MVP Aero's Amphib

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Historyís most successful entrepreneurs are often said to be people who invent things people didnít know they wanted. MVP Aero apparently figures thereís a burning interest for a combination flying fishing boat, RV and light sport aircraft and thatís exactly what they introduced at AirVenture on Sunday afternoon, the day ahead of official opening day.

Basically, the MVP is a flying boat that cleverly transforms itself via folding panels, wings and other dual-purpose structures into an all-purpose recreational vehicle. Itís powered by a Rotax 912 and has typical LSA performance, plus some interesting features like thrusters to assist with docking, something thatís always a challenge for amphib pilots.

Is this thing for real? I have to give MVP props for creativity and boldness. Weíve never seen anything quite like this in aircraft design, much less in the light sport segment. But its success assumes several things that Iím not certain are true. Developer Darrell Lynd told us he has owned several light sports, including amphibs, and has a taste for fishing, backcountry flying and camping. But are there enough potential like-minded buyers out there that have the same interests and who are willing and able to spend $189,000 for an airplane to scratch the itch? Frankly, I doubt it. At the press conference, they were already suggesting volume in the hundreds and if LSA has proven anything, itís that the market just wonít support that kind of volume. Multiple dozens Iíd believe. (See a video on the MVP here.)

Interestingly, there were a few folks from Icon hovering around the MVP announcement on Sunday, as well they should. The MVP goes right at the Icon A5, which pitches itself as the glam rock star of LSAs with claims of hundreds of orders on the books. Theyíve been plugging away since 2008 yet thereís still no production airplane. Maybe my hard crust of cynicism is showing here, but Iím not feeling the magic for amphibs selling in the thousands simply because landing on the water is the most fun you can have with your clothes on. Ultimately, my guess is both the Icon and the MVP are going to be just two more examples of nice-looking LSAs with unique features that sell some copies but are unlikely to make a dent in the universe. Iíd love to be proven wrong. In either case, both companies need to bring it. The world tires of all talk and no airplanes.

One thing the company should do is focus its marketing and explanation on what this thing is and what it can do. The press conference was so poorly presented that I noticed people were walking out before the company got to the specifics. In the digital age, tolerance for window dressing has sunk to about zero. If youíre explaining new products to journalists, get rapidly to the point and make it succinct and compelling. Nobody has time to sit through an endless drone.

Beach Landing

Sad news from my home airport, Venice, Florida, where a pilot put an Archer on the beach after an engine failure. The pilot and passenger were unhurt, but one person on the beach was killed and another seriously injured.

I donít know the particulars, so I canít second guess the pilot. But Iíve flown over and along those beaches so many times that Iím always looking closely to see where I could put the Cub if the engine ever quit. Sometimes the beaches are deserted, sometimes not.

Itís worth a reminder that if a beach landing is the only choice, but the beach is populated, we owe it to anyone on that beach to take the water instead. Water touchdowns are imminently survivable and insurance companies can replace airplanes. They canít replace people.

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Read others' comments and add your own.

Comments (10)

I've been a fan of the Icon 5 since its inception because of its compelling design and purpose--fun. Unlike that ridiculous flying car with its awful design and silly purpose--avoiding a cab ride from the airport. But, realistically, the primary use of these recreational amphibs will involve a lot of low altitude maneuvering and lots of takeoff and landings (giving rides) which strikes me as dangerous.

Posted by: Thomas Reilly | July 28, 2014 7:54 AM    Report this comment

"It's worth a reminder that if a beach landing is the only choice, but the beach is populated, we owe it to anyone on that beach to take the water instead. Water touchdowns are imminently survivable and insurance companies can replace airplanes. They can't replace people."

That pretty much sums up my thoughts as well, when I first learned about this.

Is it just me, or have there been more GA accidents than usual in the last few months? Maybe more of them are just taking place near to me that I'm hearing about them...

Posted by: Gary Baluha | July 28, 2014 8:54 AM    Report this comment

Paul, agree about the beach/water choice if populated. I couldn't live with myself if I did survive and they didn't.

Have you noticed, however, that when a GA plane augurs in somewhere the TV news crew usually says something like "The pilot crashed here because they were avoiding an elementary school two blocks away, etc." Could have been, but I think they give us way too much credit.

Posted by: A Richie | July 28, 2014 10:40 AM    Report this comment

Beach landing tragedy. When I first read about this my first thought was that I would have taken the water rather than hurting beach goers. I like to think that as pilots our responsibilities include avoiding others, protecting ourselves and keeping away from other people's things and then maybe minimize damage to aircraft. Perhaps the pilot did not see them as it is a high stress situation, things happen fast and in tight quarters with limited outside visibility. Only the pilot can tell what options existed, I understand this. I pity the pilot and I feel great sorrow for the victims on the beach.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | July 28, 2014 10:56 AM    Report this comment

RE: Beach Landing.

I am heartened to read that other commenters are not automatically laying blame on the pilot of this airplane for this tragedy.

For me if there were even a chance there were people on the beach the water would have been obvious. But none of us (including me) were in the plane at the time of the incident and don't know why he didn't take the water.

Both the pilot and his passenger now have a lifetime to think about it.

Posted by: Ronald Harger | July 28, 2014 11:33 AM    Report this comment

Time for horns on airplanes...... a really loud klaxon.

Posted by: John Langenheim | July 28, 2014 12:33 PM    Report this comment

The pilot could have been acquaphobic, unable to swim or like the vast majority of pilots; completely devoid of experience with landing on/in the water and terrified of the idea. I can also envision thinking someone swimming reasonably near the beach is more difficult to see and avoid than someone out on the beach.

Posted by: William Grant | July 28, 2014 1:14 PM    Report this comment

Hard to comment on exactly what happened in this case. I would have gone for the water.
Early in my flight training my CFI was teaching me about the "impossible turn". About 1/8 of a mile just to the right of center on one of the runways was a school, beyond that a residential area and town.
We were up about 300 feet or so and he asked me what would I do if I lost power right then.
I replied, "turn back towards the airport".
"Wrong" he replied.
"No, I know I won't make it, but at least I won't take anyone else with me on the ground."

Posted by: Jeff Grigg | July 28, 2014 1:53 PM    Report this comment

It is true that we don't know the mind of the accident pilot, but we must remember that whenever we fly we accept that the risks and possible consequences of our flight are ours and ours alone. The people on the ground do not share in our choice to fly, and we must bear the brunt of any mishap in its entirety, doing whatever is possible to spare those on the ground from any harm. If the accident pilot was in fact phobic of water or unable to swim, he must then either ensure that the entire route of flight avoids any possibility of a water landing or otherwise accept that he could possibly drown should an emergency landing become imminent. We can no more place our fears of drowning (or falling, burning, crashing...) above our responsibility to ensure the safety of those not participating in our flights than we can justify our cowering behind children during a bank robbery because of our fear of being struck by bullets. If we cannot accept the harsh realities of our responsibilities as pilots then we should not accept the controls of the aircraft. When life gives you lemons, you should try to make lemonade, but sometimes the result is just squashed lemons. I know that this response seems unyielding in its tenor, but these words are much more forgiving that the events visited upon that young family walking on a sunny Florida beach last Sunday. The 9 year old girl has since died from her injuries.

Posted by: CLARK PITTMAN | July 29, 2014 3:34 PM    Report this comment

Quite a jarring juxtaposition of subjects on this posting!

Have to agree with Paul, the MVP Aero offering hardly seems like a breakout winner. Let's face it, airplanes simply don't lend themselves to multi-role design. A combo LSA/BBQ probably won't do a very good job at either task.

As for the tragic beach landing, Rafael Serra pretty well nailed it. We weren't there, so armchair evaluation of the might-have-been options is pointless. Chalk it up to $*&^ happens.

Posted by: John Wilson | July 29, 2014 11:01 PM    Report this comment

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