Scott Hinderman

A passion for flying led airports director to the Fort

Scott Hinderman, photography by Neal Bruns

To say that Scott Hinderman is passionate about flying would be an understatement. He oversees Fort Wayne International Airport and Smith Field  for the Fort Wayne-Allen County Airport Authority and recently landed new direct flights to Philadelphia and Charlotte, N.C., plus first class service and an additional flight to Atlanta. Find out how and where his favorite place is at the airport as we play 20 Questions.

1. How long have you been interested in aviation?
My interest was probably sparked when I was in seventh or eighth grade. I’d see the crop dusters flying around the farm. I got my private pilot’s license when I was in high school. My parents were always supportive, though they were concerned. They allowed their kids to pursue their passions.

2. What appeals to you about planes?
It started with the theory of flight: you take something a lot heavier than air and send it flying. It’s infectious. Once you start, it’s contagious. It’s been a very rewarding experience. I still love it. I’m excited to be around it.

3. You served in the first Gulf War, Operation Desert Storm, as a Marine. What drew you to military service?
My parents raised us all to be fairly patriotic. The Marines helped pay for college, and I was very motivated. If I could turn back time, I would do it all again

4. You have to be very detail-oriented to run two airports. In what area of life are you not detail-oriented?
Let me just say that behind me is a very good woman, my wife Sharon. We’ve been married 24 years, and she does a lot of keeping the household and the family organized. She has taken that responsibility.

5. Do you still fly planes?
I have not flown for a good four to five years. I have three kids in college, and as you get older, your priorities change.

6. What brings you joy?
It’s amazing to have a family and watch them grow as a team, as well as accomplishing things in the airport. Getting significant tasks done together. It’s exciting to watch your efforts come to fruition.

7. Which is more frightening: flying a plane or raising children?
I don’t look at either as frightening. It’s something you prepare for. You plan and prepare for each flight. Being a parent is something you just do. I think we did pretty well with (daughters) Brittany, Molly and Alyssa.

8. What does “leadership” mean to you?
My leadership feel is getting some work done through others, all working together for a common goal. I don’t ask anyone to do anything I won’t do. Getting people motivated to accomplish something that needs to be done is leadership and really can be a challenge.

9. Is Smith Field’s future viable, given all the development on the north side of Fort Wayne?
Absolutely! Smith Field is a very viable little airport. It’s had tremendous growth the last seven years. Both runways have been refurbished, we’ve improved the fuel farm and moved the fixed-base operations. The activity has grown – we have a waiting list for hangar space.

10. You’ve had four years of increasing emplanements (people boarding flights) at Fort Wayne International Airport. What does that mean for the airport?
We’re going to finish this year even stronger, with our two new daily flights to Philadelphia and Charlotte. The airport wants to have positive growth. That’s a given. We’re here to provide a service for the community.

11. Where is your favorite place at the airport?
The airfield. It’s where the action is.

12. What does it take to land a new route or even a new airline?
It clearly takes a community effort. The airlines have merged (or) sold, and there are (fewer) airlines. They have ample opportunity to do business anywhere. It takes the community to prove to the airlines there is business here.

13. Where’s your fantasy travel destination?
I won’t call it a fantasy because I’ve been there. St. Kitts. Probably the most relaxing vacation ever. I’d go back.

14. What’s the hardest part of your job?
Air service development is a very hard challenge. We were very fortunate that we were successful. To develop the business case to (airlines) to come to our region takes a lot of hard work.

15. What’s the best part?
Winning. When we work hard as a group … we get to celebrate as a team. It feels tremendously good to have such a win. The airport staff and the community – we did it together.

16. How hard is it to keep up with technology, when everything you can build is rendered obsolete so quickly?
We do try to think in advance. We try to be flexible and readily available to adapt to new technology. Even pavement technology is always changing!

17. Who are your heroes?
My parents, Arnold and Arlene. I’ve always looked up to them. I probably challenged my parents as a young child, but they’ve always been supportive. If I could do half the job they did, I’ll have successful kids.

18. What were you like as a child?
I was a lovely child everybody wishes they had! [Laughs.] No, my brother and sister and I, we worked hard on the farm. My dad taught us a strong work ethic. And we probably played hard.

19. What are your plans for the coming year?
Make sure we increase the utilization of the Fort Wayne airport system, both Smith Field and Fort Wayne International. We are at the doorstep of great growth with the flights we’ve gained. If the people don’t use the air service, it won’t stay. We want to influence the people of Northeast Indiana to utilize FWA for their travel needs.

20. People complain a lot about air travel. Do you ever get compliments?
We actually get a lot of compliments. We’re known as the friendliest little airport. It’s clean and convenient. Access is easier. We focus on the customer experience. We work hard with a great group of employees. We even get compliments on the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) agents, about how friendly they are! When you come home, we give you a cookie. It’s a small thing, but it’s the small things that matter. We have a great volunteer program that provides a tremendous amount of assistance to travelers in our region.

First appeared in the July 2014 issue of Fort Wayne Monthly.


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