Bobby Walston, Division of Aviation Director for the North Carolina Department of Transportation, announced that he will be retiring this Spring.
“It is with a mix of both excitement and sadness that I write to let you know I plan to retire on May 1, 2023,” noted Walston.
In an email to colleagues and friends, Walston said that it has been an extraordinary 30+ years working at NCDOT and the Division of Aviation. “I have gained so much personally and professionally from working with you during that time to build a strong air transportation system for North Carolina,” he wrote. “We have accomplished so much together, building one of the strongest airport systems in the country, launching a nation-leading unmanned air transportation program, providing the highest-quality passenger and photogrammetry flight operations for state agencies, and building an aviation business development program that attracts companies and create jobs for our state.”
Walston says he is leaving the Division in very capable hands. “We have a strong team at the Division. Our aviation managers and staff wake up every day focused on serving the needs of this community and the state. They are well prepared to continue managing that work and supporting you during the transition to new leadership.”
Walston’s work over three decades in North Carolina has led to significant innovation in the state’s air transportation system, from developing the state’s first airport contract program to save tax dollars through economies of scale to creating a first-of-its-kind tiered classification system with objective criteria for prioritizing grant funding. More recently, North Carolina has become a national leader ushering in the new era of unmanned air transportation, with more missions flown and more national firsts achieved than all other teams combined in the Federal Aviation Administration’s UAS drone integration initiatives.
Since becoming NCDOT Aviation director in 2013, state funding for airport development has climbed nearly 500 percent – the second-highest level of state investment in the country behind Florida. Accountability and stewardship of state aviation funds are at an all-time high due to his commitment to transparent, evidence-based programs for awarding and spending public funds for airport development.
During a parallel 26-year career in the National Guard, most recently serving as civil engineer operations officer with the North Carolina National Guard, Lieutenant Colonel Walston has led training exercises for Air Force personnel and directed aviation engineering projects around the world.