Wednesday, May 5, 2010

ICONographic Marketing

I thought I'd share a couple interesting videos recently posted on the Icon Aircraft website.  There's a multimedia gallery of high-profile, appealing eye candy, including YouTube videos chronicling various aspects of the ongoing test program for the company's A5 amphibian S-LSA.
Two I found particularly interesting: a stall sequence and a potpourri of recent flight test ops.
First, the stall sequence shows the classic tufted airflow indicators taped to the wing to demonstrate inflight stall progression from the root outward.
Watch the tufts near the root begin to wiggle and change direction first, demonstrating loss of lift.  Then see the stall move outward from the root and along the trailing edge.  To my eye, it seems like the middle of the wing completely stalls before the root.  I'd like to know about the aerodynamic significance of that, and why the wing doesn't stall more classically at the root first.
Also notice how the flaps appear to be taped at the inboard seam, which would seem to prevent deployment from 0 degrees.
Whatever it all means, it's fascinating to watch aerodynamic design theory demonstrated so dramatically!

The other video is a series of short in-flight clips of water/land-launching capabilities, water taxiing versatility and in-flight maneuvers, both from a photo plane and from the ground.

I watched the Icon go through its paces at the Oshkosh Seaplane Base last summer (along with hundreds of other folks) and was particularly impressed with the nimble, smooth handling and sexy inflight look of the amphib.
In sync with the company's marketing approach for the Icon - "Jetski For The Sky!" - the flight video shows a couple (wingless) jetskis in formation on the water with the A5.  Very cool, very smart - but nothing this company has done so far seems remotely second class.

Case in point: Demonstrating how well-connected, sophisticated and well-funded this company's principals are, an Icon mockup is on display at John F. Kennedy Airport in NYC to celebrate Jet Blue Airline's 10th anniversary!
Icon continues to refine the bird toward ever-more-benign (translate: fun and safe for new pilots) handling that should greatly aid its push to attract watersport/non-pilot types to its market segment.
High speed water taxi testing continues along with ocean operations, such as challenging entry/exit tests near Long Beach, CA.
Everything seems on track to deliver the bird by 3rd Quarter 2011...hey, that's next year!  Can't wait for a demo myself.  Maybe I can get my LSA water rating in an Icon: wouldn't that be a trip?

   ---photo and videos courtesy Icon Aircraft

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