Thomas Edward Speer, retired Air Force lieutenant colonel and aerospace engineer, passed away peacefully on November 8, 2022, after a year-long battle with cancer, attended by his wife Kathy and son Sean. Tom was the eldest son of Dr. Edward and Lenora Speer of Stanwood, Iowa.
Tom earned a BS in Aerospace Engineering from Iowa State University in 1975 and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Air Force and attended the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards AFB in California, where he graduated with top honors as a Flight Test Engineer in 1980. He earned a Master’s degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology and later served as Chief of Aeronautical Engineering for the Air Force Office of Scientific Research in London. He retired as a lieutenant colonel in 1996.
Following his time in the Air Force, Tom joined the Boeing Corporation in Seattle where he was a Principal Engineer on the Tier III- DarkStar unmanned aircraft program and the Lead Engineer for the KC-767 Aerial Refueling Boom control law development. He was recognized by Boeing for his outstanding work attaining the level Boeing Associate Technical Fellow and holds 19 patents under his name.
Following Boeing, Tom’s expertise in aerodynamics, flight testing, and flight mechanics made him a valuable member of the engineering design team for the 33rd America’s Cup where he helped design and build the massive trimaran USA-17 that won the 33rd America’s Cup races in Valencia, Spain. Tom joined Oracle Team USA as wing designer for the 34th America’s Cup spectacular 72 ft AC72 wing-sail foiling catamarans. Oracle Team USA defeated Emirates Team New Zealand 9-8 in September 2013 on San Francisco Bay, with a stunning, eight race come-from-behind win.
In 2013 Tom joined his third AC design team for the 35th America’s Cup held in Bermuda in 2017 and created a dynamic velocity prediction program used to optimize Oracle Team USA’s 50ft AC50 wing-sail foiling catamarans. Tom is survived by his wife Dr. Kathy Long, son Sean (Imogen), stepsons Brett Ryder and Cory Daiker (Kim), mother Lenora Speer, brother Brad (Janet), sisters Kristin Morgan (Richard Morgan) and Kymberly Speer (Charles Cuda), one grandson, two step-granddaughters, and numerous nieces and nephews. A memorial service for Tom will be held April 29, 2023, at the Seventh Avenue Presbyterian Church in San Francisco. In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to “Read to Rover” (c/o Olympic Mountain Pet Pals organization, www.ompetpals.org), or the American Legion, PO Box 0042, Stanwood, IA 52337.