VACAVILLE (KPIX) — Tapping into your inner pilot, a Northern California company is creating a small plane that just about anyone can fly.
When aviation first began they seemed to have a lot of fun, but these days it’s become routine.
But at a factory in Vacaville, that’s all about to change.
ICON Aircraft founder and CEO Kirk Hawkins said, “We want to give you a vehicle that you can go out and explore the planet and go have fun with your friends.”
Welcome to ICON Aircraft, where they’re creating the next generation of consumer flying machines.
It’s A-5 airplane is designed to focus on the journey rather than the destination. It’s a two-seater with windows that pop out and a control stick, just like a fighter jet.
And they say its technology makes it a lot safer and more intuitive for those just learning to fly.
Ryan Boysen is training for his light sport pilot’s license and said, “Played a lot of video games when I was younger, so I kind of picked up pretty quickly in the air…”
This whole thing began back in 2004 when the FAA created a new category of flying called light sport.
Qualifying for a license takes about half the time because light sport pilots can’t fly at night or in controlled air spaces.
But most won’t care because the A-5 has one more irresistible feature: it’s amphibious. The plane can take off or land on lakes and then becomes a giant watercraft with wings.
And because those wings fold back, it can be towed from home to the lake and launched just like a boat.
But ICON’s founder says it is in the air that the imagination really takes flight.
“There’s something about flying that’s a uniquely human aspirational thing about freedom and fun and adventure,” Hawkins said.
So far they’ve only built 20 planes used for training and marketing, but soon the assembly line will kick into high gear and the factory will begin producing the first aircraft that just about anybody can fly.
“It’s not The Jetsons yet…but if there’s a segue that gets us there, this is the beginning of it,” Hawkins said.
It will be an expensive toy, costing between $200,000 and $300,000.
But the company already has orders for 1,800 aircraft. They say most are from people who do not have any flight training at all.