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Original Zee Aero Concept Now Public

Original Zee Now Public In a CNN episode airing on Dec. 24, Fareed Zakaria interviewed Sebastian Thrun, CEO of Kitty Hawk/Zee Aero. Thrun unveiled the first public flight footage of the original eVTOL concept built and flown by Zee Aero in 2013. The video showed a subscale model (shown) perform a vertical takeoff, a transition to 60 mph (100 km/h) and a vertical landing. This concept was replaced by a more advanced version that has been conducting manned flights at Hollister Municipal Airport, about 35 miles (55 km) southeast of San Jose, California. Meanwhile, the Kitty Hawk Flyer production model will be unveiled this Spring. Zee Aero is a subsidiary of Kitty Hawk.

Zee Aero Z-P2

Z-P2 Zee Aero (now the Cora product line of Kitty Hawk) Mountain View, California, USA Zee Aero, now part of Kitty Hawk, developed the Z-P2 full-scale, manned eVTOL aircraft, flying it at Hollister Municipal Airport in California. Steve Eggleston at DK Turbines was first to photograph the aircraft being towed out to the runway on Oct. 10, 2016 (photo by Steve Eggleston, used with permission). The aircraft began conducting manned hover testing in March 2017. The effort began in March 2010, originally under the leadership of Prof. Ilan Kroo of Stanford University. Patent 9,242,738 (priority date July 19, 2011) illustrates a high-mounted series of vertically mounted electric propellers similar to the first vehicle, the Proof of Concept (POC). The POC made its first unmanned (self-piloted) hover in Dec. 2011, and in Feb. 2014, completed its first transition. The aircraft demonstrated flights up to 60 mph (100 km/h) with vertical take-offs and landings. The aircraft was publicly unveiled by Kitty Hawk CEO Sebastian Thrun in Dec. 2017. Kitty Hawk is privately funded by Google co-founder, billionaire Larry Page. Thrun was previously at Google, where he founded Google X and Google’s self-driving car team. On March 12, 2018, Kitty Hawk unveiled more details about Z-P2 and Zee — now dubbed the Cora product team —and announced that it had been flying several of its Cora 2-seat manned aircraft. Kitty Hawk also provided the first detailed look at the development of the Zee Aero line of eVTOL aircraft. There was a full-scale Z-P1 that flew horizontally only, but it was not considered successful. Parts were used for the Z-P2 aircraft. Based on US Federal Aviation Administration records, sightings of Z-P2 were originally thought to be the Z-P1. The FAA Registry database for Zee Aero listed N101XZ (model Z-P1) and N102XZ — the POC, with the listed model name of “MUTT”. The full-scale manned Z-P2 made its first flight in late 2016; in August 2017, the Z-P2 made its first transition. Testing of Z-P2 led to the initiation of the two-seat Cora demonstrator in California, and its subsequent testing in New Zealand by Kitty Hawk subsidiary Zephyr.Resources Search eVTOL news posts Website:, March 12, 2018 Article: Zee Z-P1 Spotted Again, eVTOL News, May 2, 2017 Article: Air Mobility Bonanza Beckons Electric VTOL Developers, Vertiflite, March/April 2017 Article: The Demand for On-Demand Mobility, Vertiflite, January/February 2017 Article: Lift Where You Need It, Vertiflite, November/December 2016 Article: AHS International Leads Transformative Vertical Flight Initiative, eVTOL News, November 1, 2014 Video: Making Flying Cars a Reality, CNN Fareed Zakaria GPS, December 24, 2017 Patents: Zee Aero Tags: Zee Aero, Lift + Cruise, Flight Testing, 1 Passenger, Electric/Batteries, Autonomous, VFS Member

Zee Aero Z-P1, March 2, 2017

Zee eVTOL Spotted Again

Zee Aero continues manned flight-testing of its full-scale eVTOL aircraft in forward flight at Hollister Municipal Airport, about 50 statute miles (80 km) southeast of its offices in Mountain View, California. The company continues its silence, but more details have been leaking out. According to public US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) database information, the aircraft has the registration number N102XZ. The aircraft is listed as a glider, with (apparently) eight electric motors and a single seat. The company had previously registered five of its QZ unmanned drones; registration information indicates that the QZ weighs less than 55 lb (25 kg) and powered by eight electric motors. More: Zee’s VTOL aircraft came out,, Nov. 9, 2016 Update/corrections, March 12, 2018 Meet Cora, Vertiflite, April 19, 2018 Zee Aero Z-P2 entry, Updated March 19, 2018

Zee Aero POC

First unmanned hover flight of the Zee Aero Proof of Concept (POC) aircraft in the San Francisco Bay Area, California, USA (day of month and exact location unknown).

Cora has logged more than 1,000 test flights since in 2017. (All photos via Kitty Hawk.)

Cora + Boeing = Wisk

Cora + Boeing = Wisk Kitty Hawk spins off Cora and regroups. By Kenneth I. Swartz Vertiflite, Jan/Feb 2020 On Dec. 1, the vertical flight community learned that the Cora two-seat, lift-plus-cruise electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) program was moving to a joint venture established by The Boeing Company and Kitty Hawk Corporation called Wisk Aero. This is quite the remarkable accomplishment for the Silicon Valley technology company, considering that most in the aerospace community didn’t know that this stealth eVTOL program existed less than two years ago. Zee Cora was first revealed on Mar. 12, 2018, after nearly eight years of secretive eVTOL developments by Zee Aero, which was backed by Larry Page (the co-founder of Google); in 2017, the company was absorbed by Kitty Hawk, another eVTOL company backed by Page. Zee Aero began in Mar. 2010, originally under the leadership of Prof. Ilan Kroo of Stanford University, and from an early stage focused on the development of innovative aircraft that had wings and a lift-plus-cruise distributed electric propulsion approach. An unmanned proof of concept aircraft (POC) made its first hover in Dec. 2011 and made its first transition to forward flight in Feb. 2014 but was never publicly acknowledged until Dec. 2017. It featured eight lifting propellers and two pusher propellers. The POC was followed by a full-scale aircraft designated the Zee Aero Z-P1 (N101XZ) that flew horizontally only. Parts of the Z-P1 were used to build the high-wing, single-seat Z-P2. The design featured eight lift propellers and a single pusher propeller. It made its first manned flight in Hollister, California, in late 2016 and first double transition in Aug. 2017. Cora development began as a successor to the Z-P2, with the first example (N301XZ, since retired) registered in June 2017 as the Zee Aero “Mule SPA,” with unmanned flight testing begun in the last half of 2017 in Hollister, California; this was soon followed by shipping test aircraft to Canterbury, New Zealand, where Kitty Hawk subsidiary Zephyr Airworks established a test facility. (See “Meet Cora,” Vertiflite, May/June 2018.) Cora has 12 independent electric-powered lifting propellers mounted on its 36-ft (11-m) long wings for vertical takeoffs and landings and a single three-blade pusher propeller providing thrust for forward flight.Wisk In June 2018, Kitty Hawk signed a partnership with Boeing NeXt to “collaborate on future efforts to advance safe urban air mobility.” On Dec. 2, the companies revealed this partnership as a joint venture dubbed “Wisk Aero.” As of December, there were five Cora aircraft registered in the US, including two Mule SPA (N303XZ and N305XZ), one Mule SPA-Alpha (N306XZ) and two Mule SPA-Beta (N307XZ and N309XZ), as well as two aircraft in New Zealand (ZK-UZA and ZK-UZB) flying under experimental airworthiness certificates since 2017 and 2018. …

Early eVTOL Test Pilots

The earliest electric VTOL aircraft were initially flown by the inventors themselves. Here is a list of the earliest known successful manned eVTOL liftoffs and their pilots. First Flights of eVTOL Aircraft Aug. 4, 2011 Pascal Chretien Solution F Helicopter Venelles, France n/a Oct. 5, 2011 Marcus Leng SkyKar (Opener BlackFly) Rebel Warkworth, Canada C-IJQV Oct. 21, 2011 Thomas Senkel Volocopter VC1 Karlsruhe, Germany n/a Feb. 17, 2016 Philippe Antoine Aquinea Volta Castelnaudary, France F-WALG March 30, 2016 Alex Zosel Volocopter VC200 Karlsruhe, Germany D-MYVC Sept. 13, 2016 Ric Webb Tier 1 Electric Robinson R44 Los Alamitos, California, USA N3115T Early 2017 unknown Joby S4 Santa Cruz, California, USA N541JA 2017 Dr. Todd Reichert Kitty Hawk Flyer (prototype) unk, California, USA n/a Aug. 1, 2017 Bill Shoemaker Zee Aero Z-P2 Hollister, California, USA N102XZ Sept. 16, 2017 Boyan Zhelev Astro PassengerDrone (AA360) near Sofia, Bulgaria n/a Early 2018 unknown Kitty Hawk Flyer (production) unk, California, USA n/a Feb. 5, 2018 (1st public manned flight) unknown EHang 184 Guangzhou City, China n/a March 19, 2018 Marcus Leng Opener BlackFly v2 Palo Alto, California, USA C-IKLT or C-IKLY April 30, 2018 John Graber Workhorse SureFly Cincinnati, Ohio, USA N834LW 2018 unknown EHang 216 Guangzhou City, China n/a June 22, 2018 Kyle Clark Beta Technologies Ava XC Plattsburgh, NY, USA N802UT Nov. 1, 2018 Matt Chasen LIFT Aircraft Hexa Austin, Texas, USA n/a red text indicates unknown or unconfirmed data Additional flights with pilots/passengers (not first flights) 2018 6 more pilots Opener BlackFly v2 Palo Alto, California, USA C-IKLT or C-IKLY Dec. 3, 2017 Brian Krzanich (Intel) Volocopter VC200 near Munich, Germany D-MYVC Late 2018 Justin Paines Joby S4 unk, California, USA N541JA 2017-2018 additional pilots Kitty Hawk Flyer (prototype) San Francisco Bay Area, California, USA n/a 2018-present Many Kitty Hawk Flyer (production) various n/a 2016-present Many EHang 184 various n/a 2019 Nick Warren Beta Technologies Ava XC Plattsburgh, NY, USA N802UT 2018-present Many EHang 216 various n/a

Kitty Hawk Cora (white, in CA)

Kitty Hawk Cora – Year in Review

In a year-end report, Kitty Hawk Corporation provided an update on the two-seat Cora eVTOL aircraft first unveiled in March 2018, which is now undergoing autonomous flight-testing in California and New Zealand. Founded in March 2010 as by Stanford professor Ilan Kroo, the company developed proof of concept (POC) eVTOL aircraft in secret for seven years before publically unveiling the Flyer prototype in 2017 and the 12-propeller fixed-wing Cora air taxi a year later. During 2018, the Cora fleet surpassed 700 unmanned flights, new aircraft were added to the flight test fleet and a ballistic parachute system tested for the first time. Cora is designed to operate at altitudes between 500 ft to 3000 ft above ground, cruise at about 100 mph 180 km/h and have an initial range of 62 miles or about 100 km. There are now four Cora registered with the FAA (as the Kitty Hawk Mule SPA), including serial no. 005 (N305XZ) registered in September 2018 and serial no. 006 (N306XZ) registered in late November 2018 as a Mule SPA-Alpha model. Features of the “Alpha” version have not been revealed. In December 2016, Kitty Hawk established Zephyr Airworks to development Cora and the air taxi concept in New Zealand. The first aircraft (serial 002, ZK-UZA, ex-N302XZ) was shipped to New Zealand and began testing soon afterwards at a private airport near Christchurch on the South Island. Zephyr imported a second Cora eVTOL (serial 004, ZK-UZB) in September 2018, completed a hangar in the summer, and signed an agreement with Air New Zealand to explore the development and design of an electric, autonomous air taxi service, using Cora. The ultralight Kitty Hawk Flyer does not require an FAA N-number if it has an empty weight of less than 254 pounds. However, Flyer serial no. 26003 was allocated the registration N333FL in November, possibly under an experimental airworthiness certificate. Kitty Hawk is believed to be secretly developing other electric aircraft, such as the Heaviside N220HV (serial 001) which was first registered as a fixed-wing aircraft in January 2018. The first Heaviside was cancelled from the FAA civil aircraft register in September 2018 but two new Heaviside 2 models were registered in November as N220HV (serial no. H2-001) and N222HV (serial H2-002). Some analysts are speculating that the Heaviside may be the unknown aircraft that was spotted at Palmdale, California’s US Air Force Plant 42 Airport in October 2018. More recently, Kitty Hawk reserved 50 FAA registrations for future electric-powered aircraft, including five registrations ending in “XZ” (presumably for new Cora aircraft, which likely originally stood for “experimental Zee” aircraft) and 45 registrations ending “FL” (presumably for new “Flyer” ultralights), now that the ultralight Flyer is operational. In 2019, Kitty Hawk plans to open a software development center in Atlanta, …

Opener BlackFly Debuts at Oshkosh

Opener BlackFly Debuts at Oshkosh By Kenneth I. Swartz Vertiflite, Sept/Oct 2018 On July 12, Opener shocked the world by announcing that its BlackFly was the first US- and Canadian-qualified fixed-wing ultralight eVTOL. The company showed stunning video and off-the-charts performance. Here’s the inside story. On Oct. 5, 2011, Canadian engineer and entrepreneur Marcus Leng flew an eight-rotor tandem-wing electric aircraft from the front yard of his house and became convinced that electric vertical flight had a great future. This aircraft — initially dubbed the “SkyKar Rebel” — was apparently the world’s first fixed-wing electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) flight (see That was the beginning of Opener’s stealth development of the BlackFly personal air vehicle, which wasn’t revealed until this summer. With great fanfare on July 12, Opener unveiled its website and a high-quality video showing piloted and unpiloted BlackFly eVTOL aircraft flying low over the spectacular mountain scenery, taking off and landing in meadows, hovering above lakes and parked on the seashore of northern California. Ten days later, Opener was ready to meet the aviation public in the EAA Innovation Showcase at Oshkosh where three of the four generations of the BlackFly eVTOL aircraft were on display: the Rebel, v2 and v3 (detailed characteristics of each, as well as the v1, are available on That’s where VFS met Opener founder and CEO Marcus Leng, as well as Opener director and technical advisor Alan Eustace, to learn more about the company and BlackFly. Early Beginnings Marcus Leng got his recreational pilot’s license when he was 18 in 1978 and his motor vehicle license a year later, which “reflected my priorities at the time.” After graduating with a mechanical engineering degree from the University of Toronto in 1983, Leng worked in the Ontario aerospace industry and with multinational companies for several years. Then he changed career direction in 1986 and founded a custom urethane foam manufacturing, which became one of the largest companies of its kind in North America before he sold it in 1996 and “retired” at the age of 36. Leng was working on a different aviation project in the summer of 2009, “when it became apparent that there was going to be a convergence of three technologies that would make it possible for practical electric flight. These were the power density of batteries, the energy density of motors, and the control associated with IMUs [inertial measurement units] used for … DIY drones.” “You could see a convergence was going to take place, but the technology wasn’t there yet,” said Leng. The insight led Leng to design and build a proof-of-concept eVTOL aircraft, which he called the SkyKar Rebel, at his rural home in Warkworth, Ontario, about 65 miles (105 km) northeast of Toronto. “The problem …

eVTOL Aircraft by VFS Members

Listed below are Vertical Flight Society (VFS) corporate members which have developed or are developing eVTOL aircraft. Our corporate members have an unprecedented opportunity to network and engage with all levels of the rotorcraft technical community, including industry, academia and government. More than 100 VTOL companies and organizations have joined the Vertical Flight Society. Please go to to be part of the world’s largest organization supporting vertical flight technology.  A³ Vahana AgustaWestland Project Zero (defunct) Airbus CityAirbus AirspaceX MOBi Aurora eVTOL Aurora LightningStrike (defunct) AutoFlightX BAT600 (defunct) AutoFlightX V600 Bartini Flying Car Bell Air Taxi Bell Autonomous Pod Transport (APT) Beta Technologies Ava XC Boeing Cargo Aerial Vehicle Carter Air Taxi Jaunt Air Mobility Joby Lotus (defunct) Joby S2 (defunct) Joby S4 Karem Butterfly Kitty Hawk Cora Kitty Hawk Flyer Kitty Hawk Flyer (defunct prototype) LIFT Hexa Lilium Jet Neoptera eOpter NFT AKSA Piasecki Air Scout Piasecki eVTOL Piasecki PA-890 Pipistrel (unnamed) Pop.Up Next Rolls-Royce EVTOL Sabrewing Draco-2 UAS Sabrewing RHAEGAL UAS Sikorsky Firefly (defunct) Sikorsky VERT Terrafugia TF-2 Lift + Push Terrafugia TF-2 Tiltrotor Terrafugia TF-X Transcend Air Vy 400 Urban Aeronautics CityHawk Vertical Aerospace Volocopter 2X Volocopter VC1/VC2 (defunct prototypes) Volocopter VC200 XTI Aircraft TriFan 600 Zee Aero Z-P2 Zenith Altitude EOPA Don’t see your company on this list? Join as a corporate member!


Autonomous All eVTOL aircraft that can operate without a pilot Aergility ATLIS AeroMobil 5.0 AgustaWestland Project Zero (defunct) Airbus CityAirbus AirisOne AirspaceX MOBi Aston Martin Volante Astro AA360 (Passenger Drone) Aurora eVTOL Aurora LightningStrike (defunct) AutoFlightX BAT600 Autonomous Flight Y6S Axix SkyRider SuvA Bartini Flying Car Bell Air Taxi Boeing Cargo Aerial Vehicle Cartivator SkyDrive Davinci ZeroG DeLorean Aerospace DR-7 Digi Robotics DroFire Digi Robotics Droxi Dufour aEro 2 EHang 184 EHang 216 EVA X01 Hoversurf Drone Taxi R-1 Hoversurf Formula Jetoptera J2000 Jetpack Aviation Joby Aviation Lotus (defunct) Joby Aviation S2 (defunct) KARI Optionally Piloted PAV Kenyan Passenger Drone Kitty Hawk Cora LIFT Hexa Lilium Jet Neoptera eOpter PAV-X PAV-X Ultralight PFV Personal Flying Device Piasecki eVTOL Pipistrel (unnamed) Pop.Up Next PteroDynamics Transwing Rolls-Royce EVTOL Sabrewing Draco-2 UAS Samad Starling Jet Sikorsky VERT SKYLYS Aircraft AO VerdeGo Aero PAT200 Vertical Aerospace Vertiia Vimana AAV Vision VTOL Volerian Volocopter 2X Volocopter VC200 VRCO NeoXCraft VTOL Aviation Abhiyaan Zee Aero Z-P2 Zenith Altitude EOPA View all pages with the tag “Autonomous”