Icon A5 Carbon Fiber Amphibious Airplane: A Revolution In Flying

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Icon logoAs far back as the late 15th century with Leonardo da Vinci until present time, man has been fascinated with flight, myself included. Once the Wright Brothers had successfully completed their first flight in 1903, man has ever since been trying to perfect the airplane, making them faster, larger, and more luxurious.

The Federal Aviation Administration, FAA, established in 1926 by President Calvin Coolidge, was created to regulate and oversee all aspects of civil aviation in the U.S. The FAA sets strict rules about the type of airplanes permitted to fly over our skies. In 2004, they ruled and established a new Light Sport Aircraft category. This class, along with an easier-to-obtain Sport Pilot License, simplified the process for private individuals to take to the skies. The new certification requires just 20 hours of flight training and costs around $3,000-$4,500. The planes in this category can only carry two occupants, must fly below 10,000 feet and cannot exceed 120 knots, or approximately 140 miles per hour.

Founder and CEO of ICON, Kirk Hawkins, a former U.S. Air Force F-16 pilot, had a vision back in 2004 while he was a graduate student at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, to create an airplane that was as consumer friendly as BMW or Apple. For the past three or so years, Hawkins, along with fellow graduate student and former IDEO design engineer, Steen Strand, have been diligently erecting their creation ever since.

Icon A5

Hawkins received backing from IDEO founder David Kelley, CEO and founder of Eclipse Aviation, Vern Raburn, and Jim Ellis, lecturer from Stanford. Unfortunately, ICON will not disclose how much financing it raised for this project.

On June 11th, Hawkins unveiled the prototype, the A5. At 22 ft. long, roughly the length of two compact cars back-to-back, it seats two and has a 100hp Rotax 912 ULS engine that can achieve an estimated maximum speed of 105 knots (120 mph). There are a few extras that Hawkins included to make this airplane truly stand out from the crowd. For starters, it is a composite of carbon fiber, aiding the plane in being as light as it is and as light as the FAA requires. A 46 inch cockpit that looks more like a sport car dashboard than the usual airplane cockpit. This one a feature that Hawkins was adamant about, making the A5 consumer friendly.

Icon A5 interior

The A5 also features optional retractable landing gear, allowing it to land and take off from both land and water.

Icon A5 being docked

As if all those extra were not enough, the A5’s most appealing feature has to be its folding wings. The wings, which span 34 ft., can fold manually or automatically and tuck neatly under the plane’s slim rear tail. This standout element allows the A5 to be towed behind your vehicle the same way you would your speedboat and allows you to store it at home rather than paying for storage place at an airport.

Icon A5 being towed

With all these amazing extra features, you would think the A5 would have to skimp somewhere, but it does not. Especially where it really counts, safety. The A5 includes a rocket-launched Complete Airplane Parachute (ICAP) stowed in the roof section, a low stall speed, patent-pending Propeller Guard, Wing Angel of Attack indicator, integral headlights and a GPS moving map system that informs the pilot of local terrain and weather in real-time.

Icon A5 parachute

After all this, I was thinking this baby would be at least half a million bucks, so I was pleasantly surprised to learn that it is starting out at, and I use this term loosely, only $139,000. Of course, a few of the goodies and safety features are at an additional cost, like the ICAP, the retractable landing gear and a custom aircraft towing trailer. The only downfall that I can see is the weight limit to take off. You are allotted just 430 pounds between fuel, cargo and passengers. So that would be a 20 gallon fuel tank, two weekend bags and…? It seems that only the Olsen twins and Keira Knightly will be able to fly this bad boy.

Related Videos

Icon A5 Unveiling

See the private unveiling of the A5 aircraft:

Icon A5 First Flight

Watch as Icon Aircrafts takes the A5 on its first flight:

Related Links

Be sure to check out our carbon fiber store, where our specialty is in lifestlyle products.
  • hemagloben

    Awesome dude!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! rock on!

  • rah

    dude i’m going to go get one for me now!

  • *drool* sign me up

  • FYI, this is expected to be on the market in late 2010…they’re still in the testing process.

  • This the most exciting thing since the GT-R( Nissan Skyline) came to the United States. There is something about this aircraft. My hat is off to the designers. Hell yea ! I want one.

  • Slurp !! hook me up !

  • The site has nice and unique wordpress templates.

  • This amphibious Light Sport Aircraft will be definitely be a unique entry into the aviation market. It targets a market that enjoys reasonable prices, good looks, fun flying, and pushes it one step forward with the ability to land on water. Be that as it may, (Curb Your Enthusiasm, anyone?) the downfalls mentioned at the end of the article *could* be a game breaker for Icon’s first entry into the market. 430 lbs is not that much, especially considering some of the aftermarket options, which will undoubtedly decrease the measly allowance ever more. If Icon can provide a stronger engine option to increase this gross takeoff weight allowance, I could see myself in the potential buyers corner.

  • I’m experiencing trouble viewing your page correctlly with the latest release of Opera. It is fine in IE6 and Firefox though.

  • Gosh only $140,000 dollars. Yes I’ll only need a 15yr payment plan

  • Justin Baker

    Bloody awesome doods ,very impressed.can I sell them
    For you in Australia?My dream machine !

  • johnysmith

    May 30, 2012 – ICON Aircraft announced earlier this year that it successfully completed spin resistance testing of its A5 amphibious light-sport aircraft to FAA Part 23 standards.

  • bigred

    A two passenger craft that can only carry 230 lbs including fuel is an unreal request. seems the designers have more style than coman sense! Too bad, was actually going to buy one of these till I read the weight capacities. Maybe a longer wing creating more lift. But 2 people at 115 lbs each I havent met.