The air out there

M Frank Rudy, an aerospace engineer, patented the Nike Air cushioning system in 1979. 

This was 8 years before David Forland and Tinker Hatfield made Nike Air infamous by making the air visible in the Air Max 1 in 1987.

After seeing the blow mold process used for NASA space helmets, Frank used these insights to create the air bag for footwear applications.

Frank Rudy found that the work he was doing for NASA could also be of practical use on the ground. He was able to encapsulate dense gases into rubber membranes creating a gas or “AIR” bag. The rubber molding processes he and his NASA colleagues were working with allowed for the creation of a hollowed out midsole to fit the air bag. The technology would exponentially decrease the impact a single step has on the body.
“He wasn’t one to shy away from the ultimate challenge. The bigger the problem the more complex the problem, the deeper he dug in.”

Frank took his ideas to footwear companies back in the 70's, no one was interested.   There was a culture of risk aversion to changing existing manufacturing processes.

Until Nike took a risk on an aerospace engineer with a crazy idea on changing the existing manufacturing process.

“Frank Rudy holds a singular place in the pantheon of Nike innovation. His relentless creativity and focus on solving problems was, in many ways, the template for how Nike pursues performance to this very day.”
— Mark Parker

An aerospace engineer with relentless creativity and a focus on solving problems.

Frank passed away in 2009, but the effects of his innovations are still changing the footwear manufacturing process today with shoes like the Nike Vapormax

Thank You Frank