Being a pilot requires you to be in good health whenever you fly. This includes the time you are in training.
There are 3 classes of medicals you can get. They are 1st, 2nd, and 3rd class medicals. It is recommended that
whenever you get a medical, you always get the 1st class. They usually all cost the same. The 1st class medical gives the most
Privileges and requires the highest standards in health. The classes are explained below.
For example, lets say you want to be an airline pilot. An airline pilot(captain) is required to have a 1st class medical. But, since
a 3rd class medical is all that is needed for flight training, you just get that. Ok, now you are a trained commercial pilot with a 3rd class
medical. You apply for an airline job. You get an interview. Now you have to show up with a 1st class medical. So you go to the flight surgeon
and ask for a 1st class medical. Opps, it turns out that you failed a certain test that is required for the 1st class medical but not the 3rd class medical.
Had you have gotten the 1st class medical from the start, you would have known that you are not able to pass a 1st class medical exam and therefore unable to ever be
an airline captain until you get this problem fixed.
1st Class Medical
A 1st class medical is actually 3 medicals in one. It is a 1st class medical for 6 months, a 2nd class medical for a year, and 3rd class medical for 2 or 3 years from issuance.
A first class medical is good for 6 calendar months from issuance. A calendar month means that it expires on the last day of that month. This medical is
required for airline transport pilots or captains of airlines. After the 6 months, it actually turns into 2nd class Privileges, as described below, for
another 6 months. Once those 6 calendar months pass, the medical turns into a 3rd class. The 3rd class Privileges are shown below.
2nd Class Medical
A 2nd class medical is actually 2 medicals in one. It is a 2nd class medical for one year and a 3rd class medical for 2 or 3 years from issuance.
A second class medical is good for 12 calendar months from issuance. A calendar month means that it expires on the last day of that month. This medical is
required for commercial pilots or anyone being paid to fly passengers around other than airline captains. After the 12 months, it actually turns into 3rd class Privileges, as described below, for
another 1 or 2 years.
3rd Class Medical
A third class medical is good for either 2 years or 3 years from issuance. Once the applicant reaches 40 years old, 3rd class Privileges only last 24 calendar months (2 years) from issuance instead of 36 calendar months (3 years).
A calendar month means that it expires on the last day of that month. This medical is
required for non-commercial flying like flight training, taking check rides, and personal flying.
Article by Joshua Madovoy