866-806-6156 (9 am - 5pm ET)
2004 Nat’l Aviation Safety Counselor of the Year named

Master CFI Walter Schuyler "Walt" Schamel of Winter Haven, Florida has been named the 2004 National Aviation Safety Counselor of the Year. 

Schamel's involvement in aviation began with his first flight in 1956 as a Civil Air Patrol (CAP) cadet.  Within ten years of that first flight, he was working as manager of the US Army Flying Club at Fort Ord, California.  In that position, he immediately recognized a need for aviation safety counseling and began offering monthly flight education and safety meetings to club members.  Thus, he became an "aviation safety counselor" before that FAA designation even existed.  Since then, he has served as an FAA Aviation Safety Counselor (ASC) or Safety Program Manager in nine different Flight Standards District Offices (FSDOs) nationwide.

The Civil Air Patrol has long been a part of Schamel's life.  After his days as a CAP cadet in the mid-fifties, he moved up through the ranks.  From 1994 to 1997, he served as the CAP's Oklahoma Wing commander.  He is also credited with the development of CAP's check pilot standardization program.

His commitment to safety education continued throughout his 25-year FAA career as an aviation safety inspector.  In that capacity, he has worked at FSDOs in Tampa, Orlando and Fairbanks.  He also did a 15-year stint with the FAA's Pilot Examiner Standardization Team in Oklahoma City where he conducted worldwide examiner training seminars.

Since retiring in 2001, Schamel ([email protected]) has worked as training manager for Airline Transport Professionals at Craig Airport (CRG) in Jacksonville, Florida.  A certificated flight instructor (CFI) for more than three decades, he is one of approximately 400 aviation educators worldwide who holds a Master CFI designation.  This professional accreditation is granted by the National Association of Flight Instructors to outstanding aviation educators who are demonstrating an ongoing commitment to excellence, professional growth, and service to the aviation community. 

Even in retirement, Schamel's support of the FAA's safety program continues unabated.  He is active in the WINGS and PACE programs while volunteering hundreds of hours each year as a member of the FAA Safety Center's production crew in Lakeland, Florida, home of Sun 'n Fun.  He also actively recruits and trains new ASCs in the Orlando area.

Schamel represented the Orlando FSDO as well as the FAA's Southern Region.

The General Aviation Awards Program is a cooperative effort between the Federal Aviation Administration and numerous industry sponsors.  Candidates for the national award begin the selection process with their local FSDO.  The FSDO level winners are then forwarded to the nine regional FAA offices.  A panel of aviation safety program specialists then selects the national winner.

This year's other regional ASC winners include Ward Ivan Jones of Dillingham, Alaska (FAA Alaska Region); Master CFI John Shannon Mahany of Long Beach, California (FAA Western Pacific Region); Michael William McKendry of Windham, New Hampshire (FAA New England Region); Frank Scotto of Brooklyn, New York (FAA Eastern Region); and Steve Thaddeus Thibodaux of Bellbrook, Ohio (FAA Great Lakes Region).

Other aviation professionals receiving national recognition include the Aviation Maintenance Technician of the Year, the Certificated Flight Instructor of the Year and the Avionics Technician of the Year.  FAA Administrator Marion Blakey will present this year's national awards during a "Theater in the Woods" program at EAA AirVenture 2004 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

"The GA Awards program highlights the important role played by these individuals in promoting aviation safety and education," said JoAnn Hill, General Aviation Awards Committee Chairman.  "The program's sponsors are pleased that these outstanding aviation professionals will receive the recognition they so richly deserve before their peers in Oshkosh."

Organizations providing support and sponsorship for the awards program include the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), the National Air Transportation Association (NATA), and the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) along with the Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA), the Aeronautical Repair Station Association (ARSA), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Helicopter Association International (HAI), the National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI), the National Association of State Aviation Officials (NASAO), the Professional Aviation Maintenance Association (PAMA) and Women in Aviation International (WAI).

Information about the General Aviation Awards Program as well as applications for next year's general aviation awards are available on the websites of all sponsoring organizations.