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ST. PETERSBURG — New video footage of the fatal plane crash that killed former MLB player Roy Halladay, 40, off the coast of St. Petersburg on Tuesday has just surfaced.
Halladay, who was piloting a customized Icon A5 amphibious aircraft, is said to have been flying “aggressively” according to witnesses. Though he had three years of piloting experience under his belt, the pro baseball player is said to have been “dramatically increasing and decreasing in elevation before the crash.”
Experts have criticized the makers of the Icon A5, known as a jet ski with wings, for marketing the plane as a “flying sports car.” According to the editor-in-chief of Flying Magazine, Stephen Pope, “[People] see it as a pleasure craft, used for flying on water, which it seems what Roy was doing. It’s to play around in and have some fun.”
“It’s a very new design,” Pope added, ‘but what we know about the airplane is, the plane is safe, but marketing the airplane designed to be a flying toy… seems like a recipe for disaster.”
Sadly, the man responsible for the design of the Icon A5, John Murray Karkow, 55, was also killed, along with his colleague Cagri Sever, 41, while piloting the plane in California earlier this year.
The video footage of Halladay shows the amateur pilot plunging his plane down towards the ocean in a failed attempt to skim the water. A second clip shows witnesses rushing to the aid Halladay, whose plane had been wrecked.
According to local residents, Halladay had been flying brazenly all week. In the video, onlookers can be heard saying, “saw it just f**king veer and just go right in!” and “He went super low – it was ridiculous.”
Prior to the accident, Halladay had been hired by the manufacturer of the Icon A5, which sells for $389,000, to promote the seaplane.
In October, he tweeted, “’I keep telling my dad flying the Icon A5 low over the water is like flying a fighter jet! His response…I am flying a fighter jet!!”
In an online interview with the company, Halladay stated, “’I’ve been dreaming about flying since I was a boy but was only able to become a pilot once I retired from baseball. I’ve owned other aircraft, but no aircraft embodies the adventure or captured the dream of flying like the A5. Not only is it the safest and easiest aircraft I’ve ever flown, it is hands-down the most fun.”
“The beaches, lakes, and waterways my family and I get to explore around Florida are mind-blowing. Words don’t do justice to what the A5 allows us to experience,” he added. “Even my wife, who used to be uncomfortable in small planes, now asks where we should take the A5 for the weekend. I’m honored to own the first A5 Founders Edition.”
On the company website, the makers of the aircraft boast that “Flying the A5 has never been more accessible. Icon’s innovative flight training and available rental program make it easy and fun.”
Pope believes that the two fatal crashes of the Icon A5 this year will “raise eyebrows in the aviation community and surely… the FAA.”
Following Tuesday’s fatal accident, Icon released a statement saying:
“We were devastated to learn that former MLB pitcher Roy Halladay died today in an accident involving an ICON A5 in the Gulf of Mexico. We have gotten to know Roy and his family in recent months, and he was a great advocate and friend of ours. The entire ICON community would like to pass on our deepest condolences to Roy’s family and friends. ICON will do everything it can to support the accident investigation going forward and we will comment further when more information is available.”
The National Transportation Safety Board is now investigating the crash.
Halladay, who played for Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies from 1998 to 2013, winning the Cy Young Award in both the American and National Leagues, is survived by wife Brandy and sons Braden, 17, and Ryan, 13.