|By Carmelo Turdo|
Mike Press has almost 50 years of experience in aviation. He was a highly decorated U.S. Air Force combat fighter pilot, flying 480 combat missions in Vietnam. He served as the 65th Aggressor Squadron Commander at Nellis AFB, Nevada in the early 1980s and in senior leadership positions where he managed foreign military sales for Europe and Asia. Following his retirement from the U.S. Air Force as a Colonel, Press served as a senior director of Northrop Grumman Corporation from 1995-2005 and ran the field office supplying Boeing military production in St. Louis. He was involved with the sales and marketing of the early Eclipse EA500 product from 2005-2007 before the financial collapse of the company in 2008. By then, 260 aircraft were sold, yet at 85% complete as promised for delivery. The new company, Eclipse Aerospace, was born in late 2009 through the financial investment of Press and Mason Holland, and later as a partnership with Sikorsky Aircraft of United Technologies in early 2011. Production of the new model, the EA550, will commence in 2013.