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Monday, September 28, 2009

Life Changes

Well, here I sit in my new home. It is much bigger than my old place. My wife is at work now and I start training for my new job this evening. I am going to get my state license to sell insurance. Yes, I am going to be an insurance agent. Everyone I have talked to tells me a person can make a good living selling insurance. I had to do something. Even if I could get my medical back today trying to get a job in this market would be pretty tough.

I have been getting some emails from people seeking answers about pilots with depression. One young woman wrote seeking answers for someone close to her who lost his job with a major airline due to the economy. This particular pilot has expressed feelings of worthlessness since he can no longer provide. He has had some interviews, but the companies turned out to be less than reputable. I know what it feels like to be without an income and being dependent on someone else to provide. I could not have made it through my tough times without my wife.

The main thing to remember is that your worth is not related to what you do for a living. I know pilots have egos and we feel as if we have lost our identity if we are not flying. However, you are no less of a person if you find yourself in a position which you are forced to seek employment outside of aviation.

What truly makes the type of person you are is found within. Look deep within yourself and ask yourself what is truly important. My wife told her parents the other day that she feels that it took a real man to step up to the plate and go on the medications even though I knew it would end my career. I was deeply touched by her words. To her I am not a man because I flew a jet. To her I am a man because I faced my demons and I am now fighting them head on.

Remember, you are much more than a pilot. You are a worthwhile human being. There is much good in the world that you can do without flying. Just look at the time and dedication it took for you to get to the level you are at in your flying. It took someone with motivation and dedication to achieve what many people only dream of doing. Now take that same energy and focus it on something else. Find something that is worthwhile and work hard at it just like you did with your flying. Life does not end simply because we are stuck on the ground.

Keep an eye on the sky!

Prozac Pilot

Monday, September 14, 2009

I Need a New Heading

Each day I wonder what it is I was sent to this earth to do. I have been given talents and gifts from God that I cannot waste or throw away. I love getting in front of a crowd and speaking. I have done a little stand up comedy. But it was the motivational speeches that I truly enjoyed. I have struggled for years what it is I should do with this talent. I have the ability to use my skills, but just not sure how to go about getting an audience. And not just getting an audience, but what message does that audience want to hear that I have some expertise in.

I am now in my fifties. I deeply love flying. But there has to be something else out there I can do that would make me just as happy. I am looking at some ways to be involved with various groups when I get to my new home after my move. Perhaps I can find what I need to do there. I would love to take these skills and use them to help others. I am guessing there are many who suffer from depression or survivors of childhood abuse that perhaps could benefit from hearing one of their own talk about how life can be good. Now the question is, how do I find an audience of people like this?

Any suggestions?

Keep an eye on the sky!

Prozac Pilot

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Darkness

My home is not far from the centerline of the localizer for an ILS approach of an airport just to the south of my home. I sometimes will sit on my patio and watch aircraft as they are on approach for landing. As I watch I wonder to myself if I will ever be back in the sky instead of watching from my home.

While I ponder to myself about returning to flying I often question myself as to why I would go on antidepressants knowing that I could not renew my medical. I did this knowing it would end my career. Why on earth would a person do such a thing? Did I do the right thing? How was I supposed to support my family?

I worked with my doctors in recent weeks to go off of the medications. My wife said she could tell a difference in my mood. I also could tell that I did have this feeling of something that just seemed dark inside to me. I had this same feeling before the medications even when I was doing what I loved. It is hard to describe what I felt. Depression is something that can take control of someone in a way that is difficult to explain. It is more than a feeling of deepened sadness that a person will feel when having something tragic happen. Depression is more of a feeling of deep dark despair. Depression is a feeling of hopelessness.

As I look at life now I often wonder if I can ever feel total happiness. I question how I could feel this way. I have a great wife. I did have a job that most people could only dream of doing. Yet, here I am with feelings of inadequacy. I remember back before the medications as I would fly having doubts as to my capabilities as a pilot. When I would go to the simulator for training I did not look at things as if I were in control of things. I was always relieved when my training was finished. I was afraid of doing what I loved.

Now I am working with the doctors to get my medications back to the right dosage. I look now at the false hope I was giving myself by thinking I could actually go off of the medications. I should be able to look at things and be totally happy even if I am not flying. Happiness should not be based on what a person does for a living. I sometimes actually realize that I was using flying as my medication. Yes, flying did give me some positive feelings, but it could never create true happiness in my life.

OK, so why did I go on the medications knowing I would not be allowed to fly? I guess because I had to be honest. I could no longer lie to myself. I knew that the darkness within me was caused by something. But now that something has a name. And that name is depression. I would love to return to the sky. But I also long to no longer feel the darkness.

So, is it worth not flying? I will put it to you this way. If I never fly again I will probably always miss doing what I love. However, when the meds are working, I never miss the darkness.

Keep an eye on the sky.

Prozac Pilot

Friday, August 7, 2009

My Thoughts on the AOPA Proposal

A representative of the AOPA has sent me a copy of a proposal that they sent the the FAA in 2006 requesting policy changes in how the FAA views the status of pilots using antidepressants. As you may have read I challenged the AOPA to share what they have done to stand up for pilots with depression. This proposal was sent to me with the request that I do not post it on my blog. I will honor that request, but I also will make some comments on what I have read.

First, I was pleased to see that the AOPA made an attempt to address this issue. The proposal asked for the FAA to change its policy and they laid out some guidelines that they felt should be put into place if there were any changes. I was deeply disappointed after reading the proposed guidelines the AOPA had suggested. The AOPA stated that only third class medicals should be issued to pilots on antidepressants. Luckily, the FAA is actually looking at changing things for all three classes of medical certification.

I would think that an organization that is supposed to represent pilots would represent pilots at all levels. I cannot understand why the AOPA would suggest that only third class medicals be issued for pilots on antidepressants. This simply would go against what is trying to be accomplished by any changes at all. If the FAA were to go along with the AOPA's suggestion then working pilots would be in the same situation that they are now. Which is that professional pilots would not be able to seek medical attention for their ailment. This would force working pilots with depression to continue to fly while they are not completely safe. The idea of allowing pilots to fly while using these medications is to make the sky a safer place.

As I have mentioned before, all the doctors I have talked told me that it would be much safer to have a medicated pilot flying rather than a pilot who is depressed and not being treated. Other countries have made the step forward. Now it is time for the FAA.

So, here is my grade for the AOPA. They get an A for at least trying to bring this issue to the forefront. However, when it comes to their ideas of how to go forward I would have to give them an F.

Let me clear up any confusion that I may have caused in this post. I have been told that the administrator has approved going forward with allowing medicated pilots to fly on all three classes of medical certificates. However, there is still a great deal of government bureaucracy to be dealt with before there is a final word. Therefore, the FAA has gone above and beyond what the AOPA was asking for by including 1rst, 2nd and 3rd class medicals in this change. But the AOPA suggested that the change apply only to 3rd class medicals.

Now it is a matter of seeing what actually happens.

Keep an eye on the sky!

Prozac Pilot

Thursday, August 6, 2009

AOPA Response to My Email

Yesterday I sent an email with a link to this blog to the AOPA so that someone there would have the opportunity to respond to some comments I had put on my blog yesterday. It was less that 24 hours later I had an email responding to me.

I was told by a representative of the AOPA that they had sent a proposal to the FAA requesting a change in policy regarding antidepressants. Additionally, I was informed that AOPA had posted an update as to what is going on with the current status of the FAA proposed policy change.

I have invited the AOPA to allow me to post this information here on this blog. I feel that would be a good addition to what this blog is intended to do.

In writing back to the person at the AOPA I started to reflect a little bit on my own situation. If the FAA does change its policies what will happen to pilots who bit the bullet and grounded themselves so that they could go on antidepressants? I have been grounded now for nearly a year and a half. If suddenly the FAA says I am allowed to have a first class medical again that would be great. But now lets take it a step further. How do I truthfully explain that type of gap in my flying to a potential employer?

I can see it now.
Potential Employer (PE): I see that you have not flown for two years. Why is that?
Me: I went on medications that were not approved by the FAA and did not renew my medical.
PE: And these medications are now approved?
Me: Yes

By now the interviewer is probably clued in as to what type of medications we are talking about because the entire aviation community will hear about the change if it happens. There is still a stigma in our society regarding people who suffer from a mental illness. I could just hope that I am interviewed by someone who has compassion and will look at my qualifications and not get hung up on the fact that I suffer from depression. It could happen. Therefore, an interview like this could go either way. However, I feel that this will limit my employment opportunities.

I want to be hopeful that I will again return to the sky. I do miss everything that comes along with the life I once lived. The ability to leave one end of the country and be on the other side in just a few hours has always amazed me. It was fun to leave home in the morning on a flight to take passengers several hundreds of miles away and then return home later that same day.

I do miss the passengers. Doing charter work is not like working for the airlines. A charter pilot is also a customer service representative. A charter pilot works one on one with each passenger. Charter customers pay thousands of dollars for one flight. Someone who pays that much money expects the best customer service. I am of the opinion that all customers should be treated like royalty regardless of the price of the product being purchased.

I am looking forward to posting the information from the AOPA if they give me permission to do so. I think this will be good reading. It would also be nice to see that there has been someone out there working to correct this injustice.

Keep and eye on the sky!

Prozac Pilot

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Prozac Pilot Video Introduction (Reposted)

video

AOPA Are You Helping?

I just got off of the phone with a contact at the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) and was told that there has been five antidepressants approved by the FAA Administrator. However, there are still several government channels that have to sign off on this for things to be fully approved. Additionally, the FAA is not saying which medications are going to be approved and what other strict guidelines are going to be in force.

This is very much the same thing that I was hearing about a year ago. When I first started to make calls regarding this situation. Initially I was told that it was only going to be about three to six months before everything would be finalized. Well, guess what I was told today by an AOPA representative. Yes, it was going to be about three to six months before final approval would be announced.

I am not sure what to believe. Each time I contact any agency regarding this I seem to get the same answers. These answers do not seem to match with the truth. The AOPA claims to have been lobbying hard for pilots with depression for some time now. However, I have not noticed anything in their magazine regarding this topic. I have not seen the AOPA openly encouraging its members to contact their elected officials on behalf of pilots with depression. If I am wrong and the AOPA is doing more than just lip service I will be the first one to post my apology on the web. But until that time I find it difficult to believe that the AOPA has any concern for pilots who are either on antidepressants or pilots who hide their depression due to knowing they will no longer be allowed to fly.

I am going to send a link of this posting to the AOPA and see if they respond. I am curious to see what if anything they have to say to my comments. As Bill O'Rielly says, "I want to be fair and balanced."

Therefore, if the AOPA responds with public postings it has done to help fight this battle I will immediately issue an apology and post what they send to me.

What say you AOPA?

Prozac Pilot

Friday, July 31, 2009

Thank you Dr. Shock

I was quoted by Dr. Shock recently. I went to his to post a thank you. Below are the comments that I posted.

I am honored that you would quote me from my blog. It is good to see words of encouragement. Not being able to peruse my chosen profession has been extremely difficult. But this is a decision my wife and I made together knowing what the consequences would be. I could do as other pilots do and simply not report the medications I am taking. But the ramifications of such a decision are endless. First, I could no longer consider myself an honest person. Secondly, if an accident occurred for any reason and the medical reports showed antidepressants in my system my company and family could face litigation. Once again, thank you for quoting me. Yes, I am at home and not allowed to fly, but I do so with honor. Keep an eye on the sky! Prozac Pilot

The Discrimination Continues

My wife and I are working on moving to the west to be near family. Currently, we have our health care coverage through a group plan where my wife works. This of course will change with her starting a new job when we move. We have a quote as to what it will cost to have group coverage for both of us from a company that wants to hire her. Our out of pocket cost is about $400 per month.

After finding this out I started looking at rates for a plan for myself since most of this out of pocket cost is to pay for my coverage. In receiving quotes I looked at the limitations of the insurance being offered. Of course when covering mental health the coverage is limited. Mental health coverage is limited on one plan to a LIFE TIME maximum of $3000. Currently, I see my doctor each month to monitor my medications. I have not been in therapy for a couple of months, but I am looking for a new therapist. Once I start therapy and going to the doctor I am sure that it will not take long to go through $3,000.

I did not see any stipulations in this plan limiting a life time maximum on the treatment of cancer or any other disease. The stigma placed on mental health causes a great deal of discrimination. I am beginning to think that when someone seeks help for depression that the depression deepens simply from all of the road blocks placed in the way.

My current insurance also treats mental health differently than other medical needs. My in network co-pay for most needs is $20 for an office visit to a doctor's office. This co-pay does not vary from my primary physician to going to a specialist of some kind. However, when going to a mental health provider the co-pay goes out the window and my responsibility is 50%.

Well, get out your wallets and be prepared to pay if you want help. I am guessing that this is something that not many people have tried to stand up for. After all, if someone needs help with mental health they are crazy right?

Well, my ramblings have continued again. I am not trying to be negative all of the time. I am just venting I guess.

Keep and eye on the sky!

Prozac Pilot

No News is Bad News

I took some time to review what I had posted recently and noticed that I have been getting a few comments from people who have read my blog. I appreciate any and all comments. I followed the links of those who had posted to find out a little about those who have shown an interest in what I have to say. I was honored to find that I had been quoted by Dr. Shock in his studies about pilots and depression. To have been quoted by a medical professional helps me feel my words have validity. Now if I can only get some people in key positions that can make a change read my words and take some action.

I called the Aircraft Owners and Pilot Association (AOPA) today to see if there are any further updates. However, I was told the same thing that I was a year ago, which is that changes are coming soon.

I contacted the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) and spoke with Dan Hubbard. The only responce I got from Mr. Hubbard what that he researched it and was being told by his people that a pilot on antidepressants are grounded no matter what the reason for the use of the medication. I have one response for Mr. Hubbard. "DUH" I had told him going into the conversation that I was grounded for this reason and wanted to know if the NBAA was doing anything to stand up for pilots who are affected by this discriminatory regulation. I wrote Mr. Hubbard back for further comment, but received no response.

The main contact for medical questions at the AOPA is out of town this week attending the fun at Oshkosh, WI. The person I talked to in his stead informed me that there were being some questions asked during Oshkosh that could have additional answers. However, this is the same thing that I was told last year. I see these organizations that represent pilots lobby for many other things, but have heard little as to what they are actually doing to stand up for pilots with depression.

Perhaps I will start my own lobbying group. Let me see what could I call it? Depressed Pilots of America (DPOA)..... How about Pilots With Depression Fight Back (PWDFB)...... Pilots For a Hopeful Tomorrow.......(PFHT)..... Well those are just a couple of ideas. Please feel free to shoot me an email with any ideas you might have.

As I am writing this today I am able to hear aircraft passing overhead. My home is a few miles north of a Class C airport and under the final approach for its major runway. I sometimes go out onto my balcony and watch as aircraft pass overhead. I love the days when it is already dark and there is somewhat of an overcast. I can see the lights of aircraft on final approach. I enjoy watching them break out of the clouds. As I watch I imagine myself at the controls shooting an ILS in instrument conditions at night. I always loved breaking out and seeing the runway lit up in front of me.

Another thing I used to enjoy was taking off during the day in instrument conditions. Climbing up through the clouds and being focused on the instruments. Inside the clouds can be dark, but as the aircraft climbs towards the tops the sun starts shining in. Then suddenly breaking through the tops of the clouds the blue sky with all of its glory welcomes you with an invitation of beauty. One of the most incredible views I remember was breaking out of the clouds just as I was reaching an assigned altitude. I had the aircraft on autopilot, which had captured the altitude. The other pilot just then pointed to something above us. I looked up just in time to see the belly of a 737 which was directly overhead 1,000 feet above us. Ahhhh, gotta love RVSM to get those closer views.

I think each day of the fun that I miss out on while I am not able to fly. To me it is not just the flying, but working with the passengers as well. Flying charter gives a pilot a greater opportunity to interact with passengers. A charter pilot gets to meet some interesting individuals. I always enjoyed if a passenger was private pilot and wanted to come up and look around at the fun toys I had up front in my little jet.

Well, I have probably rambled on enough for today. Remember, if you have any ideas for the name for thy lobbying group for depressed pilots let me know. My email is listed on this blog. Also, I welcome your comments. One more thing, please sign up to follow my blog if you like what I have to say. If I can get enough people to follow, then more will want to follow and ect ect ect.

Keep an eye on the sky!

Prozac Pilot

Friday, July 17, 2009

Stop the Discrimination!

I saw my doctor yesterday and told her about the blog. She was excited to hear about what I was doing and encouraged me to be an activist for pilots with depression. She went on to ask me more questions about other types of conditions that may disqualify a pilot from obtaining a medical. She still finds it hard to believe how an antidepressant can keep a pilot from performing his or her duties.

I was getting hopeful for a while. I had started a plan with my doctor to reduce and then come completely off the medications. At first, I thought the plan was going well. However, as I was close to being completely off the medications I discovered the timing just was not right. My wife and I are going though the process of moving closer to family. With the added stress of planning a move--which also means looking for employment that will meet our needs--I could tell that I needed to go back on medications.

The experience was not a fun one. I can understand why there should be a waiting period to be able to fly for someone just going on medications. The side affects at first until a person's body is accustomed to the meds can really do a number on someone. For economic reasons my doctor tried a new medication with me. This particular medication did not work well. I went through periods of higher anxiety and was physically ill. We found that this particular medication did not work for me. Now we are getting things squared back up on a med that does cost more money. But from what I am finding it is the best thing to do. Ahhh, but I am so grateful to the doctor's office for SAMPLES. Samples are free.

In going through this change of meds I had many thoughts about what I was going through. However, the one thing that stood out was the fact that I may never fly again. This is a thought that truly saddens me. I think of all the pilots that are flying that suffer from depression and cannot reveal their secret due to the knowledge they will no longer have a job. I am still trying to figure out which is worse.

What I did discover is that when first coming to grips with the disease that keeps me grounded is that it gets worse before it gets better. I sat around the house for several weeks doing nothing and feeling sorry for myself. Once I got through that and started to deal with the facts I was able to pull myself out of my slump and start looking for another source of income. It is hard to try to start a new career in todays economy. Well, now I am trying to start my own business.

I know this sounds like rambling to many who may read this. But hopefully it may help someone else who may be in a similar situation. My story may not seem like a good example of hope on the outside, but take a closer look. I have the energy and drive to start this blog. I made that silly video (more to come soon) and I am at least working on some plans for feeling better.

I guess the hardest part is when people find out that I suffer from depression. I get looks like I am a total outcast. I am not sure why those of us who suffer from such a disability are made to suffer even more by others. Why do people have to look at us with such degradation? Are we really that much of a social stigma?

In a day and time where views are so liberal how is it that a person with a mental illness is still made to feel so unwanted by society? It is ignorance that drives the publics perception. It is such ignorance that keeps pilots who are medicated and fully able to perform the duties of their jobs safely that grounds them. It is this same ignorance that forces pilots with depression from seeking help and keeps them flying without treatment and putting public safety at risk.

I was even ashamed to tell my own mother the reason for which I can no longer fly. I have never felt such discrimination. Is it worth it? Time will tell. Hopefully, I can touch some people with this blog. Hopefully, the right people will read this and help do something. I am also contacting my elected officials. But I am only one person. Pilots with depression need to stand up for what is right. The so called pilot advocacy groups need to help more in this struggle.

Please, stand with me and let's put an end to this discrimination. Let's put good pilots back in the sky. Let's get help for those who are forced to hide their pain. Let's do the right thing.

Keep an eye on the sky.

Prozac Pilot

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Early Mornings

Here I sit at my computer unable to go back to bed. I wonder in my mind what it is that keeps me from trying. Thoughts that fly around of my worth and why I feel about myself. Most people that know me would say that I am a good person. I am not sure why I do not agree with them. I am haunted of years gone by and being told that I will never amount to anything. I do not know why cannot overcome that by looking at the accomplishments in my life.

I mean I am among an elite group of people. With nearly 307 million people in the United States and only about 150,000 ATP rated pilots. That puts me in a bracket that comprises only .005 % of the population of the US. You would think that I would look more at the positive and at least like myself.

There are other things I have done in my life as well that I should be thinking of instead of depressing thoughts. I have given lectures on a stage with up to 2,000 people in attendance and received a standing ovation. I have opened for some big names in the music industry as a stand up comedian. I have done all of these things, yet I keep coming back to the negative.

I can see one part of the FAA's stance on anti-depressants. I know what it is like when a person first starts on these meds. A person can go through many things until the medication is fully in a person's system and doing what it is supposed to be doing. But once the medicine has the person stabilized there is nothing that should keep a medication person from operating an aircraft.

I guess I keep coming back to wanting to fly because I have found so much beauty in what I did. I actually felt some worth of self when other people looked at me and knew what I did for a living. Many people I have met when I was flying envied me. Well at least what I did. That was a great feeling. It helped me feel accepted in life.

But now I look at myself and I wonder just who I am. I am no longer a working pilot. I am a person on medications who is supposed to feel better about myself. In some ways I do, but I long for the sky. I ache inside knowing that I may never be at the controls of a jet again. It was not just the flying it was the lifestyle. Racking up the points at Hilton and Marriott hotels. Points that could be used for free stays with my family. Serving the passengers. Making sure that their car or ride would be at the FBO when we arrived. Ensure that their luggage was all onboard and they had everything they wanted before we took off. Letting the passenger who is a private pilot stick his head up front and look at the instrument panel that he could only dream of. Taking pictures from the flight deck. The list of things that I miss goes on and on.

I know I am rambling here a great deal. But I just had a great memory pop into my head. I so enjoyed meeting the passengers and talking with them some. I remember one lady in particular. But it is not her so much I remember as I do her pet. She had an Alaskan Malamute. This was a HUGE dog. When I found out that big thing was going to be on my airplane without any restraints I was worried. We loaded up and took off from Montrose, CO (KMTJ) without any problems. It was only a couple of minutes after we took off that this dog walked up to the front and then laid down with his head between the two pilot seats. Every so often he would look up and glance at one of us and then just lie his head back down. I was disappointed that this was one trip I did not have my camera with me. I will never forget the flight of the Malamute.

I have done a great deal in my life. I have much to offer, yet I still do not see myself as worthwhile unless I am at the controls of an airplane. Perhaps if I see myself as a good person and not be at the controls that I feel I would have overcome the demons that hold me back.

If you have read this far today and not been bored. Then either my writing skills have improved or, well, I will just leave it at that and give myself some credit.

Keep an eye on the sky,

Prozac Pilot

Monday, July 13, 2009

Aircraft I Have Flown and Would Like to Fly

I just got home from a vacation with my family. My son-in-law departed two weeks ago for basic training in the Naval Reserves and will be gone for three months. My daughter is now left at home alone with a three year old girl. My wife and I thought it would be a good break to wisp the two of them away and have some fun. So we did.

It was good to get back home and see that I had a couple of requests on my blog along with some comments. Thank you to those who have posted.

I realize I have covered a variety of subjects on this blog so far. I liked the idea of sharing a little about the types of aircraft I have flown and what I would like to fly in the future.

I started my flight training in a Beech Skipper. It was a fun little airplane to fly. This was the airplane I soloed in as well. I had 11 hours total time when I first took the controls without my instructor onboard. Up until my first solo landing I would have sworn that my flight instructor was doing everything.

I changed flight schools when I discovered that my instructor was billing extra time on the ground. I realize I have blogged about ground time being important and instructors should get paid for their time. However, I also feel that an instructor should be doing something of value during that time as well.

The next school took I experimented between Piper and Cessna aircraft. I did the bulk of the remainder of my training in a Cherokee 140 and took my check ride in a Piper Warrior. The FBO where I rented has a Grumman Chetah and Tiger for rent. Those were the airplanes I was eager to get my hands on. Since this was a small FBO I got to know the owners and was able to get some free flights in here and there when it was appropriate. That is how I got checked out in the Chetah.

There as a saying back then, "You drive a Cessna or a Piper, but you have to fly a Grumman." These little airplanes are responsive and a great deal of fun to fly. I rented the Chetah for a cross country from Iowa to Houston, TX. The only part I did not like was getting stuck in Houston due to weather. As soon as I landed weather went below VFR mins and I was not instrument rated. Oh well, I had fun.

I have had the the opportunity to fly a wide variety of aircraft in my time. Let me see if I can list them by manufacturer.

Piper
Cessna

Well, I could go on with other manufacturers, but it would only get boring. I think one of the most memorable airplanes I have flown (other than the CJ2+) is the Twin Bonanza. That is truly a classical old bird.

I have also flown a North American T6, which was used for training pilots during WWII and have been given a ride in a P51 Mustang. Now that was a cool ride.

OK, now for the list of airplanes I would like to fly. Hmm, that list is so long. Having hundreds of hours in the CJ series makes me miss flying jets. I would love to return to the 2+ or the CJ3 and now the CJ4 should be out soon as well. The strait CJ was rather anemic in compared to its more powerful counterparts. It is a good little jet, but I much preferred the 2+.

The avionics suite on the 2+ is far superior as well as the takeoff weight capacity and the capabilities of the airplane.

I of course would love to fly some larger aircraft. The 787 would be an experience. I have always enjoyed the experience of being a passenger on a 757 and thought it would be incredible to have the opportunity to fly.

Flying a fighter jet of some sort would be a complete rush of course. Now I am going to get closer to reality. I have looked at some of the light sport aircraft that are on the market now. I do not know the makes and models well enough to speak of them by name. But these little airplanes look like they could be a great deal of fun. Some of them have avionics superior to most of the larger airplanes I have flown. The glass panels in such a small aircraft is a great idea. I feel these types of airplanes could be a great way for someone who wants to learn to fly. A person can get a sport plane rating in less time that a private pilot license and start racking up the hours for more advanced ratings.

Well, I have rambled on enough for today. I hope all who read this blog enjoy. I think I am going to have another video posted soon.

Keep an eye on the sky,

Prozac Pilot

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Be True Unto Thyself

I have often wondered what it means to be true unto myself. How can a person lie to himself? It is obvious if a person lies to another, and I believe it will be apparent to the victim at some point. Yes, I said victim. If one person lies to another that person who has been lied to has been victimized.

But lying to yourself? I grew up in a home filled with negativity. I was told on many occasions that I did not have what it takes to do some of the things I wanted to. I would ask my dad if he were going to come out to watch the sporting event in which I was going to play in. He answered saying it was not worth his time because I would not get to play anyway.

Now let's look further at a situation like this. Did the father lie to the son? I can see two answers here. No, he did not lie. The son usually did not get asked to play. Yes, the father did lie. He most certainly should have been worth his time to go to the game even if it were to sit behind his son and give encouragement.

It is from interactions like these that causes a person to lie to himself. As the boy becomes a man he has that learning embedded in his mind. The new man may go watch his children do things just because he know how painful it was not to have his father there. But he will start lying to himself. He will tell lies such as, "I am not good enough to do this task. I do not have the qualifications for this job." The list goes on and on of the lies he will tell himself each day. "I am not a smart person."

These are not just lies, but they are irrational lies. They are irrational due to the fact that many of the things I told myself I could not do I had done before and done them well. Yet each time I faced challenges I would have it in my mind that I was not capable. That was a lie to myself. By lacking the confidence in myself---even in areas where I had proven myself--- I stunted my opportunity for future growth in that area. My lie to myself damaged me. It could also affect those around me. If I were to limit myself as the bread earner in my family, then my family would go without. I could have also been limiting the possibilities of those who would use me as an example.

Lying, no matter how you look at it does damage. I have suffered from the lies of others and many years ago before making big changes in my life I had hurt others with my own lies.

Therefore, be true unto thyself. Give no reason for others to doubt you. Give yourself no reason to doubt you. Go forward with faith and confidence. Yes, there will be times that we will have failures along the way, but it how we look at those failures that could help us be successful in the future. Think of a professional basketball player. In his early years he would practice free throw after free throw, perhaps even thousands of free throws before he could make the basket on a routine basis. How many less famous basketball stars would there be if these individuals had not been true to themselves.

I was not sure what I wanted to write today as I sat down at my desk. I am glad these words were able to come to the front of my mind. I felt the need to put something down.

I will not be posting for a few days. I am off on a vacation with my family. There will be no electronics allowed.

Be true to yourself,

Prozac Pilot

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Things I miss

I have been looking back lately at the things I miss about flying. I remember early on right after I earned my private pilot license the feeling of release from reality I would get right after takeoff. I so enjoyed turning out onto the center line and pushing the throttle forward causing the aircraft to accelerate towards rotation speed. Then, when I reached that magical point I would gently pull back on the yoke and I was released from the confides of gravity.

It was not just leaving the surface of the earth that gave me the feeling of release, but also so many other restrictions were removed. No longer was there a speed limit to adhere to. There were no roads to follow. I could bank the airplane into a turn and go where ever I wanted. Flying was my way to escape reality.

I look back at my life and and realize that flying did much more for me than give me a way to earn a paycheck. Flying gave me power over demons within myself. Demons that could have turned me into a drunk or a drug addict. I have suffered many afflictions in my life. Many due to circumstances of my surroundings and others due to poor choices. I have often told my wife that I am lucky. I have seen many people who have been through much less in their lives that have found themselves in a gutter somewhere.

I have thoughts coming to my mind now that are causing me to change what I write. When I first sat down at my computer I had a general idea of what I wanted to say, but as I script the words my mind seems to go another way. I just started to think that I really was strong enough to overcome the hardships of my past without flying. If it would have not been flying that I found release in perhaps it would have been something else. I simply thought that my love of flying was what gave me character and strength. In a way that makes my love of flying seem more pure to me. I do not love flying to make me a better person, but I simply love flying, well, because I do.

Does a person need a reason to love what they do? What makes a person love anything they do in life? Why does a chef love to prepare meals for others? Does not a florist receive great joy in watching planted seeds sprout to life as plants? What is it in each of us that makes us love what we do?

I remember meeting a young man who worked with my wife. (My wife is a social worker.) He was impressed that I was a pilot and got to fly jets all around the country. I told him all I did was push the power levers forward and fly rich and sometimes famous people around the country. I then told him what he did truly made a difference in the lives of others. I liked the humble and appreciative look in the young man's eyes.

I think that we too often judge ourselves by what we do for a living. I guess that is also what makes it so hard to not be able to pursue my chosen career any longer. I have lost my identity. If you have watched the video I made you might have noticed I hide my face. I did this in part to have some fun with my alter ego, Prozac Pilot, but also as a reflection of how I feel. I wonder who or what am I now? Yes, I am doing other things as a source of income, but it just is not the same. If a chef could no longer cook or a florist no longer plant seeds would they feel the same way?

I know what I am writing now are just ramblings from the mind of a grounded pilot. These things may not be of any significance to anyone who has taken the time to read this far. But then again, if you are still reading this post and gotten this far it must be of interest to you for some reason.

Well, I have gone on long enough for now. If anyone has read this entire post I hope that perhaps I have given you some things to ponder on. What I was trying to get across in my ramblings is that life is what we make of it. Luck just does not happen. There is good and bad in this life and we have to take both to become better people. Flying was a great part of my life, but it was not my entire life. There is life after flying. My true identity is not being a pilot, but the man that I am.

I am a man who has been very blessed to be able to go after childhood dreams and make them realities. WOW, I guess I am stronger than I thought. LOL

Keep your eye on your strengths.

Prozac Pilot

Monday, June 29, 2009

Diet and Exercise Should Be Important to Pilots

I was looking at a profile of someone who follows me on Twitter. I was very impressed with the dedication this individual has to eating and exercising properly. I have had passion towards many things in life, but taking care of myself sadly has not been a priority. As I read the profile of this person I started to think about what my doctor told me a few days ago. I was told that in the near future my depression could possibly be controlled by diet and exercise.

I am not sure why I have not been passionate about taking care of myself before. I have only seriously thought about taking care of myself physically after I lost my medical. Even not being able to renew my medical was not enough to do it at first. I had to have a pre-operation examination nearly two weeks ago. Part of the exam was an EKG. When the doctor told me I had a slight irregularity in my EKG due to my blood pressure being elevated is when I started to truly think about how I do not take are of myself.

Most people would probably think that pilots take pretty good care of themselves physically. We are just like any other group of people. Some pilots enjoy working out and some do not. Just because a person flies for a living and has to take a physical exam every six months does not necessarily mean that same person is wise with his or her own health. But there is one thing that all pilots with depression have in common and that is we do not want the FAA to know of our ailment.

Taking antidepressants is the reason I cannot fly at this time. Looking at myself reaching a weight of 245 and having my blood pressure getting higher is the reason I started thinking about taking better care of myself. Perhaps if I started to care more about myself and less of being a pilot I could be healthier all the way around.

What I am learning from this experience is that I not only need to love what I do for a living, but also I need to love myself. If other pilots who suffer from depression are like me they love to fly, but have a low self-esteem. Most people who know me would say I am a confident person. My wife who knows the depths of my pain will even say I am confident. However, much of the outward appearance that others see are one of the ways that I mask what I truly feel.

I am excited about the possibility of becoming better through diet and exercise. I have recently started martial arts. I seem to work on the theory in life that if you are going to do something make it fun and entertaining.

If anyone has any ideas I can use for posts I hope you will share them with me. I know there is much to talk about when it comes to pilots and depression. But I do not want to restrict the blog to depression. Please share with me aviation topics you would like to read about. If I feel I am qualified to write about that topic I will.

Keep your eye on the sky!

Prozac Pilot

Pilots Fighting Depression

I have heard many stories from fellow pilots who suffer from depression and did not know that it was a problem until they went to renew their medical. I recall the story of one gentleman who had filled out his form for the doctor and listed "prozac" as a medication he was on. The doctor looked at the form and told the pilot to come back in a couple of days and fill out his medical for leaving the medication listed off of the form.

I think this is one of the most dangerous instances I have heard of. In this case there was a medical doctor telling a person he had only seen one time to go off of medications cold turkey. This medications had been prescribed by a physician who knew the individual much better than the FAA medical examiner.

This is just one example in who knows how many stories of pilots who are forced to hide their disease. In this case there was a person who suffered from depression and was getting the help he needed. After being on medications long enough to do him so good there was an FAA examiner telling him to go cold turkey. This is almost like putting a loaded gun into a person's hands.

There has been much written on both sides as to why pilots on SSRI's should or should not be allowed to fly. But no matter which side of the fence someone stands on this story I have told is dangerous no matter how you look at it. Prozac is not a medication to drop cold turkey without being monitored. From what I have read a scenario like this can cause great confusion in the feelings of the patient. There are many documented cases of patients abruptly stopping the use of Prozac or similar medications without the proper medical treatment. The documentation has been recored in the patients autopsy after he or she committed suicide.

Are depressed people suicidal? Some are yes. But do not label everyone who has depression as suicidal. Medications do not cause a person to commit suicide. But improper medication usage and lack of monitoring of these meds can be dangerous.

All too many times I have heard of people stopping their meds because of the judgement that is passed on them by society. Often times this judgement comes from family members of others who are close to the patient. Someone who suffers from depression does not need more shame in his or her life. Victims of depression are already hard enough on themselves. Putting on top of their own shame the judgement of others can lead to a catastrophic event.

I had a neighbor who is a private pilot who recently found out I was grounded due to the medications I take. He proceeded to tell me of all the people he felt "inspired" to approach to tell them he would pray for them so their lives would be filled with joy. At a later time he told me that I just needed to quit my medications and get back to flying. It was at that time I politely told him to mind his own business.

Do not get me wrong. I have a great faith in God. I would not be alive today if I did not have God in my life. He gives me great courage. But I also believe that God had a hand in all things that are good. He has given man the knowledge to have the medications that can assist people with what ever it is they suffer from. Yes, people can be healed by faith. But sometimes we have to have faith in the fact that perhaps God led us to the doctor for the treatment that is needed.

I considered my nosey neighbor to judgmental and sanctimonious. I barely knew this man and he is trying to give me advise on my medical well being. This is just another way that people with depression are forced to hide their disease and feel even more isolated.

If you know someone who suffers from depression do not treat them with bias or ignorance. It due to discriminatory practices and attitudes that have put such a stigma on pilots who suffer from depression. Please, treat them as you would anyone else. They do not want your pity. They simply want to be able to go on with their lives and be the best productive members of society they can be. They want to provide for their families. They want to be noticed for the positive things they do in life. And pilots with depression simply want to be able to do what they love..... FLY

I remember the day I made the decision to go on medications. I knew that it could possibly ground me for life. I knew that I may never again sit at the controls of that jet I so much loved to fly. The thought of not being able to fly around the country at point mach something still breaks my heart. But I knew I needed get help. Tears flood from my eyes as I reminisce about the flying the I miss so much.

I started this posting with just a few short words on depression, but I have gone on with far more words than I had anticipated. Perhaps, I should break this down into a couple of postings. Thank you for reading the thoughts of a person who is missing the second love of his life. The first love you ask? Well, that is simple to answer. My wife.

Keep your eye on the sky!

Prozac Pilot

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Being Called a Professional Flight Instructor is Earned

Simply passing the FAA exams to obtain an FAA Certified Flight Instructor Certificate simply means a person is now legal to give flight instruction in certain situations. Having a CFI does not mean that the holder has become a professional flight instructor. Professionalism is an attitude. The proper attitude for a good CFI is to have respect for the profession and those being instructed.

The attitude of an instructor shouts loudly to his or her students. The way one dresses or conducts business with customers can reflect on how the airline hopeful will treat passengers in the airline industry. A CFI who feels he or she does not need to dress in an appropriate manner for students will mostly likely complain about having to wear a company uniform when working for the airlines.

When I was instructing I made sure that I was dressed in a professional manner. I did not wear shorts. I always made sure that my slacks were neat and not wrinkled. The shirts that I wore were neat in appearance as well. I feel the way a person dresses while conducting business is a direct reflection upon the dedication of the person to his or her profession.

Guys, wear shirts and slacks that look neat. I know it gets hot in the summer, but wear something light weight. Gals, I cannot think of a reason in the world to wear a top that reveals cleavage. This type of appearance is highly unprofessional. I do not care what profession a person is in when a woman wears shorts or skirts that are too short and or a revealing top it just yells out that this woman wants some kind of attention. I remember asking a hair dresser to put her sweater on because her top was so revealing. I mean come on, lets have at least a semblance of modesty.

OK, now that everyone has the proper clothes on and is starting to care about their students, remember students are customers. Customers put not just hours in your logbook, but money in your pocket. When a professional businessperson comes into an FBO to learn how to fly that person is not looking for the good ole' boy network. He or she is looking for a professional who will be respectful and earn the money that is being paid.

Well, there is a great deal more I can say about professionalism, but I will hold off until another time. I just wanted to get a few thoughts out there for those who many be considering being a CFI or looking for one.

Keep your eye on the sky!

Prozac Pilot

Friday, June 26, 2009

CFI's, Instructors or Time Builders?

One of the things that bothers me about the aviation industry is the lack of good instructors. Most of the instructors I see are the younger people who only care about building time to go onto the airline jobs. However, with the economy being what it is right now perhaps some of these young hopefuls will have the opportunity to instruct longer and actually begin to love the profession.

I have jotted down a couple of things I would look for if I were shopping for an instructor. The MOST important item to me is professionalism. Find out how interested in your training is the instructor. Study your instructor as he or she calculates your flight time with each flight. As the flight time is being tallied is your instructor adding his/her times or yours?

Does your flight instructor value ground school time or is he/she more eager to get in the air. An instructor who is impatient about spending time with you on the ground is only thinking about the precious flight time he/she is losing. An FBO/School can sometimes even build into its culture an intolerance for ground school. I have noticed some FBO's that will charge less for ground time with an instructor than it will flight time. Additionally, some schools may charge the same amount per hour to the customer, but pay instructors less per hour while on the ground with a student. In either case the message is clearly being sent that ground school is not important. This message could not be further from the truth.

It is important to have a good thorough ground school session before and after each flight. Paying for this time on the ground with an instructor will save a student money in the long run. Remember, each second that engine is running is costing you money. Just because the engine is running does not mean you are learning. Time in the logbook does put you closer to those FAA minimums, but it does not indicate you are a better pilot.

Take the time on the ground to know the material that will be covered in the air. If your instructor is not excited about spending that time with you simply remind him/her that you are the customer. No customer, no student, and no flight time. Talk to your instructor in terms he or she will understand...... hours and dollars!!

I would like to end on a positive note. There are many great instructors all over this country. Finding the one that is right for you and having that individual care about your needs is what is important. Take the time to find an instructor that you are comfortable with. Remember, your flight instructor is actually helping to reach a childhood dream.

Keep your eye on the sky!

Prozac Pilot


Thursday, June 25, 2009

I have purchased my own domain. I am learning slowly about how to do a blog. As I learn I will ensure that this domain is of higher quality. I look forward to having anyone who is interested in my topic follow what I write.

I welcome stories from pilots in the same situation. Also, if you have pictures you would like posted, please do not hesitate to send them to me.

My email is prozacpilot@yahoo.com

I must go for now. Hang in there and always keep your eyes on the sky and your hearts on the flight-deck.

Prozac Pilot

Prozac Pilot Video Introduction

This is the video that got the attention of CNN. I have made this recording both for fun and to inform people of the problems that pilots with depression face. video
I know the sack on the head is a bit strange, but it is supposed to add to the fun of these videos. I figure a person should have fun with what ever they do.

I hope everyone enjoys the release of the Prozac Pilot video.

Prozac Pilot

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Days Drag On

I was almost off of the meds, but many life altering decisions got in the way. My wife and I are looking for ways to move closer to family in the west. My wife's family is in Southern Utah so we are looking at employment possibilities there or Las Vegas.

Ironically, my wife is a social worker. She noticed some change in my moods as the doctors were backing me off of my medications and asked me to tell my doctor about these changes. Well, as you might have guessed, the dosage amount of my meds were increased.

I am not sure if anyone will ever read these ramblings of mine or not. If so, I hope that others can relate to what I am going through and perhaps find some solace in my words. I know what it is like to do what I love and then have it ripped from me by an ailment that can be controlled. What is difficult is having a cure for my condition, but the cure is what keeps me from doing what I love.

I have made some attempts to contact various organizations today regarding any changes in FAA regulations on the use of antidepressants, but so far I am not making any progress.

Hang in there all and do not give up the fight. Giving in to the dark side of depression will only means we sink lower. There can and will be a way out. Find something each day to tell yourselves you are worthwhile.

Respectfully,

Prozac Pilot

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Surgery is over

Well the docs went in and repaired a ligament on my left wrist. I am will doing some small postings over the next couple of days, but nothing significant. I have supplies to pick up to make the videos look better than what they would be right now. I am searching for ways to link my site to the sites of those who can get me more attention.

See ya soon,

Prozac Pilot

Monday, June 22, 2009

Off to the hospital

I am just getting ready for my wife to take me to have my wrist operated on. Once I am back and feeling up to it I will begin the series of the Prozac Pilot video postings. These will contain some information about the progress of the use of anti-depressants for pilots as well as some advice from health care professionals I plan to interview.

Additionally, if any readers have a personal story they would  like to have read by Prozac Pilot, please send that to me. I would also like to post pictures of cool places that readers have been to. I will post the name of the person if the individual so desires.

Remember, depression is a physical health problem. Having depression is nothing to be ashamed of despite what the FAA says about us. Hang in there all.

Prozac Pilot

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Will be healing for a couple of days.

I am having outpatient surgery on Monday. I am not sure how long I will be down. I hope to have some fun things on the site once I am back online. Look for what hopefully will be fun and entertaining video updates from Prozac Pilot soon. 

I am actually learning how to connect my You Tube videos I am creating with the blog and Twitter. 

But hey, I am grounded so I have some time right? Well, I guess I should be used to sitting around doing nothing. It kind of brings back memories of sitting in FBO's waiting on passengers who are always on time.  

Back in a few days I hope.

Pozac Pilot

Welcome to the Blog Spot of Prozac Pilot!

This is the first posting of the Pilots With Depression blog. I have created this blog for several reasons. First, let me tell everyone about myself. I am a pilot with an ATP and typed rated in an airplane that will not be mentioned. I am trying to keep my identity as low key as possible. I was flying charter and loving life. However, there was one problem. I suffer from depression. How could ask how I was loving life and suffer from depression. GREAT Question I say. But I am not sure I even understand the answer to that.

Depression is a physical condition not mental. It is caused by an imbalance of certain chemicals in the brain. 

My wife convinced me to go on medications when I was laid off. I simply did not go renew my medical and now here I am on the ground.

I know what it is like to fly and love flying, yet not understand why I was feeling the way I did. I have a great wife. I flew a new jet with all the fun toys. I flew with some great people. I loved working with the passengers. But yet, I still needed the medications.

Now the FAA would label me as unfit to operate an aircraft. 

I was a safe pilot. My doctors cannot understand why I am not allowed to fly. 

I will be posting pictures on here from anyone pilot who has cool pictures they would like to share as well as some videos I will be recording.

Check in for some views from Prozac Pilot. I hope everyone who reads this blog will enjoy and perhaps find some comfort in my words and thoughts.

If you are a pilot who is grounded due to medications I say, "Hang in there brothers and sisters you are not alone."

If you are a pilot who is in fear of a loss of income due to the FAA regs I know how you feel. Hopefully there will be some change of regs soon. I will be posting updates as I get wind of them. There was to be a change last year, but you know how that goes. The feds work at two speeds, slow and slower. One would think since the FAA is in the aviation biz that they would be faster. Oh well, look for more updates soon.

Prozac Pilot