Inventor of Nike Air, Frank Rudy, Passes Away

Thirty years later, Rudy's innovation has stood the test of time.

words_Nick DePaula With the simple intuition to encapsulate the most common element each and every one of us encounters on a daily basis, Air, Frank Rudy forever changed the footwear industry over thirty years ago. Credited as the innovative mind behind the invention that became known as Nike Air, Rudy recently passed away at his home in California on December 13th, according to The Oregonian. He was 84. Originally an aerospace engineer after spending time in the military, Frank Rudy left his� job at the end of the 1960's with the hopes of becoming an independent inventor for a variety of industries. His career, filled with over 250 patents to his name, could most certainly be deemed a tremendous success. It was in 1977 that Rudy first brought his idea for an encapsulated cushioning unit that would house pressure-filled gasses to Nike. As he often did, Nike founder Phil Knight personally tried on a pair of prototype running shoes featuring the Air-Sole unit and was immediately sold on the improved ride. Nike Air first debuted in running in the Nike Air Tailwind in 1979, and soon followed in basketball in 1982's Air Force 1. The "Revolution" campaign of 1987 was just that, featuring Nike Air for the first time� in an exposed manner, as seen in the Air Max 1 above, and launching Nike into the athletic titan it has become today. Even now, Nike Air is seen in the brand's most notable products, like the Air Max 2009 running shoe and Air Max LeBron VII basketball sneaker, as well as across every athletic footwear category. "Frank Rudy holds a singular place in the pantheon of Nike innovation," Nike CEO Mark Parker said in a statement. "His relentless creativity and focus on solving problems was, in many ways, the template for how Nike pursues performance to this very day." Recently, Rudy worked with doctors in both Ohio and New York to fund and help with cancer research, a cause he was intensely committed to serving throughout his life. With Nike launching its "Fresh Air" campaign in a major way in 2010, here's to hoping the memory of Frank Rudy will be well preserved and his legacy celebrated on a grand scale.