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Rethink Vertical Podcast
The Rethink Vertical podcast, brought to you by the UAS Cluster Initiative, brings you emerging aerospace industry insight, without the fluff. These immersive conversations highlight where the industry is today and how it will shape the technology of tomorrow.

Join host Craig Mahaney every month as he interviews the industry’s most innovative thinkers and doers.

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The UAS Cluster Initiative is funded in part through a Contract with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, conclusions, and/or recommendations expressed on Rethink Vertical episodes are those of the host and guest and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.


June 25, 2024 – Doug Wood (Oklahoma Department of Aerospace and Aeronautics)

Sponsored by:
Oklahoma Aerospace & Aeronautics
This month’s episode of Rethink Vertical features Doug Wood, State Manager for Advanced Air Mobility at Oklahoma Aerospace & Aeronautics. Host Craig Mahaney talks with Doug about his unique path to the industry, their shared experiences in the ecosystem, and why Oklahoma is uniquely positioned to lead in the emerging aerospace industry.

Oklahoma Department of Aerospace and Aeronautics:

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May 30, 2024 – Kraettli Epperson (Vigilant Aerospace Systems) Pt. 2

Kraettli Epperson, CEO and Co-founder of Vigilant Aerospace Systems is back! If you missed the first part of the conversation, go back and listen to the July 20, 2023 episode to catch up. This week, Craig and Kraettli take a deeper dive into detect and avoid methodologies, what airspace management may look like with scaled commercial UAS operations and the exciting things ahead for Vigilant.

Vigilant Aerospace Systems:

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May 16, 2024 – Manu Lubrano (INVOLI)

It’s a double episode May! First up is the CEO and Co-Founder of INVOLI, Manu Lubrano. INVOLI produces systems compliant with regulations for the safe integration of drones in the air space and Manu has a wide variety of industry experience including co-founding Drone for Earth, an NGO using drones for humanitarian aid. Manu sits down with host Craig Mahaney to talk about critical concepts necessary for scalability that INVOLI is focused on, including accurate aircraft detection, collaboration with certified data service providers to keep costs down and how to package all the pieces together to create a trusted and usable product.


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March 28, 2024 – Josh O'Leary (Airwise Solutions) Pt. 2

Josh O’Leary, Chief Technology Officer at Airwise Solutions, is back! This conversation revolves around UAS platforms for public good, Airwise's Drone as a First Responder (DFR) pilot projects and other drone-in-the-box solutions that are ready to scale.

For part one of the conversation with Josh, check out the August 24, 2023 episode of Rethink Vertical.

Airwise Solutions:

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February 26, 2024 – Daniel Plaisance (Tulsa Innovation Labs)

Daniel Plaisance leads the advanced air mobility (AAM) portfolio at Tulsa Innovation Labs (TIL) and is quickly becoming a national voice in the UAS/AAM world. Daniel joins host Craig Mahaney to talk about the exciting ecosystem growth in the Tulsa region, and how TIL is working to maximize the impacts of a growing advanced mobility industry that builds on the vast history of aerospace in Oklahoma.

Tulsa Innovation Labs:

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January 18, 2024 - Toni Drummond (Prestige Air Group)

2024 is off to a strong start with Rethink Vertical’s first guest of the year - Toni Drummond. Toni is a Partner at Prestige Air Group and BrainTrust IQ. Named as a 2023 Woman to Watch in Emerging Aviation, she is an industry expert focusing on emerging, advanced and future air mobility.

Toni has a driving passion to enable sustainable aviation solutions. Drummond spends much of her time traveling and speaking around the world on as a subject matter expert on sustainable flight solutions, UAS/Drones, electric & hybrid air vehicles, aircraft charter and future advanced air mobility.

Designing, building and certifying advanced air mobility aircraft is one thing, but in this episode, Toni and host Craig Mahaney talk through what it will take to actually put fleets into service for paying customers.

Prestige Air Group:

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December 21, 2023 – Jennifer "JJ" Snow (Allied Partners)

Sponsored by:
Vigilant Aerospace Systems
Jennifer "JJ" Snow is a retired Air Force Intelligence Officer and current Venture Partner for Allied Ventures. Jen served as the Chief Technology Officer for AFWERX, the innovation arm of the U.S. Air Force, and the Chief Innovation Officer for SOFWERX and the Donovan Group at Special Operations Command. Jen served three combat tours with AFSOC, JSOC, SOCOM/NCR supporting operations across Afghanistan and Iraq and has held multiple leadership roles within the special operations and special mission unit communities.

JJ joins host Craig Mahaney to talk about a wide range of topics, from the importance of networking for startup founders to how to pitch hardware focused technologies.

Special thanks to sponsor Vigilant Aerospace Systems, for making this episode possible.
About Allied Partners:

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November 16, 2023 – Carl Dietrich, PhD (Jump Aero)

Carl Dietrich, PhD, Founder and CEO of Jump Aero joins Rethink Vertical this week for a fascinating conversation about the history of the UAS/AAM industry and where he thinks things are headed. Prior to founding Jump Aero, Carl founded Terrafugia and served as CEO, CTO, and as a board director for 13 years. He is the current Chairman of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association committee on Simplified Vehicle Operations and is the inventor or co-inventor on multiple issued patents and patents pending.

Jump Aero:

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October 26, 2023 – Michelle Harper, PhD (MITRE)

Joining host Craig Mahaney this week is Michelle Harper, PhD. Michelle is a Lead Principal Research Scientist with the MITRE Corporation. Over the past 15+ years Michelle has led national data-driven strategic initiatives through the use of AI/machine learning, human-machine teaming methods, and the application of advanced analytics to generate actionable intelligence. Spending much of her career focused on aviation safety data, Michelle has a depth of knowledge to share throughout this conversation including how the large amounts of data come from autonomous aviation systems will impact the industry.


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September 21, 2023 – Ryan Walsh (Valqari)

In this week’s episode of Rethink Vertical, Valqari Founder & CEO Ryan Walsh joins host Craig Mahaney. Ryan has spent the last decade working on fully autonomous drone delivery solutions and is the lead inventor on 29 issued drone delivery related patents, with 31+ patent applications currently in the pipeline.

Ryan is a recognized expert in the industry, and this conversation offers his unique and unfiltered perspective on running a technology startup.


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August 24, 2023 – Josh O'Leary (Airwise Solutions)

In this episode, Airwise Solutions Chief Technology Officer Josh O'Leary joins to talk about the challenges of BVLOS operations and how software products that create sophisticated situational awareness and visualization are imperative as the industry scales. You won't find a more passionate advocate for the UAS/AAM industry - this is an episode you don't want to miss!

Airwise Solutions:

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July 20, 2023 – Kraettli Epperson (Vigilant Aerospace Systems)

This week's guest is Kraettli Epperson, CEO and Co-founder of Vigilant Aerospace Systems. Vigilant works to license and commercialize NASA flight safety technologies and also develops new situational awareness, detect-and-avoid solutions.

Kraettli and host Craig Mahaney discuss BVLOS drone operations and how detect and avoid technology creates a critical and reliable safety parameter for fully autonomous vehicles in the future. About Vigilant Aerospace Systems:

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June 15, 2023 – Julia Norsetter (Reed Smith)

This week, Julia Norsetter, Transportation Policy Lead at Reed Smith joins host Craig Mahaney in what turned out to be a very timely conversation. Julia and Craig discuss the challenges and opportunities in advanced air mobility and what industry and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are doing to move the adoption of this technology forward. Shortly after the recording of this episode, the FAA released a notice of proposed rulemaking surrounding unpublished integration of powered lift pilot certification and operations.

Reed Smith:

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May 25, 2023 – Omer Sharar (infiniDome)

In this episode of Rethink Vertical, host Craig Mahaney talks with infiniDome's Cofounder and CEO, Omer Sharar. InfiniDome develops GPS protection and resilient navigation solutions tailored to defend UAVs and vehicles from jamming attacks.Craig and Omer talk about the vulnerabilities of GPS, the effect on commercial and defense UAS operations, and how infiniDome is working to mitigate the problems at hand.


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April 27, 2023 – Andrew Carter and Ryan Pleskach (ResilienX)

In this episode of Rethink Vertical, host Craig Mahaney talks with ResilienX Co-founders Andrew Carter and Ryan Pleskach. RelisienX is the market leader for in-time aviation safety management system software and Andrew and Ryan have a great founder’s story to tell.


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April 6, 2023 – Guillaume Catry and Nicolas Bosson (WindShape)

Exciting news from Tulsa! WindShape, a Swiss innovation company emerged in 2016 as a world leader in drone research, development, testing, and validation. As part of its expansion plans, WindShape has recently signed an agreement with Osage LLC to establish a state-of-the-art indoor drone testing and validation center at the Skyway36 Droneport and Technology Innovation Center. Co-founders Guillaume Catry and Nicolas Bosson join host Craig Mahaney to talk about their entrepreneurship journey, and why they are excited for what’s to come in Oklahoma.


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February 16, 2023 – Aaron Pierce (Pierce Aerospace)

Aaron Pierce, Founder and CEO of Pierce Aerospace joins host Craig Mahaney to talk about his company's Remote ID technology, the challenges of running a dual use startup, how he approached pitching to investors, and much more!

Pierce Aerospace:

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