Thinking of the future

March 16, 2010 by Craig Fuller

I had a great opportunity today to spend some time with ICON founder Kirk Hawkins talking about the future of general aviation. If you were at AOPA’s Aviation Summit last fall in Tampa, you may have seen Kirk talking about ICON and his commitment to light sport aviation. If you missed him live, you can still see what he had to say in the AOPA Live archives .

ICON founder Kirk Hawkins (right) is excited about what LSAs can mean for aviation.

ICON founder Kirk Hawkins (right) is excited about what LSAs can mean for aviation.

Today the ICON A5 amphibious light sport airplane is in test flights, and Kirk expects it to go into production late next year.

As excited as he is about the progress on his new plane, Kirk is even more excited about what light sport aircraft can do for GA. He talks a lot about putting the “sport” back into aviation–and argues that it’s time we pilots admit that much of our commitment to flying comes not from the transportation benefits but from the emotional high we get from piloting our own planes.

Kirk believes that the right kind of aircraft combined with the lower entry threshold of the light sport pilot certificate can revolutionize our industry. And he just might be right.

The A5 certainly has the look and feel of a sports car. And the advent of the light sport pilot certificate has made it easier and less expensive to enter the world of aviation. It’s the kind of synergistic combination that could entice plenty of enthusiasts to become active pilots.

Kirk and I talked a lot about the importance of bringing new people into flying as well as the critical importance of good training–two key elements of “engagement” that AOPA is focusing on this year and into the future.

His enthusiasm is contagious, and it’s great to see entrepreneurs like Kirk bringing new ideas to fruition in GA. We’re all working toward the same goals–protecting and promoting general aviation now and for generations to come, and it’s wonderful to hear those ideas echoing across the entire spectrum of flight.

  • Joe Marszal

    Here is the thing, guys…..until the cost of LSA aircraft drop to a point where the, “average Joe” can purchase or the LSA instructor can afford one to run a part-time instructing business, you can count on LSA flying to be a complete bust. It is pretty close that now. I was at Sebring this last event looking at LSA aircraft and I gotta tell you there is not a way to pay for a $100K plus LSA and instruct at 35.00 to 50.00 per hour. That dog don’t hunt.

    I am right now working on a LSA instructor rating after starting flying in 1970. I am going to give it a shot and see if I can make it work. As long as the FAA keeps the medical issues out of the way and fuel is reasonable, and I can find an LSA in the $50K area, and the economy does’t start stinking all over again I may make it work. I just hope I do’t run out of cash taking the tests and paying for the DPE’s.


  • Rex Slingerland

    The Icon A5 is my dream airplane but even though I own two airplanes now (Cessna 172 and Merlin experimental) selling both would not produce enough capital to buy the A5! Funny thing is that as prices go down on used aircraft (what I have to sell) prices on new and used LSA continue to rise. Now I am retired and the dream (A5) is becoming so far out of reach that even if I could find a partner I don’t think it’s possible.

  • GatorRob

    I am launching a new idea into getting funding for flight training. I am fronting the idea of 39,000 people donating a dollar to make the flight academy dream reality. If you can participate by forwarding the site, or donating a dollar..please do. I am hanging it out there and asking for help to achieve a dream.