VFS’s Forum 77 will be all-virtual

As a result of the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic, the Vertical Flight Society has made the decision to hold its 77th Annual Forum & Technology Display completely virtually. Originally planned for a hybrid virtual/in-person event on May 11-13 in West Palm Beach, Florida, the event will be expanded to the full five days of the week, May 10-14, 2021, and be held online only.

The safety and well-being of its members, staff and attendees is VFS’s paramount concern. VFS made the decision after careful evaluation of the pandemic in light of the slow progress in vaccinations, extremely high current Covid-19 infection rates, and the increasing appearance of new, more dangerous strains. In addition, an extensive survey of current and past members was conducted, with conclusive results supporting the perspective of the VFS headquarters staff and board of directors that conditions would be highly unlikely to be sufficient for a safe, robust in-person component of Forum 77.

Even though the Forum is still 15 weeks away, VFS wanted to give its authors, exhibitors, sponsors, volunteers and attendees as much notice as possible, and made the call earlier than planned, rather than holding out until closer to the event and “hoping for a miracle,” as the VFS board chair put it.

In the survey, VFS received a lot of comments and suggestions, as well as compliments for the highly successful virtual Forum 76 held in October, including what participants liked most and least about the online Forum. VFS is taking the best of the best and improving the rest to make an even better virtual Forum 77. Not all of the plans are set yet, but Forum 77 will most likely use the same online platform as Forum 76 with some improvements.

In addition, VFS plans to increase the Forum technical program beyond the usual three days of an in-person event to a full five-day event, Monday through Friday, May 10-14, with a later start, which will also make the times for the technical paper presentations more accommodating for attendees in Europe and the North American west coast time zones.

Another area of improvement will be the virtual technology display. VFS plans to have a much more structured exhibitor technical briefing program to maximize the learning, engagement and networking, which is a key component of the Forum. VFS thanks its exhibitors for their continued support: VFS planned for this unfortunate possibility, so existing exhibit space reservations will transition to a virtual booth package. More details and instructions will be forthcoming.

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With the experience of its successful virtual Forum 76, VFS is confident in holding an even better virtual Forum 77 in May. VFS will have even more experience now holding virtual events, including this week’s Autonomous VTOL Technical Meeting and Electric VTOL Symposium.

VFS expressed appreciation to all its members for their “incredible support”, noting that it is their enthusiasm that makes VFS so successful in its mission of advancing vertical flight.

This press release was prepared and distributed by Virtual Flight Society.

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