Forum 79 VIP Speakers

The Vertical Flight Society's 79th Annual Forum & Technology Display, May 16-18 in West Palm Beach, Florida, is the world's leading international technical event on vertical flight technology. The conference spans three days and includes 260+ technical papers on every discipline from Acoustics to Unmanned System, plus nearly 70 exhibitors and two short courses — eVTOL Technology and Artificial Intelligence. 

Forum 79 also features nearly 50 invited speakers in the military, government agencies and industry:

Special Session 1: International VTOL R&D

Moderated by Dan Newman, Boeing

  • Perry Comeau, Chief Test Pilot and IRIS Project Manager, NRC Canada
  • Arnaud LePape, Rotorcraft Program Manager, ONERA
  • Florian Antrack, Program Manager, Defence Technology, DLR
  • Pat Collins, Senior Fellow, Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S), UK Ministry of Defence (MoD)

Special Session 2: US VTOL R&D

Moderated by Dr. Rajneesh Singh, US Army Research Lab

  • Susan Gorton, Project Manager, RVLT, NASA
  • Michael Fallon, Assistant PEO(A) for S&T and Vertical Lift S&T Portfolio Manager, NAVAIR
  • Cliff Johnson, Senior R&D Engineer, FAA Tech Center
  • Dr. Oliver Wong, Associate Director, Design, Simulation & Experimentation, US Army DEVCOM Aviation & Missile Center

Opening General Session


  • Mike Hirschberg, Outgoing Executive Director, Vertical Flight Society
  • Angelo Collins, Incoming Executive Director, Vertical Flight Society
  • Dr. Mahendra Bhagwat, Senior Research Scientist (ST) for Air Vehicle Aerodynamics & Preliminary Design, US Army DEVCOM AvMC (VFS Technical Director)

Straight Talk from the Top

Moderated by Graham Warwick, Aviation Week

  • Tomasz Krysinski, VP, Research & Innovation, Airbus Helicopters
  • Jason Hurst, EVP, Engineering, Bell
  • Kathleen (KJ) Jolivette, VP/GM, Vertical Lift, The Boeing Company
  • Roberto Garavaglia, SVP Strategy & Innovation, Leonardo Helicopters
  • Paul Lemmo, President, Sikorsky, A Lockheed Martin Co.

43rd Annual Nikolsky Lecture

  • Dr. Serge Germanetti, Airbus: “50 Years of Innovation, Reducing Pilot Workload and Enhancing Safety by Helping Pilots Manage Helicopter Performance”

Special Session 3: US Army PEO Aviation Future Vertical Lift

Moderated by Matt Sipe, US Army PEO Aviation

  • Michelle Gilbert, Technical Division Chief, FLRAA
  • Melanie Hardt, Technical Division Chief, FARA
  • Col Danielle Medaglia, PM, Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Special Session 4: US Army PEO Aviation Modernization Update

Moderated by Matt Sipe, US Army PEO Aviation

  • Col Calvin Lane, PM, Utility Helicopters
  • LTC Nick Yerby, PM for Development & Modernization, Apache
  • Scott Rosengren, Technical Division Chief, Cargo
  • Bob Sheibley, Deputy PM, Aviation Turbine Engines
  • Lynn Tompkins, Technical Division Chief, Aviation Mission Systems & Architecture

Special Session 5: US Air Force VTOL

Moderated by Dana Jensen, Gemini Industries / US Air Force

  • Col Charles “Tron” McMullen, USAF, Deputy Director, Global Reach, SAF/AQQ
  • Lt Col John “Wasp” Tekell, USAF, Agility Prime Lead, AFWERX
  • Rachel Bellanova, Transformational Capabilities Office, AFRL/RST

Special Session 6: Flight Test Challenges for VTOL Aircraft

Moderated by Al Lawless, Aurora Flight Sciences

  • Tony Mumford, Principal Engineer, Overair
  • Dan Newman, Senior Tech Fellow, The Boeing Company
  • Discussion: “A 21st Century Taxonomy for VTOL Aircraft”

Special Session 7: Challenges in Electric VTOL

Moderated by Luigi Ricci Moretti

  • Rani Plaut, CEO, AIR
  • Glenn Waters, Head of Advanced Technology, ARC Aerosystems
  • Doron Merdinger, CEO, Doroni Aerospace
  • Santh Sathya, CEO, LuftCar LLC

Special Session 8: Autonomy for VTOL Aircraft

Moderated by Pamir Sevincel, Quartz Capital

  • Dr. Luuk van Dijk, CEO, Daedalean
  • Dr. Hector Xu, CEO, Rotor Technologies, Inc.
  • Mark Butkiewicz, VP, Applied Engineering, SURVICE Engineering

Special Session 9: Progress in Electric VTOL

Moderated by Mike Hirschberg, Vertical Flight Society

  • Dave Dennison, VP Engineering, Archer Aviation
  • Dr. Gregor Veble Mikić, Flight Research Lead, Joby Aviation
  • Tony Mumford, Principal Flight Sciences Engineer, Overair
  • Mikaël Cardinal, VP PM Organ Delivery Systems, United Therapeutics Corp.

Check out our Forum Program Overview for more information and resources.