The Texas Aviation Advisory Committee provides input to TxDOT on its aviation development programs and serves as its representative among aviation users. Committee members also work with members of the Texas Legislature on various aviation issues.
James Schwertner, Chairman
James Schwertner is a graduate of Texas Tech University. In 1974 he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Economics. Schwertner is President and Chief Executive Officer of Capitol Land & Livestock and Chairman of the Board of Schwertner State Bank. He is an airplane and helicopter pilot and holds the Aviation World Speed Record (Piper Navajo). In 2015 he was awarded the Texas Aviator or the Year Award.
Schwertner has served as past chairman of the boards of Cattlemen’s State Bank in Austin (which he organized in 1984), the Jarrell Schwertner Water Supply Corporation and the Texas Cattle Feeders Association. He has served as advisory director of Wells Fargo Bank in Austin, president of Taylor Livestock Auction, chaired Building for the Future at Highland Park Baptist Church and the Del Valle Adopt-A-School Program. He is past director of the National Beef Board and the Capitol Area Diabetes Association. He also served on the executive committee of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, was president of the Texas Livestock Market Association and is currently a member of the Williamson County Water Visionary Committee.
Schwertner is presently Director of Texans for General Aviation, chairman of the Seton Hospital, Williamson Foundation Board of Trustees, member of the Board of Directors for National Business Aviation Association, and past director of the Texas Beef Council. He is a partner in the Lockhart Livestock Auction and the Mid Tex Livestock Auction in Navasota. In 2009, he was appointed to the Texas A&M Board of Regents by Governor Rick Perry.
Schwertner received the 2010 Distinguished Alumni Award from Texas Tech University’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. Past honors include Man of the Year in Agriculture in Williamson County (1994) and Man of the Year in Texas Agriculture (1995). In 2005, he received the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Vision Award.
Schwertner was appointed to the Aviation Advisory Committee on Aug. 27, 2015, and his term will expire Aug. 31, 2018. He resides in Austin, Texas.
Peter C. Huff, Vice Chairman
Peter C. Huff is an accomplished general aviation pilot holding a Commercial Pilot Certificate and Instrument Rating. He is a graduate of Rice University with bachelor's degrees in liberal arts and engineering. After graduating from Harvard Business School in 1962, he returned to Texas to build his own engineering and manufacturing company. After 36 years, he sold DYNAMCO to a New York Stock Exchange company and now serves the people in his community and in Texas.
Huff has flown into hundreds of domestic airports. He built his own plane in 1955 and has flown it to Canada, England, Holland, Germany, France, Switzerland and Portugal. Huff has been a member of the McKinney Municipal Airport Board for many years, and has also served as chairman. The board has been instrumental in gaining Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and TxDOT grant money as well as the City of McKinney funding which enabled McKinney Municipal Airport to lengthen its runway from 4,000 feet to 7,000 feet.
Huff was appointed to the Aviation Advisory Committee on Sept. 30, 2004, and his term will expire on Aug. 31, 2019. He resides in McKinney, Texas.
Shelly Lesikar deZevallos
Shelly Lesikar deZevallos, Ed.D., is president of West Houston Airport, one of the busiest privately owned - public use general aviation airports in the country. She is a 5th generation Texan, grew up sweeping hangars and is a licensed and active pilot with over 4,500 hours of flight time.
DeZevallos is on the Board of Directors at the National Business Aviation Association, on the Board of Advisors for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Foundation, and recently appointed to the Department of Transportation Safety Oversight and Certification Advisory Committee. She is actively involved in numerous charitable efforts including the Girl Scouts of America Women’s Leadership Network. She has previously worked for Cessna Aircraft Company, AOPA and Oklahoma State University as an Adjunct Professor.
DeZevallos earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Texas, her EMBA from Texas A&M and her Doctorate of Education in Aviation and Space Science.
DeZevallos and her husband are both pilots and live in Houston, Texas, with their twin daughters.
John V. White
Mr. White is a career Business Aviation Professional. He holds an Air Transport Pilot License (ATP) with nine type ratings. The first, the Lockheed Lodestar (L-18) earned in 1969. The most recent, the Gulfstream G550 attained in 2008. Mr. White holds a Commercial Glider license and has flown more than 100 flights. He also holds an Airframe and Power plant Mechanic license. He has accumulated more than 17,000 flying hours. During his professional career he landed in all fifty states and on five continents.
He began to fly, though somewhat informally, as a teenage boy in 1959 at Russell Field. Russell Field was a dirt and sod airfield that was located south of Fort Worth, Texas. He officially soloed in September of 1964. Mr. White then went on to earn Private, Commercial, Instrument, Multi-engine, Flight Instructor and single and multiengine Air Transport Pilot certifications.
From September of 1966 until July 1968 he flew as a flight instructor. In July of 1968 he joined Texas Pacific Oil Company as a pilot. After five years he left to joined Union Pacific Resources where he advanced over 25 years from co-pilot to Director of Aviation. Mr. White retired from Union Pacific in 1999. From October of 2000 he served as Aviation Director at H-E-B Grocery company and then from 2004 through 2015 As Aviation Director and Vice President Aviation at Valero Energy Corporation in San Antonio, Texas. He retired from Valero early in 2016 and remains a strong advocate for General Aviation. He holds a current second-class medical certificate and has recent flying experience in single engine Cessna aircraft. He resides in Corpus Christi, TX.
Michael Schnell is a 1975 graduate of Southern Methodist University and serves as chairman and CEO of First State Bank in Spearman, Texas. His public service extends to many local civic and charitable organizations including over 25 years on the Spearman Airport Board, serving as its chairman for the last ten. He is also serving in his third term on the Spearman City Council.
Schnell has been a pilot for 34 years with over 3,600 hours of flight time in over 20 different aircraft and holds commercial, multiengine, instrument and A&P ratings. He owns two aircraft and operates and maintains a third for his family business.
Schnell was appointed to the Aviation Advisory Committee on Aug. 31, 2013, and his term will expire on August 31, 2019. He resides in Spearman, Texas.
Fred Underwood served as a commissioner of the Texas Transportation Commission, which oversees statewide activities of the Texas Department of Transportation. Underwood was appointed commissioner by Gov. Rick Perry on Jan. 8, 2007, and served until March 17, 2015.
Underwood is president of the Trinity Company, a cotton bale storage facility. He serves as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee of the Cotton Warehouse Association, where he previously served as president. He is both past vice president and past director of the National Cotton Council.
An avid aviation enthusiast, Underwood began flying in 1990. He is a commercial-rated helicopter pilot and holds a fixed-wing instrument rating. He previously served as chairman of Lubbock International Airport Board and as a board member of the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce. Underwood received a bachelor's degree in management from Texas Tech University.
In February 2017, the Texas Transportation Commission appointed Fred to serve on the Texas Aviation Advisory Committee. His term will expire on Aug. 31, 2018. He resides in Lubbock, Texas.
Bob McCreery, General Manager of McCreery Aviation. McCreery Aviation is a 72-year old full-service family owned fixed based, operation at the McAllen Miller International Airport, McAllen Texas. McCreery has been the general manager of McCreery Aviation for the past 39 years. The company offers services in aircraft refueling, maintenance, parts, avionics, air charter, air ambulance, aircraft sales and flight training. McCreery is a licensed pilot and lives in McAllen, Texas.
Justine Ruff is a 1990 graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Aviation Business Administration. She has been the director of Airport for the City of Midland since 2015 and is directly responsible for the operation of Midland International Air & Space Port and Midland Airpark. Prior to assuming the position of director, she was employed for over 20 years with 12 years as Deputy Director. Ruff is a graduate of Leadership Midland and has served as the Midland Chamber of Tourism Commission for many years. She is a member of the American Association of Airport Executives, Executive Women of Midland and is actively involved in City of Midland Aquatics serving on the board; and, also as President of the Swim Booster Club for several years.
Robert Dixon Tips
Robert Dixon Tips, also known as Dick, serves as Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President of Mission Park Funeral Chapels and Cemeteries. For the past four decades, Tips has devoted himself to building one of the leading family owned funeral companies in the State of Texas. He served as President and Chief Executive Officer of the two insurance companies, MTM Life Insurance Company and Transwestern Life Insurance Company, which were merged into North America Life Insurance Company in 2008, where served as Vice President from 2008 to 2011. He served as a Director of Camber Energy, Inc. Tips is an active Board Member of BBVA Compass Bank. Tips served as Independent Director of Lucas Energy, Inc. since August 2016. He oversees a family-owned organization and engages in various volunteer activities. He has been instrumental in starting a faith-based school for children of all ages, raising money for Bexar County’s volunteer fire departments and providing support to the families of San Antonio police officers who died in the line of duty. Tips was President of Texas Cemeteries Association. He is a member of numerous civic clubs. He is a member of the Albert Pike Masonic Lodge, as well as the Scottish Rite Children’s Hospital. He is a Member of Texas Cemeteries Association and is one of San Antonio’s most recognized business leaders. Tips attended the University of Texas in Austin.