The Atlantic Holiday Gift Guide
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Icon A5 airplane

James Fallows

National Correspondent

All I Want for Christmas is a Flying Boat...

What I'd like to find under the tree wouldn't quite fit there, and won't be ready for delivery for a year or so anyway. But a little envelope saying I was in line for an Icon A5 airplane would go over just right.

The Icon is one of two hot new airplanes that take us ever closer to the Jetsons' ideal of the personal aircraft. The other, the Terrafugia, calls itself the "street-legal airplane" and looks like a SmartCar with wings. The Icon A5 looks like a sleek little two-passenger space ship - with big wings that fold out when you want to fly, and fold back so you can put the A5 in the garage or haul it around on a trailer. It has both wheels and a flying-boat style hull, so it can land on normal runways or in the water. Unlike most airplanes, it runs on normal gasoline (getting 25+ mpg) and is licensed under new FAA "light sport" rules for craft to be flown in daytime and good weather. The most renowned show pilot of the 20th century, Bob Hoover, says it is "the most beautiful aircraft I've ever seen." It costs - well, a lot, but very little for a plane! $139,000
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