Midland History - Danny Winchester

Category: Engineering

Written By: Valerie Edgren

Date: October 11, 2019

Midland History - Danny Winchester cover image

Firm Principal Danny Winchester, PE, is not one for self-aggrandizement. But the truth is that he has more than 100 projects to his credit involving the Midland International Air & Space Port alone. 

“I do take pride in having been a part of helping the City of Midland and Midland International Air & Space Port to grow and become a first-class airport,” he said. 

And that’s not to mention the over three decades of experience in aviation design and project management since he started his career and since joining Parkhill in 1984. Some of these have involved other airports in El Paso, Gaines County, Kerrville, Lubbock, Pecos, Ozona, Stanton, Odessa, Lamesa, Winkler County, Terrell County, and Cannon Air Force Base in New Mexico. 

Marv Esterly, the former Director of Airports for the Midland International Air & Space Port, said he considered it a privilege to work with Danny on a daily basis for many years. 

“Danny’s professionalism and work ethic were paramount to Parkhill’s continued rise to the top during design and engineering proposals,” he said. “Despite my departure from Midland International Airport and West Texas, I consider many Parkhill Team members as friends. We’ve certainly been through much together over the years!” 

Justine Ruff, current Director of Airports at Midland International Air & Space Port, said that she trusts Parkhill immensely and credits Winchester for great ideas and a trusted working relationship. 

“I’ve been at the airport for 26 years,” she said, “and every project we’ve done at the airport has been a Parkhill, Smith & Cooper Project, so it’s been a great relationship.” 

Danny said being considered a trusted advisor for his ideas and work is humbling. 

“I take it pretty seriously, the relationship we have and giving them good guidance,” he said. “I stress over it; I want to make sure we’re thinking about their needs. I really respect it and try to be a trusted advisor and make sure that I am looking out for them.” 

After graduating from Texas Tech University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering, Danny designed not only runways and the like but also water and wastewater, roadway and drainage facilities in many West Texas communities. Soon after being hired in the Midland office, he began working with the Crane County Water District with its well field expansion project. Since then, he was involved in the district’s 2MG steel ground storage reservoir and their first supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system for three booster pump stations, two elevated storage reservoirs and two well fields. 

He said he has felt fortunate to link up with over 20 other communities across Texas for projects ranging in cost from $50,000 to over $30 million. 

Danny has also served the engineering profession in many leadership roles at the local and state levels of the Texas Society of Professional Engineers. He is also a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and National Society of Professional Engineers. 

He has been recognized by the Texas Society of Professional Engineers as both the Young Engineer of the Year and Engineer of the Year for the Permian Basin Chapter. 

In 2004, he was honored by the Texas Engineering Foundation with the Distinguished Engineer Award for those who have exhibited outstanding work in the technical advancement or professional development of engineering. 

“When I first came to Parkhill in Midland, we were not sectorized. We had our own clients, and we did everything for our clients – communities such as Pecos, Fort Stockton and Crane, all of which needed water and sewer infrastructure,” he said, remembering working with Kyle Womack, a former owner of Parkhill who opened the Midland office in 1979. 

His projects have included the La Entrada Feasibility Study, Scharbauer Cattle Company Corporate Hangar Facility in Midland, storage reservoirs and tanks for Midland, a SCADA system for two booster pump stations and a well field in Midland, a permit for a landfill in Stanton, Texas, and Midland Wastewater Collection System Improvements which required the blasting of rock to provide proper bedding of the pipe and constant use of draw-down pumps to control groundwater. 

Danny has also inspected over 250 bridges in nine counties under TxDOT’s BRINSAP program in the early 1990s. He has had a part in more than a dozen TxDOT aviation projects and airport layout plans. 

The dynamics changed when sectorization of Parkhill disciplines occurred, and he then specialized in airports. Danny assisted the City of Midland in acquiring over $150 million in funding from the FAA for the Midland International Air & Space Port over the past 35 years. 

Danny assisted the airport in becoming the first Commercial Service Airport (Part 139) to receive an FAA Certified Space Launch Site Operator License in 2014. 

“For me, my most memorable project was the Midland International Airport Terminal Complex in 1996. When I think over a million passengers travel in and out of the airport a year, our project is seen by a lot of people, both who live here and those coming to visit or work here. It was completed in 1999. It’s 20 years old, and we’re still doing projects such as the recent upgrading of the security checkpoint. I’m proud when I get to say, ‘We have designed and helped build that airport. I was a part of that.’”