Pyka Pelican spraying at a farm

Our Story

We believe that electrification and automation will make aviation safer, more affordable, and more accessible than has ever been possible in human history.

Michael Norcia

Co-Founder, CEO

Michael has a deep technical background in autonomous flight, and a lifelong passion for aviation. He spent the majority of his childhood building (and crashing) model aircraft and has since contributed to a wide variety of electric aviation projects at Joby, Cora, and Kittyhawk. In 2017, Michael founded Pyka. His relentless enthusiasm and continual push for a happy and hyper-productive team has helped propel Pyka to be the first and only certified autonomous electric aviation company in the world.

Chuma Ogunwole

Co-Founder, COO

Chuma drives a huge range of activities at Pyka, from precedent setting legal/regulatory work to partnerships with some of the largest players in the industry. Prior to starting Pyka, Chuma worked in power and renewables investment banking and investing at Morgan Stanley and Global Infrastructure partners. He studied economics at Harvard undergrad and spent a year at Harvard Business School / Harvard Kennedy School before moving to the Bay Area to co-found Pyka.

Volker Fabian

Chief Commercial Officer

Volker has 25 years of experience in aviation sales, finance, and leasing as a CEO, CCO, and Managing Director at renowned Aviation financiers and lessors, such as CIT Aerospace, BOC Aviation and DVB Bank. Over his career he's closed over $12B in aircraft sales with over 70 airlines and leasing customers globally, ranging from turboprops to large commercial airliners. As Chief Commercial Officer, Volker will predominantly focus on developing our Global Sales & Marketing team and commercializing Pyka's products worldwide.

Kyle Moore

Co-Founder, Software Lead

Kyle started his professional career at age 11 as a remote developer working from his bedroom in rural Washington before he moved to the Bay Area to attend Stanford University. Prior to starting Pyka, he worked on motion planning and simulation at Google X Robotics. Kyle leads the software development team at Pyka on a wide range of projects, from high speed motor control algorithms to LIDAR-based obstacle detection.

Nathan White

Co-Founder, Operations Lead

Nathan is one part pilot, one part systems engineer, and one part programmer. At Pyka, he leads operations spanning three separate continents. In addition, he has contributed massively to core Pyka Flight Engine functionality as the original path-planning architect. Prior to starting Pyka, he worked at Google on data-center optimization as well as their driverless car program. Little known fact: He was at one point one of the best ultimate frisbee players in the world.

Xiao Cao

Electrical Engineering Lead

Xiao has extensive experience designing and deploying high performance, safety critical power electronics and avionics. Prior to joining Pyka, he was the power electronics technology lead at Continental AG, the third largest automotive supplier. Prior to that, Xiao led power electronics development at Wisk where his team developed some of the most power-dense aviation-grade power converters on earth.

Elizabeth Goodine

Manufacturing Lead

Elizabeth has over 15 years of composite experience ranging from materials R&D to scaling composite production for some of the Bay Area's leading companies. She has worked on several high-profile projects including record-breaking sailboat Comanche (Hodgdon Yachts), Makani's alternative energy kite and Saildrone's autonomous data collection fleet.

Garrett Rini

Mechanical Design Lead

Garrett embodies Pyka's most important value — "Ruthless Pragmatism". His ability to find simple solutions to incredibly complex problems has enabled Pyka to iterate on its autonomous aircraft at near superhuman speeds. Prior to joining Pyka, Garrett worked for the Exploratorium as well as one of San Francisco's premier rapid prototyping design firm (APROE).

Pyka employee working on a farm

Our Journey

February 2017

The Adventure Begins

In classic startup-fashion, Pyka was started in Michael's parents' garage. The garage was not large enough to fit Pyka's proof of concept vehicle, "Big Bird," so the company moved to the backyard, where they maintained a decidedly laid back 'shoes optional' corporate culture.

June 2017

Y Combinator

Pyka was accepted into Y Combinator's summer 2017 batch. Over the course of three months, the team of five designed, built, and flew Big Bird, a bespoke 400lb UAV.

August 2017

Big Bird First Flight

Big Bird completed its first fully autonomous mission (takeoff through landing) running the first Pyka Flight Engine two weeks before Y Combinator's Demo Day. It flew beautifully!

March 2018

First Generation

After raising a $3m round out of Y Combinator, the team set about designing and building its first product, the "Egret," which was a 200lb payload 100% autonomous electric crop duster.

May 2019

Commercial Certification

Pyka certified the Egret for commercial operation in collaboration with the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority in mid-2019, marking the first-ever human-scale autonomous electric aircraft certified for commercial work.

October 2019

Series Seed

Pyka raised an $8m Seed+ round in late 2019.

January 2020

Second Generation

Four months after raising their Seed+, Pyka flew its second generation electric autonomous ag airplane, the "Pelican." The new aircraft incorporated dozens of design and feature improvements and carried over 3x the liquid payload of its predecessor.

October 2020

Pelican Enters Production

Pyka started serial production of the Pelican in late 2020, after completing structural load testing and flight testing programs. Most of the aircraft is manufactured at our facility in Oakland, California.

April 2021

First Customer Delivery to Latam

Pelican SN3 was delivered to one of two major launch customers in Costa Rica where the aircraft would soon go to work spraying Bananas.

May 2021

US Certification Flights

The Pelican successfully completed the final stage of flight demonstration for commercial approval in the US.

July 2021

First Flight Over Bananas

Pelican took to the skies for the first autonomous fixed wing aerial application on a banana crop in human history!


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