The medical is something pilots have to go through frequently. Professional pilots have to renew the class 1 medical every year, until the age of 60, after which the medical is valid for only six months at a time. For a private pilot under 40, the class 2 medical is valid for five years, under 50 for two years, and once you are over 50 you have to renew it every year.
I had my first medical at the Center for Military Medicine. It was part of the application process. The Finnish Aviation Academy’s medical requirements are in part stricter than the joint European medical requirements for flight crew licences (JAR-FCL 3), which the medical is based on. If you are interested in more information, you can read about the deviations here: Finnish Aviation Academy medical requirements.
Having the medical was pretty exciting since in this part there was really not much to do to affect the result. You either passed the medical or not. I just hoped they would not find any medical conditions that I was not aware of. The checks were many and thorough, especially for the eyes. The peripheral vision test was interesting. I looked into a machine keeping my eyes looking straight forward while tiny pinpoint size lights flashed quickly in every possible corner of the screen. Everytime I saw one I had to press a button. The lights were in unbelievable angles. It is amazing how wide the peripheral vision is. Other tests included e.g. an audiogram, an EKG, blood tests and a spirometry.
The different checkups lasted for a few hours with different doctors and nurses. In between it was nice to meet some of the other candidates again. There were five of us that day. I think two of the guys unfortunately had some problems with the medical, but I hope they were fine ultimately. I also met two very nice pilots from the Finnish Army Helicopter Battalion. It was refreshing to sit down for coffee with like-minded people. You might guess, the conversation revolved around flying and aircraft! You see, my friends will not have those conversations with me. I do forgive them.
The final checkup was with the AME (Aviation medical examiner) who also summed up the day and told you if he would recommend you for the class 1 medical. I received my certificate in mail about a week later. On the cover it said “Pertaining to a flight crew license“, it sounded so cool! I was so close to becoming a pilot. But what I did not know at the time, before I was to be finally accepted as a student I had one last hurdle to overcome. It wasn’t unpleasant at all. It was more of a joy. More about that the next time!
Wikipedia: Aviation medicine (leads to the Finnish page)