Marsh Brothers Aviation founder and chief innovator George A. (Sandy) Thomson has been chosen as the 2019 recipient of the Elmer A. Sperry Award for his work in developing marine and aviation non-metal bearings and seals that were a technical revolution in that they didn’t require oil or grease for lubrication, using polymers instead.
“Our innovations have always been customer-driven but also based on a desire to develop something the customer doesn’t know is even possible,” says Thomson, a COPA member since 1957.
Thomson, a resident of Burlington, Ontario, has been using the Marsh Brothers-developed AeroTough GF bushings to replace traditional greased bushings in the landing gear on his personal aircraft, an Aerostar 601P. They reportedly show no signs of wear after 500 hours.
“Our overall objective at Marsh Brothers Aviation is to commercialize a totally grease-free landing gear as well as eliminate the need for repetitive lubrication on other aircraft mechanical systems through the innovative use of our polymers,” added Thomson.
Marsh Brothers Aviation is a division of the Thomson-Gordon Group.
Thomson has always had a passion for aviation. He was trained as a pilot by the RCAF and later obtained a mechanical engineering degree from Northrop University in California. He returned to the family business in 1967, which is where he began working on the development of elastomeric polymers.
The Elmer A. Sperry award is named after the inventor of the gyroscope, and was started by the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers (SNAME). SNAME was founded in 1893 and is based in New Jersey. Thomson, who was chosen among candidates that included Tesla and SpaceX among others, will be presented the award at the SNAME Maritime Convention being held in Tacoma, Washington this coming October.