Jerome Brenndon “JB” Adkins is the founder of Skyryde, a sky taxi service that he has launched in the hope of creating an Uber-like flight-hailing service in Los Angeles. The firm has flown only a little more than a dozen passengers and is operating in a gray area of federal regulations. (Justin Gum, courtesy of Skyryde/Candice Stokes)
A brash young entrepreneur has started operating a sky taxi in Los Angeles in a bid to create an Uber-like flight-hailing service — even though the firm hasn’t quite cleared all the federal regulatory hurdles.
Skyryde has begun using small planes and a federally licensed pilot to fly people on quick hops above L.A.’s notorious traffic jams on shorter notice and at lower prices than one generally finds for commuter air services using turboprops or small jets.
Although the process for booking a flight and getting to one’s destination is still a bit more complicated than it is for ride-hailing services on the ground, the aim of the beta launch is to work out the kinks and ultimately make it relatively easy to order a flight in the L.A. metropolis, the operators say.
“It’s on demand, so nothing is scheduled. It’s simply: Somebody calls, they want a flight, we book the flight, and that’s how we operate,” said Mike Killian, a licensed commercial pilot who has flown several flights for Skyryde.
Instead of the Learjets and turboprops that one often associates with scheduled flights, Skyryde is using small planes, such as the Cessna Turbo 182. The aircraft has four to six seats and instrumentation that allows pilots to fly in everything but the most extreme weather.
“Obviously, there’s some planning involved; we could literally be dispatched within less than an hour — get on the flight and take care of the trip, ” said Killian, 29, the founder of Corsair Aviation, a firm in Van Nuys, Calif., that’s working closely with Skyryde.
The idea for the sky taxi and the drive behind the young company came from Jerome Brenndon “JB” Adkins, a flight junkie who said he has cashed in almost everything except the camper where he and his family now live to launch the venture.
“Skyryde is literally trying to solve the problem of traffic,” said Adkins, who became mesmerized by powered flight as a child growing up in a military family in Georgia. He hung out at airports washing airplanes to make money and obtained his pilot’s license in high school before attending Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.