As a result of the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic, the Vertical Flight Society has made the decision to hold our 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 our members, staff and attendees is our 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, we wanted to give our 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 our Board Chair put it.
In the survey, we 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. We are 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, we plan to increase the Forum technical program beyond the usual 3 days of an in-person event to a full 5-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 our virtual Technology Display. We plan 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. We want to thank our exhibitors for their continued support: we planned for this unfortunate possibility, so your existing exhibit space reservation will transition to a virtual booth package. More details and instructions will be forthcoming.