11:15 PM

Hard NOT to Get
Excited About the A5

It's funny how some companies "get it" and some haven't a clue, when it comes to marketing. I've dealt with both ends of that spectrum in my advertising career, and it still blows my mind how little some companies know about how to get people to buy their stuff.

But when a company does things right, like Icon Aircraft is doing with the unveiling of their A5 Light Sport Aircraft, then you can be assured they will sell all they can produce.

From the moment you visit their web site, it becomes immediately clear that someone behind the scenes of this company has been in the excitement business before. And when you read their staff bios, it is quite clear who that someone might be:

"As one of the first 20 employees in the United States for Red Bull, Icon Aircraft's V.P. of Marketing, Paul Crandell, started the event marketing department of a company with $5 million in revenue. In his last 2 years at Red Bull, Paul led a team of 24 managing 300 media events, 120 athletes and several Red Bull Motorsports properties and events including NASCAR, CHAMP Car, Motocross, and Red Bull Air Races."
Now who among us doesn't know about the success story that is Red Bull? It is one of marketing's great feats of all time that somehow convinced millions of people to spend two bucks for a tiny can of energy. Once the consumer got past the initially funny taste, those tiny little cans soon spawned an entire energy drink sector that today is as hot as anything in the beverage industry.

Fast forward and we see Crandell and Team Icon making the same waves that could very well lead to the same kind of market excitement that Red Bull enjoyed in the beginnings of the energy drink revolution. Others on this team include Kirk Hawkins, Steen Strand, David Crook, and Craig Bowers, who all bring enormous resumes to the table.

Front and center is their web presence, which is as polished as can be. Let's look at a few obvious things you can't possibly miss when you visit iconaircraft.com:
The design of the site is very hip, aimed squarely at a younger, cooler visitor. Think late thirtysomething with a fat, disposable executive income, or a younger baby boomer sitting on a mountain of inherited old money that he and his trophy wife couldn't possibly spend on necessities. With the grown kids finally out of their hair, the convertible already in the driveway and the ski boat docked at the lake, these people (last century, we called them "yuppies") will flock to the A5 in droves. The company's site also makes a great case for obtaining your Sport Pilot ticket, with loads of great and easy to find information on how to do that and what's involved. Bringing this information front and center is brilliant, as it immediately tells non-flyers about Sport Pilot – something they might not have known existed at all – and gets them into a flight school, into an A5 and into the air quicker.
Then there is the A5 itself:
While we pilots think that all flying machines are beautiful in some way, the ICON A5 raises the bar on this concept. In it's design, the engineers threw out the playbook on aircraft construction, coming up with something that is like nothing else on the market. One look at the instrument panel tells you that the people who designed this aircraft want very much to change the LSA game. The A5 is a Amphibian Light Sport Aircraft priced at a surprising $139,000 USD. It delivers a maximum speed of 120 mph with a range of 300 nm, and offers major design features including folding wings (manual or automatic), retractable landing gear, a custom, optional aircraft towing trailer, GPS moving map, iPod in-flight music port, a complete airplane parachute and angle-of-attack indicator.
There has been a ton of press on this new creation, and if you want to see and maybe BUY yourself an A5, here's the drill on that from their site:
"The countdown to EAA AirVenture 2008 has started. ICON's A5 will shed its cloak at Aeroshell Square on Monday, July 28 at 10:00 am local time the first day of AirVenture 2008 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. This represents the first time for the public to will see the ICON A5 amphibian model in person. ICON's exhibit will be located at the main entrance to the AirVenture grounds. Attendees will have the opportunity to view the aircraft all week and place orders in person, order online with a credit card ($5,000 refundable and transferable deposit is required), or call ICON directly at (424) 201-3500 to place your order. Delivery positions are assigned on a first-come, first-served basis. First customer deliveries are expected in late 2010."
I'm not going to tell you that many LSAs get me all that excited. They surely have their place in the sky, just not in my hangar. But the A5 is an exception to that rule, and I join many other aviation analysts and journalists when I say this is a product that will turn heads and forcibly hank the checkbook out of people's back pockets.

If you are in the market for an LSA and don't at least LOOK at the A5, you are making a HUGE mistake.

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