Scott Niswonger
Scott Niswonger

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Scott Niswonger of Greeneville, a staunch advocate and supporter for aviation, was Inducted into the Tennessee Aviation Hall of Fame during the institution’s 18th Annual Gala and Inductions Ceremony last Saturday evening. The event was held at the Embassy Suites Conference Center in Murfreesboro.

A native of Van Wert, Ohio, Niswonger learned to fly as a teenager, soloing on his 16th birthday. He graduated from Purdue University with a degree in Aviation Technology and was employed as a corporate pilot with the Magnavox Company in Greeneville, Tennessee. During his aviation career, he has flown many aircraft, ranging from a Piper J-3 Cub to the Boeing 747. His current aviation interests consist of an aircraft charter operation with worldwide authority, an FBO, an FAA Part 141 flight school, an FAA Part 145 maintenance center along with a combination of 16 single-engine, two multi-engine, and four jet aircraft.

In 1973, Niswonger started a successful Part 121 cargo airline, General Aviation, Inc. which operated 38 freighters on nightly scheduled service. After selling General Aviation, he became Vice-President of Operations for Flying Tiger Lines – a military contractor and global cargo airline. He later co-founded Landair Services which was taken public in 1993, and in 1990 he formed Forward Air Corporation, which remains a publicly-traded company. He serves as a member of the Purdue University President’s Council, Dean’s Council for Purdue University Polytechnic Institute, is a Board Member for the Purdue Research Foundation, and Chairman of Purdue Aviation, LLC.

In 2001, Niswonger founded the Niswonger Educational Foundation to create opportunities for individual and regional growth through educational programs, scholarships, and other charitable activities. This educational foundation currently has 20 scholars in college and 71 alumni. The Foundation has an annual budget of more than $5 million and has invested more than $70 million in rural East Tennessee’s Pre-K through 12 public education system.

Scott Niswonger was awarded a Doctorate of Technology Degree in 2004. He also earned a BSBA from Tusculum University in 1986 and was subsequently honored with a Doctorate of Human Letters in 2006. He also holds a Doctorate of Human Letters from both East Tennessee State University and the University of Tennessee.

A distinguished and successful businessman, aviator, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, Scott Niswonger is also the lead benefactor for the Niswonger Children’s Hospital in Johnson City which is home to one of only eight St. Jude Affiliate Clinics in the world.

The TAHF Gala also included the induction and enshrinement of Mrs. Deborah Baugh of Lebanon; posthumously, Adventurer Steve Fossett (1944-2007) of Jackson and Col. Ben J. Welch, USAF Ret. of Crossville.

The Tennessee Aviation Hall of Fame was founded in 1997. The General Assembly designated it as Tennessee’s Official Aviation Hall of Fame and Repository & Archive for Aviation History in 2003 (TCA 4- 1-326). Since its inaugural inductions event in 2002, 76 extraordinary individuals have been enshrined. Their bios reside in the institution’s website www.tnaviationhof.org.