Like a Seabee on a Diet…

Let’s hope Icon’s A5 fares better in the marketplace

Icon Aircraft

…with a nose job. The Los Angeles firm Icon just sent out a press release about certifying its new Light Sport amphibian, the A5, as spin-resistant—an admirable quality for any aircraft. But older prop-heads will do a double-take at the A5 photo: It looks like a slicked-up Republic Seabee.

Let us wish for clearer skies for the A5, which Icon put together shortly after the Federal Aviation Administration created the Sport Flying class in 2004. Airplanes in that class, and their pilots, can be up and running in much less time, and with less expense, than standard lightplanes and pilots aiming for a private license.

Seabee sales suffered from bad timing in the late 1940s, as did those of many lightplanes marketed to returning World War II pilots who supposedly would want to continue flying—in their own airplanes. Those pilots had more pressing concerns, and the lightplane market tanked. The Seabee’s reputation for being overweight and underpowered also helped sink it.

A Seabee at rest. Photo: Andrew W. Sieber

The Icon will sell for around $140,000. Ads in Trade-A-Plane are asking around $40,000 – $50,000 for a Seabee. You can swap out the 215-hp Franklin engine for a more powerful model of recent vintage, and have gas money left over.

Get the latest stories in your inbox every weekday.