Top Letters And Comments, March 1, 2019


ICON’s St. Louis Demonstration Flights

The St. Louis demo flights by an Icon sales rep caused quite a stir in the local media. What was not reported by you is the aircraft was operating between two heavily trafficked bridges that are only four thousand feet apart. The bridges (over one hundred feet above the water) carry thousands of vehicles daily. If the goal of the flight was to get media attention, that certainly happened. If the goal was to build a positive image of GA, that was a failure. I have been a company demo pilot in the past and our goal was to demo the aircraft to the prospective customer—not to be on the 6 o’clock news and be portrayed in a negative way.

Many pilots believe the issue is about restricting GA access and are venting their anger at the city Fire Chief. I do not believe that to be the case here. You can make an argument for a SES access to the Arch waters that is supported by the Sea Plane Pilots Association and state regulations. However, I am not sure the organization would support the actions of this pilot. The landings in front of the Arch were likely not thoroughly vetted by the pilot. On the first day the fire department and first responders were called out after 911 calls were made about an aircraft crashing in the river. It is not ordinary for people to see seaplanes landing there. Was it reasonable for citizens to call 911? Yes. Emergency responses put lives at risk. First responders and bystanders. On the following day more 911 calls were likely made by others and the first responders got called out again.

Many people here criticized the Chief. What do citizens want him to do? He gets a 911 call for a plane going down in the river. Do we want him to ignore that call? What if it was a Parks College student in a Diamond DA 20? What if it was another Falcon like the one that ditched in the river many years ago? The first responders cannot ignore 911 calls. I am sure the first responders would agree. I enjoy the freedom to fly and really enjoy flying off the water in a Super Cub but there are laws and rules we should follow and finally there are responsibilities and courtesies we owe the public and public servants. If we stop and think how our flying actions may impact others and their perception of GA we might become better ambassadors for an activity we love dearly.

Jeff Edwards

I live in the Saint Louis Metro East and witnessed the media coverage on the local television stations. Although the coverage was somewhat fair the reporters or writers definitely lacked any knowledge pertaining to GA airspace regulations. As far as the response from the City of St. Louis it doesn’t surprise me at all. Thanks for the article.

Tom Stiles

As a pilot/owner of a Lake Amphibian for 27 years, I think the Icon pilot did exactly the right thing. Yes, the fire chief is a jerk and the law favors the pilot, but insisting on exercising your rights at all times can lead to loss of these rights if not done with consideration for other people’s concerns. Consider the voluntary noise abatement procedures in effect at many airports. You have every legal right to violate them, but the flying community supports them because it makes us good neighbors. Noisy aircraft have led to restrictions and loss of pilots’ rights. Likewise, the operation of a seaplane can be annoying to the community. Seaplane pilots have a moral and practical responsibility to minimize this annoyance as much as possible. The Seaplane Pilots Association encourages pilots to be courteous to those on the ground. Seaplane pilots are taught to make only a few landings in one spot, then move on to another section or body of water to resume their operations. This is not only a neighborly thing to do, but is in our best interest as is promotes good relations with those on the ground. Handled correctly, the issue addressed in St. Louis will be forgotten. On the other hand, an attempt by the pilot to demand his rights could lead to new laws that will diminish those rights. It has happened before in many cases. Seaplane pilots, and all other pilots as well, should constantly endeavor to minimize the annoyance that their operations may have on others. 100% insistence on maintaining the right to annoy can be hazardous to those rights.

Marc Rodstein

“This is what this plane is supposed to do,” Rief told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “It’s supposed to fly low. It’s supposed to touch down in the water. It’s for adventure flying.” It’s supposed to fly low? If this was a C185 on floats, a Lake Buccaneer, or a Bonanza flying a few feet over the water, especially the Mississippi within the city limits of St. Louis…why would that be branded as recklessness, but do it in an Icon A5 for a boat show it is now adventure flying? Eventually, during every flight, I have to get low…to land. So, in practicing for that eventuality, I will do low passes whenever and where ever I please (my particular Bonanza is not equipped with floats so all I can do is make the low pass when over water). When I get questioned about my “adventure” flying, I could set a legal precedence by explaining the folks at Icon did it in St. Louis with full law enforcement knowledge and cooperation. Since I always have a need to fly low to land…and every takeoff will be followed by a landing whether an amphib or land-based airplane…I am merely practicing for my adventure flying and eventual landing.

I understand an Icon A5 is an amphibian and to demonstrate its water capabilities one needs to fly over water and land in water. But doing this on a river, especially the fast-moving, heavily trafficked Mississippi in an urban or suburban area, with wires, boats, fishermen, etc. sends the wrong message. Not all bodies of water are equal. Nor are all bodies of water suitable for low “adventure” flying. And very few people, aviation savvy or otherwise, understand low altitude maneuvering followed with a splash as “adventure” flying. Maybe, Icon understands what all the other aircraft manufacturers have failed to grasp…and GA in general. They understand flying is an adventure. And to best demonstrate the adventure side of flying, is fly low…because that is where the adventure is. The only thing missing from this Icon demonstration is …”Hold my beer.”

Jim Holdeman


In his article “Maneuvers,” David Jack Kenny says, “a crisply executed chandelle–gaining the maximum possible altitude in a 180-degree climbing turn by reaching stall speed just as the wings return to level–might be the last best chance of escaping a blind canyon.” In response, I can but rely on my 40-plus years of aviation experience, 28 of which were as an FAA Aviation Safety Inspector (now retired). In that entire time, nobody has ever admitted to me they got caught in a blind canyon and got out of it by doing a chandelle or any other course reversal maneuver.

I have, however, investigated several accidents where someone tried to get out of a blind canyon that way, but failed. Generally, they get 120 degrees or so around the maneuver before impacting terrain. Mostly they impacted wings level in a pancake stall–the debris field confined to the outline of the airplane. I have never seen any survivors. Autopsies show blunt force trauma and aortal tears. It is, therefore, my considered opinion that the only way to get out of a blind canyon is to never get into one in the first place.

Jared Weaver

Forget 1984, 1994 Was The Bomb

I started looking at today’s edition of AvWeb, Feb 22, 2019, and meant to first read the story about Delta’s Jet engine test cell, but somehow stumbled onto the preceding article. I read a short distance, realized I had the wrong item but read a bit further. Suddenly, with a big smile, I also realized this article was by Paul Bertorelli. Without hesitation I kept reading and sure enough the writing was great and the story was great. Seems I haven’t seen as many columns by Paul recently, I hope that’s just me. His writing is right on, entertaining and full of logic, I hope he stays with you folks until we’ll recall the Garmin 1000 in a historical light.

I used all those now extinct GPS mentioned at one time or other. I also flew approaches for 6 years in an Aero Commander with a Garmin 355XL, which, if I recall, was a 155 with a radio…it worked great.

I’ve frequently commented to flight students about how Garmin took over the avionics market as Paul mentioned. This article puts the timeline in great perspective (say, isn’t that a version of the Garmin 1000 in a Cirrus).

Love your magazine and Paul Bertorelli’s wise, insightful and fun to read writing.

Ray Mansfield