Full disclosure: This month I became an “Advocate” for Icon Aircraft, an airplane manufacturing company founded by Kirk Hawkins who flew F-16s in the Air Force and always wanted to design a light, sport airplane that would fly like a fighter – in other words, responsive and safe. I am a pilot and a member of the Civil Air Patrol, where I volunteer as air crew in missions dedicated to education, youth development, emergency rescue and research into uses of aviation for all of the above. Since getting into the Icon A5, I have found an entirely new way to fly and it is changing my entire perspective on personal aviation.
The introduction of Icon’s A5 is unique in several ways that are significant to both experienced pilots, new fliers and anyone interested in learning how to fly their own airplane almost anywhere, easily, economically and- above all – safely.
First – “anywhere.” The A5 can take off and land on a runway or lakes, rivers and bays. In a matter of seconds, its wings can be folded back, locked in place for trailering or storing in your garage.
Second – “easily.” The A5 is the easiest plane to learn to fly. BMW Design and Lotus helped configure its sportscar-like cockpit to be simpler and more ergonomic than a typical airplane, sporting a minimum of gauges and controls, yet offering sophisticated functionality within easy reach. The most important control, its “angle of attack” indicator, found in no other small aircraft, provides excellent guidance for straight and level flight as well as complex maneuvers.
Third – “economically.” Compared to any other small airplane, the Icon, with all the bells and whistles, including a parachute, tops off currently at $389,000 brand new. Once you own it, forget having to rent a hangar at the airport. It will fit in most car garages. Trailer it to the lake or any suitable runway and in minutes you’re in the air. It also burns about 3.9 gallons of inexpensive 91 octane gas per hour. Thanks to its fuel injected Rotax engine, fuel management requires only one control knob.
Finally – “safe.” The A5 is a Light Sport Aircraft (LSA), targeted to pilots who primarily fly for adventure. All ICON Aircraft are classified as S-LSA (Special-Light Sport Aircraft). They are factory built and ready-to-fly. Worried about stalling or spinning? The A5 is highly stall and spin resistant making it much more forgiving than any other plane of its kind. In situations where, for instance, you’ve overshot your your runway and need to correct with a high banking turn, the Angle of Attack Indicator tells you exactly high steep you can safely turn. And the A5 comes equipped with a standard airplane parachute!
Now, you might say, “Hey, I don’t have a pilot’s license!” The FAA Sport Pilot License (SPL) is a relatively new type of pilot certificate designed to get you safely and easily trained for recreational flying in Light Sport Aircraft. By restricting recreational flying for sport pilots to daytime, good weather, below 10,000 feet MSL, and in uncongested airspace, much of the complexities and difficulties of learning to fly have been removed. That being said, upgrading Private Pilot’s Licence or higher, will allow you to take advantage of the A5’s ability to fly at night and up to 15,000 feet MSL. Essentially, you can hire an instructor to sit in the right seat and learn to fly this aircraft in much less time than in any other private plane.
Well, I’m off to Westchester County Airport tomorrow to climb into the A5 for a nice, sunny flight up the Hudson River to practice some water landings. I’m taking my video camera with me, so stand by for the movie – on a Linked-In or YouTube monitor near you. Go amphibious!
Seats: 2 – Max Takeoff Weight: 1510 lbs (686.4 kg) – Useful Load: 430-550 lbs (195-249 kg) – Baggage (Maximum): 60 lbs (27.2 kg) – Fuel: 91 Octane Auto or 100LL Aviation
Max Speed (Vh): 95 KCAS (109 mph) (176 kph) – Range: 427nm (45 min reserve) – Land Takeoff Distance: 1130 feet (520 ft ground roll) – Land Landing Distance: 1590 feet (480 ft ground roll) – Water Takeoff Distance: 1470 feet (840 ft water run) – Water Landing Distance: 2140 feet (700 ft water run) – Engine: Rotax 912 (100 hp)
Interior Cockpit Width: 46 in (116.8 cm) – Wingspan: 34.8 ft (10.61 m) – Aircraft Length: 23 ft (7.01 m) – Aircraft Height: 8.1 ft (2.47 m)
ICON Spin-Resistant Airframe (SRA) – ICON Angle of Attack Indicator (AoA) – ICON Parachute System (IPS) – Planing Wingtips – Predictable Flying Characteristics – Low Stall Speed