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Aircrew Medical


I recently passed my AIB and have been offered a BRNC place for September 2014 providing I'm medically fit. It has been a few weeks now and no news on the medical front. Does anyone know the average waiting time to hear from Cranwell ? Also whats involved in the medical ?
When I did mine, the medical was the day after AIB and done at HMS Sultan, Haslar and a civvy opticians.

Out of interest, Why would Cranwell be involved in the navy recruiting process other than for the Aptitude Tests? Is this another form of jointery rubbish that we have to put up with?

It was like that when I found it chief


I think until a couple of years ago the medicals were done after you found out your fate at the AIB. I guess with the lack of pilots going through now, all service aircrew medicals are conducted at Cranwell. From what I have heard Cranwell like to sift through all your documents before calling you forward.


War Hero
The initial aircrew medical is slightly more involved than subsequent ones. For instance, you will have an EEG on your first one but none thereafter (unless you get a big bump on your noggin'). As I understand it, it's not normal to 'develop' epilepsy so if you're clear on your initial test then you're probably going to be okay for the rest of your flying career. I will now standby to be re-educated by the Angry Scab Lifter :icon_smile:

Anyway, the medical:

Piss in a pot and let the nurse then test it for protein, blood in the urine etc.....make sure you're well hydrated before attending the medical and, I suggest, not full of beer.

Weight. You get weighed.

Blood pressure and pulse taken to see if you're still alive. You'll be okay doing it at Cranwell, where it'll be full of unattractive, light blue-wearing dorii; try doing this bit with a lovely looking Haslar QARNNS nurse leaning over you and deliberately letting her dress ride up higher than it should. Meeoowwww.

After waiting (do you see what I did there) you'll be measured in all sorts of wonderful ways. This is only on the first medical 'cos they want to see if you can fit in an aircraft/ejector seat etc. They'll measure your back length, arse to knee, knee to ground etc etc. Nothing you can do except sit there and giggle when they touch your arse with their tape measure (at least that's what I assumed it was). Subsequent medicals will just measure your height so they can do a BMI calculation and then tell you to stay off the aircrew nutty.

Hearing test. Sit in a fridge thing and press a button when you hear the dog whistles (tones). These are performed at various frequencies and get quieter on each tone until the machine then realises you can't hear any more and just shakes its head and writes 0 on the chart. I know it sounds daft but I open my mouth when doing this test. This is not to make myself look surprised at being able to hear but if I don't then all I can hear is my heart beat (and normally the previous night's antics of the nurses chatting outside the fridge).

ECG. I like this bit 'cos you get gel squirted on your chest before they put suckers or stickers on you and wire you up to the machine. Not a lot you can do except stare at the ceiling and try to relax. I don't know if they do the 'stress' ECG nowadays but that only involves walking on a treadmill while they make the incline steeper. Stationary ECGs are great for picking up what might have happened to your ticker but useless at predicting what could happen. Stress ECGs are better for having a look at everything being okay with your pump and valves while they're in proper use and, therefore, getting a better idea if they're likely to pack in in the the near future.

EEG. They put some sort of rugby helmet thing on your head with more wires coming out of it than snakes on Medusa's swede. The wires are stuck in their machine and you get to lie down and contemplate the inside of your eyelids for a while. Then you open them and close them again, repeating ad infinitum while the mad scientists turn lights on and off, make them bright and dim and then flashing a strobe light about the place while you open and close your eyes (again). If you've ever sat in a Sea King with the sun above and in front of you you'll realise the point of this test; the rotors create a great stroboscopic effect and at just the right frequency to set off epilepsy, which is not a great look even in a (spit) helicopter pilot.

Lung capacity. Various tests for this but normally they just get you to breath as hard as you can into a tube to measure your 'peak flow' (I think the verbiage is) and then they tell you to 'keep going, keep going, keep going' until everything turns grey and your knees go wobbly. Okay, bit of an exaggeration but I'm sure it's a game the nurses play just for a laugh. You'll probably do this about three times and the Doc can then nod sagely and tell you you're able to breath and probably haven't got asthma (or that you have if your peak flow was woeful).

Eye tests. For obvious reasons there's a few of these and over the years I've been tested with all of them. This does not mean you'll experience all of the following but no doubt you'll get most of them. Far vision with reading letters with both eyes and then one eye at a time (not the same one). Near vision reading complete bollox from a book with teensy words. Blowing air in your eyes to measure the pressure behind the eyeball. Looking into a machine with various pictures and lines and lining them up (I assume to see if you're cross-eyed or not). Peering into a giant half ping pong ball while a light whizzes in from different directions and you click a button when you see it (testing your peripheral vision) and then repeating it all with one eye at a time, whilst trying not to fall asleep in the lovely dimly-lit room. I've had drops put in my eyes and then they've stared into them with their microscope thingy, while breathing garlic breath on me. I don't think the garlic is part of the test but I do wish they'd spend more time with a toothbrush. Come to that, I have no idea what the idea of the eye drops is and wonder why I subject myself to this. There's obviously a good check of the health of your eyes, as well as their functionality. Of course, the fun is not complete without looking at the Dulux colour charts and seeing if you can read the numbers buried in the dots.

Oh, how about a blood test? Yes, the vampires come along and extract a few drops of your life juice. This is normally sent away and all your various functions tested and checked. Liver function tests, uric acid, heeman/homoglb/haemat/...iron etc. I've been advised in the past to avoid sit-up type exercises for two or three days before these because, allegedly, while muscle repairs are going on the liver can get a bit busy and affect the LFTs. I have no idea whether this is true or not but I use it as a good excuse to sit around and avoid any sort of strenuous activity.

You'll have some internal photographs taken with the X-ray machine to check your chest is okay and that you haven't got TB. I've also had ultrasounds done of my liver, kidneys etc but I don't think that is a military thing and don't recall it being in the initial medical.

Ear, nose, throat expert normally has a good look around all three and checks they're all working properly. This often leads to the 'balance' tests to check the functioning or not of your inner ear. With eyes closed (or wearing an eye mask to prevent cheating) you'll be asked to stand up straight with arms out, then do the same on one leg and then the other. Sometimes you'll have to march on the spot (and they measure how far away from that spot you drifted). There's even a test where you stand on a machine with your peepers shut, with arms out and it can measure the force you're putting through your legs to remain upright. Anyway, nothing nasty and it normally results in a fair bit of laughter when you stumble across the room and collide with the skeleton that always seems to be in an examining room.

Finally you go and see the Scab Lifter him/herself for an all-round check. Normal things, clad in your boxers and a smile: breath in and out while they listen to the gurgling on your lungs and rapidly beating, irregular heart beat (I can only relate my personal experiences), tap, tap, tap on your chest with two fingers (I have no idea either!), reflexes, more reflexes with tickling the soles of your feet (I like that one), toe-touching and crouching to check your spine, a prod around the stomach area and the associated tut, tut, when the doc palpates the liver, another look around the eyes, ears, throat. Sometimes (and only VERY occasionally) it's a finger up the bum for a prostate check, sorry girls. I do recall getting that on the initial medical but I know a lot of doctors question its validity, seeing as most of the blokes undertaking the medical are young and not in the 'zone' for prostate cancer. Anyway, it all adds to a fun day out and at least you don't have to pay for it (this time). Sometimes they like to get you stepping up and down a set of two wooden steps and they then test your heart recovery by taking your heart rate every minute and seeing how quickly it goes from 160 to 158 (well, thats what mine did in four minutes, so I assume that must be the norm). The Doc will ask you a bunch of questions about past illnesses, family history, injuries etc (most of which you've answered already on the questionnaire......maybe he's trying to check your short-term memory). All in all, just a general once over and certainly nothing to get concerned about. By then you've done all the 'specialist' checks so this is really to see if you can walk in to the room unaided, avoid spitting at the doctor for the period of your examination, put your socks on again without falling over and get extra points by tying your own shoe laces.

Everybody hates going to the Scab Lifter and it doesn't matter whether it's the first time of the hundreth but you'll be doing this for your whole flying career and it does get less stressful each time, especially when you realise they don't come at you with scalpel and other bollox that you heard from a mate down the pub (who had a friend etc). The docs of the past certainly had a different attitude to those of today. It used to be that they almost wanted to end your flying career and would find any excuse to ground you. Nowadays they are definitely there to keep you in the air and this goes from the military right through to the guys and girls of the CAA. I'm not going to tell you not to be nervous because you will be. This is the last hurdle for you to leap before you can attain your goal of becoming a pilot and you will, necessarily, be anxious. However, the docs know that too and they are not out there to 'trap' you. They want to know that you'll be healthy enough to undergo the extra stresses and strains that your body is put through as a military pilot but that does not mean being a super-being (although most are, of course). If you're a normally healthy person who has good eyesight and whose other body functions work as advertised then you'll have no snags with the medical and afterwards you'll think (a)that went bloody quickly and (b)what was the fuss about.............and you'll continue in the same vein every year (or six months) all the while you fly :rendeer:
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War Hero
Tsk, can't you be more specific Pontius?

One bit that always puts me off the aircrew medical is the rectal probe endoscopic bit, where they check for solar flare activity.


War Hero
Puts you off ? :shock: That was my favourite bit. They're actually checking the solar flare can be ignited and for that they need to check the pilot light is okay, hence it being on aircrew medicals but not others.

I'll get my coat


War Hero
Don't forget the 'fat callipers'. Measuring all your plumpness - so don't be a Billy Bunter!!!!!
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