Title: Warthog: Alive and Kicking (for a while longer)
Overview: Built to kill Warsaw Pact tanks if the Cold War heated up in Europe, 715 were built from 1972 to 1984. Two hundred eighty-three still flying 35 years later, and projected to keep many still flying until 2030. Nothing ever intended to replace it, and nothing will. It has continued to find work in Desert Storm in 1991, Kosovo in 1994, Iraq, again, in 2003, Syria and Iraq against ISIS, and Afghanistan since 2001.
Austin Wiswell was, until he retired in December 2005, Chief of the Division of Aeronautics for the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), a position he held since November 2000. As Division Chief, Mr. Wiswell was responsible for administering the state’s three General Aviation airport financial assistance grant programs and a loan program; permitting and safety compliance inspections of the 177 hospital heliports and 245 public-use airports in California; evaluating aviation-related environmental impact issues, such as noise and air pollution; mitigating land use incompatibility encroachment issues; and conducting statewide aviation system planning to ensure a viable, effective integrated regional, state, and national air transportation system.
While serving as California’s aviation chief, and General Aviation airport focal point, he served on two committees of the National Association of State Aviation Officials: General Aviation airport security (working with TSA and aviation industry stakeholders) and land use compatibility (working with HQ FAA to explore establishing a national policy that could be endorsed by the FAA).
Mr. Wiswell began his career with Caltrans in early 1999, serving as a field inspector for one year before being promoted to Chief, Office of Airports, with responsibility for safety regulation of public-use and special-use airports and heliports in California. For three years prior to joining the State’s Division of Aeronautics, he was General Manager of an airport management company leasing and operating a county-owned airport in Sedona, Arizona. Before that, Mr. Wiswell managed a county-owned airport, near Davis, California, for four years. Prior to that he worked for Allied-Signal Aerospace Company in the Los Angeles area for four years in sales and marketing, customer liaison, and contract administration. All of this civilian employment came after a nearly twenty-five year U.S. Air Force active duty career spent as an operational fighter pilot and headquarters staff officer. Mr. Wiswell retired from the Air Force as a Colonel in late 1987.
Since his retirement from CalTrans in December 2005, Mr. Wiswell has been consulting with City- and County- owned General Aviation airports on matters of management and operation of their airport, safety and security, development planning, and adjacent land use compatibility. He also works with Cities and Counties as regards the near-airport compatibility of development projects favored by local governments. Mr. Wiswell has a B.A. in teaching from San Jose State University and a M.S. in Systems Management from the University of Southern California.