Mike Hirschberg, an inspiration behind the Vertical Flight Society (VFS), has announced he is to step down from his 12 year stint as Executive Director of VFS, from the middle of next year, reports ainonline.com. Hirschberg explained his announcement enables the Board to find a successor in an orderly fashion. 

He wrote to the VFS membership, “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 1st transition.” 

Under his leadership, VFS rebranded from The American Helicopter Society to become the nation’s most respected organisation dealing with the technical and public policy aspects of Advanced Air Mobility (AAM), while greatly increasing the membership and program offerings.  

A strong and inspirational advocate for the fast-emerging AAM sector, Hirschberg keeps his feet on the ground and regularly offers a realistic perspective on some of the hype surrounding the new eVTOL aircraft industry.

For example, in 2020 he told ainonline.com, “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 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. He 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.

Then he became 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.

Hirschberg’s VFS leadership will be sorely missed. evtolinsights.com sends its best regards to a man who has immeasurably helped the eVTOL industry to develop and evolve. We wish him every good luck for the future and look forward to hearing about his new role.

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(top image: ainonline.com)