Bede 5 - (scan - 1997)

In 1960s, Jim Bede tried to produce low cost kit light-plane, BD-1. Although it never was developed as homebuilt, American Aviation refined design as AA1B, and later Grumman marketed it as the Gulfstream American Tiger. Bede later modified a Schweizer 2-32 sailplane adding an engine and fuel cells, called it the BD-2, and made several abortive attempts at around- the-world flights. Has developed at least 10 innovative designs, some built successfully as plans and kits. Most prolific (and controversial) was BD-5 series. Originally announced 1972 as 200 mph, 15 ft span, fiberglass fuselage, V-tailed kit airplane for less that $2,000, skepticism abounded. With conventional tail, metal monocoque fuselage, 19 ft wings, and 33 hp Hirth 2-cycle snowmobile engine, it flew successfully 1972. Despite extensive aerodynamic rework and a flight test program by Burt Rutan, Bede unable to deliver a complete kit. He had thousands of orders and full-price deposits (which ranged from $2,000 to $4,000 depending on when ordered), yet most buyers acquired the full structure, less landing gear and engine. Failure of the Hirth Company caused some builders to develop and use other engines; one of the most common and successful was Honda Civic. Version was developed initially by Jerry Kibler and test flown Apr 75. BD-5J flown late 73, used 17 ft wings, and capable of over 300 mph. Initial jet engine cost about $18,000 which enabled aircraft to be built for less than $25,000. Aerobatic display team flew them in the 70s, at least one was offered to US and other nations' military as low-cost trainer or drone, and one is still flown as a solo acrobatic display aircraft.


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