Joby Aviation's aircraft flying during its production launch on June 28, 2023 in Marina.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
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Morning Lookout: Joby takes flight, cockfighting self-defense, fallen tree offers memories of a dear friend

Hi again! It’s Thursday, June 29 and the morning clouds are expected to burn off later in the day, with temperatures rising to a balmy 73F.

Now let’s head on over to the latest news.
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Christopher Neely was on hand in Marina Wednesday for the unveiling of the first aircraft to roll off Joby Aviation’s pilot production line. The Santa Cruz-based company also gave throngs of onlookers, including Gov. Gavin Newsom, a chance to watch a prototype electric aircraft take flight. And Joby announced the appointment of Toyota North America’s CEO Tetsuo “Ted” Ogawa to the air taxi company’s board of directors.

Also, Max Chun brings you the bizarre story of a career criminal charged with several serious felonies who is defending himself in a Santa Cruz courtroom against cockfighting charges.

Finally, in our Community Voices opinion section today, Laura LeRoy connects the stories of the loss of a beloved friend and neighbor to the felling of a majestic tree. Elizabeth Butler was the first female Santa Cruz police officer killed in the line of duty. On the 10-year anniversary of her tragic death, a massive 400-year-old oak tree fell at her family home.

Here are the headlines.

Joby unveils new era for its air taxi ambitions with first manufactured aircraft

Joby Aviation's CEO JoeBen Bevirt sitting in one of Joby's aircraft at the Marina airport.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Roughly 1,000 Joby employees, investors and regulators flocked to the Marina Municipal Airport Wednesday to see Joby’s CEO and founder, JoeBen Bevirt, unveil the Santa Cruz-based company’s first aircraft built from a production assembly line certified by the Federal Aviation Administration. The moment placed the crowd at the convergence of the past, present, and what Joby sees as its future: zero-emission air travel for trips under 100 miles — all within an Uber-like rideshare system. Joby also took a prototype aircraft for a rare public demonstration flight. Read Christopher Neely’s story here.

MORE: Joby Aviation opens new Santa Cruz office, where another revolutionary company once did business

Santa Cruz County cockfighting suspect represents himself in peculiar courtroom drama

Ariana Huemer, from the nonprofit rescue operation Hen Harbor in Zayante, holds a rooster.
(Alison Gamel / Lookout Santa Cruz)

In about eight hours of proceedings in a Santa Cruz courtroom spread out over two days, cockfighting accused Brett Kenneth Miller, 58, repeatedly debated witnesses about evidence and raised objections that were quickly shot down by Santa Cruz Superior Court Judge Syda Cogliati, even as prosecutors offered a mountain of evidence against the South County resident. Max Chun has the details.

MORE: Animal cruelty criminal case shines spotlight on cockfighting as ‘a serious issue’ in Santa Cruz County

As a 400-year-oak falls, remembering fallen Santa Cruz police officer Elizabeth Butler

Peter Wu, Elizabeth Butler's partner, stands with the fallen oak.
(Via Laura Leroy)

When a 400-year-old oak tree fell in Laura LeRoy’s Santa Cruz neighborhood earlier this year, she thought of her friend and neighbor, Santa Cruz Police Detective Elizabeth Butler, who was killed in the line of duty almost exactly 10 years earlier.

“If our heritage oak tree, on Sims Road, could have shared stories of the life swirling around her, what would she share?” she asks in Community Voices today. “Would the tree share the sorrowful days after Elizabeth Butler’s death? The entourage of police vehicles taking her longtime partner, Peter, Grandma Louise and the children to the funeral and memorial? The many devastated and concerned neighbors bringing comfort food and condolence cards? This extraordinary oak tree provided a canopy of beauty and an unseen embrace of love and empathy.” Read her piece for Community Voices here.

MORE FROM COMMUNITY VOICES: The day the Santa Cruz homeless crisis knocked on my front door


Upcoming events in Santa Cruz County

Midtown Fridays @1111 Soquel Ave.
Embroidery Workshop @Wallflower Santa Cruz
Zayante Fire Fundraiser @Felton Music Hall
Stephen Marley @The Catalyst Club
Bodhi Mojo @Woodhouse Blending & Brewing
Frequency Festival @Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History

Santa Cruz Elks Oktoberfest @Santa Cruz Elks Lodge
Foodie Fruity Wreath Making Extravaganza @Scotts Valley farmers market
Vegan Italian Cooking & Wine Pairing Class @Flipjack Ranch
Teen Kitchen Project Everett Farm Dinner @Everett Family Farm
Echos Of Empire @Civic Auditorium

For the love of dogs @Chaminade Resort & Spa
41st Santa Cruz Triathlon @Depot Park
Music at the park @Skypark
Jean Dawson @The Catalyst

Lots to take in and even more on the way. Keep your eyes peeled for Wallace Baine’s Weekender later today, and Lily Belli brings you a new Eater’s Digest newsletter on Friday. Sign up here for those and all of Lookout’s other newsletters, not to mention breaking news alerts via email and text. We’re on the socials, too, so follow Lookout on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to stay current with Santa Cruz County goings-on.

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Stay well!

Tamsin McMahon
Lookout Santa Cruz