Friday, April 20, 2018

It’s a Thing: Flying a Plane Without a Pilot's License

San Diego Magazine Publisher Jim Fitzpatrick got to fly an ICON A5 around San Diego.

By Erin Meanley Glenny 
This morning, our CEO & Publisher, Jim Fitzpatrick, flew a two-seater “sport” airplane around San Diego County. It’s called an ICON A5, and the “sport aircraft” term means the person flying doesn't need a real pilot's license. You only need 20 hours of training in the air—plus $269,000—in order to buy and fly one of these things. 

It’s tiny! The ICON A5 folds up and fits on a trailer. It only goes 100 mph but you can fly for 45 minutes (427 nm).

Jim was in the Air Force, so he has 3,000 hours under his belt, and was allowed to fly. He took off this morning from Montgomery. They actually landed in the bay, and took off again from the bay. He had never flown a sea plane, but he did this on his first time!

A few years ago, we did all these stories on drones or unmanned aerial vehicles, and we wondered what the sky might start to look like if they were to proliferate. So far, not a lot of drones buzzing around. But now there’s another category of civilian aircraft that might fill our skies. For now, the price tag will keep the numbers down. Still, I was surprised to hear that just about anyone could get in a plane and navigate our airspace. San Diego has a lot of restrictions, partly because of the military. Jim said it was all digital on a screen—where he could and could not go.

Is it safe? A quick Google search reveals a few crashes in the U.S. Personally, I don't have the guts to fly in anything that small. So I sent my boss. Sport flying: it’s a thing.

Original article ➤

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