We were wondering why we hadn’t heard anything from the Kitty Hawk project recently in the midst of a big wave of autonomous aircraft and electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft news. Then Google Co-founder Larry Page came out of the woodworks to tell us that it is indeed still alive and is actually kicking with major improvements. You just won’t believe who they reached out to in order to discuss the matter.
Warning, skip the next section if you don’t want to know what is happening in the press today.
Kitty Hawk Reaches Out To The Masses Through CNN
Yes, we are guilty of beating a few dead horses around here and Big Media is one of them.
We are not alone. Many of our colleagues feel exactly the same about a trend we’ve noticed developing in the past 5 years ago. Electric vehicle (EV) startups that once courted our attention are turning elsewhere.
Why? They have the attention of mainstream news and have thus lost interest in you savvy readers, as well as our supportive coverage of the industry over this past decade.
Instead of reaching out to the specialized press, the Kitty Hawk Project chose a channel more known for its political coverage than coverage of EVs. I have to quote the first paragraph of equally perplexed Robert Goyer, who wonders as to why the Kitty Hawk Project didn’t invite the specialized media? This comes from his “Unsettling Launch” article:
“When you think leaders in aviation technology coverage, you normally think ‘CNN,’ right? Nope, neither do I. So it might have been a bit of a surprise to some of us when Kitty Hawk, the company that’s making those polycopter ultralight watercraft machines, gave the exclusive first flight of its single-seater ‘Flyer’ to CNN, and not just CNN, but a reporter who has no aviation experience. I get it. The message they want to send is that this product isn’t for pilots. It’s for anyone. Okay…”
Begrudgingly, I get back to the point and right altitude, if not attitude.
From a Flying Bicycle To A Flying … Quad — The Kitty Hawk Project Adventure
Out of all eVTOL and other electric aircraft startup adventures, it is safe to say that The Kitty Hawk Project has probably been the most discreet. But it couldn’t resist riding on the waves of strong eVTOL news.
At the crux of the problem for these extremely light aircraft is that the FAA classifies them as Aerial Recreational Vehicle (ARV), a fad now turning to electricity and VTOL operations. This segment of the electric flight industry is regulated by FAR Part 103, which restricts those aircraft to no more than 254 pounds, a serious handicap for EVs and eVTOLs. The ultralight definition came about because it was so slow there is a limited risk to such vehicles’ occupants.
The new Kitty Hawk Project is now called the Flyer. It uses 10 electric propellors controlled with two joysticks. It weighs 250 lbs, has a maximum ceiling of 10 feet, and has a cruising speed limited by flight controls to 20 mph. Aren’t you glad?
Notice that the originally water-landing pontoons and original protective nets are gone, as you can see from the picture below.
Good news overall. However, Kitty Hawk and startup friends, please, don’t forget about the specialized press, which has always been talking with savvy citizens who help bring new tech to market … Hint! Hint! Nudge! Nudge! Just sayin’.