Halladay among first to fly model of plane he died in

Former Blue Jays and Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay has been the owner for less than a month of his ICON A5

The tiny sport plane Roy Halladay was flying Tuesday when he fatally crashed into the Gulf of Mexico was made for entry-level pilots like him, though the plane’s chief designer and test pilot died while flying one earlier this year, officials and experts said.

Halladay, the 40-year-old former Blue Jays and Phillies pitcher, had been the proud owner for less than a month of his ICON A5, and was among the first to fly it, with only about 20 in existence, according the website for ICON Aviation.

Related: Former Blue Jays star Roy Halladay dies in plane crash

In one of many enthusiastic tweets about the plane, Halladay said it felt “like flying a fighter jet.”

Rolled out in 2014, the A5 is an amphibious aircraft meant to be treated like an ATV, a piece of weekend recreational gear with folding wings that can easily be towed on a trailer to a lake where it can take off from the water.

“The way that a lot of people described it is a Jet Ski with wings,” Stephen Pope, editor-in-chief of Flying magazine, told The Associated Press Tuesday. “It’s really a plaything.”

The man who led the plane’s design, 55-year-old John Murray Karkow, died while flying an A5 over California’s Lake Berryessa on May 8, in a crash the National Transportation Safety Board blamed on pilot error. The NTSB will also investigate Halladay’s crash to determine the cause.

In other tweets, Halladay said he had dreamed about owning one of the planes, and said in video on the company’s website that he had to talk his wife into letting him get one. The son of a corporate pilot, Halladay had been forbidden to take up aviation until after his retirement in 2014.

Pope said “the plane itself is great,” but he had concerns about Halladay, a new pilot with little flying time, taking the craft out over water at low altitude, though the plane was marketed as a craft that could do that.

“They still think that that’s the way the airplane should be flown, and there are people in aviation who completely disagree with that,” Pope said. “They think you should not have a low-time pilot flying low over water. That’s a recipe for disaster.”

Low flying was part of the problem when Karkow, the designer, crashed, according to federal investigators. Karkow was killed along with passenger Cagri Sever, the company’s newly hired director of engineering.

The NTSB blamed pilot error for the crash, saying Karkow mistakenly entered a canyon while flying too low, causing the plane to strike the canyon wall.

Another A5 crashed in April, making a hard landing in the water off Key Largo, Florida, injuring the pilot and his passenger. The pilot told investigators the plane descended faster than he expected.

Halladay’s ICON A5 went down around noon off the coast of Florida, Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco said.

The sheriff’s office marine unit responded and discovered Halladay’s body in shallow water near some mangroves. No survivors were found.

Police said they couldn’t confirm if there were additional passengers on the plane or say where it was headed.

ICON Aviation said in a statement that the company would assist the NTSB in every way possible with its investigation, and that its executives and employees are “devastated” by Halladay’s death.

“We have gotten to know Roy and his family in recent months, and he was a great advocate and friend of ours,” the statement said.

___

Associated Press Writers Robert Jablon in Los Angeles and Terry Spencer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, contributed to this report.

Andrew Dalton, The Associated Press

Just Posted

Two Langley fire trucks collide on black ice

The fire trucks were being used to block vehicles from icy hill when they started sliding

Langley police release suspect photos

Alleged criminals caught on camera

Blood donors urgently needed to meet patient needs

Urgent call for 35,000 people across Canada to donate blood by March 10

Widening 208 Street will be studied again by Township council

Two-lane road too congested to leave up to developers to fix — says Coun. Petrina Arnason

Stealth struggles lead to coaching shuffle

New assistant coaches in charge of offence and defence for Vancouver

VIDEO: Top 10 B.C. budget highlights

The NDP is focusing on childcare, affordable housing and speeding up the elimination of MSP premiums

BCHL Today: Merritt’s Buckley nets scholarship and Vees slam Salmon Arm

BCHL Today is a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.

Even more snow expected for Lower Mainland

Some areas could see five to 10 centimetres Friday

Crowns asks for more time in Victoria double murder of young sisters

Andrew Berry’s next court appearance will be in three weeks to set a date for trial to begin

B.C. MP invites convicted terrorist to Trudeau reception in India

Jaspal Atwal was convicted of trying to assassinate an Indian cabinet minister

OLYMPIC ROUNDUP: Women’s ice hockey team loses first Olympic game in 20 years

Team Canada added two silvers and a bronze to their total

5 to start your day

A B.C. teacher suspended for using the N-word, icy roads snarl traffic and more

Canadian support split on Trans Mountain pipeline debate: Poll

Angus Reid poll surveying Canadians on pipeline stance finds no clear winner

Tired of ‘big city life’? One-stoplight town hosts contest to lure in city slickers

Contest by BC Rural Centre hopes to attract city folks to a small town in the Kootenays

Most Read