Roy Halladay, a former Major League Baseball (MLB) pitcher, died in a small plane crash in the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday, November 7. Safety experts pointed out that this is the second fatal crash in 2017 involving the ICON A5, a plane that was advertised to be easy for pilots to fly and safe due to it being equipped with a parachute. While previous crashes have been blamed on pilot error, the frequency of ICON crashes has led some aviation safety advocates to raise important questions about the causes of these plane accidents.
Halladay Flying Off Florida Coast When ICON A5 Plane Crashed
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are investigating Halladay’s crash, which occurred in the Gulf of Mexico off the Florida Coast. Halladay was the only victim found in the wreckage of the ICON A5, a plane that is equipped to carry two. Officials have said they cannot confirm whether there was anyone else onboard. The wreckage was found in the water approximately one-quarter mile west of Ben Pilot Point in New Port Richey.
A 911 call regarding the crash was made at 12:06 p.m. Eastern Time. Halladay did not make any mayday calls to Tampa Air Traffic Control before the plane went down. He was found dead at the scene.
Amphibious Plane ICON A5 Described as “Jet Ski with Wings”
The plane Halladay flew the day of the crash was an ICON A5, and he was one of the first people to own the $250,000 aircraft. Only around 20 of them are in existence, but they are described as having an intuitive design and easy for pilots to fly.
“The way that a lot of people described it is a Jet Ski with wings,” Stephen Pope, editor-in-chief of Flying magazine said to The Associated Press. “It’s really a play thing.”
Pope expressed concerns about how the plane was marketed, noting that the airplane was sold as capable of flight at low altitude over the water. He told The Associated Press that wouldn’t be safe for pilots with little experience.
“They still think 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.”
An article written for ICON in October 2017 highlighted Halladay’s excitement about purchasing his plane. In the article, Halladay talked about his dreams of being a pilot and the fun of flying the ICON A5.
Halladay’s tragic crash was the second fatal plane crash involving the ICON A5 in 2017. In May 2017, Jon Karkow and Cagri Sever, both ICON employees, died in a ICON plane crash. The NTSB concluded the probable cause of the accident was the pilot mistakenly entering a canyon that did not have an exit at a low altitude.
“Based upon performance information outlined in the Pilot’s Operating Handbook for the accident airplane, the airplane’s altitude above the water’s surface and its indicated airspeed, and the ridge line elevations in the area adjacent to the accident site, the airplane would have not been able to climb out of the rising terrain that surrounded the area, which led to his failure to maintain clearance from terrain,” the NTSB wrote.
In a separate incident in April, an A5 plane experienced a landing mishap and partially sank off Biscayne National Park in Miami. No one was injured in the accident, but the airplane was substantially damaged.
In that crash, the pilot told officials he did not expect the plane to descend as quickly as it did.
Roy Halladay Remembered for Illustrious Career in Major League Baseball
During his 16-year MLB career, Halladay played with the Philadelphia Phillies and Toronto Blue Jays and won two Cy Young awards. After he retired from baseball in 2013, he obtained his pilot’s license. He said it was a lifelong dream to have a pilot’s license, but was not allowed to while playing baseball as a term of is contract.
Halladay’s friends and colleagues remembered him as a brilliant pitcher, well-deserving of his two Cy Young awards. He was named to the All-Star team eight times while he played for the Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies. They also remembered a man who was competitive, generous, humble, and good-natured.
“We are numb over the very tragic news about Roy Halladay’s untimely death,” the Phillies said in a statement. “There are no words to describe the sadness that the entire Phillies family is feeling over the loss of one of the most respected human beings to ever play the game.”
A statement from the Toronto Blue Jays says the organization is “overcome by grief” and calls Halladay one of the team’s “greatest and most respected players.”
He leaves behind his wife, Brandy, and two sons, Ryan and Braden.