With its black-curtained marquee and slick, surround-sound, Hollywood-style presentation, Icon Aircraft stood out among the ranks of recreational aircraft manufacturers at July's AirVenture show in Oshkosh. Judging by the appreciative crowds, the southern Californian start-up's light sport Icon A5 was making a big impression too.
A two-seat amphibian with a sports car-style cockpit and folding wings, powered by a Rotax 912 and rear-facing propeller, the Icon A5 looked unlike anything else at Oshkosh. The aircraft is pitched at brand-conscious urbanites keen to connect with the great outdoors - many of whom may not yet even be pilots. Icon's co-founder and chief executive Kirk Hawkins - an engineer and Stanford Business School graduate, who has also flown Lockheed Martin F-16s for the US Air Force and Boeing 767s for American Airlines - dubs his invention the "ultimate recreational vehicle", an airplane that is also a "consumer product".
The message is that the $139,000 A5 - which comes with features such as retractable landing gear, removable side windows and planing wingtips - is not just another light sport aircraft (LSA).