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Creator of Sky Surfer, an HHS graduate, soars to fame

Hunter Kowald flies around Times Square in New York City. Hunter Kowald flies around Times Square in New York City.

Viewers of Good Morning America were likely astonished to see a 2½-minute feature on the young inventor of something called a Sky Surfer, which was shown carrying the engineer. And locally, some folks may have jumped out of their chair and exclaimed, “That kid’s from Hendersonville!”


The inventor is 28-year-old Hunter Kowald, who grew up in Hendersonville and graduated from Hendersonville High School in 2011.
The Good Morning America segment showed Kowald flying 30 feet above ground in Times Square on his Sky Surfer, his feet fastened onto platforms above eight small helicopter-like rotors, a remote control mechanism in his right hand.

The ABC news reporter opened the segment by jokingly asking Kowald whether he is “the Green Goblin” from Spider-Man.
“I think it’s everybody’s dream to fly, since they were a little kid,” the easy-going Kowald responds. He built the machine by hand over thousands of hours, using his skills and training in math and engineering from UNC Charlotte.
“This thing consumes 1600 amps of current,” Kowald says. “That’s a lot of power. It's about 8 to 10 houses all running at the same time.”
HunterKowaldHunter Kowald is interviewed on Good Morning America. [SCREENSHOT FROM GMA]A video shows Kowald sailing above the city, passing neon signs and landing on a McDonald’s roof.
"People see it and they think, ‘Oh maybe that looks a little unsafe' but I’m actually super stable, like I'm standing on the ground, especially once you have the proper training.”
“Essentially I'm snowboarding, dancing with my right arm and I'm skydiving with my left arm and I'm kind of leaning around — so a little bit of all of those things,” he responds when asked whether sky surfing is like a jet ski or a Segway. “Once you get the hang of it it's so intuitive and it's calm and relaxing.”
Kowald is the only person in the world with a Sky Surfer, the GMA reporter says, and he imagines practical applications that could make his invention, well, take off.
“It could be used in emergency situations (or) lifeguarding,” he says. “I think for most people, they want them for recreation. It is definitely a fun thing to play with.”
The son of Stephanie and Brian Kowald, Hunter grew up on Greenwood Drive off N.C. 191 and is a product of the Henderson County school system. He and his older brother, Alex, developed a passion for creative engineering early as members of the Henderson County Robotics Team, reaching the regional finals in 2008 when Hunter was a freshman and Alex was a sophomore at Hendersonville High School. Called “Amperage,” the team worked worked nights and weekends designing and building a robot that could hurl a giant red ball over or under a 6-foot-6-inch overpass.
While Kowald won’t tell what’s next, he teased in the GMA feature that his company has “a surprise piece of content coming out.”