Mentour Pilot

Pilot Medical, how does it feel to be grounded?

“I have always been a very healthy person”. Thats something I think almost every member of my profession will say, the first time they run into real medical issues and I certainly did.

3 weeks ago I was travelling home after a week of simulator duties and felt an intense pain in my stomach and lower back. It came and went in waves and after an excruciating night, I went to the hospital where they told me that it was likely kidney-stones.
Kidney stones and associated problems are very, very common. It is likely that you know someone, maybe even in your own family that has suffered from it and they will all tell you that the pain is excruciating.
While some other professions can be safely executed while in treatment for this condition, being a pilot is not one of them. As a pilot we have to be able to be fully concentrated on our tasks during 100% of hour working time and blinding pain does not fit into that picture.
This meant that I had to do something which I have never previously done in my 18 year career. I had to contact my AME to get guidance and help and possibly loose my medical.

Contacting you AME with news that could potentially take away your medical is a very scary thing to do. There is a feeling of loosing control and giving your livelihood away to the judgement of authorities and thats never a nice feeling. On the other hand, it felt very good to get decision making help from professionals.
As expected, I was told not to resume flight duties until the matter had been properly resolved.

I went to several different doctors and made a whole array of tests and, eventually, we found that there was no stone but some kind of minor “gravel” that had ended up in my kidneys, likely because of my low-carb/high protein diet that I had recently started. The problem now became to make sure that the attack I had endured, was a one time thing. This could be done by continuously testing the urine to look for traces of blood or stones as well as just general health checks. This took much, much longer than I thought it would do but getting appointments and test results, as well as relaying these to different doctors, takes time. Count on that if it happens to you.
I was lucky enough to have my various different other projects to work on, while I was cruising around medical centres, but few in my occupation are so lucky. Being grounded really makes you realise just how vulnerable you are in this profession. One day you are working your dream-job, the next day you aren’t. This leads me to an important conclusion, but more about that later.

When my results were good enough, it was up to the AME authorities, in my case the IAA, to make a decision on when I could resume flight duties. A decision was made to let me go back flying with an OML restriction. This means a restriction to fly in only multi-crew operations until my next medical renewal, at what point, the restriction can be removed if everything looks good and my AME agrees

So what are my thoughts about this whole ordeal?
I have to say that it has strengthen my trust in the medical system and the safety of air transport, yet again. I have, at every step, been greeted by professionals that have had the safety of the traveling public, as well as my wellbeing and professional career, in mind during their decision-making. My employer has been absolutely great and supported me during my near month of absence.
What could have been a very negative experience have actually made me even more positive towards both authorities, doctors and my employer. I will not hesitate to contact them again, if needs be.

A other things that I have learnt; Never take your health for granted. No matter what age you are or how well you take care of yourself, you never know what might happen. Always try and enjoy the moment, spend time with your friends and family and have fun!
Also, get a good loss-of-license insurance. I didn’t have to use it but if you end up permanently loosing your license, you will have wished that you had one. Your employer, flight-school or pilot-union will have selected good and trustworthy insurance companies to use, check it out now.
Get one as soon as you are starting to pay money for your licenses, do not wait because you might end up regretting it!

Have a wonderful easter my dear friends and stay tuned for new videos coming up soon on the channel!


34 Comments

  1. Andy Ross says:

    I have had Kidney Stones, so I know first hand how painful they are. A female friend of mine said she’d rather experience childbirth again, rather than kidney stones. That gives people an idea of the pain……it’s worse than childbirth!
    I hope you’ll be on the mend soon.
    I know how scary it is to have (or believe you have) a medical condition. I had a scare myself this week. I was unlucky enough to pick up a virus in February, got over it and the following day I came down with a chest infection. The Doctor didn’t give me any medication, and it then turned into Laryngitis, so they thought it would be wise to send me for an x-ray. A few days later, the Doc called me to say they’d found a shadow on my lung and were referring me urgently to the chest clinic. They said it could be anything from an infection to cancer! After an anxious 2 week wait, I finally got an appointment at the chest clinic. I waited in the clinic for 1 hour & 20 mins before I saw a Doctor, only to be told that there was no shadow on my lungs at all, and they were confused as to why I was even there……….so it’s always better to be safe than sorry, even if it does cause anxiety!

  2. Joanne says:

    Get well soon,yeah it’s difficult to be off work and we do take things for granted yeah have an insurance,take each day at a time and always remember in any job you are only s number,they can get rid of people easily.take care from me and little pilot Louie xxxxxx

  3. Rafa says:

    Hey! I have heard of insurance in case you loose your license, but can you get those kind of insurance when you are a student pilot or you have your frozen ATPL ? Or only with a full ATPL license

  4. Adrian says:

    Soo glad you do not have kidney stones Petter!!

  5. Al says:

    Never a truer word spoken than (paraphrasing): โ€œdonโ€™t ever take your health for granted and live for the dayโ€. Tomorrow is not promised. As you get older, and know of people who have not made it, you become more acutely aware of those sentiments. @Mentour, glad to hear your health issues seem to be working out.

  6. Simon Byford says:

    Diet is so important in a job like this where you’re constantly focused and working hard. It requires good nutrition and being somewhat physicaly fit just so you’ll have the stamina for each day

  7. Simione Faagutu says:

    It’s a Sad Story hearing the Temporarily Grounding for Medical / Health reasons for you Petter Hornfeldt but I know that you can fly again Hopefully soon after when your Health improves then I think you would be good to go I know your wife can help you get Better your kids will be Happy to see you at Home during your Grounding We know it would have to be a wait to see further Pictures from the Flight Deck.

  8. Scott lourie says:

    I know what it like to have kidney stones i had pain off and on for a time with them i had to go to hospital to get treatment and be kept in overnight for observation , it took a few days for the stones to get out of my system so get well soon mate .

  9. Vito mokhtar says:

    Iโ€™m glade you are okay, stay healthy my friend

  10. Stephen says:

    Thank god it was on the ground and not in the air.

  11. Sian (@horsetrainer) says:

    Best wishes to you! I understand the feeling of not being able to do your dream job. As horsetrainer, even a twisted ankle means I cannot train horses. One cannot “shelf” horses so a training program is potentially ruined. No, never take health for granted

  12. Robert W Nordmark says:

    I’m glad you are on the mend Captain. I look forward to seeing your posts when you are in the skies again. I hope the best for you and your family.

  13. Progy says:

    It’s sad that the person who begins his videos by saying “I hope you’re doing absolutely fantastic” fell sick himself. ๐Ÿ™ This is a true lesson for you as well as all of your followers. It just throws light on how important it is to be conscious about health. I am aspiring to become a pilot and I’m lucky that I got to read it – so next time I eat something I’ll consider all the minute yet critical factors that could make me sick. Thank you very much, Sir, for sharing your experience with us. As always, you have given us a very useful resource to learn from. Take care ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Jeremy says:

    I had kidney stones last summer so I know exactly how it feels. Boy is it painful!! Hope all works out for you:)

  15. Mark W says:

    Hope you beat this medical issue very soon as I can only imagine how hard it must be for you to not be flying. Your YouTube videos and IG posts are fascinating particularly to a non-pilot like me. I am intrigued by aviation and the things I have learned from your posts/videos are a constant source of learning. I was flying a commercial airline last week with my 12 year old grandson who was flying for the first time. I was explaining why the airplane does what it does and the pilotโ€™s training and professionalism in keeping us all safe. He loved that information and thoroughly enjoyed his first flight! Thank you for all your skills and talent both in the air and on the ground! Get well soon!

  16. Gary Cavell says:

    Glad the medical problem has been resolved, and especially happy that you are able to return to your career. Your excellent post really makes one think… Thank you for writing about your experience. Your posts and videos are always outstanding and are much appreciated. -gary

  17. Gen says:

    A very thought provoking read. Life, and all things therein, are fleeting and we have to make the most of our time personally and professionally. I haven’t yet had any health issues, save for my vision. I hope that will remain the case for some time yet. I wish you a speedy recovery and hope you’re back to spending your days in the best office in the world soon. Cheers Mentour!!!

  18. Matthew says:

    I wish you a speedy recovery. You have been and will continue to be an inspiration to so many people. Your positive attitude to life has helped me get an amazing career in teaching. Thankyou for spreading that around the world. I am going to hop on an A380 on Monday for a month in Thailand. You will be in my thoughts and prayers. Blessings ans love from the UK.

  19. KEIRA says:

    helo ….. I know it difficult but you are a strong and great person keep it up …..you will get well soon ….have a nice day.

  20. Sean says:

    Had that, and one of the recommended things to do is drink lots of water. Kidney stones are generally as a result of insufficient hydration, and flying you lose water a lot through your skin as sweat, so you do not have much excess and thus concentrated urine, which crystallises the salts in your urine out in the kidney bowl. You need to make sure that when not flying you drink at least 8 glasses of water (plain water, not cooldrink or anything else, though you can do black tea unsweetened as well, just not canned tea) a day, and when at work drink more frequently than you do, so that you will need to use the toilet at least every 3 hours. That way no more issues at all for you.

    Low carb diet you really do need extra fluid, because of all the protein by products you will be flushing out, only downside of that lifestyle change aside from losing mass. and also not having sugar spikes.

  21. Mehdi says:

    If it was kidney stone, would it me a major problem in you regaining your license? How would that scenario play out with the AME?

  22. Dave says:

    Commenting your trust in safety of air travel- yes itโ€™s safe BUT you have been brave enough to report your health issue although risking your future- Lubitz was not so brave :-((((
    Get well soon and keep up the great work๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘

  23. James says:

    I am a professional pilot from Australia and I have been grounded for nearly two years now. I wish I could say I have the same trust in the medical system as you do.

    However I have been jumping through hoop after hoop trying to get back in the air. After receiving my medical back I am now having to take our governing body for review of my case involving more time/lawyers etc. I may not have a result for another 12-18 months ๐Ÿคฆโ€โ™‚๏ธ

    Iโ€™m not one to sit idle so have been working for my fathers company but will be embarking on tertiary studies in Europe in the interim until I have some restrictions removed so that I can one day return to flying ๐Ÿ‘

  24. Hannah Evans says:

    Hope you feel better soon

  25. Don says:

    I have had one kidney stone. I could not pass it after about 24 hours of trying; and so, the doctor had to go in and remove it. Two days in hospital and I have been fine ever since. I wish you well with your treatment and hope you fully recover.

  26. Anirban says:

    Captain so glad to hear that you have resumed your duty… Keep flying!

  27. virginia says:

    Hello snd hope will be in good condition health im short time..is real hard to lose job imediatly,i was in same situation.today was working and tomorrow i lost..post.
    Please try the medical ayurveda.hindian treat by plants…me i lost my kindley stone eirh this treat..with Zeolith….here in my country exist one doctor in this way..if wo nt can send him details.to contact him..
    Stay bless!

  28. Tony Simms says:

    Just 2 weeks ago my colleague in the cubicle next to me came in with the exact symptoms you had. He’s a very tough guy. But his pain was exactly where yours was. After being bent over and sweating from on and off pain we finally took him home.
    It was a 6 mm kidney stone. They had to go in and get it.
    The GOOD NEWS?? After 3 weeks he’s back stronger than ever.
    From what I saw in his pain at work I do believe it just might be worse than child birth but I wouldn’t know that. Ha.
    Glad you came out of it OK!!!

  29. spiros737 says:

    I had the same problem with you Cpt. 15 years ago. the pain passed totally after 2 mounts and doctors suggest me to drink a lot of water and green tea during the day. I followed their advice and until now I am absolutely fantastic !!!! best wishes for you and your family. the sky is waiting for you !!!!!!

  30. John Leslie says:

    Peter, I had a no warning heart attack 18 months ago. The scary thing was that 24 hours earlier, exactly , I was reaching V1 with a 500hr FO sat next to me and 194 passengers and crew behind me. I ate carefully, very little dairy, no processed food lots of fruit but it still got me. My AME and the IAA medical Division were fantastic but I had to retire. Look after yourself, life can change in a moment.

  31. Mary Nganga says:

    So sorry about that. I had a similar pain oon March 14th 2919. But my pain was throughout the night. The next day I visited Urgent Care and ended up in an ambulance to the hospital. I was thoroughly checked up and various tests conducted. The result I had a hyperthyroidism which was causing Atrial Fibrillation (AFIB). I was not lucky like you. I am niw on some of the worst medication ever and I have to he very careful. Before this occurence, I have never been sick, not even with a cold.

    Hence myreadon for looking for a genuine online job. Hope you it anyone else in M es mentour group can help.

  32. John says:

    Dear Petter, I feel with you. As being a 60+ male problems with the urine system can occur and so did with me. It is nearly a year now that I had terrible pain. Now I am recovering from 2 TURP operations, and indeed know what it is to have pain. Also how it feel to work for a company that supports his employees! Great experience. Now being home for months already I am glad to have a hobby like flightsimming and so I spend my time now with that and all things around it like your app, video’s and website. I wish you all the best and hope you are better and flying again soon.


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