David B. King, MD, isn’t seeing many general patients at Bozeman
Health Belgrade Clinic these days, but recently he added a major contingent
to his patient load. Dr. King now is one of two physicians in the area
certified as a Federal Aviation Administration senior medical examiner
who can clear commercial airline pilots to fly.
When Dr. King founded the clinic back in 1984, patients who also were pilots
told him there were not enough FAA medical examiners in this part of the
state for all the pilots needing medical clearance to fly. He took the
FAA training, and has been performing pilot examinations for more than 30 years.
Until recently, though, he was limited to Class 3 and Class 2 pilots, or
those who fly just for fun or small businesses such as crop dusting, respectively.
Last month he was named a senior medical examiner and can now assess Class
1 commercial airline pilots who require such clearance every six months.
“The exam is like an annual physical, but identifies conditions that
may need further attention for a pilot to fly,” Dr. King said. Those
can include mental illness, cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, kidney
stones, drug or alcohol dependence and use of sedating drugs.
Dr. King also keeps busy these days performing firefighter and immigration
physicals, and as medical director of two nursing homes and a hospice
facility, stating “I do it because I enjoy meeting new people.”