Clark County is home to three airports. In Washington, there are almost 150 airports.
To Jonathan Evans, CEO of a new Vancouver-based aviation charter startup called KinectAir, these “little airports in cool little towns” will soon be pickup and landing spots for his business, which he sees as a ride-hailing service for small, luxury planes.
Evans co-founded KinectAir this year. It operates out of office space in the Providence Academy building and plans to soon develop its own code for an app interface that people can use to charter the planes.
“We’re making the old new again by breathing software into the system,” he said.
The planes can pick up anyone at any public airfield, such as Yakima, Pendleton, Ore., Friday Harbor or Lake Tahoe, Calif. — which is about 90 minutes away, he said.
He’s mostly targeting business or leisure travelers in the upper 10 percent of the wealth scale, he said, which casts a wider net than private jet charters, which appeal only to the 0.1 percent. He sees KinectAir eventually becoming feasible to the upper 25 percent, he said.
The business isn’t doing any marketing right now and is in the “beta” phase, with a group of about 30 travelers and investors. There’s a waitlist to be a beta flyer right now, but KinectAir is taking requests on its website, kinectair.com.
Evans said the pricing of flights isn’t determined yet.
At Pearson Field on Wednesday, he crawled into a Cirrus SR22 Turbo airplane, which has a built-in emergency parachute system for the whole plane and seats five. Evans flew to Mount St. Helens, lapped around it and returned in about an hour.
Experiences like that are a perk of flying with KinectAir, Evans said; the customers have freedom to chose the flight path. For instance, they could fly around Crater Lake, Ore., a few times on the way to Lake Tahoe.
The Cirrus SR22T burns 18 mpg of fuel at about 200 mph, making it more environmentally friendly than driving in most cars, Evans said. (A Boeing 737-800 cruises at about 530 mph.) He also plans on buying Pilatus PC-12 10-seater planes, which can fly almost 300 mph. His short-term goal is to assemble a fleet of about eight planes.
Evans was born and raised in Concord, Mass. He enlisted in the U.S. Army after studying at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
In 2006, he was discharged and flew medevac flights in New Mexico and Alaska. In 2012 he moved to Eugene, Ore., to fly for Life Flight. At the same time, he enrolled in the MBA program at the University of Oregon.
He then started and ran a software company, Skyward that he eventually sold to Verizon. The company makes software for drone operations and management.
Evans knew he wanted to start another company, and sharing the joy of flying became his goal. He co-founded KinectAir with the idea of creating a ride-hailing company for pilots and small planes “that operate at much more optimized price, fuel and environmental efficiencies.”
KinectAir is targeting senior pilots who are “off shift or just returning,” Evans said. “It’s just like a rideshare.”
Evans, who lives in Portland, said he chose Vancouver for KinectAir’s headquarters to avoid state income tax and because Vancouver is “cuspy.”
“This is a beautifully scaled, pedestrian-formatted little city,” he said. “It’s quite charming. It’s like Portland’s Brooklyn.”
KinectAir currently employs eight in Vancouver and one chief pilot. Its future fleet of planes, available to investors for fractional ownership, Evans said, can fly at night and in fog.
Evans said that his business model is globally scalable, and one day he hopes to make KinectAir a publicly traded company that operates around the world.
“I love flying. I love sharing it with people,” Evans said. “That’s why I started this.”