The FAA bureaucracy is often the target of derision, incredulity, and doubt as to the agency’s real mission. Unfortunately, with the negative perceptions, we often forget that there are some really passionate and dedicated public servants who have served pilots through their work at the FAA.
One of those, Dr. Audie W. Davis, passed away recently at the age of 80. Dr. Davis was the Manager of the FAA Aerospace Medical Certification Division in Oklahoma City, and was truly one of those extremely hard working FAA civil servants who devoted his professional career to advancing civil aviation safety through his work in aerospace medicine. Audie had already been on board for many years when I came to work at AOPA, and we corresponded often by phone and mail when resolving issues with AOPA members’ medical certification problems. He was a gentleman and a gentle man with a scope of knowledge of medicine that made him one of the true giants in the world of civil aviation medical certification. Audie’s willingness to really go the extra mile to help out a pilot was his trademark, and that won him many tributes from thousands of pilots who he was able to help get through the morass of bureaucracy that is so much in evidence in government today.
Following Audie’s retirement in 1996, CAMI welcomed his replacement, Warren Silberman, who was recruited out of the Army by the FAA to fill some very large shoes. There are plenty of tough jobs in the federal government, and I really believe the job of overseeing the operation of the AMCD has to be one of the most challenging. Warren has handled the pressure for 15 years with patience, resilience, and professionalism, and during some extremely tough times as the FAA went through some major changes in the way they do medical certification. He has the unique combination of personality and skill sets that has allowed him to deal with irate pilots at air shows, congressional inquiries, ridiculous policies coming from on high in government, his bosses at the FAA and DoT, high profile accidents, and the advocacy groups like us who probably caused him more than a few grey hairs along the way.
On December 31, 2011, Dr. Silberman will be retiring from the FAA. This is really bittersweet for me because I have had so much fun and learned so much from Warren during our collaboration for the last decade and a half. He is a terrific guy, and I know I speak for many, many people in the aeromedical segment of our industry who will miss his irreverent Philadelphia-style candor when I say “Thanks, Warren, for all you have done for all of us and the pilots we represent.”
Warren will remain in Oklahoma City and will actually be doing FAA physicals in Tulsa with Dr. Jack Hastings, who has an established aerospace medicine and AME practice. Warren will also be doing aeromedical consulting, so he’ll still be very much in the thick of things, and we’ll probably see him occasionally in Oshkosh at AirVenture, and hopefully, at AOPA Summit in Palm Springs next year.
Once again, the FAA has some huge shoes to fill, and with Warren’s departure, Dr. Courtney Scott will be taking over the reins of the AMCD, so I’m looking forward to working with Courtney.