Kitty Hawk Multi-Rotor Hits AirVenture

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Kitty Hawk, a California startup that made a splash—literally—with a man-carrying multi-rotor, recently brought its machine to AirVenture this week for demonstration flights. Although the first demo was winded out, Kitty Hawk co-founder Todd Reichert told AVweb in this video that the company views the Kitty Hawk as transitional technology. "This is step one in a much bigger vision. We are crossing this threshold, with computing, with battery technology and small lightweight sensors, this is now physically possible," Reichert said. "The use cases in the next five years are going to be incredibly diverse," he added.

Although Reichert discourages the comparison, the Kitty Hawk is essentially a multi-rotor similar to small unmanned drones scaled up. It uses similar technology and Kitty Hawk believes it will be the simplest aircraft ever created to learn to fly. At under 254 pounds, the Kitty Hawk will be marketed as an ultralight, thus requiring no license or specific training. Kitty Hawk intends the aircraft as a recreational vehicle similar in concept to fixed-wing ultralights. Reichert declined to put a price tag on the aircraft or even to speculate if it will be competitive with existing ultralight aircraft. As currently construed, the Kitty Hawk is on straight floats, although it can operate and land on solid ground, too. Reichert said Kitty Hawk pursued the water-only approach because it believed it to be safer until the aircraft gains more flight experience. The Kitty Hawk's software limits its altitude to under 40 feet.

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