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James M. Nissen Scholarship

Aero Club Of Northern California

The Aero Club of Northern California annually provides three scholarships to college students actively studying aviation at a Bay Area college. Successful applicants must be at least a sophomore, have completed at least 15 hours of college level aviation coursework and have a cumulative GPA of 2.5.

James (Jim) M. Nissen (1915-1994) was born in Livermore, California. In 1937, after receiving his engineering degree at the University of California at Berkeley, he was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Navy, and later became a naval aviator and flew various military aircraft including the PBY Catalina. He briefly flew trans-Pacific seaplanes for Pan American Airways before accepting a research test pilot position in 1941 with Ames Research Center at Moffett Field with the National Advisory Committee on Aviation (NACA), now NASA. In 1945 he joined North American Aviation as a test pilot. At the same time, with two partners, he founded an aviation company and developed 16.4 acres of land leased from the city of San Jose, creating a small airport. In 1946 he sold his share of the business and was hired by the city of San Jose as its first Airport Manager. Over the next 29 years (1946-1975) he developed the small airfield into the Bay Area’s third major jetport--Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC). At the time of his retirement as Director of Aviation, SJC had achieved national status with service to every major U.S. destination city, including non-stop flights coast-to-coast and service to Hawaii. The airport at the time was also home to more than 600 general aviation and corporate aircraft. The new $1.3 billion dollar Terminal B at SJC, which opened in 2010, is named the James M. Nissen Terminal Complex. Mr. Nissen was a past member of the Aero Club Board of Directors. This endowed scholarship was funded by a contribution from Sallie (Nissen) Moran.

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Deadline October 1, 2023
Number of Awards Granted3

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