impressed their interviewers.
  4. DE727UPS

    DE727UPS Well-Known Member

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    There are many pilots that are overweight. I think the lifestyle leads to that. At the same time, I find it pretty rare to see overweight guys in the new hire photos at my airline. Being noticably overweight is going to be a strike against you in this career. Right or wrong, the physical image you put out is a big deal to the airlines. I can remember in the early 90s when there was a lot of hiring going on that you could tell some of the guys that were lifers at the regionals were grossly overweight.
  5. flyguy

    flyguy Well-Known Member

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    Wow, that like, two times now that Don and I have agreed on something. [​IMG]
  6. NaturalFlyer

    NaturalFlyer New Member

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    Do a lot of swimming if you can. Swimming on a regular basis would make you lose lots of fat; I try not to associate weight with fat because, muscle weighs more than fat.
  7. flyboy04

    flyboy04 Well-Known Member

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    You would think that finding a job flight instructing as an overweight pilot would be harder to come by than an airline gig, simply for weight and balance issues. I personally think this is one of the reasons you dont see to many overweight new hires is because they're coming out of teaching in small singles and twins. I am an overweight pilot, ive been bustin my ass to get off and staying healthy, but I sincerly hope when the interview comes that the airlines make a sound judgement on skill, personality, and ability, rather than weight. If I were hiring id rather hire and overweight pilot than a pilot that smokes.
  8. applepwnz

    applepwnz New Member

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    [ QUOTE ]
    If I were hiring id rather hire and overweight pilot than a pilot that smokes.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    Crap! I'm sortof overweight (5'9" and about 185lbs) and I smoke [​IMG] Oh well, by then end of college, I'll be an in shape non smoker at least.
  9. BCTAv8r

    BCTAv8r Well-Known Member

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    My NJROTC INSTRUCTOR WAS A F-4/F-14 pilot for 21 years and he has quite a belly. I don't know if he let himself go after he uit the Navy or what. I don't think there is much room to be overweight in a fighter.
  10. ComplexHiAv8r

    ComplexHiAv8r Well-Known Member

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    As I started the thread, I agree with you completety. Actually ran into a weight/balance issue when instructors got changed on me last minute for a checkout at a new FBO. We did the w&b no issues, although it was close, but still inside the window.

    I keep looking at other ways to build time as I don't believe I will be able to get a CFI position because of my size. Before you all jump on me about loosing weight, let me tell you that I am trying, doc is changing meds again, but its not uncommon for me to vary (in the past 3 weeks) 22 pounds. I make sure that I weigh myself each day that I fly so I know the difference it might make.
  11. flyguy

    flyguy Well-Known Member

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    [ QUOTE ]
    If I were hiring id rather hire and overweight pilot than a pilot that smokes.

    [/ QUOTE ]
    Me too. And I'm sure the people hiring the pilots would also. However, being overweight is much harder to hide than being a smoker.
  12. flyboy04

    flyboy04 Well-Known Member

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    Way ahead of ya on that one! [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    just kiddin!
  13. Bandit_Driver

    Bandit_Driver Gold Member

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  14. Bandit_Driver

    Bandit_Driver Gold Member

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    I don't believe weight will hinder a pilot too much unless the pilot is very obese. My airline doesn't have a policy on it except you must be able to safely move all the controls etc. Weight is more of a problem for our FA's The aisle is narrow and the Jumpseat seat belts are short. A few girls really have to try hard to get it to buckle.

    I am an ex-college offensive lineman tip the scales at 6'3" and 310lbs. I was 330 when I got my first airline jobs and while I was a CFII.

    The weight hasn't really affect my career. Our school had 172's and 150's. I just sold the new students on training in the 172's.

    I know the pains of trying to lose weight. I have gone up and down my entire life. My best was 260. The airline life doesn't do much to help you either. You really have to bust your but to work out when you are dead tired and try stay off the fast food and soda.
  15. ComplexHiAv8r

    ComplexHiAv8r Well-Known Member

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    I am about to begin a more intense exercise plan. The meds the doctor has changed and looking better an a stable weight. I have been working out (walking and some strength training) about 3-4 times a week. I am going to increase that to 7 days a week for 2 weeks (till next doc appointment) and see how I can do. I did this once before, lost about 25 pounds, have a med change and gained 30 back. Good I had lost, but it doesnt help seeing the weight coming back on and cant do anything about it.

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