Art Thompson, technical project director of Red Bull Stratos, the record-setting supersonic leap from space that riveted the eyes of the world in 2012, will receive the “Navigating Change Award” at the Antelope Valley Business Outlook Conference, Friday, Feb. 27, 2015 in Lancaster, CA.
The award, presented annually by the Outlook Conference-sponsoring Antelope Valley Board of Trade, was created to recognize a person or business organization whose spirit of innovation, creativity and entrepreneurial approach combined to make a measurable impact on the Greater Antelope Valley, by placing the Antelope Valley on the map. “This person or business would be considered a change agent who is at the helm, in the driver’s seat, the pilot’s seat, and navigating change,” the nomination criteria states.
Thompson will be the fifth recipient of the award, first presented in 2011 to civilian aerospace pioneer Burt Rutan of Mojave Air & Space Port. Notified of his selection for the award by Board of Trade President Al Hoffman, Thompson said, “I am honored at receiving such a prestigious award. Thank you for the consideration.”
Art Thompson possesses more than 30 years of experience in innovating leading-edge design that produced major breakthroughs in aerospace history, including development of the B-2 “Stealth” bomber.
As technical project director for Red Bull Stratos, Thompson drove engineering program management and was responsible for selecting and assembling the global mission team and securing equipment and facilities. He was Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner’s right-hand man and earliest collaborator.
Art is vice president of Sage Cheshire Aerospace, Inc. which he co-founded in Lancaster, California, more than a decade ago. The company provides solutions for a complete range of aerospace needs, from initial design and engineering to finished product, with an experienced team of professionals hand-picked by Art.
His Sage Cheshire crew was responsible for the design, construction and testing of the Red Bull’s capsule, and served as the hub of mission technological development overall. The years of painstaking work culminated in Baumgartner’s Oct. 14, 2012 jump from the stratosphere, estimated at 128,100-foot altitude, in which he reached a preliminary speed of 833 mph (Mach 1.24.) The leap made Felix Baumgartner the first man to break the speed of sound in freefall, and set other records yet to be certified. Sage Cheshire also crafted the protective envelope which allowed him to return safely to the earth by parachute.
California native, Art Thompson studied engineering at the University of California, Los Angeles and also attended the University of La Verne and Northrop University. While working for Northrop Corporation in the late 1970s, he and a small contingent of engineers (working under Dr. John Cashen and Fred Oshira and using an original design concept by Irv Waaland) brainstormed ideas and methods for military aircraft that could avoid radar detection. The Northrop team went from drawing napkin sketches and conceptualizing ideas and shapes to conceiving the design that the Department of Defense chose to develop into the B-2 Spirit.
Sage Cheshire, Inc., located in a 24,000 sq. ft. facility in Lancaster, CA, has over 40 years of experience in design, engineering, research & development and prototype or finished production. Its team of engineers and composite fabrication specialists provide services for leading aerospace companies. From prototyping to one-off specialty fabrication to master-tooling to on/off-site testing of specialty components, Sage Cheshire is the nexus of next-generation aerospace vehicle development and production.
Sage Cheshire Aerospace services include engineering, design, analysis, testing, field support, CNC gantry milling for large master forms, CNC plasma cutting, CNC water jet cutting, CNC milling, metal forming and assembly, composite fabrication and tooling, rapid prototyping, white-light or laser scanning, reverse engineering and electrical design & fabrication.
After leaving Northrop, Art co-founded his own company, Sage Cheshire Aerospace, Inc., to provide a wide range of aerospace needs, from initial design and engineering to finished product.
Sage Cheshire, Inc. provides engineering, development and fabrication services for Northrop Grumman Corp., Lockheed Corp., Gulfstream, Raytheon, Boeing, Scaled Composites, Xcor, Wyle Labs, NASA Armstrong, NASA Ames, Percussion Air and others for programs such as X37, F35, missile avoidance tail cones for G5 aircraft, medical devices for private space programs.
Art is also president of A2ZFX Inc., extending the benefit of his creative thinking to other fields – producing tools, molds, digital products, prototypes and more for clients ranging from aerospace manufacturers, product development, medical field to movie production for films. A2ZFX has produced over 900 vehicles for Red Bull alone.
Art is a member of the Aerospace Medical Association (AsMA), American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), National Aeronautical Association (NAA), Society of Experimental Test Pilots (SETP, corporate member) and the Flight Test Historical Foundation Board of Directors supporting the Air Force Flight Test Museum at Edwards AFB.
He is International Association for the Advancement of Space Safety (IAASS) Space Safety
2013 Jerome Leder Pioneer Award recipient; 2012 Collier Trophy nominee; 2012 Aviation Week & Space Technology Laureate Award nominee; 2013 Excellence in Aviation Award recipient from the Flight Test Historical Foundation; Hall of Fame 2013 Inductee, San Diego Air and Space Museum, and Honorary U.S. Army Golden Knight.
Art was recognized by the New Mexico and California Senates for contributions in aerospace and human physiology egress from high altitude.