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Mike Hirschberg, the long-serving executive director of the Vertical Flight Society (VFS) announced on December 15th that he will be stepping down after 12 years of service sometime next year. Hirschberg said he was making the announcement now to enable the VFS Board to find a successor in an orderly fashion.

In a message to VFS membership, Hirschberg wrote, “As all things must eventually come to an end, I have decided that it is time to pass the baton. I am inspired daily by the passion, knowledge, technical expertise, and kindness of our members. I will continue to work as hard as ever to keep VFS running at full speed over the next six months, through our 79th Annual Forum in May. I hope to continue serving VFS after the June 1 transition.” 

Under Hirschberg’s leadership, VFS rebranded from “The American Helicopter Society” and transitioned to the nation’s foremost organization dealing with the technical and public policy aspects of advanced air mobility (AAM) and substantially increased the technical society’s membership and program offerings.  

While acting as an advocate for the fast-emerging AAM sector, Hirschberg has often provided a sober and realistic perspective on some of the hype surrounding new eVTOL aircraft. In 2020 he told AIN,” For eVTOL to be worth the investment they really need larger-scale operations. When tens of thousands of people are flying every day in a city, then there will really be a benefit. We’ll see more cities around the world adopt UAM [urban air mobility] services and those will scale up in terms of the number of cities, vertiports, aircraft, and passengers.”

Hirschberg was previously a principal aerospace engineer with Centra Technology, providing technical and program management support for more than 10 years to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) and Office of Naval Research (ONR) on advanced aircraft and rotorcraft concepts. Before this, Hirschberg worked from 1994 to 2001 in the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program office, supporting the development of the X-32 and X-35 vertical flight propulsion systems. Hirschberg holds a bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Virginia and a master's in mechanical engineering from the Catholic University of America.


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