Mark H. Thompson was born in Atlanta, GA in 1951, the son of Tommy and Margaret Thompson. Both parents learned to fly at Parkaire Field in Cobb County, GA in the 1940’s in a Stearman PT-17.
Mark attended Northside High School in Atlanta, graduating in 1969. After one year of college, he joined the United States Army as a Warrant Officer Candidate and trained to fly helicopters. By 1972, the Army had too many helicopter pilots and Mark was offered an early release from his military commitment. He used his G.I. Bill benefits to transition to fixed wing aircraft. While attending West Georgia College, he opened his first business – a local skydiving center - and got it included as an official Physical Education course at West Georgia College. Mark began offering Skydiving 101 and 102 to fellow students.
After moving back to Atlanta, Mark became Chief Pilot for Modern Professional Air based at DeKalb-Peachtree Airport (PDK). He later partnered with Georgia Air Freight based at Atlanta Hartsfield Airport. He also continued to fly skydivers and personally amassed over 2,000 aerial jumps in his logbook.
In the mid-1970’s, Mark started a passenger airline known as Phoenix Airlines at PDK, operating De Havilland DH-114 Herons across the Southeast. In 1978 he stood up Phoenix Air, later moving it from PDK to the Cartersville-Bartow County Airport, soon after becoming Phoenix Air Group, Inc.
Phoenix Air grew over the years and today employs 350 aviation professionals, owns and operates over 45 aircraft, and has offices in several states, Germany, Malta and Crete. Phoenix Air developed the world’s first airborne biocontainment system called the Aeromedical Biological Containment System (ABCS) first pressed into service during the 2014 Ebola epidemic making over 40 lifesaving transports of extremely contagious Ebola patients out of western Africa to advanced medical treatment centers.
Today, Phoenix Air is a major contractor to the U.S. Government, holding 11 different federal contracts. It is the U.S. Department of State’s primary air ambulance provider worldwide and is the air services contractor to Department of Defense (DOD) U.S. Africa Command flying to over 110 locations on the African continent.
Mark Thompson is president of Phoenix Air Group, Inc. and has over 30,000 hours Total Time, over 1,000 hours helicopter time, and is Airline Transport Pilot (ATP)-typed in Falcon 20, Learjet, Gulfstream G-159, Gulfstream G1159, CE500, Airplane Single Engine Land & Sea, and Rotorcraft Helicopter.
Mark annually flies his AugustaWestland AW109 helicopter from Cartersville, GA to Anchorage, AK for use all summer fishing outside Anchorage where he has a cabin.
Mark lives on his 250-acre horse farm in rural Bartow County, GA and his son, Matthew, is now a First Officer flying Gulfstream jets for Phoenix Air.
Mark was also a prominent National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) driver and holds the NASCAR record as the oldest driver to ever complete the Daytona 500 Race.