I’m Making Airplanes Now
August 7, 2008
I’ve quit my job as a programmer and started a company making RC airplanes. We’re making discoid VTOL aircraft. And by discoid VTOLs I mean airplanes that look like UFOs and takeoff vertically. Our first vehicle is called the RingWing.
This is so mega exciting. I love writing software, but software can sometimes be dissatisfying because it’s hard to know if you’re really making progress. Since software has no touch, smell, or spacial embodiment, you can’t feel it with your whole body. And it only feels like it’s coming together when it starts to produce the final results that the user will need. On the other hand, hardware development is viscerally satisfying even when you’ve messed up because you’ve still created a tangible artifact. There’s something to touch and feel the weight of.
A long time ago, while I was still in college, I did an internship at a rocket and space vehicle company called Xcor Aerospace. This was really a life changing experience because I got to work on things that would lead to space technologies that would bring the cost of going to space way down. Down to the level where you and I could travel to space. And it was thrilling because I got to work on very tangible devices. Rocket launches on television only give a small portion of the sensory experience. When you’re standing next to a rocket and it starts up, it emits this incredible shockwave that passes through your body rocking you backward. The experience is entirely unique.
I think heavier sensory participation is one of the reasons the only company I founded and got to a revenue stream was a company making leather holsters for the Gameboy SP, called Padholsters. More of your body is telling you if you’re making progress. I’ve started software companies, but they never got to the making money part (very important in business I hear).
I’m also super excited about the people I’m working with. My cofounder, Ryan Fowler, is an aerospace engineer. We’ve been friends since I met him during college. And his wife, Jen Fowler, does a good job of yelling at us to go make money, whenever we get distracted.
We’ve gone through a lot a different prototypes so far. Most of them can be charted on an ever increasing line of development and a few of them have been entirely off the mark. We’re getting there. The craft is slowly looking cooler and more efficient. You can see our development blog for the RingWing at www.fp-aero.com.