For all who could not attend, our title forms a common question. On day one of the fourteenth running of the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo, even many onsite asked how the first day went; I’ll bet I heard the question a dozen times. Short answer: A great start! The airport that hosts the annual event lucked out with a day of gorgeous weather, in the high 70s (25° C). Clear blue skies and modest breezes made for a beautiful beginning. They booked a full display of more than 100 vendors and plenty of shiny aircraft to examine. Morning hours looked to have reasonably good attendance; the parking lot was on its way to a good fill at 8:30 AM. These shows rarely seem crowded — and that’s not a bad thing if you want to talk to an aircraft designer or take a demo flight — but at times various aircraft were surrounded by visitors.
Icon Aircraft A5
Phone: (424) 201-3500Los Angeles, CA 90066 - USA
Customer Deliveries Begin
Icon Aircraft CEO Kirk Hawkins shared a computer depiction of events leading to the crash of an A5 flown by factory chief pilot, Jon Karkow. From A5’s onboard black box Icon engineers assembled a second-by-second path for the ill-fated Light-Sport Aircraft. The data showed speed, power settings, flap position, and more. According to the Napa Valley Register relating a National Transportation Safety Board report, “Pilot error caused the crash that killed two men in a small airplane on May 8, 2017 in Lake Berryessa.” NTSB wrote, “The pilot, Jon Karkow, of Icon Aircraft in Vacaville, was flying too low, and mistakenly entered a canyon surrounded by steep rising terrain.” The investigative agency said Karkow had taken off from the Nut Tree airport in Vacaville at 8:50 a.m. accompanied by passenger, Cargi Sever, a new Icon employee. The pilot intended to take Sever on a familiarization flight in the Icon A5 amphibious Light-Sport Aircraft, said NTSB.
A few weeks earlier, as many enthusiasts were headed to Sun 'n Fun, the company suffered another incident although no one was injured.
Normally we elect not to delve into accidents on ByDanJohnson.com but where it can be instructive and when readers are keen to learn more — and when we have direct information — discussing such matters can be useful. To say the last month has not been good for Icon Aircraft would be a gross understatement. While the company struggles to increase production of their often-ordered LSA seaplane, they now must deal with much more difficult events. Most recently, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reported, “On May 8, 2017, about 9 AM Pacific time [an] A5 impacted terrain while maneuvering near Lake Berryessa, California. The commercial pilot and passenger were fatally injured, and the airplane sustained substantial damage.” The aircraft was piloted by Icon’s chief test pilot, Jon Karkow who was taking the recently hired Director of Engineering, Cagri Sever, for a familiarization flight. “The flight was Sever’s first in the A5 and was to be his introduction to the product on which he would be working at Icon,” reported the Vacaville, California company.
Article Updated 9/7/15 — See new information at the bottom of this article. Coming up TOMORROW! — September 8-9-10, 2016 — is the Midwest LSA Expo. I’m on-site for all three days in Mt. Vernon, Illinois. More info: Midwest LSA Expo. Only six years after Steve Jobs proudly announced the first iPad, the tablet device seems to have fully conquered aviation. Airline captains routinely use iPads in lieu of bulky printed instrument charts. GA airplane owners with analog panels commonly use an iPad to join the digital revolution without needing to get FAA’s permission. And, LSA developers often accommodate the iDevice; indeed, some Light-Sports make do solely with iPads, occasionally multiple devices. Despite his visionary prowess, I bet Steve Jobs never imagined such a result. Unfortunately, he didn’t live long enough to see the cockpit transformation his gizmo caused. However, if you’ve flown with an iPad, you know you need some way to hold it that allows access to its wealth of information without interfering with airplane operation.
Finally! I got to fly Icon's long-awaited A5 LSA seaplane. In a word: superb. Well done, Icon. In this 25-minute video join Icon Sales VP, Craig Bowers, and me as we run the highly-anticipated Light-Sport through its paces including a series of stalls that show the value of their hard work to create a spin resistant airframe. No airplane is perfect for every buyer but the California designer and manufacturer hit just about every correct note. We bet you'll really enjoy this one.
Finally! I got to fly Icon’s long-awaited A5 LSA seaplane. In a word: superb. Well done, Icon. In this 25-minute video join Icon Sales VP, Craig Bowers, and me as we run the highly-anticipated Light-Sport through its paces including a series of stalls that show the value of their hard work to create a spin resistant airframe. No airplane is perfect for every buyer but the California designer and manufacturer hit just about every correct note. We bet you’ll really enjoy this one.
Icon's A5 has been so shrewdly promoted that the Southern California company has gathered nearly 1,000 delivery position orders. Some folks wonder if it will make it to market. In this summer 2012 video, we speak with CEO Kirk Hawkins and ask him about a new development -- involving spin resistant airframe -- that may have delayed production but produced some very interesting results that those waiting owners should love. Enjoy many flying photos while we talk.
Icon’s A5 has been so shrewdly promoted that the Southern California company has gathered nearly 1,000 delivery position orders. Some folks wonder if it will make it to market. In this summer 2012 video, we speak with CEO Kirk Hawkins and ask him about a new development — involving spin resistant airframe — that may have delayed production but produced some very interesting results that those waiting owners should love. Enjoy many flying photos while we talk.
One of the biggest splashes - literally and figuratively - in the Light-Sport Aircraft industry was the entry of California's Icon A5. The super sleek LSA design is new nose to tail, wingtip to wingtip. In fact, no one ever saw anything quite like the A5. Mainstream media has fallen in love with the distinctive design. Join us for our LSA Insider view.
One of the biggest splashes – literally and figuratively – in the Light-Sport Aircraft industry was the entry of California’s Icon A5. The super sleek LSA design is new nose to tail, wingtip to wingtip. In fact, no one ever saw anything quite like the A5. Mainstream media has fallen in love with the distinctive design. Join us for our LSA Insider view.
The Video Pilot Report below may be one of the most anticipated VPRs my video partner Dave and I have produced. I did the flying at AirVenture Oshkosh 2015 on Lake Winnebago in late July, but because Icon preferred to provide the video footage, it has taken some weeks to put it all together. Production of one of these VPRs is a two-part effort. First, I invested some time to get to where Icon did their demo flying (away from all the other flying locations associated with Oshkosh). Weather and the company’s desire to take aloft a reported 150 of their waiting owners forced a couple schedule changes. Since returning home, we worked with several helpful folks at Icon to assemble all the right video pieces. Finally, Dave invested many hours editing what you see below (or here). Our video should show you most of what you want to see about this impressive LSA including water takeoffs and landings, in-flight maneuvering, stalls (such as they are), low flying over the water, and the interior of the airplane including Icon’s highly emphasized Angle of Attack indicator.
Shows like Sebring and Midwest LSA Expo are known for being great places to demo fly a Light-Sport or light kit you may be considering to buy. They earned that reputation because it is typically much easier to fly at those lower-key, less crowded events than at giant shows like AirVenture. However, some companies make demo flying a mission at Oshkosh and this article covers three that delivered an exceptional number of demo flights. Icon reported doing around 150 demonstration flights in the first public outing of the long-awaited LSA seaplane. Writers for aviation’s largest magazines got their private crack at the new bird beforehand … since returning from Oshkosh, I’ve seen A5 on the covers of Flying, AOPA Pilot, Sport Aviation, and Plane & Pilot. That’s an enormous splash. I can’t recall any single aircraft capturing all four titles in the same month, quite a credit to Team Icon for deftly executing such a major marketing push.
The big summer celebration of flight has ended. I have more info from AirVenture 2015 and next I plan a summary article. A preview includes the most positive prognosis from industry players I have seen in recent years; strong sales reported by several producers; several interesting developments or benchmarks; and a wonderful week of weather as icing on the cake. My video partner and I put in long days to secure perhaps 30 or more new videos including many on the freshest topics in light aviation. Stay tuned for more and go here to see the hundreds of videos we have posted from previous events. The Shiniest Part 103 … We shot a video interview on the line of Hummel Aviation light aircraft, including two Part 103 models and one Experimental Amateur Built version. Toward the end of the week, one that had been sheltered in a tent on one end of the sprawling AirVenture grounds was hand towed to the Ultralight Area — called the Fun Fly Zone — so people could see this mirror-finish (highly polished aluminum) UltraCruiser in the air.
I promised to tell you what was under the blue wrap disguising the powerplant on the unnamed taildragger in my earlier article. Here it comes with other opening day news from AirVenture 2015. Icon Aircraft made their first delivery of an A5 after a tremendous media build-up, as this California company has clearly demonstrated it can do brilliantly. Not only was a huge crowd in attendance but a large flock of young people in matching tee-shirts accompanied the airplane as it was towed down the main drag — called Celebration Way — to Boeing Plaza and the runway. The reason for the young folks was because airplane number one went to EAA’s Young Eagles, but this is especially fitting as Icon has aimed their aircraft in a different direction than any other airplane maker with which I am familiar. One pilot who flew the A5 said, “It has an automotive-like interior.
The big dogs have been fed. It will soon be time for we smaller critters to get our chance. Icon Aircraft reported that in late June, they hosted reporters from Flying Magazine, Plane & Pilot, AOPA Pilot, EAA Sport Aviation, and the Seaplane Pilots Association’s Water Flying magazine. Those writers got pretty excited by their long-awaited experience in the A5 and I must admit, it has psyched me up as well. Over many years in this trade, I’ve had the pleasure to fly nearly 400 different aircraft, virtually all of them in the same space occupied by A5 yet, even with all that, I’m very much looking forward to my own A5 flight experience coming up just before AirVenture Oshkosh 2015. You can read about my flight experience on this website and you can presently find plenty of content (articles and video) about A5. No waiting required!
Let the production begin! This, um … iconic company in the LSA space has been brewing for a long time, long enough that some aviators have been grumbling, wondering if Icon is “for real.” Today, the company announced that a week ago on June 11th, they successfully completed their FAA audit. That opens the door to serial production of a reported 1,250 orders as announced earlier this year. In addition, some media persons including yours truly, will get to fly the machine during Oshosh in just a few weeks. I’m excited to see how this well-promoted, long-in-development aircraft flies. “The successful completion of the FAA’s audit of the A5 is one of the most critical milestones in our company’s history,” said Icon Aircraft CEO and Founder Kirk Hawkins. “This means that after years of intense development by the Icon team, our customers and the media will finally get a chance to experience the A5 firsthand and form their own opinion.
According to a report in the North Bay (San Francisco) Business Journal, Icon will build its first 20 A5 LSA seaplanes before the end of 2015. Certainly in the LSA space, this can best be described as “much-anticipated event.” At an annual meeting of the Solano Economic Development Corporation, the Business Journal reported, guest speaker Kirk Hawkins of Icon provided an update on the production of the A5. “The first Icon Aircraft production planes are currently undergoing flight verification testing, and 20 of our A5 aircraft are scheduled to roll off the Vacaville production floor in 2015,” the Journal quoted. They added that Hawkins said production will follow the completion of construction at the facility in August, 2015. Earlier the California company reported taking more than 1,250 aircraft deposits, which they said represents nearly $300 million in backlog. “By comparison, Tesla Motors had approximately $100 million in order backlog just prior to its production start,” Hawkins noted to the business development group.
On this website, we zoom around the world following Light-Sport Aircraft, from near the Arctic Circle — you know, where Santa and the wee elves are pulling some heavy overtime about now — to the warm balminess of Southern California. I know of what I write, having once lived in the snow belt and now hanging with the family in Palm Springs, California for Christmas. It seems everywhere I look I see LSA seaplanes in sea trials and this is happening in the dead of winter. Why be surprised? Perhaps you’ve noticed boat shows happen in the winter months. When living in Minnesota, I was always amazed that boat shows were held in January and February, a time of year when it would be months before the ice melted from the state’s 10,000 lakes to allow use of those boats. Yet this is when people were shopping, I suppose anticipating an upcoming season of boating fun.
One of the most-watched Light-Sport Aircraft is Icon’s A5 seaplane. Through savvy marketing and a splashy display and events at AirVenture (the only show where Icon Aircraft regularly exhibits), the company has clearly wowed potential buyers, the general aviation public, plus media journalists and photographers. ByDanJohnson.com has followed Icon since the beginning, actually even before the beginning, so we are pleased to continue our updates on their progress. Most observers see that it has been a long road. I first met CEO Kirk Hawkins back on the EAA Sport Pilot Tour in 2005 when he was — as he put it himself — “one guy with a business card.” Whatever you may think about the road long traveled, Kirk has taken his company from nowhere to one of the most closely tracked enterprises in the entire LSA space worldwide. His training for this lengthy exercise began at California’s respected Stanford University Graduate School of Business where he learned the Silicon Valley way to make a big impact … what the tech industry likes to call “creative destruction,” leaving behind the old ways of methodically introducing products and embracing the Internet style of taking bold leaps forward.
I have been following Icon Aircraft closely since I first met top gun Kirk Hawkins on the EAA Sport Pilot Tour back in 2005. Then he was one man with a business card and a dream. In the nine years following, Icon has become, well … an icon of light aviation. Almost everybody knows this (yes, I’ll write it) iconic company and their eye-catching A5 LSA seaplane. The southern California company reports more than 1,000 people have put down deposits. The first in line have been waiting quite some time to hear when their airplane will be built and now the company confirmed what we’ve reported earlier: they selected Vacaville, California to be their main production location — although component production will occur under the watchful eyes of successful GA builder, Cirrus Design, way up in North Dakota. “After several years and an extensive nationwide search, I’m excited to announce that Vacaville and Solano County will be the new home of Icon Aircraft, Inc.,” reported CEO Hawkins.
One of the most celebrated of the Light-Sport Aircraft fleet is Icon Aircraft‘s A5 seaplane. The Southern California company has passed the benchmark set by Cessna after they first announced their Skycatcher to great fanfare back in 2007. Since Icon first emerged in 2005, the company has gone from one man with an idea to one of the largest players in the LSA space … yet they have yet to produce their first airplane. Some aviators have voiced concerns the company is a marketing juggernaut that raises money but builds nothing. To confront this perception and in preparation for their usual announcements at AirVenture — the only show where Icon chooses to present itself for the time being — Icon released photos and some details of their work to make production a reality. One of their earlier announcements related to engaging SR20 and SR22 manufacturer Cirrus Design to do component assembly.
Someone remarked to me recently that LSA seaplanes seem to be the topic of the week or month (or however often you check in to see). Indeed, as we approach the tenth anniversary of Sport Pilot / Light-Sport Aircraft, we can reflect with pride upon more than 130 models making their way to market. True, not all have proven successes in the market place but having choice is always good for customers even if they finally select from a limited number of brands to occupy their hangar. Therefore, thanks to all those entrepreneurial designers that brought new airplanes to the sky. Now, in the closing months of LSA’s first decade, a new focus appears turned to amphibious Light-Sport machines, with more than 20 vying for our attention. As always some are doing a better job of capturing mindshare than others. In this article I’ll talk about two from nearly opposite ends of the new spectrum.
If you traveled to Oshkosh for AirVenture 2013, you got to see a lot of airplanes and other aviation gear. EAA reported a very substantial crowd of more than 500,000 attended. As this might translate to 150-200,000 pilots, the big figure nonetheless means that more than 400,000 American pilots did not go to AirVenture. That majority of flying enthusiasts missed a lot but recently Icon Aircraft sent out news about their X-Ray View of their Light-Sport entry. This impressive display was shown in their big tent and many examined the details. If you missed AirVenture 2013, we’re happy to show you a little of what you missed. Icon circulated photos of what the company informally terms its “three-dimensional CAD drawing” of the company’s A5 amphibious Light Sport Aircraft (LSA). “The full-scale 3D model employs automotive vinyl wrap technology,” explained Icon, “printed with an adapted projection of the Computer Aided Design (CAD) virtual model depicting the location and layout of key structures and systems of the aircraft, which provides an unprecedented level of technical detail about the production A5.” If you’ve been wondering what’s under the skin of the handsome LSA amphib, the special graphics were very helpful.