Meet the team behind Volansi’s flying robots. Each week we share stories from the team at Volansi highlighting their journey to joining the team, how they help keep our drones taking off, and some quirky fun along the way.

Matthew Condie

Title at Volansi: Special Projects Manager, Flight Operations

Joined the team: 2018

Team Member No. 26

Hometown: Earth

Tell us a little bit about your background and the work you did before joining the Volansi team?

Before joining Volansi, I had the opportunity to have a wide range of educational, professional and cultural experiences all around the world. I spent a few years in the United States Marine Corps as a long-range hiking and camping specialist. After the Marine Corps, I thought it would be a good idea to fly helicopters. During that time, I managed to get a commercial and instrument rating and a degree in aviation science. With some aviation experience under my hat, I started working in the offshore oil and gas industry as a subsea robotics pilot. Within a few years working at sea, I found myself back in school at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, pursuing a degree in Unmanned Aircraft Systems. My eclectic collection of experiences in the air, on land at sea, in varying climates, and places have helped me immensely with my current role as the Flight Operations Special Projects Manager.

In your own words, what do you do at Volansi?

At Volansi, I make sure our aircraft are aircrafting by maintaining a personal mission-forward posture and a Cirque du Soleil level of flexibility. During my time here, I have fulfilled two primary roles: I have been a forward-deployed flight operator and a developmental external test pilot.

In the forward-deployed flight operator role, I am responsible for traveling to a remote delivery location ahead of our aircraft to ensure site viability and security. Once the aircraft lands and delivers its payload, I collect the payload and make sure the aircraft is good for the return flight to the launch location. I have had the opportunity to go to a lot of interesting places while working in this role.

What has been your favorite project so far at Volansi?
I have been with Volansi for a few years now, and I have had the opportunity to work on many different projects. I have appreciated each project individually for all of their associated rewards, challenges and experiences. I have had a chance to explore several Caribbean islands and a few interesting places in Africa. We were recently able to fly the M20 off of a naval vessel in the Florida Keys. That was a great experience! I look forward to participating in many projects and adventures for Volansi in the future.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I like to spend most of my spare time hiking, working out and gardening. The garden my wife and I planted this year produced way more vegetables than we were expecting. We have been looking at greenhouse options to keep up our garden growing momentum during the winter. I think it would be neat to one day be able to grow the majority of our food. I have also been slowly but surely working toward getting fixed-wing aviation ratings. I would very much like to own an airplane. Whenever I need to test my willpower, I like to look at airplanes for sale and then come up with reasons why I can’t afford to buy one.

Who are your heroes in aviation, drone, or logistics history? Why?

My absolute favorite aviator of all time is my wife. She is a newly minted Certified Flight Instructor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and she will be getting her first flight students in a few weeks. She has worked very hard to get to her current flight level, and she is still climbing. I am very proud of her, and I know she will be a great instructor.

We are in the dawn of unmanned flight and autonomous mobility. What are the applications that excite you most?

I am most excited about having the opportunity to participate in the development of new technology. I look forward to achieving the same aviation milestones as the aviators that flew before us. In some respects, Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) challenges are on par with the aviation industry 100 years ago. Our technology keeps getting better and better, and I think the most significant limiting factor in the advancement of UAS technology is the cautious progression of national airspace integration and adaptation. It’s going to be a big deal when a UAS can autonomously deliver commercial payloads from one end of a city to the other end of a city as a standard means of delivery. It’s going to be an even bigger deal when a UAS can autonomously deliver a payload from the west coast to the east coast of the United States. I believe that Volansi will be at the forefront of establishing many aviation and UAS milestones and I am happy that I can be a crucial team member in helping to achieve our collective goals.

Meet the team behind Volansi’s flying robots. Each week we share stories from the team at Volansi highlighting their journey to joining the team, how they help keep our drones taking off, and some quirky fun along the way.

Raul De La Rosa

Title at Volansi: Director of Global Services

Joined the team: 2021

Hometown: Austin, Texas

Tell us a little bit about your background and the work you did before joining the Volansi team?

I graduated from the University of Texas where I majored in Finance. I worked for FedEx for over 29 years and was in a leadership role for over 20 years. I spent most of my career managing the sales force in Latin America and the Caribbean. My team was responsible for the Fortune 500 accounts in the following Verticals: High tech/electronics, health care, automotive, E-commerce, agriculture and supply chain solutions. I also had several expatriate assignments where I had the opportunity to live in Mexico, Colombia and Brazil. 

In your own words, what do you do at Volansi?

I am responsible for generating revenue and managing the top Fortune 200 commercial accounts in mining, oil and gas, health care, automotive and high tech in Latin America and the Caribbean. 

What do you like to do in your spare time?

In my spare time I like to work on classic cars, ride horses, play cornhole and go to the movies with my family.

Who are your heroes in aviation, drone, or logistics history? Why?

My hero’s, were the Wright Brothers because they did not give up and invented and flew  the world’s first successful motor-operated airplane.

We are in the dawn of unmanned flight and autonomous mobility. What are the applications that excite you most?

I am most excited to see how far we can push the boundaries when it comes to the distance, speed, altitude and weight that a VTOL drone can carry.

Meet the team behind Volansi’s flying robots. Each week we share stories from the team at Volansi highlighting their journey to joining the team, how they help keep our drones taking off, and some quirky fun along the way.

Pam Harris

Title at Volansi: Director of Global Services

Joined the team: 2021

Hometown: Charleston, South Carolina

Tell us a little bit about your background and the work you did before joining the Volansi team?

I joined the Volansi team after spending over 26 years at FedEx, first as a Senior Account Executive and then as a District Sales Manager. Eventually, I made my way up to Worldwide Account Manager!

In your own words, what do you do at Volansi?

My title is Director-Global Services. My job is to work with health care and logistics customers to build relationships and find opportunities to provide Volansi drones as a solution to persistent logistics issues.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I love spending time with my husband, gardening, cooking and traveling. We have a big circle of friends here that we get together with on a regular basis. I also love to spend time with my two grandchildren, Roman and Ellie!

Who are your heroes in aviation, drone, or logistics history? Why?

Amelia Earhart. She did what no one thought she could do and did it with such confidence. I also love reading the stories about her life outside the plane. My favorite story is when she broke up a White House dinner and took Eleanor Roosevelt on a night flight to Baltimore, still in her evening gown and gloves!

We are in the dawn of unmanned flight and autonomous mobility. What are the applications that excite you most?

The ability to improve access for people around the world. We can change lives with that access and I’m excited to be part of the effort to make that happen.

Meet the team behind Volansi’s flying robots. Each week we share stories from the team at Volansi highlighting their journey to joining the team, how they help keep our drones taking off, and some quirky fun along the way.

Dennis-Michael McKaskey

Title at Volansi: Research and Development Flight Integration Manager

Joined the team: 2019

Team member #36

Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina

Tell us a little bit about your background and the work you did before joining the Volansi team?

I worked at GM Cruise and helped validate autonomous vehicles as a safety driver team lead and then later as a lead on the data acquisition team working with engineers to gather the data they needed to improve code for safety and reliability. I received pilot ratings at Chandler Gilbert Community College through their 141 training school and was flight instructing just before Volansi asked me to apply to join the team.

In your own words, what do you do at Volansi?

My team assists flight test engineers with taking research and development projects and flying them to verify that they are a field-ready product. We also fly the newly built aircraft and verify that they perform the way they were designed.

What has been your favorite project so far at Volansi?

Setting up and organizing a flight testing area one hour from San Francisco (commonly referred to as “The Farm”). This site has helped Volansi rapidly prototype and integrate our products.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Anything outdoors, hiking, climbing, mountain biking, flying (drones and manned aircraft).

Who are your heroes in aviation, drone, or logistics history? Why?

Clarence “Kelly” Johnson. The work he and others did at Skunk Works amazes me. My favorite airplane is the SR-71 Blackbird, so it is my goal to see and take a picture in front of every SR-71 and A-12. I’ve gotten pictures in front of about half of them so far.

We are in the dawn of unmanned flight and autonomous mobility. What are the applications that excite you most?

Emergency medical delivery and being able to get supplies to people in need at a faster pace than trucks or manned aircraft is going to save a lot of lives.

Meet the team behind Volansi’s flying robots. Each week we share stories from the team at Volansi highlighting their journey to joining the team, how they help keep our drones taking off, and some quirky fun along the way.

Lisa Smith

Title at Volansi: Bend Office Manager and Recruiting Coordinator

Joined the team: 2021

Team member #156

Hometown: Bend, Oregon

Tell us a little bit about your background and the work you did before joining the Volansi team?

I earned my BS in Graphic Design from Portland State University, and worked as an art director for various advertising agencies before starting my own design studio in 2000, where I worked with clients in education, endurance sports and small-batch foods. My most recent gig was art director for UltraRunning magazine.

In your own words, what do you do at Volansi?

I am the office manager for the Bend office, supporting the employees with meeting set up, supplies, snacks and new hire orientations. I also am a recruiting coordinator and facilitate interviews between candidates and hiring managers.

What has been your favorite project so far at Volansi?

I was proud to be a small part of supporting the teams at our recent military demonstrations by coordinating supplies, food and lodging.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I love summers in Central Oregon. You can often find me running on the Deschutes River trails, hiking at Smith Rock or kayaking one of the many Cascade lakes. I am also an avid knitter and master-level GIF sender.

Who are your heroes in aviation, drone, or logistics history? Why?

Bessie Coleman! She was the first African-American woman and first Native American to hold a pilot license. She earned her license from the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale on June 15, 1921, and was the first Black person to earn an international pilot’s license.

Coleman developed an early interest in flying, but African Americans, Native Americans and women had no flight training opportunities in the United States, so she saved and obtained sponsorships to go to France for flight school.

She then became a high-profile pilot in notoriously dangerous air shows in the United States. The fact that she was able to accomplish all that she did during the early twentieth century is so inspiring.

We are in the dawn of unmanned flight and autonomous mobility. What are the applications that excite you most?

I am proud to work for a company that is supporting humanitarian aid and medical supply logistics. I think that’s going to be a game changer in getting aid to those who need it.

Meet the team behind Volansi’s flying robots. Each week we share stories from the team at Volansi highlighting their journey to joining the team, how they help keep our drones taking off, and some quirky fun along the way.

Alex Sjodahl

Title at Volansi: Lead Systems Architect Engineer

Joined the team: 2018

Team member #25

Hometown: Gothenburg, Sweden

Tell us a little bit about your background and the work you did before joining the Volansi team?

I moved from Sweden to the US six years ago with my wife and dog due to a career opportunity. I have a degree in Computer Science and prior to joining Volansi I worked as a Network Engineer at various IT companies.

Drones and UAVs have been a passion for me the last decade or more and have taken me around the world competing in drone racing events and also given me a wide knowledge of fixed-wing and multi-rotor UAVs.

In your own words, what do you do at Volansi?

I am a Systems Architect but I also spend time Experimental Flight Testing our biggest platforms. I also perform a lot of hardware integration, such as sensors and communication systems. My work and responsibilities are very diverse and gives me the freedom to lead projects and develop and test systems that may be integrated into production aircraft.

I really enjoy what I do and I’m genuinely excited to go to work everyday.

What has been your favorite project so far at Volansi?

I would say the 20 Series project as a whole since I have been with it since it started and many of my ideas have been integrated on the platform. There have also been many fun side projects to the 20 Series that I have enjoyed working on from the beginning.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Most of my free time is spent with my wife and dog, but I also very much enjoy tinkering with personal drone projects and FPV-flying.

Both me and my wife work in startups where the tempo is high so we try to enjoy our weekends to the fullest with hikes and weekend trips.

Who are your heroes in aviation, drone, or logistics history? Why?

Alex “Ibcrazy” Grieves is a person not well known outside the FPV community but in the community he has been a pioneer that has revolutionized the way antennas are designed for transmitting and receiving both analog and digital video for drone use.

We are in the dawn of unmanned flight and autonomous mobility. What are the applications that excite you most?

Surveillance, search and rescue and disaster relief are what excite me along with Disaster relief where our products could potentially be used to save life’s in the future.

Meet the team behind Volansi’s flying robots. Each week we share stories from the team at Volansi highlighting their journey to joining the team, how they help keep our drones taking off, and some quirky fun along the way.

Cody Green

Title at Volansi: Senior Flight Operator and Deputy Training Manager

Joined the team: 2019

Team member #45

Hometown: Houston, Texas

Tell us a little bit about your background and the work you did before joining the Volansi team?

I flew drones for the Army from 2009-2013. During my time in the service, I accomplished everything that I wanted to: made Sergeant, was the Unit Trainer and was selected to go to IO School but had already made my mind up to separate so that didn’t happen.

After I got out I couldn’t figure out what to do with myself and just pursued academia. I got my Associate in General Education in 2015 and wound up at Embry-Riddle Prescott in 2017 for the drone program there. I did pretty well, I graduated as the outstanding graduate for my class and supported the Student Veterans Organization there. 

In your own words, what do you do at Volansi?

As a Senior Flight Operator and Deputy Training Manager I am responsible for developing and maintaining the training programs here at Volansi as well developing and maintaining flight operations in the locations clients want to utilize our platform.

What has been your favorite project so far at Volansi?

My favorite project so far has been operations in Africa. Talk about a roller coaster adventure! From the deepest deep to the highest peak, I’ve been all over that part of the world. Anything and everything happened over there.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I read and learn. I’ve been in a phase for the past couple years reading professional development/self help books to help get me where I want to be in life. This coming Fall semester I’m starting an MBA program at West Texas A&M. 

For more fun activities I spend time with and hike with my significant other and dog. Getting a dog has been one of the best decisions of my life.

Who are your heroes in aviation, drone, or logistics history? Why?

Steve Morris and Brian Porter. I admire Steve’s drone intellect and his past accomplishments with the VBAT and other aerial vehicles. I think I’m pretty lucky to have worked with him on the M20 project. Then there’s Brian. If Hollywood needs to cast a cool old dude, Brian’s the guy. Both Steve and Brian are lifelong friends that have had their own adventures in the industry. Their relationship is something I aspire to have with one of my coworkers here at Volansi that I met back at Riddle.

We are in the dawn of unmanned flight and autonomous mobility. What are the applications that excite you most?

Emergency relief. I don’t think there is an application that I could get more gratification out of then helping save lives post-disaster with drone tech.

Meet the team behind Volansi’s flying robots. Each week we share stories from the team at Volansi highlighting their journey to joining the team, how they help keep our drones taking off, and some quirky fun along the way.

Amanda Krantz

Title at Volansi: Senior Director of Account Management

Joined the team: 2021

Team member #138

Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio

Tell us a little bit about your background and the work you did before joining the Volansi team?

I have a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the U.S. Air Force Academy, an M.S. in Electrical Engineering from George Washington University and an MBA from Harvard Business School. During my six years as an Air Force Officer, I worked at NASA as an Engineering Acquisition Officer at Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space (on Airborne Laser and International Space Station), and coached NCAA Division I tennis at the U.S. Air Force Academy. After business school, I have held a variety of entrepreneurial roles at Fortune 500 companies like AOL (product manager for AOL Mail), Yahoo and AT&T and was the first business hire at mobile photo-sharing startup, radar.net (acquired by Shutterfly), negotiating all of their deals with handset manufacturers and telcos – think Instagram six years too early. Most recently, I was founder and CEO of DohJe, a gratitude platform that makes it easy for patients to thank their nurses and other healthcare heroes. Besides being CEO, I led sales and account management for all of our customers including UCSF, Kaiser and Huggies.

In your own words, what do you do at Volansi?

I head up our Account Management/Customer Success/Program Management team for both our DoD and commercial customers in the U.S. and around the world. Our team not only manages all of our customer-facing relationships, but we also work cross functionally between Flight Operations, Engineering and Business Development/Sales to make sure the entire company is aligned to deliver value to our customers. My job is to be the voice of the customer internally. While the Sales team focuses on hitting quarterly numbers, Customer Success is focused on retention and customer lifetime value.

What has been your favorite project so far at Volansi?

This is tough to answer because since joining the Volansi team a few months ago, I have already been involved in several really fun projects. One particularly fun project was working with our flight operators in Africa and an engineer in Bend to turn around a quick solution to carrying spare parts that did not fit in the current cargo box. I love listening to our customers’ needs and problem solving with the team to find a solution and deliver it quickly.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

What spare time? Seriously, between family, work and a puppy, I don’t have a whole lot of spare time. When I do, I like to go for long hikes that eventually get to killer views. Sometimes I play pickleball, which I used to make fun of but now really enjoy. In a former life I used to play drums in a rock band.

Who are your heroes in aviation, drone, or logistics history? Why?

My heroes in aviation are all the military pilots that risk their lives to keep the rest of us safe. I think it’s super cool that my classmates at the Air Force Academy were some of the first female fighter pilots. People like Missy May, who paved the way for women in fighter squadrons by being amazing pilots and super awesome humans.

We are in the dawn of unmanned flight and autonomous mobility. What are the applications that excite you most?

There are a ton of exciting applications for autonomous mobility, but I think I’m most excited right now about two things: 1) Flying our VOLY 10 Series to help the Northern Plains UAS Test Site build Vantis, North Dakota’s statewide unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) network, the first of its kind in the nation. This BVLOS network will unlock all kinds of of valuable use cases for drone delivery in the U.S. 2) Humanitarian Aid – from  delivering blood or vaccines to remote, rural villages in Alaska or Africa to the ability for drones to deliver critical supplies after a hurricane in the Outer Banks of North Carolina or a Tsunami in Indonesia.

 

Meet the team behind Volansi’s flying robots. Each week we share stories from the team at Volansi highlighting their journey to joining the team, how they help keep our drones taking off, and some quirky fun along the way.

Chuck Roberts

Title at Volansi: Senior UAV Mechanic

Joined the team: 2021

Team member #112

Hometown: Sisters, Oregon

Tell us a little bit about your background and the work you did before joining the Volansi team?

I’m a veteran of the US Air Force where I held the position of Aircraft Structural Specialist with 3EMS in Alaska and 509th MXS in Missouri. I worked on the F-15 and the B-2 platforms repairing sheet metal, composite and Radar Absorbing Material (RAM). After departing the Air Force, I was a DoD contractor at Elemendorf Air Force Base in Alaska performing full-paints on F-15s and supporting multiple squadrons. While in Alaska, I obtained my Private Pilot license and Instrument Rating and ultimately moved to Oregon to pursue my Commercial License. During my time here, I’ve earned my BS in Graphic Design, started a family and held a position at Insitu for nearly nine years; initially in Ground Control Station production and then as an Engineering Technician in the software department. I departed Insitu in 2017 to be closer to my fiance in Bend, Oregon and have held many titles since then. I took the title of Senior UAV Mechanic here at Volansi in May and am glad to be here with many talented individuals from the aviation/drone industry.

In your own words, what do you do at Volansi?

I help facilitate the gap between maintenance issues in the field and produce maintenance actions to improve reliability of our system. I am responsible for identifying all aircraft maintenance for the programs and establishing baselines for future maintenance schedules.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I enjoy spending time with my family and being outdoors. Combining both is what I live for.

Who are your heroes in aviation, drone, or logistics history? Why?

Nikola Tesla, inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer and futurist best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system and his work on wireless communications.

Taiichi Ohno, who is considered to be the father of the Toyota Production System, which inspired Lean Manufacturing in the U.S. Ohno’s methodology has impacted how I approach my work on a daily basis to improve efficiencies in the workplace.

We are in the dawn of unmanned flight and autonomous mobility. What are the applications that excite you most?

The area that impresses me the most about autonomy and unmanned flight is communication links and how we communicate with assets. Work being done with MIMO and MN-MIMO, COFDM and MANET communications is very exciting! During my time at Insitu, I saw first hand how improved communications was a game-changer in the field. When I started, we used directional antennas and now there are mesh networks that can ensure full comms wherever you have assets. Such a huge improvement from 2008!

Meet the team behind Volansi’s flying robots. Each week we share stories from the team at Volansi highlighting their journey to joining the team, how they help keep our drones taking off, and some quirky fun along the way.

Zach Cruzen

Title at Volansi: Facility Security Officer

Joined the team: 2021

Team member #167

Hometown: San Diego, California

Tell us a little bit about your background and the work you did before joining the Volansi team?

I’ve been in the security world for a while now covering all sorts of security roles from directly supporting government customers at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems HQ (SPAWAR), to standing up and managing multiple cleared sites across the country for industry partners as their Corporate Security Officer. I’ve also worked overseas as a Foreign Disclosure Officer and, overall, have been placed in unique professional opportunities that have allowed me to gain a wide range of security expertise.

In your own words, what do you do at Volansi?

I am filling a dual-focus slot currently. First, as the security POC for Volansi, I am here to support our internal team in standing up our security policies, procedures and best practices and to automate as much of our security procedures as possible. Security gets a bad name for being the wall and I want to work to get to a yes for our security needs. My role as the Facility Security Officer is to facilitate our ability to work with government customers making sure we support and adhere to government regulations and verify we are in compliance with all of the fun details that come with Department of Defense contracting.

What has been your favorite project so far at Volansi?

I am relatively new here, but I can point to a personal project that’s in the works. We are currently in the process of standing up an internal security page on Confluence where all employees can reference security processes. This page will house our policies, procedures and helpful walkthroughs to streamline and automate the mundane security tasks like visit requests or foreign travel reporting.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

How do you know when someone does crossfit… don’t worry, I’ll tell you all about my lifts. I haven’t found a gym up here yet, but I’ll be that guy soon enough. I was previously really into surfing and built a shop in my garage to make my own surfboards. Now that I’ve moved up to Bend, I’m excited to trade in my surfboard for a snowboard. I’ve got a little family that takes most of my focus outside of work and I’m perfectly happy about it.

We are in the dawn of unmanned flight and autonomous mobility. What are the applications that excite you most?

Military support to the boots-on-the-ground is the number one thing I am excited to see Volansi achieve. Being able to deliver beans and bullets to our forces in remote locations could mean the difference in our ability to win battles, not to mention the morale improvement of those troops who can now receive packages and mail from home when sending a manned vehicle is too high a risk.