Kitty Hawk, the electric plane launched to the moon with the support of Larry Page, is closing • CableFree TV

Published by
Peter Kavinsky

Kitty Hawk, the electric aviation startup founded and led by self-driving car godfather Sebastian Thrun and backed by Google co-founder Larry Page, is shutting down.

The company said in a tweet and in a post on LinkedIn that it was shutting down operations.

“We have made the decision to wind down Kittyhawk. We’re still working on the details of what’s to come next,” the social media posts said.

Attempts to contact Thrun or a company representative have been unsuccessful. TechCrunch will update the article if more information is provided.

Kitty Hawk was founded in 2010 by Troon. sponsored by Page initially under the name Zee.Aero. Page enlisted Thrun, a longtime friend and advisor who co-founded X, Alphabet’s moonshot factory, to lead the company.

Kitty Hawk operated largely covertly for years – barring the occasional media scoop – until mid-decade, when she unveiled her Flyer aircraft. The single-seat, all-electric VTOL was the company’s first step in developing an ultra-light electric flying car for everyone.

Kitty Hawk built and flew 111 Flyers and flew over 25,000 successful crewed and uncrewed flights with her fleet. However, this program was closed in June 2020 – and about 70 employees were fired — to make room for the Heaviside, a more capable, quieter and once-secret electric aircraft known as the H2 that could fly and land anywhere autonomously. Heaviside has been in development since 2015 but was not announced until TechCrunch Disrupt 2019.

Sebastian Thrun of Kitty Hawk at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2019 on October 3, 2019 Image contributors: TechCrunch

Kitty Hawk has had at least one other public project. called Koraan autonomous flying taxi for two people, which was first introduced in 2018. At the end of 2019, Kora was isolated in joint venture with Boeing. The joint venture, now called Wisk, is trying to develop and commercialize electric unmanned air taxis. In early 2022, Boeing invested another $450 million at Wisk.

When the Flyer was closed and the Cora dispersed, Kitty Hawk’s only mission was Heaviside and reportedly another larger version of the aircraft. HVSD, named after renowned physicist and electrical engineer Oliver Heaviside, is Kitty Hawk’s third act.

While the program has evolved, competitors such as Beta Technologies, Joby Aviation, Lilium and Volocopter have also made progress. An internal struggle between Troon and Heaviside’s program manager, physicist and electrical engineer Damon Vander Lind, increased the pressure. Lind was fired in May 2021. This was once reported by Forbes..

In 2021, Kitty Hawk reached another milestone when it demonstrated flight beyond line-of-sight in Ohio. The demonstration was part of a collaboration with the FAA, the Air Force and SkyVision, the ground-based radar service. By that time, the company had built over 16 H2 vehicles.

By 2022, however, the mission has become less clear. Sources told TechCrunch that Kitty Hawk is working on Heaviside in 2022. However, her website hinted at another milestone for the company. Kitty Hawk said it is working on its first commercial air taxi, a vehicle built on the H2 platform that will be small, light, quiet and remotely controlled.

Peter Kavinsky

Peter Kavinsky is the Executive Editor at cablefreetv.org

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