Among 350 Texas aviation leaders, former colleagues, friends and family, David S. Fulton, a nationally recognized leader in the aviation industry and the first director of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) Aviation Division, was inducted into the Texas Transportation Hall of Honor at the Texas Aviation Conference awards banquet in San Marcos, Texas, on Thursday, Aug. 5.
Hosted by Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) Agency Director Greg Winfree, the ceremony honored Fulton’s life’s work in improving general aviation airports in Texas and previously in Tennessee. Fulton served the aviation industry for more than 40 years and has helped ensure that the Texas General Aviation Airport System is safe, economically sound and in good condition for the flying public.
“David has blazed a trail in aviation in Texas and beyond,” said Kari Campbell, director of grants management at the TxDOT Aviation Division. “His common sense, people skills, eternal optimism and moral compass allowed him to build lasting relationships with his staff and provide outstanding customer service.”
At TxDOT, Fulton led the rebuilding of airports across Texas, providing $1.4 billion in federal and state grant funds for more than 250 locally owned airports and helping transform the Texas General Aviation Airport System from one of the worst in the nation to one of the best. As the new airport system took form, he launched innovative matching grant programs to build airport terminal buildings and incentivize communities to fund routine airport maintenance.
“The real genius is when David came up with the grant program in which the cities and state cost-share in the airport costs,” said Jim Schwertner, president and CEO of Schwertner Farms, chairman of the Texas Aviation Advisory Committee, and regent emeritus of The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents. “Every time you see an improved airport in Texas, you can thank David Fulton. ‘Dave, you saved rural America. Without you, we wouldn’t have the airport system we have today. You’ll always be my hero.’”
A retired U.S. Navy captain and naval aviator, Fulton has received national awards for his service to the aviation industry. His energy, professional credentials and dedication to aviation in Texas and beyond are unmatched among his peers.
In accepting the honor, Fulton credited “the outstanding men and women of the TxDOT Aviation Division who were committed to the goal of rebuilding the Texas airport system.” Earlier in the evening, TxDOT awarded Fulton the 2021 Aviator of the Year award.
Fulton is the 46th member of the Hall of Honor, which was established in 2000 by TTI to recognize select individuals who played pivotal roles in the advancement of transportation in Texas and the nation. Each individual inducted is recognized by a plaque on permanent display in the Hall of Honor, which is located at TTI’s Headquarters in Bryan-College Station, Texas.