Commentary: A Vision for the Future of the Vertical Flight Society

A Vision for the Future of the Vertical Flight Society

By Angelo Collins
VFS Executive Director

From Vertiflite, November/December 2023

Commentary by Angelo Collins, VFS Executive Director at EAS 2023It can be difficult to assess the status and health of an organization until you’re sitting in the driver’s seat. I made some recommendations during the interview process and soon after selection. Since that time, I’ve doubled down on some of these recommendations, while also observing other areas that require attention. VFS is doing a lot of things right, and we have been able to thrive and grow over the last decade. A priority of mine in the role of Executive Director is to manage the “business” of VFS, with the staff and our processes at its core. Only when you’re able to take care of yourself can you take care of others.

I will place special attention on the following areas in the first year of my term as Executive Director:

  • Increase Vertical Flight Foundation (VFF) scholarships and improve student involvement
  • Expand member base and improve overall outreach
  • Improve chapter relations and identify additional coordination opportunities

VFF scholarships are one of the most impactful benefits provided by the Vertical Flight Society. Even decades after being awarded the scholarship, our past recipients can say exactly what they spent it on and how it helped them graduate. We will do our best to educate our members on the benefits and encourage them to donate to VFF.

A new idea that will also benefit students is the incorporation of a VFS Student Council, comprising of select students from each student branch. In addition to executive officers, students will serve in various director roles that are designed to expand interest in vertical flight at the collegiate level, while also improving the experience of students who study vertical flight. Look out for an update on the VFS Student Council in the months to come.

We also understand that attracting new members, whether they are individuals, students or corporations, is critical to sustaining our great Society for the future. One key tool we use for outreach to both members and the public is social media. Mike Hirschberg (Director of Strategy) and Dan Gettinger (Director of Communications & Publications, and Vertiflite Managing Editor) play a key role in curating and posting content for our followers. We will be moving to a tool that allows VFS to post to multiple social media platforms at once, providing low-burden/ high-impact content across the most popular platforms for our followers to enjoy. We will continue to ensure there is a balance of topics, including conventional helicopter, advanced rotorcraft, uncrewed aircraft systems (UAS), electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, as well as military-, civil- and academic-focused content. We also want to update our website,, to provide a clean and modern interface for ease of use and improved functionality.

After a period of vacancy, the VP of Membership position on the Board of Directors has been filled by Kaydon Stanzione, CEO of LogistiWerx, Inc. No stranger to VFS, Kaydon was a former AHS Membership Chairman in the 1990s and originated a “Not for Members Only” column of Vertiflite; he was also instrumental in creating the annual VFS Student Design Competition in the early 1980s. In support to the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), he helped spearhead AIAA student branches and regional student conferences and will play a major role in expanding the VFS student base.

We are brainstorming ways to improve not only regional VFS chapter engagement with the headquarters staff, but also engagement between chapters. Setting up a chapter executive email distribution or community on our Hover online professional networking tool ( could facilitate internal discussion between chapter leaders, providing lessons learned, advice and ideas. There could also be a quarterly, bimonthly or even monthly meeting set up for engagement as well. As far as improvements of engagement to the chapters by headquarters, we will begin to deliver membership materials, flyers and other VFS swag to chapter leaders for their use in recruiting and serving members. We will also develop cheat sheets, standard operating procedures (SOPs) and instructions to help outline how to work with VFS headquarters to organize an event, set up an election and create a chapter website.

Finally, we are excited about digitizing the exceptional content, photos, memos, documentation and material in the VFS archives. In addition to the more than 15,700 PDFs in our Vertical Flight Library (, we would like to make more digitized content available online to the VFS community and to the general public. We are currently working through some ideas and the possibility of pursuing grant funding from the US National Archives. We are excited to provide an update on this soon.

The Vertical Flight Society is proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish over the past 80 years through the hard work of our staff, members and other stakeholders in the vertical flight community, and we are excited for the new and amazing things we can do together coming years.

This commentary is also available as a pdf.

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Posted: 2023-10-25