My most ambitious series ever is a showcase of the best of the best. In this series beginning right now, I will explore dozens of top videos made by my partner-in-movies, Videoman Dave, known properly as Dave Loveman. The videos aren’t my picks or his, though. They’re yours!
In each article, I will go beyond a short description and a video link. I’ll also update the information on the subject aircraft (a few engines are included). My goal is to celebrate video success stories while also providing fresh, useful details.
Dave and I started doing videos together back in 2007, shortly after Light-Sport Aircraft arrived on the scene. Since I joined him we’ve produced close to 1,000 videos while tripling our audience.
My series will touch on the top 50 most-watched videos on Videoman Dave’s Light Sport & Ultralight Flyer YouTube channel. In all we’ll review dozens of aircraft, three engines plus electric, an ultralight review, and a Mosaic update.
YouTube’s billion-plus audience cast the votes. Videos were selected based on which ones you watched the most. Together, everyone has watched these videos more than 10 million times!
I hope you’ll come along for the ride. I plan about one video review per week and this will take us right up to Sun ‘n Fun 2024 and the 20th anniversary of ByDanJohnson.com. I’ll have fun doing this; I hope you’ll enjoy it, too!
On TV, Late Show host David Letterman and his famous top-10 countdowns set one pattern for these kinds of lists. In his case he went from number 10 to climax with number one, holding you in suspense to find out which of his “Stupidest…” topics had topped the list. His lists were short; mine is longer.
So, to save you the suspense, I’m going to do the opposite. I’m going to start with the most-watched videos and take us down to number 50, with the last one being a warm pilot-interest story that you obviously loved, even if it may be in our number 50 position. Remember, all of these form the top 5% of all the videos Dave and I have recorded.
As we get into it further, I will put up a list of the entire slate so that you can see the position of various aircraft. This does not mean these are the most popular aircraft for purchase or flying. In some cases, the videos simply have had more years of exposure. Those with high view counts made in recent years clearly developed a lot of interest quickly. Others steadily accumulated views over time. Nonetheless, it’s clear that these aircraft are among the most popular in the affordable aviation space.
Let’s get into the first subject…
Who’s Number One? — Glancing ahead at the photos, you know the answer is Icon Aircraft‘s A5. The company took years to get into production increasingly worrying many early enthusiasts who wondered if they’d wasted their deposit. Icon claimed more than 2,000 deposits when they last reported such information, the biggest success story in the then-young LSA industry; they even bested Cessna’s Skycatcher deposit count… by double.
While the company took their time getting the design to their satisfaction, their marketing took off like a SpaceX rocket. In a short period, Icon accumulated something like 1.5 million likes on their Facebook page, in those days a notable accomplishment.
Icon made a huge splash at AirVenture with an enormous tent throbbing with up-tempo music and filled with good-looking people keen to tell you the Icon story.
They also convinced the three largest aviation magazines to feature their A5 on the cover in the exact same month. I’ve been keeping an eye on aviation magazines for my entire career and I have never seen this feat repeated. Magazines are loathe to feature the same aircraft on their covers but somehow Icon’s smooth-talking founder Kirk Hawkins talked them into doing so.
Given the intensity of their promotion, no wonder our videos of Icon drew large audiences. Our top video is nearing one million views. Even my 25-minute-long A5 Video Pilot Report has drawn almost 700,000 views. Thanks, folks! Glad you liked them.
Since those heady days when the Icon buzz was loud, the company found itself in a tight spot after raising large amounts of money to fuel their sprawling enterprise. Those investors eventually wanted financial results. The pressure mounted and ultimately Kirk and his early team were ousted.
Along the way, Icon raised the prices of A5 into the stratosphere, or so it seemed. What started out at $139,000 inflated to more than $350,000, setting a LSA benchmark as the highest-priced entry. It’s beautifully designed and constructed; few would argue that point. That’s simply a lot of money, well beyond the budget of most ByDanJohnson.com readers, let alone YouTube’s audience that may include the merely curious.
However, as we enter the third decade of LSA next year (as this video series concludes), Icon enjoys stable management and airplanes are being built and delivered.
Perhaps more amazingly, many other LSA have come closer to A5’s breathtaking price. We’ve seen several models move past $200,000 and a few have crossed $300K. Of course, everything you buy has gone up dramatically in the last 2-3 years.
The great news is twofold. Some A5 are coming on the used markets and pilots on leaner budgets can read about several more affordable aircraft as this series continues. I hope you’ll enjoy it.
Here’s the #1 video in our list, followed by the #3, a Video Pilot Report on the Icon’s A5. With more than a million and a half views between them, clearly the LSA seaplane demonstrates strong appeal.