The ICON team was devastated by the loss of Jon Karkow in an accident involving an A5 on the 8th of May 2017. He was 55 years young and had dedicated his entire life to innovation in aviation. He was a star in every sense of the word and an unsung hero.
Prior to ICON, Jon spent 21 years in aircraft development at Burt Rutan’s Scaled Composites and over that time rightfully earned the reputation as the most accomplished aeronautical engineer and project engineer in the history of Scaled. He led more than 20 aircraft programs and five complete airplanes including the record-breaking, around-the-world Virgin GlobalFlyer that won him a 2006 Aeronautics Laureate Award from Aviation Week & Space Technology. He also served as the Technical Program Manager for Richard Branson’s commercial space program SpaceShipTwo.
Jon dedicated the last ten years of his career to ICON and the A5. His unwavering goal was to build a production aircraft that embodied the essence of his love and passion for flying and adventure. He joined ICON as its fifth employee in 2007 and was responsible for the design and flight testing of the A5 from its inception. He was initially ICON’s Lead Aero Engineer and then became Engineering Fellow. He was also ICON’s Chief Test Pilot. Jon led the ground-breaking safety innovation around the A5’s Spin Resistant Airframe design, which made the A5 the first conventional production aircraft in history to meet the FAA Part 23 spin-resistance standard. It was a monumental aeronautical achievement that was nominated for the Collier Trophy in 2016. His genius touched virtually every aspect of the A5. He was a truly brilliant engineer, passionate aviator, tireless worker, and loyal friend. The A5 represented his vision for the joy of flying in its purest form – it was his final gift to aviation.
Jon was not only a part of the ICON family, he was part of the core DNA that made us who we are. We will miss him tremendously and he will always be with us in spirit. We will carry the torch forward in loving memory and utter admiration of Jon Murray Karkow.