I just spent two nice days in Corvallis, Oregon with the folks from BD Micro as they got ready to fly a new FLS Micro Jet - the modernized version of the BD5-J. BD-Micro is dedicated to preserving and improving the line, and has a program of builder assistance available to customers that meets the 51% rule yet allows many of the ticklish bits to be performed with the help of folks who've done it before. This particular jet has been built at their facility by a customer from the Yakima area, and he and his wife had flown in for a few days to help with the flight - even though he wasn't scheduled to do the sortie himself.
The pilot was BD-Micro's test pilot and transition training instructor Justin Lewis. He had flown in from his home base in Oklahoma City, on break from his airshow schedule. Justin flies his Microjet in airshows across the country, and had brought along his crew chief to help out. I had flown in to get a better feel for this design and learn something about their building and training program. So you get the picture - lots of folks had flown in for the event, and were burning hotel and travel dollars to be there.
The best part? Well....it just didn't work out - and no one cared, or pushed, or prodded, or cajoled to see the little machine fly. An early fall weather system brought showers that wet down the runway, then when the runway dried, a problem with a brake rotor took a while to solve, and the day ended with everyone agreeing that it was wise to stop, regroup, and take the time to feel good about the necessary repairs and re-assembly.
Why do I consider this the best part? No pressure! That's the way first flights should be - do them when you're ready, when the airplane is ready, and when the conditions are ready - and not before. I've been a part of more Shuttle launch scrubs than actual launches, and you just go home and get ready another time. That's test flying.
Good job everyone! You've got got the airplane to fly another day, and set a great example for everyone out there in the world of experimental aviation.