Monday, May 8, 2017

Icon A5, N184BA, registered to a private individual and operated by Icon Aircraft Inc: Fatal accident occurred May 08, 2017 in Lake Berryessa, California

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident. 

Additional Participating Entity:  
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Sacramento, California 

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board: 

NTSB Identification: WPR17FA101
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, May 08, 2017 in Lake Berryessa, CA
Aircraft: ICON AIRCRAFT INC A5, registration: N184BA
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On May 8, 2017, about 0908 Pacific daylight time, an amphibious light sport Icon Aircraft Inc. A5, N184BA, impacted terrain while maneuvering near Lake Berryessa, California. The commercial pilot and passenger were fatally injured, and the airplane sustained substantial damage. The airplane was registered to a private individual and operated by Icon Aircraft Inc., Vacaville, California, as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 business flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed near the accident site about the time of the accident and no flight plan was filed. The local flight originated from the Nut Tree Airport (VCB), Vacaville, California, at 0852.

Representatives from Icon Aircraft reported that the pilot was conducting a new employee familiarization flight with the passenger, who was recently hired by the company. A witness, who was in a boat on Lake Berryessa, reported observing the accident airplane flying over the lake about 30 to 50 feet above the water, at what seemed to be a low speed. The witness stated that the airplane passed by their position and entered a nearby cove, traveling in a northerly direction. The witness heard the engine "rev up" as the airplane drifted to the right side of the cove. Subsequently, the airplane pitched upward and entered a left turn, just before it traveled beyond the witness's field if view. The witness stated that he heard the sound of impact shortly after losing visual site of the airplane.

Examination of the accident site revealed that the airplane impacted terrain and came to rest upright in the northern area of Little Portuguese Canyon on Lake Berryessa. All major structural components of the airplane were located at the accident site. The fuselage, right wing, and a portion of the empennage were located on the shoreline along a steep embankment, and the outboard portion of the left wing and left side of the empennage were partially submerged in water. 

The wreckage was recovered to a secure location for further examination.

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email

LAKE BERRYESSA — Two Vacaville aircraft company employees died Monday morning after their amphibious plane crashed onto the shore of Lake Berryessa, the Napa County Sheriff’s Office reported.

The crash occurred shortly after 9 a.m. next to Little Portuguese Cove at the eastern end of Lake Berryessa between Pleasure Cove Marina and Markley Cove Resort.

Jon Murray Karkow, 55, was the pilot and Cagri Sever, 41, was his passenger. Both are employees of ICON Aircraft, at 2141 ICON Way in Vacaville.

“We have no details on the cause of the accident right now,” ICON CEO Kirk Hawkins said in a written statement.

“This was a devastating personal loss for many of us,” Hawkins said. “The thoughts and prayers of our entire organization are with the families of both people onboard. They were both truly amazing individuals.”

ICON will be working closely with the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration “to fully support their investigation,” said Hawkins.

According to Napa County Sheriff’s Capt. Steve Blower, Karkow was most recently living in Vacaville, having moved up from Tehachapi. Sever came to Vacaville from Ann Arbor, Michigan about a week ago.

The bodies of the two men were taken to the Napa County Coroner’s facility, said Blower. A forensic exam will be completed by the coroner’s office this week.

The plane that crashed was a two-seat, single-engine ICON A5 Amphibious Light Sport Aircraft. Icon A5’s have been a common sight flying over the Lake Berryessa area recently, said Blower.

In mid-April, one ICON customer even used an ICON aircraft to arrange for a marriage proposal to take place after landing at the lake.

Such amphibious light-sport aircraft can land on land or water, officials said. This is a concept plane that is beginning limited production at an assembly facility in Vacaville. According to the Icon website, the price for the plane is listed as $189,000.

This isn’t the first ICON crash. During flight operations in Miami on April 1, an ICON aircraft experienced “an extremely hard landing” that resulted in hull damage that caused the aircraft to take on water. Both the pilot and passenger were uninjured. Initial information suggested pilot error, said the company.

The Sheriff’s Office set up a command post at Pleasure Cove Marina. The crash site was inaccessible by land, so deputies and other agencies were using boats to get to the crash scene. Efforts to recover the aircraft were still underway on Monday afternoon.

The FAA sent an investigator to the crash scene. Shortly before noon, the FAA said it had completed its preliminary investigation and cleared the bodies for removal.

Just before the crash, it was 65 degrees at the lake, sunny and with northeast winds of 2 mph, according to Weather Underground.

Both the FAA and the NTSB will investigate the crash, FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said.

Officials from Cal Fire and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation were among those who responded to the mid-morning tragedy.

This was second plane crash in nine days at Lake Berryessa. On April 30, two passengers received minor injuries when they accidentally crashed a pontoon plane into the lake while practicing touch-and-go landings on the water.

The plane, a 2003 Glasstar experimental floatplane, was towed upside-down to shore.

Original article can be found here:

Jon Karkow and Cagri Sever

Cagri Sever
August 12, 1975 - May 8, 2017

Obituary for Cagri Sever

Cagri was a great and a very original person with a sense of humor and embraced life all that it had to offer. He was respectful, trustworthy and caressing. He was a problem solver, a wonderful bright engineer, and inspiring leader that encouraged everybody to be a better version of themselves. He was a loving father of two beautiful boys, a wonderful husband and a perfect son. His biggest hobby was exploring the unknown, the new and figuring them out and the explaining to others. He always had a sweet smile on his face when he faced obstacles and never gave up. It is such a big loss. Our belief in his two sweet boys that they will become great men as their father is easing our pain. Now we say goodbye to him with a sweet smile like his and a promise…. 

Read more here:

Jon Murray Karkow 

Jon Murray Karkow, a legendary test pilot and aeronautical engineer and son of Kirsty and Edward Karkow of Waldoboro, died on May 9 in a light sport aircraft accident on Lake Berryessa, Napa County, Calif.

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Jon lived for a few years in nearby Hudson, Ohio, before moving with his family to Glen Arm, Md. He had an interest in aircraft design from an early age. While in high school he built a working small-scale replica of an historical wind tunnel. He also assembled and flew a single-place ultra-light aircraft. Following plans and methods of California designer, Burt Rutan, he built two editions of a Quickie aircraft incorporating a foam core shaped with hot-wire and a skin of epoxy-impregnated fiberglass. The laminate of the first was judged to be too heavy and surface finish too rough. The second was built using the latest technology. Among other things, a vacuum pump was used to shrink plastic sheeting over wet epoxy fiberglass matting while it cured. This was the Smithsonian Museum edition. Jon was a perfectionist. At the age of thirteen he took a summer off to help his father deliver a sailboat back from the Azores to the Chesapeake Bay.

He earned bachelor’s degree in physics from Kenyon College in 1984 and in aeronautical engineering degree from RPI in 1985. Spurning early job offers from commercial aircraft manufacturers, he accepted a position at Scaled Composites in Mojave, Calif., where he led the development of more than 22 aircraft designs. Jon’s expertise in airfoil design led to his work on a 107-foot tall wing-sail, a carbon fiber laminate over honeycomb. This sail was used with stunning success by the catamaran Stars & Stripes in winning back the America’s Cup from New Zealand in 1988. He also achieved a degree of fame for perfecting the aerodynamics, structure, and systems, and test-flying the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer. Guided by radio technical support from Jon, Steve Fossett flew this plane twice around the world, achieving multiple world records in the process. For this effort Jon received an Aeronautics Laureate award from Aviation Week & Space Technology in 2006. Before leaving Scaled to move on to Icon Aircraft, Jon worked on SpaceShip Two, the spacecraft that was being developed for Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic.

Icon Aircraft A5 is an amphibious light sport aircraft that, after a development period of about 10 years, is just now going into mass production. Jon, the company’s leading aeronautical engineer, was responsible for the configuration of the plane’s special wing and under water surfaces and other design features. The aircraft’s unique spin- and stall-resistant design enabled the A5 to be the first plane ever to be certified by the FAA as spin resistant. Jon took a few days off from Icon in 2011 to perform the first flight of an all-electric single-seat aircraft in Augsburg. Germany. After a successful flight, Jon briefed the German test pilot on characteristics to look for in subsequent flights and landings.

Jon is survived by his father, Edward, and Kirsty Karkow, both of Waldoboro; daughter, Karen Karkow of Oxford, N.C.; uncle, Richard Karkow, of Wayzata, Minn.; cousins, Cathy Karkov of Leeds, England; and Douglas Karkow of Reno, Nev.

There are no services planned at this time.

Original article can be found here:

NAPA COUNTY (KGO) --  Investigators need the public's help to determine what went wrong moments before a plane crashed at Lake Berryessa. The Icon plane hit the market less than two years ago.

ICON aircraft created a lot of buzz in the aviation industry when it debuted the A5, which is part boat, all airplane but clearly, Monday's crash is a setback for the Vacaville-based start-up.

NTSB investigators say their first priority is to get the ICON A5 to a secure location.

The aircraft was only in the air for 20 minutes before it crashed in a remote section of Lake Berryessa.

Inside were two ICON employees who died in the crash -- the 55-year-old pilot Jon Karkow and his passenger 41-year-old Cagri Sever.

"We don't have any known witnesses at this point in time to the accident sequence itself," said NTSB investigator Joshua Cawthra. "We are looking for witnesses."

In a statement, Icon CEO, Kirk Hawkins said in part: This was a devastating personal loss for many of us... the thoughts and prayers of our entire organization are with the families of both people on board, they were truly amazing individuals.

The A5, an amphibious, single-engine, two-seater sells for as much as $257,000.

ABC7 spoke to Hawkins last year. "Most airplanes are designed to haul things from A to B, and the pilot and the experience is an afterthought. The human experience and the pilot is the first thing that we think about."

Industry experts say while the crash is no doubt a setback for the company, Icon has been applauded for introducing an innovative aircraft to the market.

"In that regard, it has been exciting especially for those who want to see more light sport aircraft," said ABC Aviation Analyst John Nance.

As for the investigation, the NTSB says a preliminary report should be released in the next five business days.

Story and video:

NAPA COUNTY, Calif. (KCRA) — Two men were killed when a small plane crashed Monday morning along the shore of Lake Berryessa in Napa County, according to the Napa County Sheriff's Office.

The bodies of pilot Jon Murray Karkow, 55, and passenger Cagri Sever, 41, were found at the crash scene and taken to the coroner's office, the sheriff's office said. Both men were employees of Vacaville-based ICON Aircraft, the manufacturer of the plane they died in.

The Icon A5 went down sometime before 9:30 a.m. near Pleasure Point on the south end of the lake, near Wragg Canyon, an FAA spokesperson said.

A fisherman first reported the crash, which is the company's first fatal crash involving the A5.

The plane has a top speed of 109 miles per hour, carries a parachute and is designed to touch down and take off on both land and water.

"Icom A5’s have been a common sight flying over the Lake Berryessa area recently," the sheriff's office said in a news release.

Deputies set up a command post nearby so they could reach the remote area where the plane crashed.

“The crash site is inaccessible from land roadways, so our deputies are using boats to get to the crash scene and deal with it,” Napa County sheriff's Capt. Steve Blower said.

Officials are still working to recover the plane from the crash scene.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash.

ICON CEO Kirk Hawkins released a statement following the crash.

"“It is with great sadness that I write this. Earlier today, two ICON Employees were killed in an A5 accident while flying at Lake Berryessa, (California) ...This was a devastating personal loss for many of us."

"The thoughts and prayers of our entire organization are with the families of both people onboard, they were both truly amazing individuals,” Hawkins also said in the statement.

Story and video:

Two Vacaville men were killed Monday morning when their light-sport aircraft crashed into the eastern end of Lake Berryessa at Little Portuguese Cove, authorities said.

The ICON A5 Amphibious Light Sport Aircraft crashed shortly after 9 a.m. between Pleasure Cove Marina and Markley Cove Resort, said Napa County Sheriff’s Capt. Steve Blower. The two were confirmed dead at the scene by emergency personnel.

Jon Murray Karkow, the 55-year-old pilot, and Cagri Sever, the 41-year-old passenger, were killed in the crash. Both were employees of ICON Aircraft in Vacaville.

The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board officials were en route to the scene to recover the aircraft and investigate the cause of the crash. In a statement, Blower said the A5 has “been a common sight flying over the Lake Berryessa area recently.”

ICON had focused on the emerging light-sport aircraft market with the A5, an aircraft that retails for less than $200,000 and has been touted as “an almost affordable personal plane.”

Last year, the privately held company slowed down its production of the A5 from 175 planes to 20, with CEO Kirk Hawkins blaming an “overly aggressive production schedule” for the delay, which also resulted in layoffs. It also announced a “significant infusion” of new capital into the company.

“This was a devastating personal loss for many of us,” Hawkins said in a statement. “The thoughts and prayers of our entire organization are with the families of both people onboard, they were both truly amazing individuals.”

Original article can be found here:

NAPA COUNTY (KGO) --  Two people are dead after a small plane crashed in a Napa County lake.

The scene was so remote, crews could only access it by boat. The plane crashed just after 9 a.m. Monday near Lake Berryessa.

The NTSB and FAA as well as the Napa County sheriffs have been investigating. The plane that crashed was a special amphibious plane that's made nearby in Vacaville.

The victims have been identified as 55-year-old Jon Murray Karkow, the pilot in command of the aircraft, and 41-year-old Cagri Sever, who was a passenger. Both are employees of ICON Aircraft.

The ICON A5 crashed under circumstances officials have not determined yet. Officials believe the aircraft was only airborne for about 20 minutes before it crashed.

Lake Berryessa is used as an ICON training ground for planes that can take off and land both on water and land. A sheriff's department describes the moment when they got the call Monday morning and discovered there were two people inside. "We got the call that there was a plane crash, we sent everybody of course. CHP actually sent their helicopter off and I believe they lowered someone into the scene and then he checked them both out, declared them both dead at the scene," he said.

Below is a statement from ICON Aircraft CEO Kirk Hawkins:

"It is with great sadness that I write this. Earlier today, two ICON Employees were killed in an A5 accident while flying at Lake Berryessa, CA. We have no details on the cause of the accident right now and the names of the victims have not been released publicly. The NTSB and FAA have been notified and ICON will be working closely with them to fully support their investigation.

This was a devastating personal loss for many of us. Once arrangements have been made with all the families involved we will let you know more. Please hold your calls and requests for a brief period while we work through this tragic event with the family members and employees. The thoughts and prayers of our entire organization are with the families of both people onboard, they were both truly amazing individuals."

The investigation continues into why this happened after just a short 20-minute flight.

Story and video:


Jesse said...

I'm surprised Icon PR hasn't blamed the pilot yet...

Kevin Tinto said...

Right. That was the first thing I was expecting. Pilot error...again. Then NSA like secrecy. I think this is the nail in the coffin for the ICON 5. 40% of the buyers had never flown a plane and had been sold this was basically a flying pussycat that couldn't crash. Welcome to Aviation. The first I learned when flying Hang Gliders back in the day: "Don't fly any higher than you're willing to fall." There's nothing lethal-proof in aviation.

Kevin Tinto said...

I posted the article on Facebook. It will be interesting to see in the ICON administrators allow it, or spike it in an attempt to cover it up.

Anonymous said...

Jessie and Kevin, let me see if I've got this straight. Two people are dead, a company is left in turmoil, employees job futures are uncertain. All you can say is that there may be some kind of conspiracy theory or cover-up as to how the crash happened How about a little respect for those that have lost their loved ones and their lives!!!

Anonymous said...

Why anyone would be willing to climb into one of these, and fly it- is beyond me. Way to dangerous. Just an opinion. Risk management is what the FAA calls it. I call it stupid!

ATP/CFI SJC, CA 12K+ hours

Anonymous said...

When they're dead, they're dead. What happens to their business, however, will be whatever they planned for. If they have no business plan, succession planning within that structure, it can be chaos for their business associates and the business itself. Will they be remembered fondly?

Kevin Tinto said...

This is a place to review aircraft accidents. Cold as that may seem, the purpose of reviewing said crashes, is to prevent me personally, and those I know, from suffering same/similar fate. With all due respect, f### O## to the ICON PR person, who apparently continues coming in here anonymously, regarding this accident, flaming those who comment, and then have their comments deleted by the administrators.

That said, from the apparent trajectory, this was a vertical descent, right into the ground/beach. Given the experience, of Chief Engineer and test pilot, JK, it seems less likely this was pilot error, and perhaps something else.

Martin Haisman said...

It's a sad loss of life however best leave it to the investigators for wreckage examination, weather, pathology etc. It is never a good idea to summarise from limited photos as to causes as was the previous "non injury" Icon A5 accident. What is interesting is both accidents were company pilots most experienced on the A5.

Anonymous said...

2 Icon accidents in 1 month. Hmmmm.....
"Jessie and Kevin, let me see if I've got this straight. Two people are dead, a company is left in turmoil, employees job futures are uncertain. All you can say is that there may be some kind of conspiracy theory or cover-up as to how the crash happened How about a little respect for those that have lost their loved ones and their lives!!!"

Jesse said...

I mean no disrespect to the deceased, and especially their loved ones. But let's be clear...a test pilot died testing an experimental category aircraft. His reputation and resume leave no question as to his competency. The company already had a bad rep, was far too quick to blame the previous hard landing on pilot error, and was completely tone-deaf regarding the type of reaction the general aviation community would want or expect. We are their potential customers, and a lot of us are turned off. I'm not claiming any conspiracy, but I will say Icon only has themselves to blame for the company's fate.

Anonymous said...

Mr Sever was a coworker of mine in Michigan until late April when he accepted the position at Icon. May 7th he moved to that corner of the world (ahead of his wife and two young grade school children -- so they could finish school). No one anticipated his first day on the brand new job wpuld be his last.

Yes, Icon lost a lot...but so did his wife, his little ones, and all his coworkers he leaves behind here in Michigan at his former employer.

Guess we never know how precious someone is to us until they are only a memory.

Gringo Bush Pilot said...

It's heart breaking to me, as an old aviator who was taught the art by a "barnstormer" with the "seat of the pants" method of pilotage to see this tragedy unfold. Some of these early recriminations on Icon and Kirk Hawkins comments on the A5 are in the extreme.
I suggest we wait for the NTSB report to be issued At this point, it's all conjecture. A bird strike; a powerline; or a control surface failure - we will see. All those who love aviation wish Icon success. Especially since two neat guys gave their lives in the development of this new and typically American adventure.

Anonymous said...

In the photos of the wreck you can see what appears to be a wire snagged on the tail and right wing. There is a charted high tension wire very near that location as described in the news report. In a satellite image you can see the wires, towers and the red balls on the wires where they cross the lake. A shame if they hit the wires, for all parties involved.

Anonymous said...

Well, did PG&E respond to a "down electrical power line/wire"? If so, there is your answer. And, if this is the case, it would be considered "pilot error". And that my friends, is very hard to take!

thinwing said...

Those are two rope lines emergency responders used to secure the wreckage

Charlie said...

After 10 years with the "hottest thing in aviation" and no deliveries... it's expected to lose goodwill and the benefit of doubt. Sure, there will be a few loyal stragglers defending to the very end. But people were already starting to walk to the exits before this incident. Now the pace has accelerated.

Anonymous said...

Could someone post the Lat / Long of the crash site.

Anonymous said...

38.533348, -122.132751

Google earth shows no power lines. It is a dead end canyon that narrows at termination. A little error in timing would make the escape turn impossible.

Anonymous said...

Can you theoritcally make it out of that canyon If you are flying up Portugese at 50 feet? looking at the topo you have 1,000 feet vertical on both sides, did they mistake that cove for another one? Why would you fly up that at a such a low altitude without the intention of landing in the cove? Possible go-around gone wrong?

Anonymous said...

The weird thing is the aircraft was so near the water, unless it slid all the way down that hill, you'd think they'd at least crashed very near the top of the hill.

Freedom Flyer said... been a Pilot for 50 years and all the ads for Icon sell the romance of Flat Hating, probably the most fun and most dangerous type a flaying experience. Pilots have killed themselves for over 100 years with this kind of behavior and this tragic accident was just another example of this, but totally avoidable.
See below from the US Navy Training manual circa 1944.

Flat-Hatting Sense. Flat-Hatting is a form of flying that discourages longevity. Originally the term simply meant flying low needlessly. That definition has been expanded to include grandstanding, or showing off — flying foolishly and carelessly.
Flat-Hatting Sense, USN Training Manual 1944

Anonymous said...

not the old Blind Canyon Trick again!
Who is training these people!
Old, not bold, float flyer...

Zman767 said...

Very tragic accident to say the least. My heart goes out to the victim's families and friends. Despite the tragedy, which aviation is full of regarding both new and old designs, hopefully ICON and the broader public will learn more about the events leading up to this following the NTSB investigation.

I've personally flown the ICON A5 and came away very impressed with it's design and handling characteristics. However, I say this as professional pilot with tens of thousands of hours of flying experience including fighters (F-4, F-5, F-15, MiG-21, MiG-23), airliners (A320, 757, 767, 777) and plenty of GA and Warbird aircraft. That being said there is no fail safe airplane, never will be.

Flying at low altitude brings with it another dimension of risk most pilots simply have never been trained in. IMHO, if there is any single area that will impact the safety record of this aircraft it will be that arena in which it is most often photographed and marketed. Up to this point almost all of the flying in these aircraft have included highly experienced ICON instructors aboard to ensure safety. For whatever reason, even that did not prevent this tragedy. I hesitate to speculate what will happen when the broader public begins to fly these birds with minimal experience in low altitude operations.

Before I'd throw ICON and it's design under the bus one must weigh all the variables that hopefully will come to light following a thorough investigation. Great design, great airplane. The visibility and ease of handling are superb! However, fly ANY airplane below 50' for any extended period and I'd say the risks are equally, if not more, harzardous. While it's easy to speculate that it's pilot error, I'd caution against that. Could very well be. But at this time we certainly don't know.

Anonymous said...

10 years and 7 planes built. A marketing plan that consists of college girls with big boobs in tight tee shirts at air shows. Rumors of high dollar boozy company parties. Deposits of a few thousand dollars. Yearly vacations for aviation reporters to write another round of fancy stories focusing on some mundane or even stupid aspect of the "aircraft". Constant inability to design something within the class without changes from the FAA to LSA rules. There are at least a dozen LSA amphib designs out there that meet the same LSA limitations, some of which have delivered many hundreds of aircraft.

This isn't an aircraft company, this is a con job.

Different POV from a different Anon....

Stephan said...

" an old aviator who was taught the art by a "barnstormer..."

Oh, come on. I'm 81 years old and started flying when I was 13, and there was no way I could ever have flown with a barnstormer. You'd have to be 130 or so to have done that.