Steve Nielsen, an accomplished airman, business aviation advocate and former National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) director, is the 2012 recipient of NBAA’s prestigious John H. Winant Award.
The award will be presented as part of NBAA’s 65th Annual Meeting & Convention, which will be held from Oct. 30 to Nov. 1 at the Orange County Convention Center and Orlando Executive Airport in Orlando, FL.
“Steve Nielsen has been a devoted advocate for business aviation throughout his long and distinguished career,” said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. “He honors the tradition of lifelong service to the industry that is John Winant’s legacy, and we are delighted to acknowledge Steve’s contributions with this award.”
The Winant Award recognizes former NBAA directors whose service to business aviation has continued well beyond their tenure on NBAA’s Board. Winant’s association with NBAA extended over five decades. Elected to the Association’s Board of Directors in 1957, he served in all of NBAA’s volunteer-elected officer positions, and remained on the Board until his appointment as chief staff executive in 1971. Winant served as NBAA President from 1971 until 1986.
Even in retirement, Winant remained active in his support for NBAA and business aviation. In 1989, he authored Keep Business Flying, which covered the development of business aviation and NBAA from 1947 to 1986. He later co-authored NBAA Works, which catalogued the spirit and achievement of NBAA from 1986 to 2002.
Nielsen’s service to the business aviation community spans nearly 45 years and includes a variety of noteworthy industry accomplishments. In addition to his service on NBAA’s Board of Directors, he participated on the planning committee for NBAA’s 2009 Light Business Airplane Conference. He was instrumental in founding what is today known as the Southern California Aviation Association (SCAA), and currently serves as its president. In that position, he has spearheaded efforts to grow the SCAA’s membership, promote aviation safety best practices, encourage the pursuit of careers in business aviation and highlight the industry’s importance to local communities.
Nielson is also vice president of operations for Baldwin Aviation Safety and Compliance and director of aviation for Avalon Capital, which operates a Bombardier Global XRS, and a Eurocopter EC-145 helicopter. Before joining Avalon Capital Group, he was senior director of aviation at Yum! Brands, where he was responsible for the daily operations of a large flight department. He has also held various operations management positions at Enron, Storage Technology and Johns-Manville, and has served on an advisory board for NetJets, the fractional aircraft ownership company.
Nielsen attended Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, focusing on aviation management. He served in the United States Marine Corps from 1966 to 1970, including a tour of duty in Vietnam.