HAI is honored to wish a happy birthday to Dr. Walter Comeaux of Lafayette, Louisiana, who turns 100 today, Apr. 10, 2023.
Dr. Comeaux served as a medical and safety advisor to the vertical aviation community through his work with the HAI Board of Directors and as chair of the HAI Safety Committee (now the HAI Safety Working Group).
While Dr. Comeaux has had a lifelong interest in aviation, he began his career in medicine prior to World War II, serving in the US Army ROTC in college while awaiting admission to medical school. He continued medical school through the war and became a general and a thoracic surgeon following his military service.
In the 1970s, Dr. Comeaux was working as the senior aviation medical examiner (AME) and flight surgeon for PHI when the company decided to begin an alcohol- and drug-testing program. He researched the requirements to meet FAA standards and implemented the program. Frank Lee, president of HAI (then called the Helicopter Association of America, or HAA) at the time, requested that Dr. Comeaux speak at the 1975 HAA convention on how to select pilots. This became the basis for other speeches and papers on how to evaluate pilot candidates’ mental and physical states to determine their suitability as commercial pilots.
His presentation at the 1975 convention led to an invitation to serve on HAI’s initial Safety Committee. In the following years, Dr. Comeaux’s contributions to the Safety Committee increased, and he was instrumental in developing the first edition of the HAI Safety Manual. He served on the Safety Committee from 1978 to 1985 as both chair and member, and as a special advisor to the HAI Board of Directors from 1985 to 1998. In addition to extensive honors and accreditations in the medical community, Dr. Comeaux has received the Joe Mashman Safety Award, the Lawrence D. Bell Memorial Award, and the Igor I. Sikorsky Award for Humanitarian Service, all from HAI.
Additional information on the life and contributions of Dr. Comeaux is available in an HAI Heritage Series article published in the Fall 2006 edition of ROTOR magazine.
Please join us in celebrating the birthday and contributions of Dr. Walter Comeaux!