Today I trotted along to Santa Monica Airport close to where we are staying, to have a look at the aeroplanes and check out an airport which must in many ways be similar to Essendon Airport near Melbourne – a mixture of biz-jets, warbirds, GA and light sport aircraft. It’s also right in the heart of a built-up area, with big ‘fly quietly’ signs everywhere – something that’s a bit difficult for a Citation jet!
On the day I went, take off was towards the west, straight out over the beach. I watched quite a few aircraft coming and going, including a couple of Sport Cruisers (still branded Piper Sports) doing training circuits, and the inevitable Cessna 172s and a nice V-tail Bonanza.
After an hour or so on the sky deck viewing area I was ready to leave when a small aircraft caught my attention, taxiing out for take-off: an Icon A5. As most aviators will know, this is about the most hyped aircraft to appear in recent years and in spite of a US$200,000+ price tag, the manufacturer claims to have several hundred confirmed orders and a 3-year waiting list.
Icon went through a very long development period, including obtaining a special FAA exemption to allow them to exceed the amphibious LSA 650 kgs weight limit by about 40 kgs ‘for safety reasons’. In purely aesthetic terms, the aircraft looks beautiful – at least with the wheels up – and the cabin and instrument panel resemble an expensive sports car. Nevertheless, its weight carrying capacity is not great and the cruise is surprisingly slow for such a sleek looking aircraft – flat out, 95 knots and typically 80-85 knot cruise. But hey, look at the style! Who wants to rush when you have such an aviation icon?
The video above shows the Icon A5 departing Santa Monica. The main thing I noticed was the noise, which is typical of pusher configurations – quite loud, due to the relatively turbulent air coming round the fuselage into the prop.
If I was a millionaire, I might buy one….might.