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.
We recently got a chance to drop in on "Skeeter" and "Richard" Karnes – the principals of BD-Micro of Siletz, Oregon. BD-Micro is a small company that holds many of the jigs and resources of one of the early BD-5 dealerships – their goal is to support existing owners of BD-5 kits that would like to see their airplanes fly. BD-Micro will also help those who have always dreamed of flying the little BD-5 – in prop or jet version – to realize their dreams by providing parts and build support for airplanes under construction – or projects not yet started.
I am of an age such that the BD-5J figured large in my imagination as I was learning to build and fly airplanes. While many potential builders lost their deposit money because kits for the piston airplane were never fully developed or delivered, the airframe seemed to be a natural fit for a little jet. Unfortunately, this was financially out of reach for those dreamers who believed in the piston-powered version as their own personal flying machine - but the design has stayed around for all of the intervening decades, and the dream has never fully died.
Continue reading "Trying On a Classic"
In appearance, he is the anti Johnny Cash. A shock of white hair and a dapper uniform consisting of a white button-down shirt, white slacks and white suede bucks. Don Wall wants to present himself well to the public in honor of the designer of the one and only kit aircraft he ever built, the single-place BD-5 Micro designed by Jim Bede.
Wall is one of many who have been intrigued by the BD-5, but he’s one of few who have actually completed one. A kit company bankruptcy and failure to find a reliable engine didn’t help. In fact, Wall’s kit had changed hands several times before he got ahold of it, partially built. Although the design was introduced in the early 1970s (the kits back then cost about $30,000 including the engine, so you can imagine the appeal), Wall didn’t start working on his project until 1995, toiling on it every day for seven years. Once he set his mind to building, he determined that if he started it, he was going to finish it, which he did in 2002. “So many become disenchanted...” he said. Continue reading "A Magnificent Obsession"