Flying a sports car with wings

Tampa, Florida (CNN) — When it concerns piloting an aircraft, I have absolutely no experience.

In reality, I have actually never ever even thought about trying it.

Nonetheless, as we swoop over Florida’s Tampa Bay on a stunning November early morning, I enthusiastically take control of the controls of the ICON A5, a two-seater amphibious airplane that appears like a cars, maneuvers like a jet ski and is so instinctive, the business states that even a beginner can find out to fly it in less than 30 hours.

At 23 feet long and weighing in a 1,510 pounds, it’s referred to as a sea light-sport airplane.

Developed to assist you concentrate on the liberty of flying without fretting if the airplane will respond unexpectedly, there’s absolutely nothing else rather like it on the marketplace.

Now that I remain in control, my entire body tenses for an excellent 5 minutes. Am I actually all set to pilot this glossy brand-new maker all by myself? I’m not totally sure.

Nevertheless, I bask in the reality that the A5 was constructed particularly for individuals like me, and it was created to drive like an automobile.

Plus, the reality that Icon’s CEO and creator, Kirk Hawkins, is beside me in the cockpit does not harmed either. He can take control of the controls at any time.

Up until now, so excellent.

We move efficiently through the air at about 1,000 feet, and I’m comfy sufficient to take in the sights. Beautiful Fort De Soto Park does not dissatisfy.

Squiggles of dreamy white dunes are surrounded by water that appears like it must remain in the Caribbean.

The Sunlight Skyway Bridge, with its series of long-covering cable televisions, is similarly outstanding.

The adrenaline is still racing. And as the majority of surreal experiences go, it simply keeps improving.

For beginners, there’s another ICON A5 to my left, which is thrilling in itself. We are flying in development, and my job is to imitate its motions. You’d believe this would be daunting, however it’s not.

It’s simply plain enjoyable.

That’s music to Hawkins’ ears. He’s the brains behind this gimmicky airplane, a concept ten years in the making.

As a previous Flying force F-16 pilot and a Stanford Company School graduate, he has actually focused the majority of his adult life on making sport flying offered to the masses.

“The idea for us was to create an airplane where the average human being can go out and experience the world without having the burden of becoming a professional pilot,” he states.

So it makes good sense that the control panel appears like what you see in your vehicle. There are just a few determines that I do not acknowledge.

“It’s the Apple approach to things,” he states. “You humanize it, and make it intuitive and easy and cool.”

He’s so positive individuals will wish to fly (and purchase) his airplanes that he simply opened a flight-training center at Peter O. Knight Airport.

Found on Davis Island, 5 minutes from downtown Tampa, it’s a location where both appeal and sailboats are plentiful.

The business’s other training center remains in Vacaville, California, where ICON is headquartered.

Wide eyes and open windows

By 9 a.m., it’s time for a quick water-landing pitstop.

Hawkins takes control of the controls. I have actually been too hectic discovering to fly in development (not something non-pilots get to attempt really frequently) and talking to Hawkins to even consider discovering to do a water landing myself. It’s something Hawkins informs me the majority of people can master in about thirty minutes.

A couple of negative-Gs and 360-degree turns later on and it ends up being an enjoyable roller-coaster trip in the sky. Plus, it’s an outdoor flight, so I sometimes tumble my arms out. Even if I can.

At a couple of hundred feet above the water, it’s simple to find a boater waving at us, a flock of pelicans and even stingrays.

“We’re gonna pull over here and stop and get out for a second,” he states.

Definitely he’s joking, right? However after landing the airplane on the water, he removes his seat belt, and I recognize he’s not.

Seconds later, he pops the roof and we climb onto the wings, which could easily double as diving boards. Suddenly, this feels less like a airplane outing and more like I’m on a boat sunbathing.

Everything is drenched in a mesmerizing golden hue. I can imagine picnicking on the beach nearby. Or taking the plane somewhere for a remote weekend camping trip.

Because the plane has a range of about 430 miles on a full tank, it’s made for short getaways.

“This entire thing is about inspiring people,” he explains. “Once you learn to fly, you will never be the same. You will look at the sky different, you will look at the planet different.”

Designed to make flying simple

“The primary motor skills for operating a plane are pretty easy,” Hawkins tells me. “We have people landing by themselves with an instructor on their very first day, within 30 minutes.”

That said, they’ve painstakingly taken the time to design it for safety. The goal of the spin-resistant airframe feature is that if the pilot makes mistakes, the airplane doesn’t lose control.

As a backup, there’s a complete airplane parachute.

“The spin resistance feature is a big deal as it’s the first airplane that the FAA has deemed spin-resistant,” says Chris Dupin, a flight instructor and US Air Force officer. “A significant number of general aviation fatalities are from loss of control accidents that involve an unrecovered spin on the base to final turn.”

Plus, there’s the angle of attack indicator, something you don’t typically see in a light aircraft. It shows you where the wing is happy (in the green) or where it might stall (in the red).

The pilot’s job is to keep the wing within the green or yellow section of the gauge. This is part of what makes water takeoffs and landings so easy to learn.

Becoming a barnstormer

“Kirk Hawkins has an extremely creative and innovative idea for pilot training that is more intuitive; teaching the feel of flight first and the principals and structure later, not unlike how people learn to drive,” says Christine Negroni, veteran aviation journalist and author of “The Crash Detectives.”

“The world is facing a pilot shortage, so the idea of teaching differently, so that different learning styles can be accommodated could very well expand the pool of pilot candidates.”

On that note, about 40% of the folks who’ve put down deposits for the ICON A5 are not pilots, which means this airplane is drawing aviation newbies.

After an hour and a half of flying time, Hawkins lands us on the airport runway, a maneuver that you can tackle after you’ve mastered several water landings. It’s a bit trickier since it requires more precision and knowledge about crosswinds.

At this point, if I owned this airplane, I’d hook it as much as a trailer, fold the wings up, drive it home, and park it in the garage.

Get some broadcast

If you desire your own ICON A5, get in line. More than 1,800 consumers have actually put deposits down.

For those who aren’t all set to pay out $207,000 to purchase one, there’s the alternative of dropping in ICON’s training center in Tampa, or the center in Vacaville, California, to fly for the day.

The Sport Flying Intro class is 1.5 hours for $595. To snag your Sport Pilot License, you will require to invest 20-plus hours and rates differs.

Sarah Sekula is an Orlando-based travel author and video host. Follow her experiences @wordzilla and @wordzillapics.

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.