Not Just the ‘Black Hawk Down’ Guy: Huntsville Businessman Mike Durant Named Vetrepreneur of the Year

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - You may not recognize him when you see him on the street.  But, you might remember a desperate helicopter pilot shouting, "Mike Durant, we won't leave you behind," in the Oscar-winning 2001 film "Black Hawk Down."

But, the former Somali hostage is no longer known as just 'the Black Hawk Down guy.'

Mike Durant says he's fine with being known as 'The Pinnacle Solutions' guy these days.

The Distinguished Service medal and Purple Heart recipient was recently named NaVOBA's 2013 Vetrepreneur of the Year for his success in co-founding the Huntsville aviation simulation and training company.  Pinnacle's current project in a partnership with SES is developing two Black Hawk electrical training simulators.

"It's designed to replicate the aircraft from nose to tail. Unlike a pilot trainer, where we just simulate the cockpit, this device is for maintenance personnel.  So, you've got to do everything on the aircraft to support the training tasks," said Durant.

When completely built and rewired to allow complete simulation control, the devices will be used by the 110th Aviation Brigade in Fort Eustis, Virginia.

"For Pinnacle this is our largest development program to date and it really is a significant undertaking both from an SES perspective from the hardware side and from a Pinnacle perspective where we are doing most of the software and the simulation.  We are taking a real helicopter and turning it into something that we can control," said Durant.  These devices will eventually preserve the operational assets of active military units.

Durant will never escape his ties to the battle of Mogadishu.  But, for now he's got his eyes set on Pinnacle's next five years.  "We hope to expand this and continue to build these kinds of training devices in the future,"  said Durant.

In addition to his work at Pinnacle Solutions, Mike Durant does a lot of motivational speaking.  He talks extensively about how those experiences from not only Somalia, but also all of his military experience, impact his success as a business executive today.