Roy's illustrious career in professional sports did not qualify him as a fighter pilot, nor is the ICON-A5 a fighter jet. Sporty-looking on the outside, inside the plane is similar to a 1912 Curtiss Model F. Powered by a pusher propeller, and meant for level recreational flying, the A5 has one main advantage over the 1912 Curtiss: the wings are detachable for ease of transport.
The ICON-A5 is classified as a Light Sports Plane, and designed to take advantage of FAA regulations that recently created the category of Sports Pilot. A Sports Pilot certification requires less rigorous training, but a Sports Pilot is subject to considerably more restrictions than a regular pilot.
Because the ICON-A5 is so compact, it packs more power. But does that mean to go ahead and fly through a canyon at top speed, ala Luke Skywalker? NO! The Lead Engineer of IKON-A5 and the Director Of Engineering both perished in a crash on May 8, 2017, when the engineer attempted to maneuver at top speed down a narrow canyon. Because of that notorious tragedy, A5 pilots are acutely aware of its limitations.
"Roy, please be careful...!"
Roy Halliday's fateful Friday morning began early. He towed the ICON-A5 to a Florida beach and began working on a pre-flight checklist that included attaching the wings, ingesting alcohol, and downing a drug combination commonly referred to as a 'speedball.' A career in sports MIGHT justify a morphine prescription to quell the pain of cumulative injuries. But if a dose of morphine is needed, why choose mixers such as alcohol, amphetamines, and sleeping pills? After hitting that grand slam, a body is better off lying on the beach counting clouds rather than flying amongst them.
Checklist completed! Hepped up and ready for takeoff! Halladay was soon flying high-as-a-kite over the Gulf of Mexico with the throttle firewalled. Scare-o-batics began: steep banking climbs, sudden rivet-popping dives, pulling out of the dive a mere 5-10 feet over the water's surface.
As previously established, these antics exceeded the design of the small aircraft, and soon caught the attention of fishermen and recreational boaters. Some pulled out smart phones and recorded Halladay's high jinks, fearing that tricks would lead to tragedy.
Considering the pre-flight cocktail of alcohol, amphetamines, morphine, and Zolpidem, the phrases "feeling no pain" and "liquid courage" come to mind. Roy felt like a Top Gun, but his overloaded nervous system was Top Gunk! Some 15 minutes after takeoff, he entered his final maneuver -- a steep, turning climb that caused the speed to suddenly drop. One of the wings stalled, inducing an inverted spin, and the crate cratered the water at a 45 degree angle upside down.
According to the autopsy, Halladay perished by drowning. To the deep and lasting sadness of his family, his friends, and his fans, Roy wasn't careful.
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