Thursday, May 27, 2004
The Manager Of The Corona Municipal Airport Is Leaving The Job
By MELANIE C. JOHNSON The Riverside (CA) Press-Enterprise
CORONA – Bill Cobb thrives on unpredictability. That is what he has enjoyed most in his six years as manager of the Corona Municipal Airport.
It is also among the things he will miss the most when he retires next month. “You never knew what the next day was gonna bring,” Cobb, 57, said in his Southern accent. “There was never anything routine about it.”
The city hired the Franklin, Va., native in October 1998. Before coming to Corona Airport, Cobb served 28 years in the Air Force, retiring as a colonel in 1996.
During the Vietnam War, the Riverside resident first attended college at the Virginia Military Institute then joined the Air Force.
The pilot served in Vietnam for one year, and then later in Okinawa, Japan, and Thailand in support of the war, flying refueling missions and gassing up bombers in mid-flight at speeds of more than 300 mph.
He and his wife of almost 36 years, Vicki, have lived in 18 different cities during his military career, which includes a stint as the vice wing commander and wing commander at March Air Force Base in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Running that base taught Cobb all about airport management, he said.
Cobb’s boss, Mark Wills, director of parks and community services, said Cobb’s experience and passion for the airport has helped it run more efficiently. He is proactive about tackling issues, addressing them before they become problems, Wills said.
“The neat thing about Bill is that beyond the job and the work he has done here, he’s just a great person to be around,” Wills said. “He’s just a standup guy.”
Cobb said his biggest challenge has been keeping the airport fiscally sound, something that has been tough for small, recreational airports since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Also, with gas prices up, it means fewer pilots taking to the skies, he said.
The highlights include his efforts to improve security at the airport, the start of the annual Corona Air Fair, and his creation of a support and networking group for 15 small airport managers in neighboring cities, he said.
The man who will succeed him, Rich Brodeur, praised Cobb’s dedication and organization.
“He’s made my job and life a whole lot simpler,” Brodeur said. “Ninety nine percent of the airport supports Bill, and that’s out of respect. He has my respect for the way things are here.”
Brodeur was assistant airport manager at Brackett Airport in La Verne for eight years before being chosen to replace Cobb.
He said he will build on Cobb’s efforts to get the word out about the airport, which houses about 414 airplanes and helicopters.
While Brodeur takes over where Cobb left off, Cobb will be living in his beach cottage in Cape Hatteras, N.C., dodging hurricanes, carving decoy ducks out of wood, and bouncing his first grandchild, expected in December, on his knee, he said.
His two children, William Jr. and Victoria, live on the East Coast. He’ll spend time visiting them, along with playing golf and traveling, he said.
He won’t be there on weekends when families turn washing their airplanes into an all-day block party complete with barbecue grilling, but he will miss it just the same, he said.
“What I’ll miss the most is getting to know the people,” Cobb said. “The people are what make it.”
Corona Municipal Airport General Manager Bill Cobb says the toughest challenge has been keeping the facility fiscally sound.