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Halliday with A5
Roy Halladay shows off his Icon A5 airplane in an October promotional photo. (Icon Aircraft Photo)

Retired All-Star pitcher Roy Halladay died today when his plane, an amphibious light-sport aircraft known as the Icon A5, crashed into the Gulf of Mexico off the Florida coast.

Halladay’s death at the age of 40 was particularly poignant, and not only because of his stellar career as one of only six pitchers to win the Cy Young Award in the American League (with the Toronto Blue Jays, 2003) as well as the National League (with the Philadelphia Phillies, 2010).

He received the plane a month ago from Icon Aircraft, and became one of its biggest boosters on Twitter:

“Doc” Halladay, who retired from the Phillies four years ago, figured prominently in Icon’s promotional materials.

“I’ve been dreaming about flying since I was a boy but was only able to become a pilot once I retired from baseball,” he said in an article posted to Icon’s website. “Not only is it the safest and easiest aircraft I’ve ever flown, it is hands-down the most fun.”

He was also featured in a video posted to Icon’s YouTube channel. Both the video and the article were deleted in the wake of today’s accident.

The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office in Florida confirmed Halladay’s death and provided further details about the crash in a tweet:

The $200,000 Icon A5 has been viewed as a “vision of the flying future” for recreational aviation. The single-engine plane has foldable wings, a user-friendly cockpit and a NASA-inspired design that’s resistant to spins and stalls. It’s designed to execute takeoffs and landings at airports, on open ground or on the water.

Mike Sievert, chief operating officer for Bellevue, Wash.-based T-Mobile, gave a strong endorsement of the plane in a release posted to Icon’s website.

“The A5 is the perfect addition to my life in the Pacific Northwest,” Sievert was quoted as saying. “Getting to the San Juan Islands for a quick getaway has transformed from a chore into one of the highlights of the trip.”

Icon encountered production problems last year, and this May it suffered a heavy blow when one of its A5 planes crashed at California’s Lake Berryessa, killing the company’s lead aeronautical engineer and another employee. An investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board determined that the crash in May was due to pilot error.

Today, Icon said in a statement posted to Facebook that it was “devastated” to learn of Halladay’s death.

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