Robert Austin Wiswell, affectionately known as “Wiz”, has announced his retirement. After five years as Chief of the Caltrans Division of Aeronautics he will become “Citizen Wiswell”. During that five years Wiz developed the Division of Aeronautics in to a powerful force for General Aviation. He pursued airport preservation passionately and relentlessly. Among his accomplishments was the 2002 publication of the Airport Land Use Planning Handbook. This is the “planners’ bible” that provides explicit guidance for determining compatible land uses near airports. With the assistance of his very competent and hardworking staff he was always available to help in resolving airport problems and to educate land use planners. Assuming responsibility for the safety of California’s more than 250 airports was a big challenge.
Wiz qualified for the Chief’s position by virtue of his varied aviation background. That included flying as an Air Force jet fighter pilot, experience in high tech industry, airport manger and Aeronautics field inspector before being appointed to the position of Aeronautics Chief. This brings up a very important point.
It is the hope of the California Pilots Association that CalTrans take this opportunity to replace Austin with another aviation experienced Chief of Aeronautics, and not a Bureaucrat whom has no or little aviation experience.
While he is retiring from gainful employment, Wiz is not retiring from the challenge of preserving California’s airports. He has announced that he would continue to devote his energy and unique persuasive talents to that cause.
Thank You for your service and BEST WISHES WIZ from California Pilots Association and its membership.