Buss and Howard are merging cutting-edge software intelligence with trusted aviation and safety experience to make private flights more accessible—not just an option for the very rich
VANCOUVER, WASH. – KinectAir, the digital platform that’s opening the skies and delivering on-demand private air travel to more people than ever before, announced the appointment of new co-CEOs. Aviation expert and retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Katie Buss and technology entrepreneur Ben Howard are helming the company jointly. Previously Buss served as KinectAir’s COO and Howard as co-founder and CTO. Former CEO and co-founder Jonathan Evans continues to serve KinectAir as board chair.
Committed to making private air travel as accessible and easy as booking a hotel online, Buss and Howard are combining their perspectives to grow the KinectAir platform into a household name and provide value to customers at every step in the travel process. Buss’ new responsibilities focus on the aviation sector, industry relationships, growth, and safety and regulatory matters. Howard will advance the company’s unique AI-powered application and operating system to ensure a seamless, mobile-first customer experience and state-of-the-art marketplace connecting vetted operators and passengers nationwide.
Before becoming KinectAir’s co-CEO, Aviation, and former COO, Buss served as a distinguished U.S. Air Force leader, diplomat and instructor pilot, most recently in the role of United States Senior Defense Official and Defense Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Bolivia. She formerly served as ROTC Commander and Department Chair at the University of Kentucky, Pentagon International Affairs Strategist, and C-17 Special Operations Pilot with more than 500 combat hours serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Howard, as co-CEO, Technology, brings to the table a highly successful track record in strategic planning, team-building and product development at startups – with deep expertise in AI/ML, analytics, SaaS, cloud and Advanced Air Mobility (AAM).
“Alongside Ben’s impressive experience scaling companies and the robust foundation Jonathan has built, I’m excited to bring my aviation and leadership background to this new role,” said Buss. “KinectAir is opening a world of air travel to a much larger demographic. Our mobile platform is ideal for business travelers, but also makes it easy for friends and families to come together for wine adventures, skiing, golfing trips and music festivals. With a few taps on the app, your loved ones (and your bicycles, clubs or even pets) are able to book an adventure with first-class pilots that operate with the best safety practices. As we scale, we’ll continue to rapidly expand these capabilities and network efficiencies and offer more people an enjoyable travel alternative where getting there is part of the adventure.”
“To make on-demand flight accessible to the public, the industry needs a software platform that allows you to see where you can go and how much it costs,” added Howard. “We’re removing current barriers with powerful software backed by AI-driven dispatch and a mobile-first strategy to meet customers wherever they are – for frictionless access to safe, FAA-regulated, open-ended travel. In many instances, we’re able to leverage the untapped potential of repositioning flights or ‘empty legs’ to reduce prices dramatically, down to a fraction of traditional charter costs. KinectAir’s AI is built to optimize routing, gracefully handle itinerary changes, consider off-peak hours, reduce scheduling overhead and much more, ultimately to make the entire air travel industry more economic, environmental and accessible. Like Katie, I’m thrilled to join forces and work as a dynamic team so that KinectAir becomes the platform every traveler checks and uses for 100- to 1,000-mile trips.”
HBR has reported that companies led by co-CEOs tend to outperform others significantly, especially at agile organizations embarking on technology-based transformations. KinectAir embraces the model to bring the right mix of strengths to the company’s mission.
Long-term change that empowers easier air travel
“Now is the right time for Katie and Ben to take the leadership yolk and scale KinectAir, as we have long planned,” said Evans. “Our platform, AI technology and marketplace of vetted Part 135 operators is at a maturity point where we’re entering an exciting new phase of growth. KinectAir will continue to leverage a point-to-point pattern of air travel at thousands of local and regional airports across the nation to empower the next age of democratized transportation. I’ll continue to join them in cultivating that noble vision and proudly share the KinectAir story with others.”
Buss, Howard, and Evans stressed that long-term change in air travel means:
- Offering an easy mobile-first platform that will create door-to-door travel solutions using a combination of right-sized air charter services and automatically scheduled ground transportation-transforming the way travelers move around the world.
- Getting alerts on flexible flights for budget conscious travelers, and on-demand charters for those who have places to be and people to see.
- Delivering AI-suggested, cost-saving alternative routes and times that help users trust the prices they see.
- Providing a viable alternative to long lines, long drives and long layovers that is affordable to a much wider array of travelers.
- Working with the aircraft in service today, while future-proofing to be the booking platform of choice for the next generation of electric flying taxis from Joby, Archer, VoltAero, Electra, BETA and others.
In addition to the roles mentioned, Buss holds an MBA from the University of Kentucky, an MA in Aeronautical Science from Embry Riddle, and an MA in National Security Studies from the Naval Postgraduate School; served as a Chief of Flying Standardization and Evaluation in the USAF; and was co-founder and CMO of Bareacuda Beer Company. At Intel, Howard developed algorithms for the foundation of modern AI. Later he co-founded HoneyComb as CTO, and then moved on to lead SaaS, and AI and machine learning teams as vice president of engineering at Resson.
Vicky is the co-founder of TravelDailyNews Media Network where she is the Editor-in Chief. She is also responsible for the daily operation and the financial policy. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Tourism Business Administration from the Technical University of Athens and a Master in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Wales.
She has many years of both academic and industrial experience within the travel industry. She has written/edited numerous articles in various tourism magazines.