Born: Germany
Primarily active in: United States of America


Dr. Hans Mark, US Government Executive, was a passionate advocate of tiltrotor technology for civil and military use. Mark was born in Mannheim, Germany, on June 17, 1929. The family was in Vienna before escaping the Nazi Anschluss via Switzerland, living progressing in France, England and Canada, before eventually settling in the US. Mark became an American citizen in 1945 and graduated from New York's Stuyvesant High School in 1947. He went on to receive a bachelor's degree in physics from the University of California, Berkeley in 1951, and a PhD in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1954.

In February 1969, Mark became director of what is now NASA's Ames Research Center, in Mountain View, California. In this role, he managed the center's research and applications efforts in aeronautics, space science, life science and space technology.

Mark had a major influence on rotorcraft technology developments during this time. In the forward to the official NASA history of the XV-15 tiltrotor (NASA SP-2000-4517), he wrote, “I have had the good fortune to have been closely associated with a significant element of this activity, the XV-15 tilt rotor research aircraft project, for several decades… I know firsthand that the success of the tilt rotor can be credited to the capable industry and Government individuals whose story is told in the following pages.”

Mark then served as Under Secretary of the Air Force from 1977 until July 1979, when he was promoted to Secretary of the Air Force. Concurrently, he served as Director of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) from 1977 to 1979. In July 1981, he was appointed Deputy Administrator of NASA — where he is credited for “selling” the space station program to President Ronald Reagan — serving until September 1984.

Mark then served as Chancellor of the University of Texas system until 1992. He moved on to become a senior professor of aerospace engineering at the University of Texas at Austin.

In July 1998, he began work at the Pentagon upon President Clinton's nomination of him as Director of Defense Research and Engineering (DDR&E), officially serving 1999–2000. Mark was selected as a VFS Honorary Fellow in 2000, for having significantly contributed to furthering the goals and objectives of the vertical flight industry.

In 2001, he returned to the University of Texas at Austin as a professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics and held a research position at the University of Texas' Applied Research Laboratories. He retired from the faculty of the University of Texas at Austin in 2014. During his time as professor, Mark was a revered teacher and mentor.

A long-time member of the Society, Dr. Mark made significant impacts on the advancement of vertical flight at many points during his illustrious career.

Hans Michael Mark, 92, a NASA, US Air Force and university leader, passed away on Dec. 18, 2021. 

Society Update: Vertiflite May/June 2022