Little Planes are Fun!

With Sun 'n Fun starting up next week, it was time to head to Florida a little early to do some flying for upcoming Kitplanes flight reviews. I'm currently in Fort Pierce, visiting with BedeCorp, the makers of the BD-4 and BD-17L kits. This morning, we tried on the single-seat, LSA-qualifying BD-17L for size and took it for a spin. With the mighty 60 HP HKS engine coupled to a cruise prop, we were seeing a pleasant 120 - 125 mph in level flight at 1,000' MSL. Propped for speed, the initial climb out of the Fort Pierce airport was about 600 fpm in the cooler temperatures of the morning air just at sunrise.

BD-17L Wing view

For an old "Yankee driver" like myself, there was a familiar feeling to this airplane from the same designer, the late Jim Bede. BedeCorp is now run by his sun, Jim Bede (Jr) from their multi-hangar facility on the east coast for Florida. The BD-17L is a longer-winged version of the original BD-17, the additional wing making it LSA legal by lowering the stall speed to meet the FAA requirements. The airplane has a surprisingly roomy cockpit for a single seater, and the mostly upright seating creates good visibility.

The tricycle-gear airplane is taxied using differential breaking, just like the original BD-1 (which eventually became the production Yankee), and with rudder once you get about 15 knots of wind over the large tail. The sidestick control will take some getting used to by pilots familiar with traditional large center sticks or yokes, but the BedeCorp training plan allows a build up of confidence before turning a new pilot loose to fly. We found the pitch to be quite sensitive (without being unstable), and the roll channel a little less so, but taking these qualities into account, the airplane didn't exhibit any bad habits.

Look for a complete pilot report on the airplane, the kit, and the company in a future issue of Kitplanes!

Bede Family Foundation Formed

bede family foundation (curved)-u77The Bede family announced the formation of a non-profit foundation to help introduce youth to the experimental aviation community.

"We are excited to announce the formation of The Bede Family Foundation, a 501-C non-profit. This foundation was designed to further the education of today's youth. We deliver aircraft kits to schools and/or organizations that meet our criteria. Our hope is that this may inspire our future aeronautical engineers, aircraft mechanics, and pilots. The foundation accepts cash and aircraft donations. If you donate an aircraft we can issue you a certified appraisal that can be used for tax deduction purposes. We then, salvage or part out the aircrafts with the proceeds going to the foundation." Continue reading "Bede Family Foundation Formed"

Good Job!

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.


Continue reading "Good Job!"

Bede BD-6 Re-introduced

Jim Bede may have recently passed away, but Jim Bede Jr. continues the family company. In fact, Bedecorp is reintroducing the BD-6 with several upgrades.

Bedecorp is showing a freshened BD-6 at Air Venture. The light, angle-channel truss and tube spar construction continue.

The newest BD-6 now uses fiberglass landing gear and honeycomb panels several places around the airframe. The design continues with the wings and tail from the diminutive single-seat BD-17, along with 60 hp worth of HKS power.

For 2015 the BD-4 gains a rear door on the left side for better access. Recommended engine for it is the 250 hp UL Power 350 cylinder. Continue reading "Bede BD-6 Re-introduced"

Jim Bede, Pioneer Kit Designer, Passes Away in Cleveland

jim-2-300x200Kitplanes received notice from the Bede Corporation of the passing of Jim Bede on July 9, 2015, as a result of an unrecoverable aneurysm suffered at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio. Jim, a devoted husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, friend, and a beloved member of the aviation community, was surrounded by his wife, children and his grandchildren.

Bede, a prolific designer, was an early power in the aircraft kit industry, producing kits and plans for numerous aircraft. His first design, the BD-1, was produced as a certified aircraft as the AA-1 Yankee, the progenitor of the popular line of aircraft collectively known as "Grummans", the company that produced the most of them under their name.

Numerous examples of the high wing BD-4 have been built, with plans and parts still available.Jm_Bede

Bede's most well-known creation was the BD-5, a single-seat aircraft that caught the attention of many potential builders with its early publicity program and promising capabilities. Problems with engine and drive train integration resulted in few being completed, although thousands of hopeful aviators had placed deposits. The aircraft is probably best known today in it's jet version, with BD-5J's occasionally gracing the air show venues, and often appearing in movies. Although controversial, Bede had a great effect on the early kit industry and ignited the spark in many of today's community members with his interesting designs.

In Jim's honor, on August 1, 2015, the Lorain County Regional Airport (KLPR) will be hosting a Jim Bede Memorial Fly-In. More details will be posted on the company website (

There is also a website page for condolences which can be found on our main website.

A Magnificent Obsession

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"