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Business Jet Traveler » February 2010
(Photo by Lisa Airplanes)
Monday, February 1, 2010 - 4:00am

Two forthcoming light sport airplanes offer the aviation equivalent of the Swiss Army knife in terms of their versatility.

Able to alight on water, unpaved runways or even snow (with retractable skis), the Akoya from France's Lisa Airplanes is expected to carry its first passengers this summer. Priced under half a million dollars-including pilot training and three years of maintenance-the single-engine, piston-powered aircraft has a range of more than 800 nautical miles and is being touted by its manufacturer as the perfect mega-yacht accessory.

Icon's A5, another light amphibian, is currently undergoing flight testing and is expected to begin production next year. The Los Angeles manufacturer claims to have nearly 400 orders for the airplane, which uses the same engine as the Akoya but has a lower price (around $139,000) and shorter range (300 nautical miles).

Both airplanes have folding wings to ease transport and both require only an FAA Sport Pilot license, which restricts flights to daytime, good weather and uncongested airspace. While neither aircraft is particularly fast, either model could certainly help you reach your favorite waterfront destinations.

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““When I made the film The Invention of Lying, they gave me a private jet for getting back and forth between New York and London. I thought, ‘I will never use it’ but I ended up using it every weekend. You turn up, right, and the airport is completely empty. I mean, there’s just someone at the desk and then the pilot, who says, ‘Are you ready to go?’ and you say, ‘Don’t you want to see my passport?’ and he goes, ‘Oh yeah, I suppose I’d better.’” ”

-—actor and comedian Ricky Gervais