Humans have been fascinated by flight seemingly forever. These days, less than 50 miles from the home of Wright brothers, a group of designers and engineers in Mason are fine-tuning the next step of magnificent flying machines. RYSE Aero Technologies has developed the Recon, an ultralight eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing) vehicle. “Ultralight” is crucial in the description of the craft that looks drone-like, with a cockpit surrounded by six propulsion units. That classification in the Federal Aviation Regulations manual, a tome of almost 1,100 pages, is covered in two pages and doesn’t require a license to operate.
Mick Kowitz, CEO of RYSE—it isn’t an acronym, just a different spelling of moving upward—leads a team of about 20 people, many of whom worked together on an unrelated air taxi project at Lunken Airport for about five years. After that company was bought by a German firm, a number of the principals went in a new direction. “We got together and took the knowledge we had and started over,” says Kowitz. “We looked at the ultralight space, which if you go to the beach and see the kite guy sitting in his lawn chair with his push mower motor behind him going slow and steady, that’s an ultralight. We basically built an aircraft that fits into that category but is significantly safer and more reliable with six independent propulsion modules in a vertical takeoff and landing vehicle that happens to be electric.”
You can’t buy a Recon yet, even if you slapped the $150,000 sticker price on the RYSE counter, but Kowitz hopes that could happen by early next year. He splits his days working with the research and development people at the 22,000-square-foot headquarters near I-71 and talking to potential investors through its crowdfunding platform. “You have to prime your manufacturing lines,” he says. “You need to bring in money to build your team and start paying for parts ahead of sales. We have a lot of reservations for vehicles, but we’re not closing on them until this crowdfunding is completed so we know what money we have to finish the manufacturing timeline.”
Kowitz is confident that his team will be among the first to perfect a vehicle that could disrupt multiple fields, including agriculture, recreation, and daily transportation. “We’re further along than almost anybody in the space,” he says. “We’ve been flying manned since June 2022, unmanned since March of that year. We were the first company to fly at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last year (which included a flight down the strip with an Elvis impersonator at the controls). We’ve flown at farms shows all over the U.S., hundreds and hundreds of flights. We do it because of the reliability of the product.”
The Recon has been tested thoroughly and is safe to fly. “In 15 minutes,” says Kowitz, “I can teach you to fly in taxi mode, which would be about 10 to 12 miles per hour about 10 feet off the ground.”