July 11, 2008
By Thomas A. Horne
Dr. Warren Silberman (left) with Sandy Skolnick and his wife, Sharon
Sandy Skolnick had been working on earning his special-issuance medical certificate for the past four years. During that time, he said he had been “practically daily phone partners” with the AOPA Medical Certification Department’s Director Gary Crump and Medical Specialist JoAnn Wilson. Paperwork was filed, medical test requirements were fulfilled—and the waiting went on and on.
But little did Skolnick know that his visit to AOPA Expo would bring him one of the happiest moments of his flying life. Skolnick drove to San Jose from his home in Novato, Calif., to meet with Crump, Wilson, and Dr. Warren Silberman, manager of FAA Medical Certification at Oklahoma City, Okla. The purpose of the meeting was ostensibly to follow up on his paperwork’s progress.
But the truth was that Silberman had already okayed the case and had Skolnick’s special-issuance medical certificate in hand. When Skolnick and his wife, Sharon, entered the Blossom Hill 2 room in the San Jose Marriott (which adjoins the Expo convention site), Silberman greeted them with an announcement: “Well, I have your special issuance all signed off, and here you are. Carry this letter with you until you get your certificate in the mail.”
Both Skolnicks were overwhelmed. Tears and hugs ensued, and both could barely contain themselves while Silberman issued some final advice, topped off with a recommendation that “if you get a problem, or have a question, just call Gary or JoAnn, or go on the AOPA Web site.”
Member Sandy Skolnick gets a hug from AOPA Medical Specialist JoAnn Wilson
Skolnick wasn’t the only pilot to have his special-issuance medical delivered at AOPA Expo. As part of an FAA-AOPA initiative, some 14 pilots were given their medicals on the spot. It was yet another demonstration of the effectiveness of AOPA’s medical staff—headed by Crump—and the close working relationship that Crump and his staff enjoy with FAA medical staffers.
Skolnick owns a Piper Cherokee 180 and ran an aerial advertising business for 28 years until his medical problem cropped up. Now he’s free to resume flying. According to Sharon, the Skolnicks plan to drive back to Novato, fire up the Cherokee the very next day, and make Sandy’s first flight in four years a return trip to San Jose to enjoy the rest of Expo.
AOPA Pilot Editor at Large Tom Horne has worked at AOPA since the early 1980s. He began flying in 1975 and has an airline transport pilot and flight instructor certificates. He’s flown everything from ultralights to Gulfstreams and ferried numerous piston airplanes across the Atlantic.
A touch of history, affordable flying, unique sightseeing, a good meal, and a community of pilots: Isn’t that what general aviation is all about?
Getting the job done on the local and national levels requires long-term planning, a hands-on approach, and keeping the effort moving, said Sean Collins, AOPA’s Eastern regional manager.
Deep in the dense, moss-draped, oak forest of Amelia Island is a luxurious plantation resort. Check out this Florida destination while you are in the Southeast for AOPA's St. Simons, Georgia, Fly-In on Nov. 8.
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