Goose Creek native unveils folding, amphibious plane

Image by ICON AircraftImage by icon.jpg The ICON A5 is a two-seater airplane that can also go amphibious. It's expected to run for about $140,000 when it hits the market in 2010.

Goose Creek native Kirk Hawkins has introduced something new to the world of personal transportation: a two-seater plane with folding wings that is also amphibious.

The ICON A5 has been making a lot of headlines, and Hawkins, a Berkeley High graduate, hopes to deliver the first of the planes to consumers in 2010. You'd better start saving now, though, because it'll cost you about $140,000 to travel in that sort of luxury.

From The Post and Courier:

"It's very innovative. It's very impressive," said Earl Lawrence of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2008, the Wisconsin air show where a demonstration model of the plane, the ICON A5 will be showcased on the ground in its July public debut.

The plane is a beauty, with a bubble cockpit that looks like a Smart car with wings that runs on gasoline.

It's a step up from ultralight flying, a for-fun personal aircraft that has safety features and requires a Federal Aviation Administration pilot's license, so it can be bought with a bank loan and insured.

"Unlike a Jet Ski, where you throw the keys at anybody," Hawkins said, the ICON A5 is serious flying.

Here's video from YouTube of the ICON A5 being unveiled:


From The Wall Street Journal:

Mr. Hawkins, 40, says Icon is "committed to bring back the romance and excitement of flying ... by selling a lifestyle." The chief executive's plan relies on relatively recent Federal Aviation Administration rules that already have certified more than 80 existing or new models of lightweight recreational aircraft.

Supporters of the company such as Vern Raburn, an Icon adviser who pioneered the production of small personal jets, are enthused about the potential. Icon is pursuing a new market and "is definitely going to use sales channels the traditional industry doesn't use," he said over the weekend.

But Mr. Raburn also acknowledged that tough safety questions loom. "They're not brushing it off; it's very much an issue that has to be dealt with."