Category: Flying

NTSB files: Icon A5

Retired baseball pitcher Roy Halladay died yesterday in his brand-new Icon A5. The Icon A5 is a light sport plane, although Halladay apparently was a full private pilot. He received his training and license in 2014, after he retired from baseball.

The A5 has a number of safety-minded features, including an angle-of-attack indicator, a Ballistic Recovery Systems parachute, and control elements apparently designed to create benign stalling characteristics. When the model was first introduced, there were other, more controversial features, including mandatory cockpit audio and video recording. After consumer outcry, those requirements were dropped. One requirement not dropped was an agreement to hold the manufacturer blameless in the event of an accident (i.e., no lawsuits).

The Icon was being marketed to the non-aviation community as an airborne version of motorized vehicles just as jet skis, ATVs, and motorcycles. In other words, as just another toy for thrill seekers.

As for the accident, of which there are few details, all the warning signs are present: rich guy with a competitive personality, newly certificated, with a fancy new airplane. It remains to be seen how the pilot came to crash a plane designed to be flown low and slow, with ample safety margins.

But then, what is slow for a normal airplane is very fast when you’re flying a “jet ski with wings,” just over the water.

All too short a date

 

Eno Quarry at sunset
The view at sunset

Today was a good day. My wife and I have been talking about how I can learn from my experiences in the corporate world to better manage my time, other people’s time, and my overarching priorities. My life is richer for working in futsal and soccer in my off-hours, but in order for the endeavor to grow, I need to grow with it. Today we also talked about what I’ve learned from flying airplanes: the importance of meticulous planning and, of course, checklists. How can we bring this kind of regimentation to the complex routines of our futsal and soccer activities?

There’s a lot of work to do on that front, but in the meantime, we had a very successful day. The futsal clinic at Lyon Park this morning got off to a rocky start, when we found the gym locked and confusion on the part of the management about when we were supposed to start. Our coach, Rob, got the kids busy outside while I sorted it out. We had 12 kids, which made for two spirited 3v3 games. I think 3v3 may be the ideal profile for children this age, particularly ones of average skill. The focus of the morning’s drills had been trapping and passing, and to our delight, the children began passing while playing 3v3.

Rob and the kids outside the gym at Lyon Park
Locked out of the gym

Then my wife and I hurtled north to Snow Hill Road Park to launch Durham Atlético’s first outdoor soccer league. It went surprisingly well, and most everyone seemed pleased, even though the high noon temperature was about 90 degrees. The four teams were well matched, and the grass was in good condition. The only concerns are the field’s length–at 98 yards, it’s a good 20 yards longer than what is ideal for 8v8 soccer with out-of-shape adults of ordinary skill–and also the start times. One team thinks we need to start our games later in the day, due to their work schedules. We’ll see.

Adidas Brazuca
Fancy new balls

I threw down $200 for this pair of balls. They normally sell for $150 each, but I got these premium match balls, replicas of the official ball of the 2014 World Cup, in a “mystery ball” promotion that Soccer.com uses to liquidate overstock that they’re apparently not allowed to discount. It was a splurge, but I think it’s well worth it to put decent balls out on the pitch for our first soccer season.

After we came home I took a shower, but only after weighing myself and being thrilled to be down to 175 (and down a couple quarts of water, too). I finished a book called “Move Fast and Break Things,” about which I hope to write soon.

At sunset, I went to the Eno Quarry. I hadn’t been there in a year, when, on a similar late-summer evening, I’d gone with my friend Marc and our friend from college, Steve. That was a lovely end to summer, full of middle-aged bliss and nostalgia. Tonight, there was me in the middle of the pond, sometimes swimming, sometimes hanging on the piece of floating timber. I lay on my back in the water and watched planes fly overhead. The sky was so blue I could see the dust particles on the surface of my eyes.

Shakespeare said it best, that summer’s lease hath all too short a date. But if you plan for it, if you use your time well, and if you try to mark the occasion of changing seasons, the passage of time doesn’t seem so frightening.

Tomorrow I am flying to Southern Pines with my flight instructor. He says I’m nearly ready to solo. I should be undergoing a pre-solo stage check with the club’s chief instructor soon.

It’ll be another exciting day tomorrow, but before I go to bed to make it arrive sooner, my wife and I are going to finish watching the Isabelle Huppert film “White Material.”