The Helicopter Association International has named Michael Hirschberg, executive director of the American Helicopter Society (AHS) International, as this year’s recipient of the Lightspeed Aviation Excellence in Communications Award, presented annually to the individual or organization achieving the most creative and distinct dissemination of information about the helicopter industry. AHS International is the world’s oldest and largest vertical flight technical society, providing since its inception in 1943 leadership for scientific, technical, educational and legislative initiatives that advance the state-of-the-art in rotorcraft design and development. The award is being presented at the Salute to Excellence awards ceremony on Wednesday March 4 at 8 p.m.
“This is such an incredible honor for me and for AHS International to be recognized for the prestigious Excellence in Communications Award,” said Hirschberg. “This is like winning the Pulitzer Prize for the rotorcraft industry. Thank you to HAI and Lightspeed Aviation for sponsoring the award.”
An aerospace and mechanical engineer by training, Hirschberg is an internationally recognized lecturer on the topic of vertical flight, frequently presenting at meetings, conferences and universities, and is the author or coauthor of more than 100 articles on rotorcraft, V/STOL and advanced aircraft developments, including three books. He has served as editor of the AHS’s bi-monthly (previously quarterly) publication Vertiflite for the past 15 years. “I actually started writing for the magazine in ’97 and became the managing editor of the magazine in my spare time in 1999,” Hirschberg told AIN, adding that he officially became an employee of the association in 2011, when he was named executive director. In addition to organizing all AHS technical conferences and the society’s annual forum, he also publishes the Annual Forum Proceedings and the Journal of the AHS. “Engineers, technologists, scientists aren’t necessarily the best communicators,” said Hirschberg. “If I can help explain important issues to engineers and translate between engineers and aviators and government planners and have them understand each other, that’s the best way to advance rotorcraft.” In selecting him for the award, HAI noted that his work on AHS International publications has made him “an important conduit for sharing vital information among the vertical lift industry’s technical community.”
Hirschberg earned a bachelor of science in aerospace engineering in 1991 from the University of Virginia, and his M.E. in mechanical engineering from the Catholic University of America (1996). In 2013 he added a master of business administration from Virginia Polytechnic Institute. His two decades of experience in the industry include eight years as a consultant in the Department of Defense’s Joint Strike Fighter Program office supporting the development of the X-32 and X-35 vertical flight propulsion systems. Immediately prior to joining AHS he spent more than a decade as a principle aerospace engineer with Centra Technology, providing technical and program management support on advanced rotorcraft and aircraft concepts to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Office of Naval Research.
Hirschberg is an associate fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and a fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society.