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Any colorblind pilots?


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#1 Sonic04GT

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 12:45

Are there any "color deficient" helicopter pilots that have done the testing recently? I'm trying to pursue my dream of flying and have a golden opportunity to do so with my military benefits. Everything from Private to CFII is covered 100%.

However, I've been stressing myself and doing A LOT of research (most of it old information but all points back to the new FAA Regulation). I see my options are:

Take an alternative test and pass. Using this route, I will have to do the same thing again every year. My only fear is, what if I'm 10 years into my career, all of my educational benefits depleted (I'm 23 btw) and all of a sudden the FAA adjusts their list of "approved color tests" and the one I normally pass is no longer on there. My career just crashed and burned.

OR

I can take the Medical Flight Test, which appears to be a one shot deal. If I pass, I get a Letter of Evidence good forever, or until they rescind that too haha or if I fail I have a permanent night/light gun restriction and I'm sure nobody will want to hire a pilot with that restriction on his medical certificate.

The MFT seems VERY discriminatory, a lot of which won't apply to helicopter pilots to begin with. The whole discriminatory part has been discussed numerous times on other (mainly jet) forums. Some of the things they expect us to do, even a pilot with normal colorvision would struggle. PLUS...it's not a controlled environment. There are way too many variables when you're talking about someone's career at stake.

So, are there any "colorblind" pilots that have dealt with any of this recently? The ones I talked to, one a traumahawk pilot and the other a CFII, both told me they just did the light gun test and got a LOE before the new regulations came into effect, grandfathering them in. It's thoroughly upsetting. I got out of the Army last year, finally decided on a career field I'd love and it's about to get shot down by the FAA.

A lot of this leads back to the Fedex cargo plane crash years ago that was below glideslope and touched down before the runway. Funny thing is, the captain with normal colorvision saw the same exact thing that his colordeficient co-pilot did, but they still blamed it on color deficiency.

Sorry for the long post.

-Chris
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#2 Pohi

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 19:18

I have had a few of these come up, most did the light gun test. There is a lot on the line if it doesnt go well, but in my experience the people at the tower were more than willing to shoot the lights for the student to practice.

They get bored up there, so any break in the routine is sometimes welcome. I would suggest trying a few signals from the light gun and seeing if you can get it down.

I kid you not, I had a one eyed and colorblind student once.

Good luck
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#3 Sonic04GT

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 23:53

I have had a few of these come up, most did the light gun test. There is a lot on the line if it doesnt go well, but in my experience the people at the tower were more than willing to shoot the lights for the student to practice.

They get bored up there, so any break in the routine is sometimes welcome. I would suggest trying a few signals from the light gun and seeing if you can get it down.

I kid you not, I had a one eyed and colorblind student once.

Good luck

Thanks for the reply. I feel confident I can pass the light gun test, but for a class 2, the FAA requires the MFT which involves going up in a plane with an ASI and pointing out various lights, features on an aeronautical chart, describing safe landing areas, etc. I hear its a real PITA. And after reading on here, it sounds like I'm driving myself crazy to jump through hoops into a career field that doesn't seem to want to hire anyone new.

I might just suck it up, go back to the drawing board and pick another career to use my benefits on. Then I'll get my PPL fixed-wing on the side so I can still fly with a Class 3 that really only requires the light gun test. That will be a ways down the line though once I get a job and can afford the training out of pocket. This just sucks because everything is fully paid for. $0 in debt for PPL, Commercial, Commercial Instrument, CFI, CFII and apparently this year they're adding NVG, external load, turbine transition.

#4 Tarantula

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Posted 22 June 2011 - 07:02

Can you try the MFT and see if you can pass first, and then choose something else if it ends up you can't?

Seems that if you really want to get into this field, getting through one PITA test would be worth it.

#5 Sonic04GT

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Posted 22 June 2011 - 13:09

Can you try the MFT and see if you can pass first, and then choose something else if it ends up you can't?

Seems that if you really want to get into this field, getting through one PITA test would be worth it.

Well here's the issue on that. I feel I can pass the light gun test for an LOE or the alternate test each year if I decide to do that for a Class 3 when I get my PPL fixed-wing (assuming I dont fly helicopters). My worry is now if I just give the MFT a shot and fail, I'll have a permanent restriction on my certificate that will probably affect my PPL flying. I'd hate to spend $6 grand or so out of pocket and not be able to fly at night.

If that's not the case, I would have no problem at least giving the PITA test a try. I'm just starting to feel like I'm going crazy trying to get all these waivers to get into a field that isn't hiring actively.

#6 Ethman

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Posted 22 June 2011 - 13:30

I'm in the same boat as you. I'm red/green deficient, I'm not sure what you are, but red/green is the only one they really care about it seems. I can tell the difference between red and green no problem. Red just doesn't stand out as much to me, and I flunk those stupid ishi haru tests, but I was still able to pass my Second Class medical. I've heard of people memorizing the test, but there are different versions. Being colorblind is one thing, but color deficient I don't think would ever come into play in a life or death situation, ESPECIALLY in helicopters. Has anyone ever heard of an accident caused by someone being color deficient? Too much tight ass regulation...

Also they have the 100 Hue test were you put colored squares in order from one color to other which is a much more accurate representation of color deficiency, and there's the red/green lamp test. I read they used to accept these forms of testing, but I'm pretty sure you can still do the 100 hue test.

#7 Sonic04GT

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Posted 22 June 2011 - 16:28

I'm in the same boat as you. I'm red/green deficient, I'm not sure what you are, but red/green is the only one they really care about it seems. I can tell the difference between red and green no problem. Red just doesn't stand out as much to me, and I flunk those stupid ishi haru tests, but I was still able to pass my Second Class medical. I've heard of people memorizing the test, but there are different versions. Being colorblind is one thing, but color deficient I don't think would ever come into play in a life or death situation, ESPECIALLY in helicopters. Has anyone ever heard of an accident caused by someone being color deficient? Too much tight ass regulation...

Also they have the 100 Hue test were you put colored squares in order from one color to other which is a much more accurate representation of color deficiency, and there's the red/green lamp test. I read they used to accept these forms of testing, but I'm pretty sure you can still do the 100 hue test.

So how did you get through your class 2 medical? I'll look into that test. I am red/green also. Sometimes mix up purples and blues if they're dark. I can definitely tell the difference between red and green though unless they are a similar hue and a very small light.

Edit- Not sure if this is what you're talking about but this is a little difficult for me. Computer monitors and angle I'm sure make a difference also though.
http://www.xrite.com...geID=77&Lang=en

#8 Ethman

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Posted 22 June 2011 - 18:04

So how did you get through your class 2 medical? I'll look into that test. I am red/green also. Sometimes mix up purples and blues if they're dark. I can definitely tell the difference between red and green though unless they are a similar hue and a very small light.

Edit- Not sure if this is what you're talking about but this is a little difficult for me. Computer monitors and angle I'm sure make a difference also though.
http://www.xrite.com...geID=77&Lang=en

I actually have my optometrist do the vision part of my exam. There's a form he can get that he will fill out after he checks you out, and if you pass you take that paper to your medical exam and they skip the vision portion completely. Optometrists also may have the 100 hue test as well.

The examiner can make a big difference too. The first time I took my medical, my examiner gave me the ishi haru test and I failed miserably. So he asked what the color of the plane was behind him. I said red, he said you pass lol. Also I've heard that the FAA might abolish color deficient rules somewhere on long the line because its not a risk factor.

Good luck to you man, I know its hell having a stupid thing like color deficiency holding you back. This is the only reason I can't fly in the military. oh and yeah, that's the test.

#9 Sonic04GT

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Posted 22 June 2011 - 21:26

I actually have my optometrist do the vision part of my exam. There's a form he can get that he will fill out after he checks you out, and if you pass you take that paper to your medical exam and they skip the vision portion completely. Optometrists also may have the 100 hue test as well.

The examiner can make a big difference too. The first time I took my medical, my examiner gave me the ishi haru test and I failed miserably. So he asked what the color of the plane was behind him. I said red, he said you pass lol. Also I've heard that the FAA might abolish color deficient rules somewhere on long the line because its not a risk factor.

Good luck to you man, I know its hell having a stupid thing like color deficiency holding you back. This is the only reason I can't fly in the military. oh and yeah, that's the test.

Yeah I got screwed going into the Army because of colorblindness but it actually ended up working in my favor so I couldn't complain there. I can probably pass one of the approved color tests at my optometrist but then I have to do it again next year. I'm worried that the test I normally pass might get nixxed by the FAA 10 years down the line and I'm in the middle of my career. The only concrete way seems to be the LOE after the MFT. I'm just worried about failing the MFT as mentioned a couple posts up, and it having a burden on my PPL if I go that route in the future. The MFT is not required for a 3rd class but if I fail it now I don't think it matters, permanent restriction. What you're describing sounds like how I got my red/green waiver in the Army to go airborne haha "What color is this folder?" "green" "ok, you're good to go"

#10 Hang'em High

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 03:51

Yeah basically I have to go to my own optomitrist and ask for a color blind test every year. He/she then writes out a letter "To whom it may concern" stating that I passed either an Ishihara or a Dvorine color plate test. I then take the letter to my AME and per the FAA, that is an acceptable proceedure for another year (until I have to renew my medical again next year).

What really sucks is the fact that eye doctors will tell you, if a person is born with a certain color deficiency, that deficiency will NEVER get better or worse with age, unlike near or far sidedness. So, I don't understand why the FAA requires one to retake a color exam every single year if they've already received a passing result from an accredited eye doctor in the past.

I find it easier to pass at my own eye doctor's office under better lighting conditions than an AME's office where he usually has one look into an outdated and crappy viewing device with miniaturezed and badly fadded colored plates.

The FAA really screwed many professional pilots with their new ruling since 2008. The sad thing with taking the light gun test and having an FAA guy fly with you is that if you fail, one is disqualified for LIFE!!!!!!!!! No make up exams are allowed. Therefore, I highly suggest you just keep trying with your eye doctor until you get it right. One doctor told me that many people are not color blind, they just have a slight deficiency that makes it hard to pull out numbers on the darn Ishihara color plate test.

Also, when using an FAA guy for your practical light gun test, as one already stated here, one must also recognize all the colors on a chart, colors on the aircraft's instruments, ALL lights and their meanings at an airport. It's almost like taking another darn check ride. Plus, the light gun signal test must be taken during day light hours, which is where the green and white lights are hard to distinguish sometimes due to bright sun light, even for one with perfect color vision (so I've been told by my ATC friend that works in a very busy tower controlled airport).

I tell you, it's very screwed up they way they run the system now. There should be a better way to do it.

#11 Sonic04GT

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 14:06

Yeah basically I have to go to my own optomitrist and ask for a color blind test every year. He/she then writes out a letter "To whom it may concern" stating that I passed either an Ishihara or a Dvorine color plate test. I then take the letter to my AME and per the FAA, that is an acceptable proceedure for another year (until I have to renew my medical again next year).

What really sucks is the fact that eye doctors will tell you, if a person is born with a certain color deficiency, that deficiency will NEVER get better or worse with age, unlike near or far sidedness. So, I don't understand why the FAA requires one to retake a color exam every single year if they've already received a passing result from an accredited eye doctor in the past.

I find it easier to pass at my own eye doctor's office under better lighting conditions than an AME's office where he usually has one look into an outdated and crappy viewing device with miniaturezed and badly fadded colored plates.

The FAA really screwed many professional pilots with their new ruling since 2008. The sad thing with taking the light gun test and having an FAA guy fly with you is that if you fail, one is disqualified for LIFE!!!!!!!!! No make up exams are allowed. Therefore, I highly suggest you just keep trying with your eye doctor until you get it right. One doctor told me that many people are not color blind, they just have a slight deficiency that makes it hard to pull out numbers on the darn Ishihara color plate test.

Also, when using an FAA guy for your practical light gun test, as one already stated here, one must also recognize all the colors on a chart, colors on the aircraft's instruments, ALL lights and their meanings at an airport. It's almost like taking another darn check ride. Plus, the light gun signal test must be taken during day light hours, which is where the green and white lights are hard to distinguish sometimes due to bright sun light, even for one with perfect color vision (so I've been told by my ATC friend that works in a very busy tower controlled airport).

I tell you, it's very screwed up they way they run the system now. There should be a better way to do it.


I definitely agree with you. Sounds like a lot of discrimination going on, especially since a lot of pilots would have a hard time taking the MFT even with normal color vision, but they aren't required.

I could try the optometrist thing, but I'm worried 10 years down the line the FAA will nix the test I normally take and then I'm screwed.

What do you do for a living? Are you worried the same thing may happen to you?

#12 Hang'em High

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Posted 24 June 2011 - 21:38

Sonic,

I don't think the FAA will change any of their color blind testing proceedures or the tests that they currently accept. Look at the Farnsworth Lantern test for example. That is a test that is well over 60-70 years old and nobody on earth (practically) has that darn lantern test available. I don' know one eye care facility, nor a big eye college in my neck of the woods that has that test. Yet the FAA continues to accept that test as an acceptable means of testing an airman.

Look at the Ishihara color plate series tests. They've been around since man discovered dirt and it will always be around. Simply because it's an easy test to administer and considered a "standard" for color vision testing. Same goes with the Dvorak color plate tests.

Don't worry about what "might" happen 10 years from now when it comes to available tests that the FAA may or may not approve. If your dream is to become a helicopter pilot, then by all means go for it. I at one time felt the same as you, but I didn't give up. Yes every year I have to go find an eye doctor and take the color vision test in his/her office for around $80-100 bucks, but so what.

In the event you don't pass, many will let you retake it or you could go find another doctor with a different test that you might be able to pass. I'm telling you, when you go to an AME doctor for your FAA medical certificate, more than likely you'll run into the little eye viewing machine that they administer to people. I believe those eye machines have horrible lighting and cause many people to fail the color test. I'm one of them, that's why I choose to see my own doctor that has a few others tests to choose from. As a matter of fact, I have difficulty with the little viewing devices looking at miniature Ishihara color plates, but when a real eye doctor gives me the full sized color plate book to view, I can pass that one. The Dvorak 65th edition is actually a little easier in my opinion. I found a college of optomitry in my state that offers that test. I passed and they gave me a letter for the FAA.

So don't get discouraged yet. You still have options to at least try. Take some other tests and see if you can pass them at your own eye doctor. Then have them write a letter "To whom it may concern" with your test results. Make sure they mention something to the effect of "passing" or "normal color vision" etc.... My AME's have always accepted those letters from my eye doctor(s) in the past because the FAA says it is perfectly acceptable to do so.

Don't worry about the "what if" thing. Remember, IF grandma had b@lls, she'd be grandpa. You can't worry about what the FAA "might" do a decade from now. Especially with the color vision test. In 2008 they made their "big" change as to what they now require. I'll bet that they won't change those current rules for another 40 years.

To answer your question, I'm a full time sworn LEO that flys turbine helicopters in a full time air support unit.

#13 Sonic04GT

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Posted 01 July 2011 - 13:35

Sonic,

I don't think the FAA will change any of their color blind testing proceedures or the tests that they currently accept. Look at the Farnsworth Lantern test for example. That is a test that is well over 60-70 years old and nobody on earth (practically) has that darn lantern test available. I don' know one eye care facility, nor a big eye college in my neck of the woods that has that test. Yet the FAA continues to accept that test as an acceptable means of testing an airman.

Look at the Ishihara color plate series tests. They've been around since man discovered dirt and it will always be around. Simply because it's an easy test to administer and considered a "standard" for color vision testing. Same goes with the Dvorak color plate tests.

Don't worry about what "might" happen 10 years from now when it comes to available tests that the FAA may or may not approve. If your dream is to become a helicopter pilot, then by all means go for it. I at one time felt the same as you, but I didn't give up. Yes every year I have to go find an eye doctor and take the color vision test in his/her office for around $80-100 bucks, but so what.

In the event you don't pass, many will let you retake it or you could go find another doctor with a different test that you might be able to pass. I'm telling you, when you go to an AME doctor for your FAA medical certificate, more than likely you'll run into the little eye viewing machine that they administer to people. I believe those eye machines have horrible lighting and cause many people to fail the color test. I'm one of them, that's why I choose to see my own doctor that has a few others tests to choose from. As a matter of fact, I have difficulty with the little viewing devices looking at miniature Ishihara color plates, but when a real eye doctor gives me the full sized color plate book to view, I can pass that one. The Dvorak 65th edition is actually a little easier in my opinion. I found a college of optomitry in my state that offers that test. I passed and they gave me a letter for the FAA.

So don't get discouraged yet. You still have options to at least try. Take some other tests and see if you can pass them at your own eye doctor. Then have them write a letter "To whom it may concern" with your test results. Make sure they mention something to the effect of "passing" or "normal color vision" etc.... My AME's have always accepted those letters from my eye doctor(s) in the past because the FAA says it is perfectly acceptable to do so.

Don't worry about the "what if" thing. Remember, IF grandma had b@lls, she'd be grandpa. You can't worry about what the FAA "might" do a decade from now. Especially with the color vision test. In 2008 they made their "big" change as to what they now require. I'll bet that they won't change those current rules for another 40 years.

To answer your question, I'm a full time sworn LEO that flys turbine helicopters in a full time air support unit.

Thanks a lot for the information. Last week I called maybe 10-15 optometrists and none of them had anything but the Ishihara. At that point, it became such a hassle that I gave up. I went to my optometrist and took the Ishihara again to ensure I really can't pass it. Then I followed on with my already arranged AME appointment. Fortunately, he didn't charge me the $100 because I'm a veteran. Really great guy. His office submitted the paperwork to Oklahoma, in which I called the next day. They know I want to appeal it and said they are very busy, but when she sends it up she will mention I'm a veteran and can't apply for my benefits until I have the LOE in hand. So now I wait for that letter in the mail to take the MFT after they look over my paperwork and deem me fit to fly. If I fail it, at least I tried. If I pass, I'm going to the bar to celebrate, and will feel assured that I'm good for life.
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#14 EYW-MIA

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Posted 01 July 2011 - 13:50

Go to the bar and celebrate oh yea! I will be doing that aug second when i go home on vacation for the first time in 10 months from afghanistan. Cheers mate.

#15 Sonic04GT

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Posted 02 July 2011 - 11:06

Go to the bar and celebrate oh yea! I will be doing that aug second when i go home on vacation for the first time in 10 months from afghanistan. Cheers mate.

Congrats man. Have a beer for me. I was in Iraq 08-09.

#16 EYW-MIA

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Posted 02 July 2011 - 11:16

lets see. kuwait all of 2008. iraq all 2009. africa all 2010. im civilian now trying to save up money for flight school. just paid off all bills but mortgage. i have gi bill benefits so what i do not use out of my 100k for flight training will go toward hour building if i need it. 700 dollar a month mortgage no bills and 100k for flight training and over 100k for living. i should be good while i am a struggling instructor. lol. Thats the plan at lease. lol.

#17 Sonic04GT

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Posted 10 September 2011 - 17:49

I just came back to say that there is hope after all! I passed my OCVT a couple weeks ago and just passed my MFT yesterday. The safety inspector presented my LOE on the spot and I must say I am one happy camper. I'm going to frame this damn thing as I will never forget the stress they put me through, and it caused me to miss my school start date.

Good luck to you, EYW-MIA, and anyone stumbling in here that happens to be colorblind facing the same issue.

Hopefully get college started come January.

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#18 Rotor123

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Posted 04 October 2011 - 13:39

Hi Sonic, I am in exactly the same situation as you were. I'm red/green color blind and I've searched and asked in many places but no one seems to be able to help. I was wondering if you could describe the steps and what you had to do when you took your MTF and OVCT, what hours of the day you took them at, and what colors and objects did you need to identify.
Inspiring story. Thank you.

#19 Rotor123

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Posted 04 October 2011 - 14:34

Hi Sonic, after searching for answers everywhere I finally found your post and become a member on this site just to reply. I am in exactly the same situation as you were. I'm red/green color blind and I've searched and asked in many places but no one seems to be able to help. I was wondering if you could describe the steps and what you had to do when you took your MTF and OVCT, what hours of the day you took them at, and what colors and objects did you need to identify? And also were you operating the helicopter or was the FAA dude flying while you identified things on the ground?
Inspiring story. Thank you.

#20 Sonic04GT

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Posted 18 October 2011 - 15:11

Hi Sonic, after searching for answers everywhere I finally found your post and become a member on this site just to reply. I am in exactly the same situation as you were. I'm red/green color blind and I've searched and asked in many places but no one seems to be able to help. I was wondering if you could describe the steps and what you had to do when you took your MTF and OVCT, what hours of the day you took them at, and what colors and objects did you need to identify? And also were you operating the helicopter or was the FAA dude flying while you identified things on the ground?
Inspiring story. Thank you.


Sorry for the delayed response. Sent you an email. If you did not receive it just respond to the thread.




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