Daniel C. Orcutt
Daniel Orcutt’s impact on Indiana aviation began after high school graduation when he joined the United States Air Force. During his 4 years of service, Dan learned to fly while managing the base Air Force Aero Club.
But that was only the beginning of a working life affecting millions in the past and future.
After earning a business degree at Syracuse University, Dan arrived in Indianapolis in 1964 to become Assistant to the Airport Director. He soon moved to Oklahoma City where he served as Assistant Director and Airports Director.
In 1970, Dan moved back at the Indianapolis Airport Authority as the Executive Director, a position he was to hold for 25 years. His achievements, leadership, and work with the Authority have made an enduring impact on the aviation community in Indiana and nationally.
Under his guidance, the Airport Authority made major improvements to local aviation facilities, including Eagle Creek Airpark and the Indianapolis Metropolitan Airport. He oversaw the development of the Indianapolis Downtown Heliport and was the driving force in planning and constructing the new Mount Comfort Airport, now called Indianapolis Regional Airport as well as the Hendricks County-Gordon Graham Airport.
But Dan’s vision for the Indianapolis International Airport was his crowning legacy. His master plan for the airport layout anchored by the modern, sweeping Midfield Terminal prompted unprecedented growth in the airport. Passenger growth at Indianapolis tripled and the Airport Authority’s assets increased sixfold.
Besides the award-winning main terminal building, Dan’s vision added two parallel runways to service the ever-increasing air traffic, a cargo hub for the U S Postal Service Express Mail delivery, a world-class United Airlines Maintenance facility, and Federal Express Corporation’s Indianapolis Cargo Hub, which is now second in size and capacity to FedEx’s Headquarters Memphis facility.
Growing Indianapolis’ airports was not Dan’s only work. He established new salary and benefit plans for airport employees. He served as a Marion County Reserve Deputy and a certified Emergency Medical Technician to better understand the work of his airport police and fire personnel. He donated his time and plane for airplane rides at the annual airport family picnic. And his hands-on approach found him plowing snowy runways to keep the airport open.
In recognition of his achievements, Dan was elected President of the American Association of Airport Executives in the 1980’s.
Dan’s family continues the flying tradition. His son, Daniel J., retired from the Air Force in 2017 as a Brigadier General after a distinguished military career.
After leaving the Airport Authority in 1995, Dan became an airport management consultant with clients across the United States and Europe. His contributions to airports everywhere will impact operations and development for decades.
For his enduring vision, mentorship, leadership, compassion, and work for aviation and Indiana aviation, specifically, Daniel Orcutt is inducted into the Indiana Aviation Hall of Fame.