Our Mission

Our mission is to accelerate the transition to quiet, zero-emission, electric aircraft through the preservation of existing aviation and urban air mobility infrastructure to enable safe and affordable aerial alternatives to ground transportation.

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 DirectorS

Autumn Cabaniss – Executive Director

Autumn Cabaniss

Autumn Cabaniss is an ATP-rated rotary wing pilot who has been flying on multiple platforms in the northeast for the better part of ten years and has demonstrated success in the development and execution of operations in high-profile transport and aeromedical evacuation. Autumn possesses comprehensive experience in fleet management, commercial aerospace, and regulatory compliance. She currently serves on the boards of the Eastern Region Helicopter Council and the International Women Helicopter Pilots Association—both of which are dedicated to promoting safe and efficient operations within the aviation industry, as well as collaborating with outreach programs to address residential concerns regarding helicopter and heliport issues.

Patricia Wagner – Director

Patricia Wagner

Patricia Wagner has managed heliports for nearly forty years and is the General Manager for Atlantic Aviation’s East 34th Street Heliport (6N5), located on Manhattan’s waterfront on the East River. Pat also acts as Atlantic Aviation’s Advisor on Helicopter Infrastructure and Operations, with a focus on future partnership ventures for electric vertical transportation throughout the United States. Since 2010, Ms. Wagner has served as both the Chairman of the Eastern Region Helicopter Council’s Heliport Committee and a member of Helicopter Association International’s Heliport Committee. Ms. Wagner also worked on the task force for the Helicopter Noise Committee, originally founded by then-New York City Council member Gale Brewer. She now acts as a representative of the New York City Economic Development Corporation and as a consultant on the opening of the Irvine Station Vertiport in California, which is currently in the permitting process.

Jeffery Smith – Director

Jeffery Smith

Jeffery Smith has been a member of the Eastern Region Helicopter Council for over 15 years, where he has served as Chairman, Director, and Vice President of Operations. Mr. Smith is also an active member of the Helicopter Association International (HAI), where he serves as Treasurer on the Board of Directors and formerly as Chairperson of the Fly Neighborly/Environmental Acoustics Committee. Further, Jeff is the Access Committee Chair for the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) and was the Chairperson for the Federal Aviation Administration Ad Hoc Committee for Airspace Redesign and a member of the New York Task Force for airspace redesign. Smith has been awarded the coveted NBAA Silk Scarf Award and the Eastern Regional Helicopter Council (ERHC) Chairman’s Award for Excellence.

Jeff earned his Airman Certificate at Fort Rucker Army Base in Alabama and spent ten years in active duty on diverse missions across North and South America, Europe, and the Middle East, including Operation Desert Storm. Upon exiting active duty in 1997, he was placed in Individual Ready Reserve as a Chief Warrant Officer 3 (CW3).

Smith has flown over 10,000 flight hours, including more than 700 hours in Emergency Medical Service in both combat and civilian metropolitan environments. Jeff began in his career in civil aviation as a sightseeing pilot and has worked for several civil aeronautical companies, including Executive Airlines. In 2002, Smith started Integrated Aviation Group and was awarded a Part 135 IFR Certificate.

Jeff earned his Bachelor of Science in professional aeronautics from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He is an FAA-licensed Rotary-Wing Airline Transport Pilot, ASEL Instrument rating and holds a Class 1 Medical Certificate with both Gulfstream 550 and AQ139 type ratings. He is married with seven children and serves as Treasurer of his children’s Parent Teacher Organization.

Melissa Tomkiel – Director

Melissa Tomkiel

Melissa Tomkiel has served as the President of BLADE Urban Air Mobility, Inc. (“Blade”) since January 2021 and as General Counsel since February 2015. She was Blade’s President, Fixed Wing from 2015 to 2020. From 2010 to 2015, Ms. Tomkiel was President of LIMA NY Corp., a commuter air carrier operating amphibious seaplanes and rotorcraft. From 2006 to 2010, Ms. Tomkiel was an attorney at Pryor Cashman. Ms. Tomkiel has a J.D. from St. John’s University School of Law and a B.A. from the University of Notre Dame.

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