View Full Version : Asthmatics in the RAF
11th Sep 2006, 20:01
I'll try and keep this brief.
I'm interested in joing the RAF as a pilot. However they specifically state no asthmatics are allowed as aircrew. I am slighlty asthmatic and it appears to only be exercised induced. When i say i am slighlty asthmatic i had not had an attack since i was 4, and not required any medication since i was 6 (I'm now 19).
However this summer something triggered it off again. And i got a really bad cough for about 2 weeks and was eventually told to start regulary taking medication again. When i suffered from this second 'attack' i was not close to passing out or anything exciting like that (it took me a week to get off my arse and go to the docs and i raced through it at the weekend - see below), i literally got a really bad dry cough and a bit of a tight chest - which didnt stop me training or racing to a high level.
I must point out that i am a racing cyclist (aka lycra louts in some circles) and have had lab tests done which show that i have very high levels of CV fitness.
Now someone i know who is ex RAF said just decline all knowledge at the medical, and lets face it i will be loads fitter than the average recruit. However he joined the RAF a fair few years ago so i was wondering whether they would have a copy of my medical records at the medical, and has anyone or does anyone know of anyone who has gone through a similar situation to me and managed to get in as aircrew?
11th Sep 2006, 20:42
I don't know the answer to your main question re: would the RAF accept you with your condition, however, i can confirm that they will have your medical records, and will examine them in detail. Quite a few people have asked this sort of question, so try using the search function.
All the best,
11th Sep 2006, 20:52
check your pm
11th Sep 2006, 22:55
I got in as Nav in 1990 and knew I was a wheezer. Declared it in '97 and much to my amazement no one was too bothered! Kept flying etc etc!
Some would say what a terrible person I was for not declaring it at interview blah blah blah..... Some would say if you want it enough you will do anything to get it.
I wanted it and I got it. Simple.
Its your choice. If you declare it at initial medical and want to be aircrew you will be shown the door.
The RAF doesn't have a problem with the fat, lazy, obese lard arses that can't see their own show laces let alone actually be able to bend over and tie them that seem to have crept into most branches. Why should a little wheeze hold you back?
Don't know if this helps but it worked for me!
13th Sep 2006, 20:06
7 years ago I know that you had to be 4 years symptom free. If your recent docs report ASTHMA then it may be a problem. If they say something else, maybe not. If you have to give your medical records, or a report from the GP, then you will probably have no choice. But if you don't ask you don't get. So....
13th Sep 2006, 20:34
Declared it in '97 and much to my amazement no one was too bothered! Kept flying etc etc!Its your choice. If you declare it at initial medical and want to be aircrew you will be shown the door.
IMHO the general rule is to take only the finest physical specimens :\ as you are never going to get better. Then, as you age, they will provide all the prosthetics to keep you going and that includes artificial legs, glass eyes, etc. It cost buckets to train you and then even more buckets to get rid of you if you are medically discharged.
So, apply and let them make the decision.
13th Sep 2006, 22:41
Not sure what the future holds then. I teach in schools and one in seven kids are asthmatic. Fifty years ago it was one in a hundred.
14th Sep 2006, 07:17
Thing, yes but.
In the last 50 years the pool from which aircrew are drawn has more than doubled in size while the aircrew cadre has shrunk to about 15% of the 1950s figure.
Also there were many other medical problems then that are not applicable now. Mumps for instance prevented my BinL from applying but hearing loss for mumps is probably unheard of.
Then there was polio. Eradicated in most of the world now.
Asthmatics might be a problem but medical advances in other areas have redressed the balance. With health improvements, better education and a leaner more efficient military machine, the future is bright.
Can't believe I could write that last paragraph. Must get a job with Tone.
14th Sep 2006, 08:16
TBO2 I can only speak from personal experience - and not about asthma specifically. I suffered from seasonal allergic rhinitis (hay fever!) when I joined - kept schtum and continued to self-medicate with Triludan (later
withdrawn due to unfortunate side effect of sudden heart stoppage). After a couple of years I told the medics and have had loads of free drugs ever since. Whilst I was in Germany there was a Harrier pilot I knew who suffered from asthma - he seemed to have no probs with the authorities and said that on the bad days he was OK "once I'd had a blast of 100% 02". It's only anecdotal, but at least it sounds hopeful. As I said - this was all a few years ago - we are far more enlightened now I think. As other posters have said - all you can do is go for it - and you sound far fitter than many of the lard-arses wobbling around the military - although with all that talk of training/racing I'm not sure if you're really aircrew material - can you also drink heavily and act like a 3yr-old? As said previously; once you are in, you can fall apart physically and they'll move heaven and earth to keep you going!
14th Sep 2006, 08:53
You do, of course, now have the right to look at your Medical Records and have them "corrected". Now they're held on computer I think I'm right in saying an alteration leaves no trace of the previous "opinion". If you've taken the trouble to build up a decent relationship with your GP (most people don't, but IMHO it's well worth while, certainly where any sort of flying is involved!) the latest episode could be "reconsidered". These days GPs are well aware of the implications of labelling patients asthmatic and most GPs would certainly be happy to discuss the problem with you. At the very least you need to know what your record says. Early childhood episodes are common and would probably not be relevant.
As someone has said: "Don't ask, don't get". Consider it the first part of your initiative test!
14th Sep 2006, 14:05
Ok, please bear in mind that what I write is only from my personal experience - if you want definative answers then the only thing to do is ask the RAF directly.
I fear that with any history of asthma, it will be more or less impossible to join as aircrew. I myself have recently been through selection at Cranwell. When I was younger I was tried on an asthma drug for a cough I had - it did nothing (i.e. I do not have asthma) but this remains on my records. Given that I was applying to be a pilot, I was required to go for specialist testing to confirm the absence of asthma - and that is for a case of suspected asthma over a decade ago. If the medical board are this stringent over someone who has never been diagnosed with asthma, it seems a gloomy outlook for anyone who has ever suffered it.
Of course, people talk on here about applying, and not telling the RAF about their diagnosies. It's worth remembering that if selected the RAF will request medical information from your GP. If this throws up anything that you have purposely failed to mention then any chance of an RAF career is effectivly gone - you have displayed a lack of integrity etc.
Speaking to one of the medical staff, I was told that one reason that the RAF has such stringent rules with asthmatics is that they have a particularly bad reaction to the Naps tablets taken to protect against the effects of chemical weapons. This is second hand knowledge though - please correct me if im wrong.
I seem to know a lot about this subject so I'll enlighten you. To get in the RAF you musnt have it 4 years previous which unfourtunatly you do which starts of as a bit of a downer. I'm extremely sorry because I know how cruel it can be, but if you want you can ring the careers service and they might help you more.
If you think thats harsh try having an extremely small chance of pilot when you didnt even have an attack and a specialist says you dont have it which is my situation.
Good luck, try to get a second opinion from a specialist like I did and hopefully something coud prevail like the RN or AAC.:ok:
14th Sep 2006, 19:56
Hmm getting the doc to delete records sounds like a plan.
I'm seeing her next week about this whole thing, sounds like i may be atking some flowers and a box of chocolates.
Maybe even offer to take her out cus see knows i am way outta her league.:cool:
14th Sep 2006, 20:56
Whoa there,T2 ! That's not quite what I said!
Asthma needs to be diagnosed by a specialist. If it hasn't been diagnosed you don't yet have it. You need to know if your GP has written "query? asthma" in your Notes. If she has, you may (v e r y politely!) ask her how she would feel about altering it to something less specific until such time as it has been diagnosed by a specialist, and explain that the reference may compomise a job application. She will know nothing about flying, but she will have come across the same problem before with other occupations, HGV, police, firemen etc.
Forget the chocs and daisies and don't even think of a chat-up, but a very nice smile will go a long way.
It's a (legal and very reasonable) r e q u e s t, remember, and a chance to see and discuss if there's anything else in your medical notes that may be a problem in your application.
15th Sep 2006, 13:23
[quote=Albert Driver;2849705]Whoa there,T2 ! That's not quite what I said!
'Asthma needs to be diagnosed by a specialist. If it hasn't been diagnosed you don't yet have it. You need to know if your GP has written "query? asthma" in your Notes. '
That's not strictly true. In fact it's the other way round. If yr records say 'asthma' then RAF sees 'asthma'. I've known several people turned down without even an interview, and people who are limited to ground trades too. If you develop asthma in service you usually get treated differently- ie medication but not necessarily a medical downgrade. But you can bet that if you are downgraded it always takes a specialist to upgrade!
18th Sep 2006, 08:28
Any mention of the A-word in your records will generate a no. Similarly the H-word (hay fever) will generate a refusal.
Ecema is also a no-no generally.
A worried mother taking her youngest to the doctor for a check could get the 'no evidence of Asthma' in the notes. Unfortunately this is then construed as <<no evidence of asthma is not evidence of no asthma>>.
Sad but true.
Sounds similar to my case. Had a bit of wheezness due to hayfever as a child. Didnt tell Cranwell on application got in but it came back to bite me a few years later.
However all I had to do was a bike excercise test at Peterborough to try and induce wheezing and it was ok. What have you got to lose. If you tell them they will say no if you dont they may catch you out and say no but there is a chance they will not pick it up and you get in.
Is it worth the risk I think so.