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 .
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.