Born: United States of America
Primarily active in: United States of America

1951-2019

Michael Ross Dudley, 67, of Los Altos, California, passed away unexpectedly on March 24. Dudley was a 40-year employee of NASA Ames Research Center and one of the leading individuals organizing the VFS Electric VTOL Symposiums.

Dudley was born June 12, 1951 in San Jose. He grew up in Los Altos and then Carmel Valley. He attended California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo, graduating in 1978 with a BS in Aeronautical Engineering, and was inducted into Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honor society. He worked on his MS in Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University, 1984-1990, in the honors co-op program while working full time. He also received an MBA in Business Management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management, attending 2000-2001.

Dudley’s NASA career covered a broad spectrum of disciplines, including air traffic management, systems analysis and integration, fixed-wing and rotary-wing powered lift, airships, high-speed and subsonic transports, aerodynamic research facilities and safety and mission assurance.

Most recently, as the Senior Advisor for Development to the Director of NASA Ames, Dudley provided senior-level advice on new business opportunities and partnership developments. Prior to this, he served as the Director of the NASA Aeronautics Research Institute (NARI). In this role, he worked to establish and maintain a collaborative government, industry and academia work environment with the aid of network-based virtual conferencing technologies, which enabled the NASA Aeronautics Mission Directorate to explore aviation concepts through collaborative research activities.

In this capacity, Dudley established of the VFS-NASA Transformative Vertical Flight Working Groups and was an organizer of the annual Transformative Vertical Flight Workshops/Electric VTOL Symposiums. Dudley was the host of the 2nd Annual TVF Workshop at NASA Ames and spearheaded the joint VFS-NASA TVF Working Group efforts to develop technology roadmaps for electric VTOL (see www.vtol.org/TVF).

In the 2010s, Dudley served on details as NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C.; RTCA, Inc.; the Office of Management and Budget (OMB); and the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as the Deputy Director of the Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO) leading efforts on Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen). He was an instrument-rated pilot with nearly 50 years of flying experience. Dudley started his professional career with NASA as an aeronautical research engineer in the National Full-scale Aerodynamics Complex (NFAC) at Ames. He then served in progressively more responsible roles at NASA Ames, including as Chief, Flight Vehicle Research & Technology Division on advanced large-scale rotorcraft aeromechanics technology validation; Senior Technical Advisor to the Director, including formulating an Electric Aircraft Propulsion research effort that teamed with industry and academia; Director of Safety, Environmental and Mission Assurance; and Associate Director for Aeronautics.

One family friend wrote this remembrance about Dudley: “Your vision was brilliant, your understanding was enlightening and your dedication to humanity through science, inspirational.”

Vertical Flight Society: Vertiflite May/June 2019