Former Wisk CEO Joins Flying Car Racing Company Airspeeder

Gary Gysin helmed the self-flying eVTOL company’s rise to relevance and will join Airspeeder as a board member.

Airspeeder flying car eVTOL

A pair of Airspeeder Mk3 eVTOL speeders take to the skies. [Courtesy: Airspeeder]

Gary Gysin’s previous company, Wisk Aero, won’t see its self-flying electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft hit the skies until the end of the decade. That’s no problem for Gysin—his new firm is already flying them.

On Wednesday, the former Wisk CEO officially joined the board of Airspeeder, a flying car racing company that pits professional drone pilots and motorsport drivers against each other on digitally generated racetracks in the sky. Pilots remotely command eVTOL “speeders,” flying blade-to-blade at speeds approaching 55 knots. The firm hosted its inaugural competition last year and plans to launch crewed eVTOL races in 2024.

“Formula 1 racing and autosport racing of all forms has helped spur innovation and safety in consumer vehicles, and Airspeeder is leading the way in eVTOL with its electric flying car racing approach,” said Gysin. “Joining the board aligns perfectly with my passion for aviation and Formula 1.”

Gysin was the founding CEO of Wisk, which formed out of a joint venture between Boeing and Google co-founder Larry Page’s Kitty Hawk in 2019. Before stepping down in February, he oversaw Wisk’s development of its self-flying, four-seat eVTOL, set strategic targets like entry into service and city rollout, launched the company’s type certification program with the FAA, and closed more than $450 million in venture capital.

The company is now fully owned by Boeing, which bought out Kitty Hawk’s remaining shares in May after it wound down a few months prior.

Former Wisk CEO Gary Gysin becomes the newest board member of Airspeeder. [Courtesy: Airspeeder]

“We are excited to collaborate with [Gysin] as we continue to push the boundaries of electric flight and redefine the future of transportation,” said Matthew Pearson, co-founder and CEO of Airspeeder. “His perspective on the future of the industry is key as we build a motorsport that has deep resonance with the wider market of OEMs crafting transformational electric aircraft.”

Around 2015, Pearson founded Alauda Aeronautics, the manufacturer that would go on to build flying race cars—or speeders—for Airspeeder. The startup unveiled its first vehicle concept in 2017, and Pearson founded Airspeeder a year later. In 2019, Airspeeder revealed Mk3, the remotely piloted eVTOL it currently uses in races. The design made its first flights in 2021.

In 2022, Airspeeder hosted the EXA Series, a trio of races in which pilots remotely flew the Mk3 through holographic courses in the sky. The inaugural group of pilots viewed the tracks through augmented reality displays—no physical infrastructure was needed besides the vehicles.

The eVTOLs themselves are lightweight (around 220 pounds) and can hit a top speed of 124 mph (108 knots). Robot “aviators” commandeer the vehicles, mimicking movements of the remote pilots through digitized inputs.

Airspeeder crowned the winner of the inaugural EXA Series in October, when Australian surfer-turned-professional drone pilot Zephatali Walsh bested German content creator and FPV drone pilot Fabio Tischler for the title. The final race was held above the pink salt flats of Lake Bumbunga near the town of Lochiel, South Australia.

The EXA races are meant to serve as a precursor and feeder event for the Airspeeder Grand Prix, a crewed version of the event scheduled to take place in 2024. Those races will be flown with a new eVTOL model, the Mk4, which is expected to be able to reach a top speed of 225 mph (195 knots) in just 30 seconds. Team entries are now open for the Grand Prix series, and the company hopes to have 20 crewed teams racing in the event by 2025.

Airspeeder is backed by an undisclosed seed funding round led by venture capital firms Saltwater Capital and Jelix Ventures, which also included participation from logistics giant DHL. The firm has a two-year broadcast deal with Fox Sports Australia and a one-year global content deal with sports streaming platform DAZN to produce original content and series in the lead-up to the first crewed flying car races.

With Gysin and the expertise he carries over from Wisk now in the mix, Airspeeder figures to get a lift as it works to usher in a new form of competitive racing.

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Jack is a staff writer covering advanced air mobility, including everything from drones to unmanned aircraft systems to space travel—and a whole lot more. He spent close to two years reporting on drone delivery for FreightWaves, covering the biggest news and developments in the space and connecting with industry executives and experts. Jack is also a basketball aficionado, a frequent traveler and a lover of all things logistics.

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