Love & Wisdom

Most Influential: Co-founder Tad McGeer

Tad McGeer is Co-founder, President, and Chief Engineer of Aerovel Corp.

By Deanna Duff December 31, 1969

In aviation, big jets get all the glory, but Tad McGeer’s development of lightweight, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) demonstrates not only that good things can arrive in small packages, but that they can do so safely and, if his latest project succeeds, economically and reliably. McGeer’s work with the In-Situ Group dramatically advanced the state of UAVs in the 1990s and led to the U.S. military’s use of them in Iraq and Afghanistan. McGeer founded his most recent company, Aerovel Corp., in 2006 and its reputation is soaring on the debut this year of the Flexrotor, the next generation in UAV design, which flew successfully for the first time in September.

McGeer sees the Flexrotor as an ideal candidate for civilian applications. “It’s nice when these aircraft are used for the general good, such as weather reconnaissance or geological surveying,” says McGeer. Weighing 40 pounds with a 10-foot wingspan, the Flexrotor can fly nearly 2,500 miles at altitudes of 20,000 to 25,000 feet—on only 3 gallons of fuel. Its most remarkable feature may be its vertical takeoff and landing capability, meaning it could launch from and return to previously inaccessible areas, such as a small boat in rough conditions far out at sea. McGeer hopes to have the Flexrotor in service by 2012. Until then, he says, “We have our hands full.”

Published November 2010 

More articles from our Most Influential issue

Person of the Year: The Police Officer

Most Influential: CEO Ben Huh

Most Influential: Bill Gates Sr.

Most Influential: Partners on the Cascadia Center

Most Influential: Dave Ross and Tom Douglas

Most Influential: Group Health Cooperative

Most Influential: Hanson Hosein

Most Influential: Football player Jake Locker

Most Influential: F5 Networks CEO John McAdam

Most Influential: Activist Keli Carender

Most Influential: Founder Kim O’Donnel

Most Influential: Broker Laura Miller

Most Influential: Seattle Storm Lauren Jackson

Most Influential: Consultant Mike Donlin

Most Influential: Mike McGinn and Dow Constantine

Most Influential: M.D. and CEO Mitchell Gold

Most Influential: Ones to Watch

Most Influential: Our Selection Panel

Most Influential: CEO Paul Davis

Most Influential: Robb Hunt and Steve Tomkins

Most Influential: Sandra Jackson-Dumont

Most Influential: Speight Jenkins

Most Influential: King-5 News Susannah Frame

Most Influential: Co-founder Tad McGeer

Most Influential: The Seattle Times Staff

Most Influential: Real Change’s Tim Harris

Most Influential: Senator Tracey Eide

Most Influential: Zoran Popovic and David Baker


Follow Us