Top 40 Under 40: Chad Nixon

“I always wanted to travel and I associated aviation as being a career that would allow for traveling and seeing the world whether in the military or industry,” says Chad Nixon, senior vice president of McFarland Johnson Inc.

It was this pursuit that prompted him to start his aviation career early by enlisting in the U.S. Navy. By the age of 19, he was serving as an air traffic controller with a Tactical Air Traffic Control Squadron in San Diego, and then as a fully qualified radar and tower air traffic control supervisor at Naval Air Station Whiting Field in Florida. Nixon served for several years on the Air Traffic Procedures Evaluation Board tasked with coordinating air traffic control functions in Florida’s Gulf Coast Region. He has performed both FAA and Department of Defense airspace liaison duties in numerous countries including Malaysia, Thailand and Oman.

While working as an air traffic controller then aviation planner, Nixon earned his MBA with a specialization in aviation from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He has given back to academia by serving as an advisor for students engaged in the FAA’s National Design Competition, and in 2014, he will be an adjunct professor at Binghamton University teaching a scholar’s course developed around the competition.

Nixon currently serves as senior vice president at McFarland Johnson, an engineering/planning firm, where he is responsible for strategic growth and development for all of the company’s disciplines. Nixon also serves as project manager and technical lead on statewide and airport-specific aviation planning projects. His current responsibilities include aviation forecasting, economic analysis, airport negotiations, aviation planning, airspace analysis, and project management.

Nixon was recently involved in the development of a new method to approach airport planning projects. This method aided in the development of a first of its kind airport computer model, the Airport Dynamic Analysis Tool, which has a patent pending.

“Chad’s work has tripled the size of McFarland Johnson’s aviation practice. He has worked on aviation projects of all sizes including a $65 million expansion of the Plattsburgh International Airport.”

Ann Crook, director of aviation, Elmira Corning Regional Airport